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Can Ducks Eat Chicken Feed? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

Whether you’re a duck owner or someone who occasionally throws out breadcrumbs at the local pond, you should know what type of food is edible for them. If you’ve ever wondered if chicken feed was one of those foods, but weren’t sure if it would hurt them, don’t worry! Ducks can eat chicken feed.

There are some negative side effects and a few guidelines you need to know. Any concerns you may have will be addressed, along with additional information about the health content of chicken feed and finding a few nutrient-rich alternatives.

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What’s in the feed?

chicken feed_C.Lotongkum_Shutterstock
Image Credit: C.Lotongkum, Shutterstock

Chicken feed has many nutritional benefits for poultry. It is composed of grains, oilseed, and animal by-products. Protein content will vary depending on the brand and anything above 18% protein content will be hard to find.

This is all well and good for chickens, but what about ducks?

Well, ducks are not chickens and will need a slightly different diet. The most potentially harmful difference is the lack of niacin in the feed. If you’re only feeding ducks occasionally at your local park don’t worry, chicken feed won’t harm them. However, if you are raising ducklings yourself, they will need more nutrients than chicken feed provides.

What should ducks eat?

flock of ducks_Kim Loan Nguyen thi_Pixabay
image Credit: Kim Loan Nguyen thi, Pixabay

Chicken feed is one valid option. If you decide to go that route you will need to make up for the lack of niacin. Without the niacin, your ducklings will grow to be smaller than average or they might even develop bowed legs and be unable to walk.

Adding brewer’s yeast to the feed is a common solution. When feeding ducks, you should add approximately 1.5 tablespoons to every cup of chicken feed.

Other options include niacin tablets, liquid B3 vitamins, or vitamin and mineral packets. On average, ducks need 9 mg of niacin a day, so plan accordingly.

Making sure you have the proper niacin to feed ratio can get very complicated very quickly, but if math’s not your thing there are alternatives to chicken feed. Most professionals recommend waterfowl pellets above all else when feeding ducks. They are full of the nutrients your aquatic friends need and you won’t have to account for the missing niacin.

How much is too much?

duckling eating_PUMPZA_Shutterstock
Image Credit: PUMPZA, Shutterstock

Ducklings love to eat! They’re growing and they need a lot of protein, but this poses a minor problem for those who use chicken feed. Most chicken feed is medicated to prevent coccidiosis, a common problem for chickens, but not a concern for ducks. Ducklings have a tendency to eat a lot, about 6-7 ounces of feed a day, and if they eat too much, they can over-medicate themselves and become sick.

When feeding ducklings, it’s best to find non medicated chick starter to avoid this potential problem.

Full-grown ducks don’t need as much food so there is a much smaller risk of over-medicating. However, you will still need to make sure they are not being overfed. Ducks usually need around 4-6 ounces of feed a day.

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Conclusion

For all you duck lovers out there know that chicken feed is a very safe a nutritious option for ducks. It doesn’t matter if you’re raising a team of ducks or feeding the stragglers in your backyard, chicken feed will most likely do no harm.

In case you weren’t taking notes, here’s a quick summary of everything you need to know! Ducks need niacin which chicken feed does not contain. Ducklings need more food than ducks but will become sick if they eat too much chicken feed because it is medicated to prevent coccidiosis. There are plenty of nutritious alternatives if you’re uncomfortable with chicken feed, the most commonly used is waterfowl pellets.

Now go out there and feed some ducks!

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Featured Image Credit: Piqsels

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.