Duck Nutrition

Regardless of how ducks obtain their food, whether it be by scavenging, or consuming a complete ration, the food consumed must contain all the nutrients, in an available form, that are needed for maintenance, growth and reproduction. Feeding practices will depend in part on the number of ducks raised. If only a few ducks are kept by a household, and they have access to areas where they can forage, they may be able to survive, grow and lay eggs by consuming available food such as green plants, insects, snails, frogs, and table scraps. Under such conditions, ducks will likely grow very slowly and produce a small number of eggs. Herded ducks are an exception, but they require access to large areas where food is available and the care of a herdsman. If keepers of small home flocks want better growth and more eggs they will have to provide supplemental feed. At a minimum they will have to feed some grain. As the size of a home flock increases, it becomes more likely that the flock will not be able to get enough food by foraging and supplemental feeding will become necessary. If more than a few ducks are to be kept, or if increased performance is desired, there are a number of choices of feeding practices: (1) If available and affordable, purchase nutritionally complete commercially prepared duck feeds. If duck rations are not available, and chicken feeds are, they will serve as a satisfactory substitute. (2) If poultry feed concentrates, which when fed with grain constitute a nutritionally complete diet, are available at a reasonable price, this may be a good option. The grain can sometimes be purchased from local farmers at a favorable price. (3) For those with sufficient knowledge of nutrition and feed formulation, complete duck rations may be mixed on the farm. This approach is dependent upon the availability of feed ingredients and vitamin and mineral premixes at affordable prices. Small batches can be mixed by turning the feed on a clean floor with a shovel.