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Are Cheerios Safe for Ducks?

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You probably give your ducks a complete and balanced diet to keep them happy and healthy. But once in a while, you also want to give them a treat, something to make them quack with happiness. So you do a quick check in your kitchen and come across Cheerios cereal.

Are Cheerios safe for ducks?

Cheerios are safe to feed to ducks but are best given as treats in small quantities. As with any processed human food, you should make sure what you want to treat your animals is safe, nutritious, and works well with their existing diet.

Three little ducklings at velours grasses

Cheerios’ nutritional value makes the cereal unsuitable as a regular or large part of a duck’s diet. Before you start treating your ducks, or your ducklings, with this crunchy breakfast cereal, make sure you understand the product’s nutritional value and the effect it can have on your ducks.

Feeding Cheerios and Other Processed Foods to Your Ducks

Ducks are not generally picky eaters. They will enjoy Cheerios and will eat them gleefully. Ducks also prefer wet or soggy Cheerios rather than dry, crunchy Cheerios since they are easier to eat.

Cheerios are processed cereal and contain additives, preservatives, and other ingredients that are not found in nature or common in a duck’s daily diet.

In small quantities, the additives can be harmless. But if you feed Cheerios to your ducks frequently or give them large quantities of the cereal, the additives have a higher chance of being harmful.

Cheerios are also high in carbohydrates and sugar. Excess carbohydrates in a duck’s diet will lead to various diseases. The high-carb content of Cheerios can make your ducks prone to diarrhea, angel wings, and avian botulism.

In contrast, Cheerios are in protein and contain about half of the protein required for a healthy duck diet. Making Cheerios a mainstay in your duck’s diet may cause symptoms of protein deficiency.

Also, the vitamins and minerals contained in Cheerios are above the daily requirement for ducks. Like many processed foods designed for humans,

Cheerios are supplemented with a number of nutrients to compensate for the cereal’s naturally poor nutritional value. Giving Cheerios to your ducks often or in large quantities may lead to hypervitaminosis.

Delicious honey cheerios cereal in a bowl

Are Cheerios Safe for Ducklings?

Cheerios are safe to feed to ducklings, but the same nutritional concerns for adult ducks also apply to them. Cheerios should be given as an occasional treat and not relied on as a staple in their diet.

You should feed ducklings wet Cheerios and not dry cereal to reduce the risk of choking. Alternatively, you can break the dry Cheerios into bits before giving them to your ducklings.

Cheerios: Ingredients and Nutrition

We know Cheerios are safe to treat your ducks and ducklings with. But as with anything you would eat yourself, it is important to understand the nutritional make up of the foods you give your animals, especially if they are processed.


Cheerios come in a number of flavor varieties, but plain Original Cheerios are made primarily from whole grain oats, corn starch, sugar, and, salt. These are processed with tripotassium phosphate and vitamin E to give the processed food a longer shelf life.



Since Cheerios mostly a combination of oats and corn byproduct, they are very high in carbohydrates. A 39 gram serving of Cheerios contains 29 grams of carbohydrates, which equals over 74% content per serving.

The total carbohydrate content in Cheerios consists of soluble fiber (1 gram), dietary fiber (4 grams), and sugars (4 grams). The remaining 20 grams is largely starch.


Protein is not a strongpoint when it comes to Cheerios. A 39 gram service contains only 5 grams of protein, which is about 12.8% per serving. Ducks need between 16-22% of protein in their diet, so Cheerios will not support balanced protein intake for your ducks.


One serving of Cheerios includes 2.5 grams of fat, approximately 6.4% per serving. The total fat content comprises unsaturated fat (2 grams) and saturated fat (0.5 grams).

Vitamin D3

Original Cheerios contain 80 IU of vitamin D3 per 39 gram serving. This equals about 2051 IU per kg of cheerios.

Ducks only need between 400 to 900 IU of vitamin D3 per kg of diet, so regularly giving them Cheerios can cause hypervitaminosis D.


Cheerios are also higher in iron content. A 39 gram serving contains 12.6 mg of iron or about 323 mg per kg.

For ducks, 80mg of iron per kg of diet is enough, but Cheerios contain about 4 times this amount. Feeding your ducks large amounts or regularly feeding Cheerios to them can cause iron overload.


Cheerios are not a good source of calcium. One 39 gram serving contains 130 mg of calcium, equivalent to 0.33% per serving. Ducks require 0.65-2.75% of calcium, and Cheerios cannot be relied on to provide this.

Other Nutrients

Cheerios also contain vitamin C, vitamin A, niacin, thiamin, pyridoxine, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Rice Crispy on square shape on white plate

Other Cereals That Are Safe to Use as Duck Treats

If you do not have Cheerios, you can also give your ducks one of the following cereals as a treat:

  • Rice Chex
  • Corn Chex
  • Corn Flakes
  • Rice Krispies
  • Unsweetened Shredded Wheat
  • Unsweetened Oatmeal

Natural Foods That Are Safe to Feed to Ducks

Processed foods can be safe to give your ducks in moderation as long as you read the labels and confirm their contents. But natural foods can provide better nutritional value to your ducks. These foods act as supplements to duck feed, and you can also give them as treats.

The following is a list of natural foods you can safely feed to your ducks.


  • Apple
  • Tomato
  • Banana
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Eggplant
  • Pineapple
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grape
  • Strawberry
  • Pomegranate
  • Plum
  • Raspberry
  • Blueberry

Generally, do not feed your ducks citrus fruits. They may alter calcium absorption in ducks, and this can lead to the production of eggs with weak shells.

Also, avoid avocado at all costs – all forms of avocado are potentially toxic to ducks.


  • Cucumber
  • Carrot
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Bell pepper
  • Lettuce
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Beets
  • Squash
  • Asparagus
  • Pumpkin
  • Bok Choy


Sunflower and pumpkin seeds heart shape on pink background

Certain fruit seeds are toxic to ducks and you should make sure they are not mixed into their feed. These include cherry seeds, apple seeds, pear seeds, and apricot seeds.

Natural Protein

  • Egg
  • Plain yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Crickets
  • Worms

Final Thoughts

Cheerios are safe for ducks when given infrequently and in small quantities. The high carbohydrate content and the disproportionate amount of other nutrients can leave your ducks at risk of malnourishment if Cheerios become a mainstay their diet.