27 Things That Are Safe for Baby Ducks to Eat

Most of the time when you’re taking care of baby animals they have an extremely strict diet. The earliest days and weeks of their lives are crucial times when it comes to development, so proper nutrition is paramount.

Ancona ducklings in brooder
Ancona ducklings in brooder

The same is true for ducklings, of course, but what you might not know is that ducklings are capable of eating a surprising variety of foods.

Whether you want to supplement their usual diet with some new, wholesome options or just give them a treat to help break up the monotony a bit, you’ll find plenty they love to eat among the foods on this list.

Duckling Feed

Duckling feed is, naturally, one of the most important items on the menu for baby ducks. Very similar to common duck feed for adults, it’s nutritionally optimized and can give them almost everything they need to grow quickly and healthy, particularly essential vitamins.

Note that your ducklings should be subsisting almost entirely on this feed until they are about 6 weeks old, at which point you can start giving them some other items on this list.

Insects

Lots of birds eat all kinds of insects, and one kind of insect that is perennially on the menus of ducks is the beetle.

For feeding your ducklings, I recommend that you buy darkling beetles for them to eat. Once they grow up a bit, their instincts for picking out other safe ones from the yard when foraging will improve and they can snag them freely.

Larvae

Aside from fully grown insects, all kinds of insect larvae and particularly fly larvae are a regular fixture in a wild duck’s diet. Your ducklings will benefit from them because they’re a wonderful source of protein and various other essential nutrients.

Again, your best bet for adding these to the menu of your little ones is to source them from a poultry supply retailer or pet shops that cater to birds.

Mealworms

Mealworms are a wonderful nutritional resource for ducklings whether they’re alive or dried, and are positively packed with protein, minerals, healthy fats, and more that will supercharge their growth and overall well-being.

Most mealworms are tiny enough for your average duckling to eat with no issue, but don’t hesitate to roughly chop or mash them if they’re still a bit too big.

Superworms

Superworms are nothing more than extra-large mealworms and are just as appealing and nutritious for ducklings.

However, you need to make sure they are appropriately-sized for the age of your bird to prevent choking, and also feed them in smaller quantities because it is possible for your baby birds to get too much protein or other nutrients.

Nonetheless, these really do make a wonderful treat and ducklings tend to go wild for them after they’ve had one or two!

Shrimp

It makes sense that ducks would eat all kinds of tiny creatures that live in and around the water, and shrimp are no exception. You can give your ducklings fresh, cleaned shrimp or dried shrimp that you have rehydrated in water.

However, make it a point to chop them up into tidbits prior to serving. Whole shrimp can be a choking hazard for the little guys and girls.

Kale

Kale has a well-deserved reputation as a nutritional powerhouse, and it has a lot to offer to ducklings. Leafy vegetables like this are always on the menu for ducks, and they will probably show some serious enthusiasm for it.

Still, you need to be cautious and mind the quantity of kale that you feed them, along with other brassica veggies (Brussels sprouts, broccoli greens, radish greens, etc.) because they have lots of oxalic acid which can interfere with calcium and iron absorption in ducklings.

Chard

Chard is another salad veggie, like kale, and also like kale, it’s quite nutritious. If you get it from the grocery store, make sure to wash it thoroughly before feeding and cut off the tougher parts near the root to make it easier for your ducklings to digest.

a duck nibbling on some lettuce
a duck nibbling on some lettuce

Lettuce

Many kinds of lettuce are just fine for ducklings. The nutritional content of lettuce varies considerably depending on the type, with some types like Iceberg being almost nutritionally bankrupt, whereas others like Romaine are much better.

This is another great supplemental food for your baby birds, but don’t overdo it because it tends to cause diarrhea.

Cucumber

Cucumbers are crisp, cool, easily digestible, and surprisingly healthy. They are pretty much the perfect warm weather treat for ducklings and can help them better cope with heat stress.

The seeds aren’t a problem, so don’t worry about that, but you should chop up a cucumber into small cubes or bits that are easier for them to eat. Don’t forget to float them on water, too!

Sweet Potato

Another item most folks struggle to believe could be digestible, much less good, for ducklings, sweet potatoes are highly nutritious and tasty, making them a great treat or supplement.

I recommend that you cook them until they’re soft as this will make them much easier for ducklings to eat and digest. Older ducklings can have smaller bits of raw sweet potato with no problems.

Dandelions

Dandelions are just an annoying weed to us, but they’re a great menu item for baby ducklings. Adult ducks go after them all the time, but your babies will need a bit of help.

As long as you’re sure the dandelions haven’t been hit with weed killer or anything harmful like that, you can pluck them, chop them, and then float them in a little water to make a wonderful meal. As expected, you’ll never run out of these during the spring and summer!

Grass

Ducklings can eat grass of course, and if you want to make it even easier for them you can give them freshly cut grass clippings.

Just be sure that the clippings are clean and haven’t been contaminated with any lawn care products, weed killer, fertilizers, or chemicals that have dripped off of a power mower.

