So what do I feed a pet duck anyway?

duck feed
Wild and Domestic Ducks are inherently different, and must be fed appropriately.

You’re the proud caretaker of a new duck, and you face one of the most basic questions of pet ownership. What exactly do you feed a duck? offers a great duck feeding resource, which we’ve summarized here.  This is a compliation of the knowledge of various avian veternarians, wildlife caretakers, breeders, and all around experts.

duck feed
Make sure your ducks have access to water while they eat. They don’t have teeth and use water to soften food.

One of the key things to avoid when feeding your pet duck is any food that is medicated, always use non-medicated foods. Poultry farms and commercial operations will use medicated foods to prevent communicable diseases in waterfowl.  This works for large scale operations, but not for personal pets.

A solid diet should consist of a solid staple food with some vegetable or fruit trimmings to provide complementary nutruition.  Here are some ideas for each of those food categories –

Staples –

  • Non-Medicated Duck/Chick Starter for ducklings and growing birds
  • Non-Medicated Pelleted Mash for adults
  • Cracked Corn

Trimmings –

  • Fresh Vegetables like shredded carrots
  • Chopped, Hard-Broiled Eggs
  • Tomatoes
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Garden Snails (only if you do not use pesticides or snail bait)
  • Worms of all sorts
duck feed
Ducks need a nutrition packed staple in their diet, like Non-Medicated Pelleted Duck Mash

Protein Levels – Striving to feed your duck an optimum level of protein is important.  At different stages of life, they need different levels.  Too much or too little may cause feathering problems.

  • Duckings (0 – 3 weeks old) – 20-22% protein, easily obtained from Duck/Chick Starter
  • Adolescents (4 weeks – fully grown) – 16% protein
  • Adults (fully grown) – 14-16 % protein
  • Laying Hens (fully grown) – 16-18%, easily obtained from store bought Laying Rations or Mash

Where do I get duck specific foods? A local farm supply or pet store is usually the optimum choice.  It can be expensive to purchase online due to heavy shipping costs, but there are a few places available.

What NOT to feed ducks –

  • Bread – it’s NOT okay for wild ducks and it’s NOT okay for domestic
  • Seeds and Nuts – these are too difficult to digest
  • Fatty, Salty or Sweet Foods
  • Chocolate
  • Popcorn
  • Anything that will fill up your duck without offering nutritional value
    duck feed
    Bread is NOT okay for wild ducks in the park or domestic ducks, as it will make them fat and lazy.

29 thoughts on “So what do I feed a pet duck anyway?

  1. joe burb says:

    my pekin is showing a strong interest in cooked ground beef and dry dog food . he will eat a little scratch and fowl pellets but not with the gusto he shows in the gb and df . is this all right ? ty

    • Jen says:

      My pekin also like cat food, she wont eat duck/hen feed at all. She loves cucumber and pasta though.
      I dont think the fish based catfood is a bad thing to back up grazing and pellets if your duck will eat them. Catfood seems to be basically corn /wheat based with protein provided by fish meal possibly better than dog food. But ducks eat a lot of animal protein when grazing. Hope this helps

    • Alan Stone says:

      What kind of feed are you using? You should be feeding it an adult gamebird or waterfowl feed. Mizuri makes a high quality feed for ducks.

  2. Tracy says:

    I raised 2 Indian runner ducks fed them leftovers mash meat veg mixed together fed them weetabix every day they outlived there life span died at 15

  3. Tracy says:

    I raised 2 Indian runner ducks gave them leftovers mash meat veg every now an again but fed them weet a bit every day they outlived there life span died at 15

  4. Hilary says:

    please add avocados, tomatoes, and potatoes to the “Do not feed” list. All three are awful for ducks for a variety of reasons.

  5. momie8x says:

    my duck Nigel eats softened puppy chow and he likes worms. never could get him to eat the stuff from the farm stores. he is a healthy 2 yr. old. and more than anything he wants to eat my dog.

  6. Pingback: Daring Ducks | wonderfulthingsabout

  7. Angela 23 says:

    Hi. Awesome article. I am a former pet duck owner, of a sweet little drake by the name of 23.
    I am working on an online article about 23 and how to care for an indoor pet duck.
    I would like to ask your permission to use one of your pictures for my article.
    I have absolutely no problem with linking your site to my page as the source of the picture. The one that I like is the close up of the pellet food.
    If this is ok with you, please contact me by email [email protected] or by comment on one of my pages. (If you would like to see some of the quality of my recent articles, here is my link.)
    This will be the first time that I have ever asked anyone for a picture to use on my page, so please let me know if this is not the right way to go about doing so.
    I am passionate about proper animal care. When I rescued 23, he was so tiny and I knew absolutely nothing about duck care. I have learned so much about ducks and how to care for them via information that I found on internet searches. I hope to return that favor for someone in the near future. I no longer have 23, therefore, I no longer have the crumbles and pellets to take pictures of. Your photo is very detailed and I would love to use it.
    Thank you for your time and consideration.
    – Aplethora23

  8. Ally says:

    Thank but my duck is really weak and the whole one side of her body looks weak she was fine yesterday but she went down today but shes always had a limp what should I do

  9. bidabble says:

    thanks a whole bunch 111 lots of help to understand how to care for pet ducks… thanks again; i’m sure i’ll be back. have bookmarked your website.. :)

  10. Jazmin says:

    I just ordered a duck and wanted a website to get me a summarization on the whole owning a duck thing, and this website helped! thank you

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