Did you know that ducks need extra nutrition during wintertime? The cold climate means fewer available natural food sources to sustain them. Therefore, if you are a duck owner or have wild ducks in your backyard, you should feed them to support them during freezing temperatures.
But what foods are suitable for ducks in the winter?
This article has put together a list of 8 essential food sources to help keep your ducks well-nourished throughout the winter. Please keep reading to find out more!
Table of Contents
1. Feeding Ducks Grains
Ducks can eat grains in their raw, unprocessed form, not ground into flour and baked into bread.
When offering grains to your backyard ducks, ensure they’re fresh or lightly cooked to retain their nutritional value. Some of the essential grains you can feed ducks include:
However, your ducks’ diet shouldn’t consist solely of corn. Feed your ducks cracked corn rather than whole kernels because it is easier for the birds to digest.
Wheat is a lightweight grain full of carbohydrates and protein. Thus, it is an ideal meal for energy throughout the colder season.
Keep wheat dry so it doesn’t get too wet and start to deteriorate or mold.
These grains contain essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals that promote healthy growth. They help fight against diseases and improve overall health.
Oats also contain fiber and soluble carbohydrates that help regulate the digestive system.
In addition to its nutritional value, barley has a nutty and mildly sweet flavor. Many ducks find it irresistible.
2. Feeding Ducks Vegetables
Among the duck-friendly vegetables are cucumbers, zucchinis, broccoli, and peas. Other vegetables that are good for ducks include:
Potatoes contain complex carbs, which help keep birds warm during colder temperatures. These carbs provide more energy throughout the day.
Cooking potatoes destroys this compound.
However, carrots should only make up about 5 to 10% of the duck’s diet because they don’t have all the required nutrients. In other words, you should regard carrots as a treat rather than a regular food source for ducks.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green vegetables such as kale, cabbage, and lettuce are rich in vitamins and minerals. And they can supplement a duck’s diet. Wash and chop up the leafy greens before feeding them to the ducks.
3. Feeding Ducks Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds provide high-energy fatty acids. These nutrients help the ducks to remain healthy in cold weather.
Additionally, their unique taste makes them an enjoyable treat for most ducks. The birds will happily gobble up these nutritious nuts and seeds:
Also, they contain vitamin B6, which helps maintain nerve function and red blood cells.
Pumpkin seeds are high in protein, low in fat, and contain nutrients like vitamin A and iron. They are also high in amino acids, which provide energy to your duck’s muscles.
Peanuts are rich in vitamins B-6, thiamine, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and copper. Unfortunately, due to their high oil content, peanuts are not a staple part of the ducks’ diet.
Almonds have a similar nutritional profile. Moreover, they contain high levels of vitamin E and monounsaturated fatty acids. Thus, they can help reduce cholesterol levels.
4. Feeding Ducks Insects and Worms
Ducks cannot find aquatic plants such as algae or vegetation during winter. The frozen water blocks their access. Therefore, they may turn to insects and worms as substitutes. Insects and worms live in the soil, and you can still find them in the winter.
Here are a few examples:
Mealworms are a valuable supplement for ducks, especially during the winter. You can find them in pet stores, garden centers, and online retailers.
Earthworms contain high levels of protein and fat that help support feather growth. They also supply vitamin B-12, which enhances metabolism in ducklings.
In addition to protein, crickets contain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and fiber.
Ordering them online is a great way to get fresh, live crickets during winter.
5. Feeding Ducks Fresh and Frozen Fruits
Fresh and frozen fruits are also great treats for ducks over winter.
Apples are an excellent choice as they contain vitamin C and dietary fiber. They help support digestion while also providing carbohydrates for energy in cold temperatures. Additionally, apples have pectin–a soluble fiber that helps support digestive health.
Berries are another excellent option for feeding your backyard ducks during winter. They contain essential vitamins such as vitamin C. Vitamins are vital for developing a robust immune system in ducks.
Bananas contain high levels of vitamin B6, which helps support ducks’ immune systems. The potassium in bananas helps regulate fluid balance within their bodies.
6. Feeding Ducks Protein-Rich Foods
Some good protein sources for ducks include:
Also, it is crucial to watch out for overfeeding. Too much protein can lead to obesity or other health issues in ducks.
Shrimp is rich in protein and other essential nutrients. And they are an ideal supplement to a balanced diet of seeds, grains, grasses, and insects.
7. Feeding Ducks Special Treats
Giving ducks crackers, bread, pasta, or chips can lead to malnutrition and bad behavior. So, what can we give them for treats?
Any of the above-discussed foods could make a healthier treat for ducks. You can offer them anything that they love eating and is nutritious, such as:
8. Pellets and Grit
Purchase only pellets made explicitly for ducks. Generic bird pellets may have only some of the necessary nutritional requirements for ducks. Also, remember to monitor your duck’s consumption of pellets. Overfeeding can lead to health problems such as obesity.
Ducklings should be at least three weeks old before you start giving them grit.
Over the winter months, ducks require a well-balanced supplementary diet. Grains provide essential carbohydrates and proteins for energy. At the same time, vegetables offer vital vitamins and minerals, supporting overall health.
Fruits provide birds with antioxidants to help neutralize free radicals in cells. Always consult a vet to know the safety of specific diets for the ducks.
These tips will help your feathered friends stay healthy throughout brutal winter weather.
I wrote this article from my experience raising ducks and the following sources: