Ducks are omnivores, but they still focus on eating all sorts of plant matter. Domestic ducks will have access to or be deliberately fed various grains as part of their diet.
Grains are a pretty contentious topic when it comes to poultry and ducks in particular, with some people claiming that they do a lot more harm than good.
It turns out that rice is probably the most hotly debated out of all the common grounds, with some people claiming it is outright deadly to our poor, unsuspecting ducks. What’s the truth? Can ducks eat rice or not?
Yes, ducks can eat rice and do so safely. As long as it is fed to ducks as part of a balanced diet, it’s a great source of vital nutrients that they need, especially the B vitamins complex.
I know this is bound to set some people off, and I promise I will address it right away, but it turns out you can give rice to ducks, and most other birds, with absolutely no cause for concern.
In fact, you can make a great case for incorporating rice as a fairly regular part of their diet. It has a lot of benefits! Hang on to those comments, and I’ll explain everything below.
Wait a Minute, Isn’t Rice Bad for Birds?
There is a reason that rice is so controversial as food for ducks and for other birds. It’s all because of a persistent urban legend, or old wives’ tale, or hoax, or whatever you want to call it.
I don’t know how old it is or where exactly it got started, but I can remember hearing about it even when I was a child.
It goes something like this: the idea is that rice is bad or deadly for birds because the birds will eat it, then drink some water later on, and the rice will swell, and swell, and swell until the poor bird literally blows up from the inside.
Definitely gruesome! No wonder it has persisted so long.
But I’m here to tell you definitively, and unequivocally, that it is purely a myth. A lie. Rice is just fine for birds.
If it won’t hurt the birds that eat it outside of a wedding ceremony after it gets thrown in the air, it won’t hurt your ducks if you feed it to them.
Yes, it is possible to give ducks, or any bird, way too much of it and maybe have some negative side effects, but this really isn’t an issue as long as you’re responsible.
Is Rice Good for Ducks?
Now, with all that out of the way, is rice actually good for ducks? I’m thrilled to report that yes it is!
Rice is a great source of energy, easy for ducks to digest and contains vital vitamins and nutrients that will help them stay healthy and fight off disease.
Fact, most kinds of rice are so well-rounded nutritionally that they can improve everything from feathering and healing to the production of strong, healthy eggs, and even organ function in ducks.
That’s an awful lot of benefit for what is one of the most common types of grain in the world.
The only real downside of rice is that, if you allow your ducks to overindulge on it, it has a tendency to cause constipation and weight gain. That, and it isn’t nutritionally complete.
Nutritional Profile of Rice
Rice has lots of good nutrients that ducks need in their diet or regularly.
Particularly, looking at vitamins, we see that it has a good assortment of B series vitamins, particularly riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, and B6 rounded out with a little bit of vitamin E and vitamin K.
But it’s the mineral content of rice that is so spectacular! Most types of rice are packed with magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and selenium and also contain a good bit of iron, zinc, and copper.
These are all nutrients that ducks need, and they can get plenty of it if you add rice to their diet.
Can Ducks Have Rice Raw?
Yes, they can. Raw rice sounds definitely unappealing to us but it’s no problem for ducks. They can digest it easily thanks to their gizzard and the grit that it contains.
Raw rice also contains the maximum amount of nutrition and is totally painless to prepare for your ducks, two big advantages.
Can Ducks Eat Cooked Rice?
Yes, your ducks can eat cooked rice and, I’ll let you in a little secret, they really seem to love the stuff! Something about the texture sets them off, I’m not sure.
Anyway, this can be a great way to make rice an even better treat for your ducks, but do know that the cooking process will strip it of many of its vitamins and minerals.
Is White Rice Okay for Ducks?
Yes, it is. White rice is totally fine for ducks, and although it isn’t as nutritious as brown rice, it is easier for them to digest and also longer lasting compared to brown rice, meaning it has some logistical advantages.
It’s also a fine choice for any ducks that are already having digestive issues.
Is Brown Rice Okay for Ducks?
Yes. Brown rice is safe for ducks, and is even more nutritious than white rice.
However, it’s a little tougher for them to digest and for your purposes you should know that it will spoil much quicker than white rice, so make sure you inspect it more closely and more often if you are keeping it on hand.
Can Ducklings Have Rice, Also?
Yes, they sure can. Rice is a pretty good idea as a supplement or treat for your ducklings, but you’ll want to make sure that they’re only getting it as a treat or occasional supplement once they are a few weeks old.
If ducklings are allowed to fill up on rice, they will miss out on the nutrients they need from their starter feed.
Eating too much rice also has a market tendency to cause constipation in ducks, and particularly in ducklings, so watch out for that and don’t overdo it!
Never Give Rice to Ducks if Made with Harmful Foods
Rice can be prepared in countless ways, and is used in countless dishes from around the world. Whether it is savory or sweet, your ducks don’t need any of this stuff.
Cheeses, butter, seasonings, sugar, all that is really bad news for ducks and can make them seriously sick.
I get it, you might want to share your favorite dish with your ducks, but it isn’t going to help them. Stick with plain cooked or raw rice only.
How Often Can Ducks Eat Rice?
Rice has a tremendous amount of benefits for ducks, and it’s also easy for them to digest and nutritious.
Naturally, they can have this more often than other foods that we might consider treats or supplements. I recommend giving your ducks anywhere from 2 to 4 servings a week.
Also, don’t be afraid to go to rice if you need to help any duck recover from stress related to injury, weather or other issues. Rice also makes a wonderful warming feed if your flock is struggling to cope with the coldest weather.
How Can You Serve Rice to Your Ducks?
How you serve rice to your ducks depends on if you are giving it to them raw or cooked.
Raw rice is easy. Just inspect the rice really well to make sure it hasn’t spoiled, gone moldy or otherwise bad, and then you can scatter it on the ground for them to search for or mix it in with their other food.
Do not, do not, give them a huge trough of rice to eat whenever they feel like it or they will overeat.
If you are cooking rice, prepare it normally but use a little less water than you would typically. You don’t want your rice to be soft and mushy for your ducks.
It should still have a little “tooth” to it. Once the rice is cooked but still a little firm, let it cool down and then you can add it to other food or give it to your ducks as-is.
Never Give Your Ducks Moldy Rice!
You must take exacting care to inspect any rice that you would give your ducks, and particularly old or brown rice that has been exposed to moisture.
Rice, more than most other grains, is associated with molds that produce deadly toxins, and these toxins have killed countless animals and people over the years, having been known about since antiquity.
The most devastating is probably Claviceps, which produces a mycotoxin that can lead to spasms, spontaneous rotting of tissue and even sudden death.
Never, ever give any old or moldy rice to your ducks or you might kill them!
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.