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Can Ducks Eat Rice?

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Has anyone ever told you that you should not feed rice to your ducks? Many people will tell you that feeding rice to any bird will make their stomachs expand so much that it hurts or even kills them, but is that true?

So can ducks eat rice? Yes! Ducks can eat rice and they usually love it! Luckily, rice is not only inexpensive, it is also a healthy food for ducks and can safely be fed both raw and cooked.

Ducks – and all birds for that matter – can safely eat rice. They will not only be getting a new treat, they will also get some important nutrients as well.

feeding duck

Rice, whether cooked or uncooked, is not going to hurt your ducks or any other birds you make have on your farm. The myth about uncooked rice being harmful to birds has been around for a long time, but just because a lot of people repeat something, it does not mean that it is true!

The more you learn about rice and ducks, the better you will feel about adding this treat to your duck’s food schedule.  

Is rice healthy for ducks?

Rice is quite healthy for ducks! A cereal grain, rice has been eaten a staple of human and animal diets all over the world for centuries. Rice contains a large amount of fiber and protein as well as many vitamins and antioxidants.

There are many kinds of rice including wild, brown and white. Although the most common rice for people, white rice is actually the least healthy choice. Brown rice is more nutritious, but wild rice is the most natural and nutritious rice variety available.

Ducks can benefit from all the nutrition that each type of rice has to offer. Ducks are able to process and digest rice easily, making it as safe for them to eat as it is nutritious. Many wild ducks eat rice regularly in nature and do not have any adverse side effects as a result.

girl talking to ducklings

Any truth to the ‘rice and birds’ myth?

Fortunately for ducks, there is absolutely no truth to the ‘raw rice will kill a bird’ myth.

The rumor became popular in the 1980s when an advice column featured the issue. It claimed that uncooked rice thrown at weddings was causing the death of countless birds.

The rumor soon turned to advice commonly given to wedding planners. Rice thrown at weddings only makes a mess for the venue employees, but the truth is, there is no evidence of rice causing birds any harm.

The concept that raw rice expands when water is added is true, but once a bird eats uncooked rice, it begins digesting almost immediately. It would take rice hours or even days sitting in fluid to expand enough to cause an issue, but by then it would have long been digested.

So, in a nutshell, there is no truth to the ‘rice and birds’ myth and there is are no known issues with feeding raw rice to ducks.  (source)

Can ducklings safely eat rice?

Ducklings you are raising in your backyard should be fed mainly a non-medicated starter feed. These feeds are formulated especially to support their growth and development.

It will not hurt a duckling to occasionally eat rice, however, you do not want to overfeed rice and cause them to not eat their regular food.

A balanced diet is essential for a duckling, and too much rice could cause them to miss out on some much needs vitamins from the starter feed.

While rice itself will not hurt them, it is best to wait until your ducklings are 16 weeks old to start feeding rice. This way, you know they are getting the right nutrition during their formative years.  

What rice products are safe for ducks to eat?

Ducks can eat wild rice, brown rice and white rice. The most nutritious and safe rice for ducks to eat is wild rice. It has not been processed, so no important nutrients have been lost.

Brown rice is minimally processed, making it more nutritious than white rice, but less than wild rice. White rice is the least nutritious, but it still safe for ducks to eat.

rice variety

What rice products should ducks not eat?

You should avoid feeding your ducks seasoned rice, rice cereal or any other sugary rice products. While consuming sugar is not fatal for birds, it is not a natural part of their diet, and too much sugar can cause metabolic issues.

To keep your ducks healthy, stick with feeding actual rice. Do not feed them rice crispy treats or cereal.

Rice cakes are often considered a ‘healthy treat’ for us, but the truth is rice cakes offer little to no nutritional value. Ducks cannot eat them easily because of their shape, so it is best to not feed ducks rice cakes at all.

In general, you should only feed your ducks treats that are healthy and add some nutritional value to their diet.

How can I prepare rice for my ducks?

There are many ways that you can prepare a rice treat for your ducks. You can feed your ducks uncooked rice and they will love it, but you can also cook it for them!

Your ducks will love cooked rice as long as you make sure that you let it cool before you feed it to them and leave out any spices, salt and butter. You can also mix up a mash of tasty veggies like green beans, carrots, cabbage and add it to your cooked rice.

Make sure you chopped up any veggies into small pieces to prevent possible choking. Steer clear of adding vegetables like spinach, iceberg lettuce, white potatoes and tomatoes; those vegetables are off limits for ducks! (source)

rice in burlap sack

How much rice can I feed my ducks?

Rice should never be fed as a full meal to your ducks. Instead, you should always consider rice as a treat.

All treats you feed your ducks combined should not exceed 10% of their normal daily food. If you feed too many treats, your ducks will not eat enough of their regular food to maintain a balanced diet.

Ducks need a balanced diet to stay healthy and to lay healthy, viable eggs with hardy shells. Too many treats can cause gastric upset in ducks or can cause them to lose out on essential nutrients.

Key Points to Remember

  • Rice is healthy for ducks and it is safe for them to eat.
  • Brown rice and wild rice are healthier than white rice.
  • Avoid sugary rice treats and rice cakes.
  • Feed rice and other treats to ducks only in moderation.
  • Uncooked rice is safe for ducks and all birds to eat.

Final Thoughts

Forget what people have told you about the dangers of feeding rice to ducks and other birds. The fact of the matter is that both uncooked and cooked rice are perfectly healthy for ducks to eat. Moderation is the key, and you should steer clear of feeding processed rice products including cereal and treats.