If you’ve owned ducks for any length of time you already know that they have a highly varied diet.
Aside from their usual feed or mash they can eat all sorts of fruits and veggies, mealworms and other insects, and a lot more.
Domestic and wild ducks alike also eat some grains, growing in the form of crops. It makes you wonder if there are any grains that ducks can’t have. They are plants, after all. How about corn? Can ducks eat corn?
Yes, ducks can safely eat corn, and it is a great source of energy for them along with a source of vitamins and minerals they need. However, corn is very calorie dense and can be tough for ducks to digest, so feed it to them as part of a balanced diet.
This isn’t much of a surprise, is it? Many domestic animals can eat corn as a regular or part of their usual diet, and ducks are no different.
It’s not the first food that I associate with ducks in a domestic setting, but it definitely has a place on their menu. I’ll tell you all about that and more below…
Is Corn Good for Ducks?
Yes, broadly, corn is good for ducks.
For ducks, as with pretty much every other animal that eats it, corn is a great source of energy, and can be just the thing for helping ducks to deal with stress or injury, or just to give them a little more pep in their step.
But corn isn’t just junk food, or a treat, as it’s also surprisingly a good source of vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for ducks.
All told, the vitamins and minerals that corn contains can improve many facets of a duck’s health, from feathering and healing to skeletal growth and even maintenance of the nervous system and organ function. Not bad for a humble grain!
But corn has some significant downsides, namely the propensity it has to make ducks gain weight when fed in excess, and also the fact that several types of corn can be difficult for ducks to digest.
But luckily, both of these issues are easily managed when you know what to do.
Nutritional Profile of Corn
Corn catches a lot of flak these days as a nutritionally bankrupt but calorie-dense food that is leading the vanguard of the obesity epidemic in America.
This isn’t entirely undeserved, but as far as ducks are concerned, it actually has quite a few nutritional perks, both in the form of vitamins and minerals.
Corn is rich in many vitamins, specifically vitamin A, E, K and most of the B complex set, namely niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, folate and B6.
There’s even more to love concerning the mineral content, and corn carries a lot of iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium along with a little bit of selenium and zinc.
Corn even has a little bit of naturally occurring sodium which can help ducks stay hydrated in hot weather and isn’t generally an issue unless they are already eating a diet that is too high in salt.
Can Ducks Eat Corn Raw?
Yes, they can. Ducks can eat raw corn, or more specifically fresh corn, with no issues so long as you take it off the cob.
Fresh corn is crisp, sweet and tasty, and it also has the best possible nutrition for ducks, so this is what I would go with serving it to mine.
Can Ducks Have Dried Corn?
Ducks can have dried corn, but you must be more cautious and inspect it carefully.
Dried corn tends to be extraordinarily hard and difficult or even impossible for ducks and other birds to digest. This is especially problematic with whole-kernel dried corn.
Specifically, one major issue that’s associated with dried corn consumption in birds is blockage of the crop and impaction of the gizzard. I’d recommend serving your ducks another type of corn.
What About Multicolor Corn? Can Ducks Have That?
Yes, they sure can! There’s a dazzling rainbow of different corn cultivars out there, and some of them even have many different colors on the same cob.
Whatever the color, and whatever the variations in nutritional content, ducks can eat any color of corn safely.
Can Ducks Eat Cracked Corn?
Yes, ducks can eat cracked corn. It is a form of dried corn, but I’m not reversing myself: cracking dried corn helps to soften it significantly and also break it down into smaller bits that are easier to swallow and digest for ducks.
Although you still need to feed it to them sparingly, there are far fewer problems associated with cracked corn then whole kernel dry corn.
Can Ducks Eat Corn Husks?
Ducks can eat corn husks, but there’s no great reason to serve them to them. They have hardly any nutrition to speak of, and they are stringy and very fibrous.
Ducks aren’t going to get anything out of them, not really, and they are a not-insignificant choking hazard.
You should simply toss the corn husks when preparing corn for your ducks.
Can Ducks Eat Corn When It’s Cooked?
Yes, your ducks can have cooked corn. Typically you won’t have to cook the corn so long as the individual kernels are crisp and removed from the cob.
But if you have plain cooked corn and want to give it to your ducks, you can without worry.
Just know that the cooking process does deplete the vitamin and mineral content of the corn, and it won’t be as nutritious for them as it would be if it was raw.
Can Ducklings Have Corn, Also?
Yes, ducklings can have corn the same as adults can, but with some significant stipulations.
First, I say avoid cracked and dried corn entirely. The risk of feeding it to your ducklings is just too high.
Next, wait until your ducklings grow up a little bit, preferably around 4 weeks old before you let them have fresh or cooked corn for the first time, and even then I recommend you dice it up to make it easier for them to eat.
And keep in mind that corn is not a great option for ducklings, nutritionally.
Although it is healthy and a great source of energy, ducklings are growing fast and need constant good nutrients if they are going to grow big and thrive.
Corn is fine as a little treat, but if you are letting them fill up on it they aren’t going to be getting all the nutrients they desperately need at this young and vulnerable age.
Never Give Corn to Ducks if It’s Made with Harmful Foods
You should never, ever give any corn to your ducks that has been prepared with ingredients they can’t have, things like a good slathering of butter or a bunch of added salt.
Also, this means no canned corn because canned corn (and other veggies) is typically overloaded with salt as well. Any of these ingredients can have serious consequences for your ducks…
How Often Can Ducks Eat Corn?
I would give your ducks no more than one or two small servings of corn per week. It isn’t a staple food for them like it is for other livestock species.
Corn is great as a treat, and it can also be a wonderful warming feed to help your ducks cope with some bitterly cold weather, but it’s not a staple they should be allowed to eat all the time.
How Can You Serve Corn to Your Ducks?
Cooked or not, the best way to serve corn to your ducks is to remove the husk from the cob and then cut the kernels off to be washed and then cooked or served as is.
Remember, if you’re giving your ducks dried corn make sure you crack it and crush it properly!
Warning: Corn Can Host Dangerous Molds that Can Kill Ducks!
When you are done feeding corn to your ducks, especially fresh or cooked corn, you must clean it up.
On the same token, if you have some old corn that you’re going to throw out because it’s gotten moldy, don’t give it to your ducks!
Reason why is that corn is especially prone to hosting dangerous varieties of mold that produce toxins which can easily make ducks deathly sick or even kill them outright.
These are a historical factor associated with various grain blights that have decimated human and animal populations alike.
Two of the worst are Fusarium graminearum and Aspergillus ochraceous. Old and moldy or rotting corn can host either of them, so only give your ducks the fresh stuff and clean it up when they are finished!
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.