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Can Ducks Eat Corn? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

May 27, 2021

Most birders often overlook or dismiss corn as a lesser birdseed filler. However, corn is a helpful, available, and affordable option for feeding ducks.

Ducks have a varied omnivorous diet, including birdseed, wheat, barley, uncooked or quick oat, and other similar grains. Seemingly, these birds are impartial to corn and can eat any; fresh corn from the cob, dry and cracked corn, or tinned, and frozen whole corn kernels-be sure to defrost them first, though.

duck-divider

How Much Corn Can a Duck Eat?

Corn is an incredible and nutrient-packed grain that ducks really love to eat. You can feed your ducks cracked or whole corn, although most duck-fanciers suggest that cracked corn is suitable because it is easier for the birds to digest.

Cracked corn is exactly that-corn kernels that you dry and then grind to pieces such that they are easier for the birds to eat than whole kernels.

The grain size varies depending on the type of grinder you use to crack the corn with, but you can feed your bird whatever corn size you are most comfortable with-most ducks do not notice the sizes.

However, ducks love corn, but duck owners should only provide it as an occasional treat for their birds. Cracked corn does not contain a high oil percentage, but it is rich in protein and fiber, making it an excellent supplemental food for backyard ducks.

You shouldn’t add corn to a three to six weeks old duckling’s diet because it does not contain a high number of proteins the newborn ducklings require to grow. On the other hand, older ducks only require only 16% of proteins within their diet, which means you can give a quarter-pound a day.

duck mallard_ Capri23auto_Pixabay
Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay

How to Feed Ducks Corn

1. Sprinkle on the Ground

Corn, especially cracked corn is suitable for ground-feeding bird species like ducks. For this reason, it would be best to sprinkle the corn on the ground in an open area of dirt, sand, gravel, short grass, and along a deck or patio.

2. Mix Corn with Birdseed

You can also include cracked or whole kernels into birdseed mixes. However, keep the cracked corn in a minimal proportion.

3. Don’t Overfeed

Also, avoid overfeeding your ducks, as experts suggest that too much corn for ducks is unhealthy and can cause them to create excess waste that may pollute the environment, including waterways.

Plus, excess corn does not provide ducks with enough proteins, which can contribute to nutritional deficiencies. However, you can still accompany mash feeds and crumbles with corn for a well-rounded diet.

4. Grind Whole Corn Kernels

Ducks do not chew, so while whole ducks can eat entire corn kernels, it would be best to offer your bird what it can comfortably accommodate in the mouth. Grind the food into bite-sized pieces that your it can easily consume without choking or struggling.

Good Foods for Ducks

While you may primarily think of ducks dabbling through mud, eating weeds, crawfish, larvae, tiny frogs, newts, small shrimps, and waterside plants, you’ll be surprised at some of the things they eat.

ducks eating_ChaniDAP_Shutterstock
Image Credit: ChaniDAP, Shutterstock
What to Feed Ducks
  • Cracked corn (favorite)
  • Grains (wheat, barley, oat)
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Chopped vegetables
  • Frozen Peas (Defrost before feeding)
  • Oats (rolled or instant)
  • Birdseed
  • Rice (cooked and uncooked)
  • Small berries
  • Grass and leaves
  • Mealworms
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Sunflower seeds (favorite)
  • Apples (without seeds)
  • Banana
  • Halved grapes
  • Chicken feed

Duck Food to Avoid

  • Bread or bread-like products
  • Popcorn
  • Raw potato
  • Spinach
  • Citrus
  • Avocado
  • Onions
  • Nuts
Corn
Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay

Why Ducks Should Not Eat Bread

1. Poses Health Risk

Unfortunately, most people associate bread with duck, when it is the worst food for a duck’s diet. You should avoid bread when feeding ducks because it is a nutritionally void food for the birds.

Any diet of bread or bread-like products, including crackers, chips, cookies, donuts, cereal, rolls, and similar scraps, is unhealthy. These foods make the birds feel full and take the place of their necessary balanced diet, causing health issues like obesity, malnutrition, and poor development like deformed wings over time.

Similarly, if you provide bread to your duck and some of it goes uneaten, the leftover bread can grow mold, which poses a health risk for ducks-sometimes even developing lung disease.

2. Triggers Algae Bloom

Uneaten bread can also increase the growth of algae in the water, depleting oxygen from the water. This growth kills aquatic animals and plants, spreading diseases and robbing the birds of natural food supplies.

duck-paw-divider

Summary

Ducks are great foragers and opportunistic eaters that will eat nearly any food. Therefore, birders should understand what these birds can eat to keep their habitats and their feeding areas healthy and nutritious.


Featured Image: keem1201, Pixabay

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.