If you’ve ever been out by the lake feeding ducks, or maybe even just feeding your own ducks, you probably already know that they love bread and other carbs like that. There’s just something about it!
Makes you wonder what other sorts of snack foods ducks can safely eat. How about popcorn? Can your ducks eat popcorn?
Yes, ducks can safely eat popcorn in strictly limited quantities. It should not contain salt, butter, or any other special flavorings.
Popcorn is a delicious snack for us, and surprisingly enough it’s something that ducks can have also as long as it is plain popped.
All of those delectable flavorings and seasonings we usually use are bad, bad news for ducks, and in any case they shouldn’t get too much popcorn no matter what. There are lots of good reasons for this, and I’ll tell you all about them down below.
Is Popcorn Good for Ducks?
Popcorn is typically thought of as just junk for ducks and other birds, but surprisingly enough, it does have some legitimate benefits as long as ducks only get it in moderation.
First and foremost, popcorn is a good source of energy for ducks. It’s basically nothing but carbs, and carbs that ducks can digest easily enough.
A boost of energy can help ducks deal with stress or harsh conditions, and even help them recover from injury.
Beyond that, popcorn also has vitamins and minerals that ducks do need, and all together they can improve feathering quality, help hens lay viable eggs with strong egg shells, and even improve overall skeletal health and healing. All definitely good benefits to consider.
But popcorn is never something you want to give to your ducks regularly or, even worse, make a usual part of their diet. As decent as it is, compared to other snacks, it’s still technically junk food for ducks.
Ducks that eat a lot of popcorn are going to miss out on other nutrients that they have to have, so make sure you give it to them only as a treat and only occasionally.
Nutritional Profile of Popcorn
Plain popcorn, without any other ingredients or toppings, is surprisingly decent concerning overall nutrition. Yes, it’s mostly carbohydrates, but you could say that about a lot of things that ducks normally.
More important for our concerns is that popcorn is a pretty good source of vitamins and minerals, namely B complex vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6.
The mineral content is similarly pretty impressive, and popcorn contains a great amount of iron and zinc, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus. It also has notable amounts of selenium, copper and calcium.
Make no mistake, this stuff is good for ducks, and popcorn is digestible meaning they’ll be able to access these nutrients if they eat it. You could do a lot worse than popcorn if you want a periodic snack for your ducks.
Can Ducks Eat Raw Popcorn Kernels?
No, ducks should not be allowed to eat raw popcorn kernels. They can eat them, and they will, but popcorn kernels in particular are extremely hard and that makes them very tough for your birds to digest them.
Recall that ducks basically chew their food internally in their gizzard in conjunction with grit that they eat in their diet.
Well, popcorn kernels are so hard, and so dense that they don’t break down easily or readily in a duck’s digestive system, and this can lead to impaction and other serious digestive maladies.
Eating a stray, unpopped kernel from popped popcorn is probably nothing to worry about, but never give your ducks large quantities of kernels only.
Can Ducks Eat Popcorn When it’s Popped?
Yes, ducks can have popped popcorn as long as it is plain, no salt, no butter, nothing else. Pop popcorn is light, flaky, and easy for ducks to eat, and far easier for them to digest.
Not for nothing, there just seems to be something about popped popcorn that ducks and many other birds really love.
Can Ducks Have Flavored Popcorn?
No! As mentioned several times already, popcorn that is covered with butter, seasonings, salt and all that other stuff that makes it so delicious for us is very bad news for your ducks.
I’ll talk more about why later, but for now, suffice it to say that they should never have any.
Can Ducklings Have Popcorn, Also?
Yes, ducklings can have plain, unseasoned, popped popcorn.
As you probably already guessed, they should only have a tiny little bit of it as a treat periodically, and even then only after they are a few weeks old and starting to eat more solid, whole foods.
Popcorn, as it is, all things considered, is still definitely junk food and worse for ducklings because it’s something they will fill up on and then miss out on more nutritious options that they desperately need.
Ducklings grow fast, and filling up on junk food isn’t going to help them grow!
Never Give Popcorn to Ducks if It’s Popped with Butter, Added Salt, or Other Seasonings
All right, this is the part that is bound to upset some folks. I don’t care who says they’ve given their ducks the same popcorn they always eat on movie night, and their ducks have never had a problem and blah blah blah.
Knock it off: You should never, ever give your ducks any popcorn that has all that butter, salt, cheese, sugar and other seasonings on it.
These things are all terrible for ducks, and other birds, and can easily lead to severe health issues not the least of which are obesity, high blood pressure, catastrophic digestive problems, and even something really horrendous like sodium poisoning.
This is serious, people: I know some folks think it’s just fine to give ducks a little bit of whatever they’re having, but if you care about the health and well-being of your animals, you’ll restrain yourself no matter how humorous you think it is or how many clicks it will get you on TikTok or whatever.
How Often Can Ducks Eat Popcorn?
Only periodically and only as a treat. Like most other treats or occasional inclusions to their diet, I say you can make it one or two small servings a week as long as they are getting all the other food they need.
Popped, plain popcorn is really not that bad for ducks as long as they don’t get too much of. Like most other carb-rich foods, if they overeat they’re going to miss out on other more nutritious stuff and potentially get some digestive problems.
Small servings, served occasionally, and your ducks will always enjoy it and look forward to it without any ill effects.
How Can You Serve Popcorn to Your Ducks?
This is just about as easy as it gets: pop your popcorn and toss it out there for your ducks to gobble up! They are fiendish for the stuff.
Also, if you have a much smaller breed of duck or ones that are very picky about the size of their food you can consider roughly crushing up the popcorn with your hands into little tidbits before you scatter it for them.
Don’t Leave Moldy, Spoiled Popcorn Where Ducks Can Get It
There probably won’t be a single scrap of popcorn left once your ducks are finished, but in case there is, try to sweep up any leftovers.
That popcorn will quickly go stale and then turn moldy, and if your ducks come back around later when they are in the mood for a snack and eat it, that nasty, moldy popcorn might make them sick.
This is no joke, either: certain types of mold that specifically grow on various grains and corn in particular are some of the most lethal to birds. A few strains yield deadly aflatoxin will easily kill your poor duck!
Careful: Popcorn Scraps Can Attract Pests!
Something else to consider is that popcorn, being corn, is extremely appealing to various rodents and other pests, including ones which can prey on your ducks or more likely on your ducklings and duck eggs.
Keep the infestation at bay by simply sweeping up after your ducks when they are finished with the popcorn.
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.