If there is one food that you associated with birds, including ducks, what would it be? I would say seeds. Across the world, all kinds of birds, great and small, eat seeds. All kinds of seeds!
No matter what kind they are they all have one thing in common, namely they are a great source of calories and also packed full of vital nutrients.
Naturally, ducks can have seeds also, but are there any seeds that ducks shouldn’t eat? How about sunflower seeds? Can ducks eat those?
Yes, ducks can eat sunflower seeds, and not only do they love them, they also get excellent nutrition from them. Watch the quantity, though, because they’re highly caloric.
This is probably a total non-surprise for most of us for the reasons I outlined above. Birds love seeds, and ducks are no different.
But what you might not know is that sunflower seeds can be an excellent part of a duck’s diet as long as you make sure to feed them in moderation.
Not only will your ducks look forward to getting their ration of sunflower seeds, but you’ll like the health benefits they can provide them. Keep reading and I’ll tell you all about it…
Are Sunflower Seeds Good for Ducks?
Yes! Yes, they are. Sunflower seeds are incredibly good for ducks, being packed full of vitamins and minerals that all they need.
They’re also a tremendous source of energy, and can be used to help ducks beat stress from injury or inclement weather, heal, and generally stay healthy.
And the vitamins and minerals found in sunflower seeds, of which there are many, can do everything from improving skeletal health and feathering to enhancing circulation, organ function, eyesight, and a whole lot more.
Perhaps the only drawback associated with your ducks eating sunflower seeds is that they are extremely calorie dense.
If you allow your ducks to overeat, and they will if you let them, they’ll start to gain weight and quickly.
But that issue aside so long as you can manage the amount they get in their diet there is not one thing to worry about.
Nutritional Profile of Sunflower Seeds
Chances are probably pretty good you’ve never stopped to really look at the nutritional content of sunflower seeds.
All we need to know is that birds like them, and they can even be a delicious snack when we are out at the ballpark.
If you haven’t, today’s the day you learn how truly nutritious sunflower seeds really are!
For instance, aside from being a super source of energy sunflower seeds also contain a good amount of protein and good fats that are beneficial for ducks.
The vitamin content of sunflower seeds is also remarkable, with tremendous amounts of B complex vitamins and vitamin E, and also choline backed up by a little bit of vitamin C.
They don’t have a truly complete vitamin profile, but they are one of the best around.
And the good news doesn’t stop there, because sunflower seeds have an absolutely incredible mineral profile.
Sunflower seeds have so many different minerals, and in such abundance, that they make a lot of veggies look absolutely lackluster by comparison.
Sunflower seeds have tons of iron, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium along with a comparatively lesser amount of calcium, potassium and sodium.
The presence of sodium might give it some duck owners pause, but it really isn’t anything to worry about as long as your ducks aren’t getting too much in their diet overall. Ducks do need sodium just like we do!
Can Ducks Eat Sunflower Seeds Raw?
Yes, this is definitely how you should give sunflower seeds to your ducks. Raw!
Ducks won’t have any trouble eating or digesting raw sunflower seeds, and they will also have the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals, definitely something you want for your ducks!
Can Ducks Have Un-Shelled Sunflower Seeds?
Yes, they can. But just to clear something up, what you and I might call unshelled sunflower seeds are, and actuality, just the sunflower seed.
You and I, though, don’t eat that tough, fibrous outer hole over the kernel, or heart, in the middle.
But, there’s a good case for serving these whole seeds to your ducks because they can digest that outer part and it will also supply them with nutrients and fiber.
Can Ducks Have Sunflower Hearts?
Yes, they can. Your ducks can eat sunflower hearts, or sunflower kernels, as they are if you buy them shelled or as a matter of course when eating a whole and intact sunflower seed.
But like I said above, there’s no reason to go through the trouble of showing them or paying more for these because a ducks can eat the entire seed.
Can Ducks Eat Sunflower Seeds When They are Cooked?
Yes, ducks can eat cooked, rather roasted, sunflower seeds. But once again, this is a non-starter as ducks going to eat sunflower seeds raw with absolutely no issues.
If you have raw sunflower seeds, please don’t feel like you have to go to any trouble by cooking them for your ducks.
At best, it might make them slightly more palatable, but you’ll be paying for that by depleting the vitamins and minerals that your ducks need.
And since you’re here, I will mention now that you should never, ever give your ducks roasted sunflower seeds that have been prepared with lots of extra salt or other seasonings, the kind that we would buy as a snack for ourselves.
That is a great way to make your ducks very sick, but I’ll talk about that in a later section.
Can Ducklings Have Sunflower Seeds, Also?
Yes, ducklings can have sunflower seeds but only after they are a few weeks old.
Tiny ducklings might struggle to swallow larger sunflower seeds, and they could get caught in their crop or throat, or potentially impact their gizzard which would be disastrous.
Also, make sure you keep sunflower seeds strictly as an occasional treat, and I mean one or two seeds, per duckling and feed them sparingly.
Like we discussed above, sunflower seeds are extremely calorie-dense, and ducklings that get way more calories than they need are vulnerable to early-life syndromes like angel wing, aside from obesity with all of its complications.
Never Give Sunflower Seeds to Ducks if It is Made with Harmful Foods
Okay, back to the flavored sunflower seed thing. Most sunflower seeds you buy over the counter at the gas station or grocery store or not raw the way nature intended.
They’ve been roasted, and typically have a ton of extra salt added.
Many, these days, have all sorts of strange seasoning and flavoring concoctions sprinkled or poured over them. They might be a delicious snack, but they’re very bad news for your ducks…
These strange ingredients and tons of extra salt will lead to health problems, and potentially the most devastating of all is sodium poisoning which can cause seizures, brain damage, and death.
Stick with plain, unsalted sunflower seeds for your ducks or prepare to face the consequences.
How Often Can Ducks Eat Sunflower Seeds?
Sunflower seeds are very good for ducks all around, but because they have so many calories it’s not something they need to eat all the time.
They can have a few mixed in with other food sources for variety, or you can give them a somewhat larger amount once or twice a week at most as a supplement.
Any more than that, and your ducks will probably be facing weight gain at least.
I like to give ducks sunflower seeds in a larger amount but less often so it is a treat they can look forward to.
If you have a bag or can that you keep sunflower seeds in and shake it when you’re heading out to them, you can watch them come running!
How Can You Serve Sunflower Seeds to Your Ducks?
There’s not much to do when giving sunflower seeds to your ducks: you can scatter them and let them pick them up, place them in a bowl or feeder, or even let them nibble some right out of your hand if you want.
The key thing is just to meter out the quantity before you feed them so they don’t get too many.
Don’t Leave Moldy, Spoiled Sunflower Seeds Where Ducks Can Get Them
One thing to be aware of when feeding sunflower seeds or any other seeds to your ducks is mold contamination.
Various dangerous molds can grow on sunflower seeds, or others, they can make your ducks dreadfully sick or even kill them.
This is rarely a concern for sunflower seeds that you keep inside your house, but any that are left lying outside or stored outdoors are at risk.
If you notice any obvious mold growths on seeds in the bag or other container, smell a moldy or musty odor or notice a strange discolored dust coating them, don’t feed them to your ducks.
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.