Radish Greens

All sorts of greens are a really inspired option for supplementing the diet of baby ducklings, and radish greens are no exception.

Radish greens are highly nutritious being packed with needed vitamins and minerals, and they’re easy for ducklings to digest.

I would hold off on feeding them the actual radish, the taproot, but the greens are a wonderful thing to incorporate in their menu.

Turnip Greens

Turnip greens are surprisingly nutritious and very easy for baby ducks to digest, and this makes them one of the very best foods to give them as they get older and need more variety.

Just like with radishes, hold off on giving them the taproot until they grow up a bit: They’re so hard and dense that they can be difficult for ducklings to digest.

Peas

Peas can be cooked and served to ducklings pretty early on as a protein-packed and highly nutritious supplement to their diet of feed. But peas are legumes, and like most legumes, they can be very hard on a duck’s digestive system and even toxic if you feed them raw.

I recommend that you fully cook the peas and then mash them. This will make it easy for your birds to eat and digest.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are, somewhat surprisingly, a good treat for ducks generally and even for baby ducks once they’ve grown up a bit.

Ducks handle moist food better than other birds, naturally, so the juiciness of tomatoes is not a serious problem in moderation. However, they are still acidic and so they shouldn’t get too much.

They can eat all parts of the tomato fruit but don’t feed them any green parts of the plant because they are toxic.

Grapes

Most ducklings I’ve known love the sweet juiciness of grapes, and they are surprisingly nutritious.

Ducklings can nominally eat the seeds of grapes, but they can sometimes be tough for them to digest or an impaction hazard until they grow up. I recommend you remove them before feeding.

Like all fruits, they’re quite sugary, so watch the quantity. Also, I recommend you float pieces of grapes in the water to make them easier for them to pick up and swallow.

a duck eating apple slices
a duck eating apple slices

Apples

Apples are a sweet and nutritious fruit that most animals love, and your ducklings can have them in tiny pieces or grated.

You’ll want to remove the seeds because they are a choking hazard for them, and they can also be toxic if they get too many…

Make sure you don’t overdo it, because sugary fruits can cause some serious digestive trouble for baby ducks.

Pears

Pairs are analogous to apples in the diet of ducklings. They make a wonderful, sweet, and reasonably nutritious treat for them, but they must be cut up into small pieces or grated in the same way prior to serving.

As you’ve probably guessed, you need to remove the seeds because they can likewise be toxic, and mind that quantity so you don’t upset the stomachs of your precious babies.

Bananas

Another food that is, shockingly, okay for ducklings. They can eat bananas in limited amounts as a sweet treat that’s still a great source of energy that will still provide needed vitamins and minerals.

Discard the peel, though, because they’ll have a hard time digesting it even if it’s cut up into small pieces.

And as with every other fruit on our list, never give them too much because it can easily upset their digestive tract. Once a week, as a treat, is plenty.

Peaches

Peaches are among the sweetest and most delicious of fruits, and one you’ll be happy to share with your ducklings when you see how they react to them.

Peaches, though, don’t have much in the way of nutrition to offer although they’re a good source of calories. Be sure to remove and throw the pit away and then cut the flesh up into small chunks that will be easy for them to swallow.

Cherries

Ducklings love cherries, and they are a surprisingly nutritious treat for them. As you might have expected, the pits are bad news, so remove those and then cut the cherries into quarters or dice them into even smaller pieces.

Ducklings can technically eat the nutritious stems if you chop them up, but they usually won’t mess with them unless mixed in with other food. Remember this tip for when they get a little older.

Strawberries

You might have surmised by now that ducklings love all kinds of berries, and you’d be right. Strawberries are way up on that list, as they are sweet, fragrant, and easy to digest.

They are wholesome, no doubt about it, but still quite sweet and so you should never let ducklings eat them all the time or in large amounts. But a few, every now and then, certainly won’t hurt them…

Blackberries

Blackberries are a great option for ducklings because they have a solid nutritional profile and are very easy for them to digest.

However, ducklings can’t really chew them; that bulging, knobby shape can potentially be a choking hazard when they are very young.

Either give them smaller blackberries or slice them in half or even into quarters before serving for safety.

Raspberries

Just like blackberries, raspberries are also a tart and tangy but nutritious treat for ducklings. Cut them in half to eliminate choking risks, and as always mind the quantity.

Raspberries tend to be quite astringent, and this can easily cause indigestion for baby ducks along with the sugar content.

Blueberries

Blueberries are yet another type of safe berry for ducklings. But like all the other berries we’ve talked about, they should be relegated to the status of a treat once or maybe twice a week and in small amounts.

Pumpkin

Another surprising entry on our list, your baby ducks don’t stand a chance of breaking into a pumpkin on their own, but if you take the time to crack it open and scoop out the soft flesh for them, they will love it.

It’s sweet, highly nutritious and a great source of needed vitamins and minerals. This is another good option for gently cooking and mashing prior to mixing in with other food.

baby ducks diet pin

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