If you’ve had ducks for any length of time, you probably noticed they are about as enthusiastic for food as any other animal, and they love swiping a little bit of food from other animals or any grains that you might drop going about your chores.
Nothing’s off-limits to these birds, that’s for sure! But it does beg the question of whether or not ducks can have grains. How about something like oats? Is it okay for ducks to eat oats?
Yes, ducks can eat oats on a limited basis as part of a well-rounded diet. Oats are packed with vitamins and minerals that ducks need, but they shouldn’t eat them all the time or to the exclusion of their usual feed.
As it turns out, oats are usually pretty loved by ducks and they will gobble them up with glee. Oats are also quite healthy for them, and you can feel good about giving oats to your ducks.
However, the key is in moderation. Giving them too many oats, or giving them oats too often can lead to a nutritional imbalance in your ducks’ diet.
It’s not much to worry about as long as you follow the tips I’ll give you below…
Are Oats Good for Ducks?
Yes, oats are good for ducks. Oats are healthy and wholesome for most animals, and that certainly includes ducks.
Aside from being a good source of quick and easily digestible energy, ducks also get a wide variety of nutrients they need in order to thrive.
Feeding your birds oats as a part of their diet a couple of times a week has been linked with improved metabolism, better organ function and particularly heart health, healthier, stronger eggs, better healing and feathering, and even improved immune system function.
That is a ton of benefit from one, simple type of grain, and considering how much ducks seem to like oats in general, you shouldn’t need much more prompting than that to start feeding them.
Nutritional Profile of Oats
Oats come in all sorts of kinds and types, and the amount of processing that oats have undergone prior to you preparing them, or yourself or for your ducks, will determine the nutritional content.
Generally, the quicker the oats cook the less nutritious they are. Remember that as a rule of thumb.
That being said, oats are broadly highly nutritious, and they have a great amount of vitamins and minerals to offer ducks aside from easily digested carbohydrates for energy.
All types of oats contain lots of B vitamins, especially thiamine, riboflavin, folate, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6.
And oats have even more minerals than they do vitamins, and they’re one of the very best sources of manganese, and additionally magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron and calcium.
All in all, oats get excellent marks in the nutrition department…
Can Ducks Eat Oats Raw?
Yes. Ducks can eat raw oats with no major issues, although raw oats are slightly tougher for them to digest than cooked oats depending on the type. We’ll talk more about these just below.
Can Ducks Eat Cooked Oats?
Yes, they can. Cooked oats are more appealing to ducks generally. Ducks don’t struggle with moist foods like many other birds so there is less to worry about if you are cooking oatmeal for them.
However, there’s a point of contention as to whether or not cooking oats is better from a nutritional standpoint compared to leaving them raw.
Normally, raw foods are best and have more vitamins and minerals overall compared to cooked foods, at least as far as ducks are concerned.
But because oats are somewhat tough to digest compared to greenery, some experts believe that lightly cooking oats actually makes the nutrition in them more bioavailable even though the overall levels are reduced, meaning a net gain nutritionally.
The jury is ultimately out on this one, but you can definitely cook oats for your ducks if you prefer.
Can Ducks Eat Groats?
Yes, your ducks can eat groats. Groats are oats that have the bran intact, and though they are harder for them to digest, they have even more nutrients to offer.
How About Instant Oats?
Yes, but with a caveat. Instant oats are safe for ducks so long as they don’t have any added ingredients like those sugary fruit bits, syrups, and stuff like that. None of that is good for your birds…
Are Steel-cut Oats Safe for Ducks?
Yes, they are. Steel-cut oats are just another type of processed oatmeal, but there are typically plain with no additives, and that means they are just fine for your ducks.
Can Ducks Eat Rolled Oats Safely?
Yes, they can. Rolled oats are just oats that are slightly processed in order to make them a little bit easier and quicker to cook.
So long as they don’t have any added ingredients, they’re totally safe for ducks.
Can Ducks Eat Quick Oats?
Yes. Same thing here: quick oats are a type of oat that has been pre-cooked to make subsequent cooking, or I guess heating, even quicker hence the name. These are also safe for ducks.
Can Ducklings Have Oats, Also?
Yes, they can, but only in strict moderation and preferably once they are cooked. However, ducklings should never be allowed to have cooked oats that are very sticky or clumpy because they can be a choking risk for them.
My advice is to let your ducklings grow up a little bit, preferably 4 weeks old or older, before you give them oats.
They are nutritious and beneficial, but they will do best on their starter feed during this critical phase.
If you insist on giving them a few tidbits as a treat, finely chop some dry oats and let them nibble on those.
Never Give Oats to Ducks Made with Harmful Foods
I alluded to this above talking about instant oats but I’ll repeat it here to make sure everyone sees it.
Do not give your ducks any oats, raw or prepared, that have added ingredients or sweeteners such as sugar, butter, maple syrup or any other flavorings and especially artificial flavors.
All of these things are very bad for ducks, and will lead to significant health problems. At best, some pretty serious indigestion. At worst, organ failure, and hypertension.
Stick with plain oats for your ducks, whether they are cooked or not.
How Often Can Ducks Eat Oats?
Oats are a great supplement to the diet of your ducks, and they really do enjoy them as a treat, too, but they shouldn’t have them all the time.
I recommend it giving your ducks two smaller servings of oats per week, or even smaller quantities every other day or so as a treat.
You can go overboard with oats, and they have a tendency to cause constipation if you give your birds too much or serve them too often.
How Can You Serve Oats to Your Ducks?
If you are serving your ducks any sort of raw or uncooked oats, simply scatter a few handfuls around and let them eat, or mix them in with other food.
Remember, oats are very dry and absorbent, and ducks prefer moist food so ensure they have water nearby.
Alternately, you can cook them as usual according to package directions, but remember: no added ingredients, no milk, just water, and do take care of that the oats aren’t sticky or clumpy to help prevent issues with choking or them getting stuck in the bills of your ducks.
Don’t Leave Old Oats Lying Around
If you scatter oats around for your ducks, you don’t have to track down every last stray flake or bit, but if you give them a larger quantity make sure you take it up when they are done with it.
You definitely don’t want your ducks to eat them when they start to get old and moldy, because that can make them sick.
But, you also need to be aware that oats are highly attractive to pests, and particularly mice and rats. If you don’t want unwelcome to guests, get rid of those leftover oats!
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.