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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

DUCK DIET DECODED

What diet is right for your duck and why?
PREEYANAN SINPAIBOON/SHUTTERSTOCK

While dining on a slime-coated slug or fat grub may sound nauseating to you, to a duck, those foods rank as haute cuisine. Like their wild relatives, domestic ducks are omnivorous and love foraging for a wide variety of creepy-crawly fare such as slugs, worms, mosquito larvae, beetle grubs and snails. Ducks relish both aquatic vegetation, such as duckweed, and terrestrial vegetation, such as grass, and crave many of the same crops we do: corn, tomatoes, blueberries, lettuce, grains and more. Ducks eat fish and frogs and will even snatch a mouse or bird on occasion. It’s precisely this ability to scavenge for their own chow and efficiently convert a variety of feedstuffs to meat and eggs that makes these fowl so valuable to farmers around the world.

A small duck flock allowed to roam where there is abundant natural forage costs much less to feed than a confined flock that needs purchased, concentrated rations. The drawback is that a flock subsisting solely on forage will probably not grow as fast or produce as many eggs as one raised on a nutritionally complete commercial diet. In reality, most keepers of small flocks, unless they raise their birds in complete confinement, take the middle road when it comes to feeding. Many encourage their ducks to hunt for their own vittles part of the day or year while also providing the birds with supplemental feed to meet nutritional requirements and to keep the flock productive.

There’s no one right way to feed ducks that fits all flocks and all situations. In addition to reading this magazine, ask other experienced duck raisers about what they feed their fowl — particularly those whose birds look healthy and fine feathered, breed well, and live long, productive lives. If you can, consult a veterinarian or extension expert in your area who is familiar with waterfowl. In the meantime, here are some basics about duck nutrition and diets to get you started.

Whether eating a vegetable mash or feed, ducks will need water to help them digest food.
SERGEY KOHL/SHUTTERSTOCK
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Ducks 101, The Essential Guide to Raising Waterfowl, Everything you need to Know, And More......