Owning a duck as a pet or rearing them for meat and eggs requires you to feed them well. Providing food options for these aquatic birds is a serious responsibility, as is occasionally giving them treats. It is equally important to give them healthy treats.
Traditionally, we would give them bread without a second thought, but now thanks to the Canal and River Trust campaign, we know that bread should not be fed to any duck, domestic or wild.
What, then, are some healthy and fun treats to supplement a duck’s diet? Would sunflower seeds be a healthy option?
Can ducks eat sunflower seeds?
Ducks can surely eat sunflower seeds. They are omnivorous animals and can eat food from both animal and plant sources. Sunflower seeds can indeed be given to ducks as a healthy treat.
Can ducks eat sunflower seeds with shells?
After we’ve clarified that ducks can eat sunflower seeds, you might be wondering if the seeds need to be shelled or not before feeding the ducks.
Can Ducks eat sunflower seeds with shells?
Ducks can consume sunflower seeds with or without the shells. Consuming the seeds with shells even provides them with fiber, an important nutrient in their diet.
While shelled sunflower seeds are easier to digest for ducks, seeds with the husks are equally safe for them to consume.
Can Ducks eat all types of sunflower seeds?
Their digestive system is capable of processing sunflower seeds despite the form it was consumed in.
Do note that it is not safe for them to consume salted sunflower seeds.
Confectionery sunflower seeds
Confectionery sunflower seeds are grown mainly for consumption, by both humans and animals. Confection sunflower seeds are black with white stripes on them.
According to the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute, confectionery sunflower seeds make up about 10-20% of sunflower cultivation each year. (source)
Oilseed sunflower seeds
Oilseed sunflower seeds are cultivated solely for their oil. They are typically all black and much smaller in size.
They are also called black oil sunflower seeds.
Can ducks eat salted sunflower seeds?
Most processed sunflower seeds already have salt added to them, which contains sodium.
Ducks do not require much sodium in their diet. Feeding them with salt-coated sunflower seeds could harm them.
It’s best to feed them unsalted sunflower seeds or rinse off the salt from salted seeds before feeding them.
Why should ducks eat sunflower seeds?
Eating sunflower seeds is beneficial for ducks because they are highly nutritious. Sunflower seeds are loaded with vitamins and minerals that help ducks to grow and remain healthy.
Sunflower seeds should be consumed by ducks because they are rich in the following nutrients:
Vitamin E: Has strong anti-oxidizing and anti-inflammatory properties by helping to neutralize free radicals in the body, thus promoting immune system health. The anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin E also prevent wryneck disease in ducks.
Selenium: A trace mineral that is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system and thyroid gland. It also helps in improving joint health.
Protein: Sunflower seeds contain a relatively large amount of protein. Protein is required in greater amounts when the duck is being raised for meat and eggs.
Vitamin B6: Is responsible for maintaining red blood cells. It also helps them keep a strong immune system.
Flavonoids and Phenolic acids: They reduce the risk of certain diseases by functioning as antioxidants, thereby reducing the formation of free radicals in the body.
Free radicals, like their name suggests, are unbounded or free atoms in the body that binds themselves to cells. The body recognizes this cell as an invader and then tries to damage or destroy the cell. This can cause lots of serious health issues including cancer.
What amount of sunflower seeds should be fed to ducks?
As much as sunflower seeds are beneficial to ducks, too much can be harmful to them.
Sunflower seeds are high in calories, which the birds need as they provide them with the energy required for physical activities. Consuming too many sunflower seeds gives them excess calories.
When these excess calories are not used up or utilized, it will be converted to fats in their body, which leads to overweight ducks. This can make the fowl develop health issues like heart disease and high blood pressure.
The recommended serving is a handful of sunflower seeds per three ducks within a 4-day interval, for domestic or wild ducks.
Where should ducks be fed sunflower seeds, on land or water?
Sunflower seeds can be fed to ducks either on land or water. Sunflower seeds without shells will sink to the bottom of the water, and so should be fed on land.
Sunflower seeds with the husks, however, tend to float on water because they may still have air trapped within the shell, which creates buoyancy.
Are sunflower seeds safe for ducklings?
Yes, sunflower seeds are safe for ducklings and ducks of any age provided they have been stripped of salt.
What other seeds can I feed my ducks as treats?
You might want to feed your ducks some treats, only to discover you are out of sunflower seeds. Not to worry, there are a couple of items from your kitchen or fridge that can serve as treats for them. These include pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, chicken seeds, and peas.
Best poultry treats with sunflower seeds
There are a couple of poultry treats that contain sunflower seeds that you can feed your ducks. These poultry treats are a mix of highly nutritious seeds, and vegetables (sunflower seeds inclded) that have been fortified with vitamins and minerals for birds’ growth and good health.
The best poultry treats are the ones that contain all the nutrients for the birds’ growth in the right proportions.
Manna pro Harvest Delight is one of the best treat mixtures for your ducks. It is a mixture of wheat, peanuts, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, dried carrots, dried raisins, oils like vegetable and anise oil together with vitamins and mineral supplements.
It comes in flavors such as liver and can be given to birds of all ages, from chicks to matured ducks.
Just like humans, animals also have preferences when it comes to eating. While both raw and roasted, shelled and unshelled sunflower seeds are safe for consumption by ducks, you should look out for your birds’ preferences. Some may prefer raw sunflower seeds to roasted, or if they prefer shelled to unshelled seeds.
In the event that you are feeding your ducks with sunflower seeds for the first time, it is recommended that you feed the ducks individually, monitor them, and watch their reactions to the seeds.
Do not feed your ducks any other treats alongside sunflower seeds. This way you can tell if the sunflower seeds are negatively affecting their digestive system.
Sunflower seeds are totally safe for ducks, but your duck might be an exception. Be vigilant. If you discover that your duck is acting sick or there’s a difference in their stool after feeding them sunflower seeds, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Sunflower seeds should only be given to ducks as treats and should not override their regular diet or feed. Treats different from a duck’s diet should be given in moderation.