Ducks are one of the fascinating creatures in the animal kingdom. These aquatic birds have been the subject of many children’s stories, fairy tales, and scientific research.
If you have ever watched ducks in a pond or park, you may have noticed that they love to eat. Feeding ducks can be fun and rewarding for people of all ages.
Whether you are a parent taking your kids to the park or someone who enjoys spending time in nature, feeding ducks can provide a relaxing and enjoyable experience. However, it is essential to understand that not all foods are suitable for ducks, and some may even be harmful.
Chicken feed has several nutritional advantages, with its composition comprising grains, oilseeds, and animal by-products. Depending on the brand, protein level may vary, and it won’t be easy to locate anything with a protein concentration of more than 18%. However, is this chicken feed suitable for a duck’s diet?
Do Ducks Consume Chicken Feed?
Ducks are omnivores; thus, they can consume chicken feed. But, they are unable to survive on poultry feed. This is because it does not contain enough nutrients to support healthy growth and development in the ducks.
Niacin, which ducks need the most, is not enough in chicken feed to meet their nutritional needs. Furthermore, the same feed will not provide long-term nutrition for either bird because waterfowl and poultry have distinct nutritional requirements.
Ducks should consume a diet high in protein and fat, while poultry needs a carbohydrate diet. Although chicken fodder with high amounts of protein is edible by ducks, ducks shouldn’t consume it excessively.
A mixed group of chickens and ducks is a common outdoor sight. While these birds have no difficulty cohabitating, sharing meals can become problematic.
Chickens can conveniently live on duck feed; it’s not the same the other way around. Accessibility could also be difficult as waterfowl feed can be hard to find in some places, whereas chicken layer feed is accessible in all pet stores.
Risks of Feeding Chicken Feed to Ducks
High protein content in chicken feed promotes faster growth and increases animal egg output. But ducks should not consume too much protein over the long run. Additionally, you shouldn’t give your ducks chicken feed because they need more niacin than chickens, which the chicken feed doesn’t supply.
Ducklings may experience foot and limb issues when growing due to too much protein. Additionally, it can lead to “angel wing,” a disease in which the feathers of ducks turn outward in both adult ducks and ducklings. Therefore, causing their inability to fly or migrate because of this disease.
Absence of Vitamin B3
Niacin, popularly known as vitamin B3, is essential for well-being because the body cannot store it. This requirement means that to ensure they have enough in their body, they need high levels of niacin in their feed.
Furthermore, niacin plays a crucial role in the development of ducklings. Since chicks don’t need the exact quantities of niacin in their nutrition, their food won’t contain it.
Essential Nutrition Needs
Ducklings at this age need a diet with a higher protein level (20–22%). A lot of growth is occurring at this point.
To promote growth at a reasonable rate, the protein amount should get reduced to 16% at this point. At this time, the growth rate should also begin to decelerate. Some farmers give them an 18% protein diet to speed up their growth, which can result in deformed wings and legs and kidney and liver issues.
As unbelievable as it may sound, by week nine, ducks experience growth between 70 and 90%! Thus, the feed’s protein concentration should be around 15%.
Furthermore, the growth rate reduces between 9 and 20 weeks. They finally get sexual maturity as their juvenile feathers get replaced by adult plumage. So, if you wish to segregate the sexes, the moment is now.
For Older Ducks
Now that the feeding of your ducks can get a little perplexing, we can categorize the adults into three groups:
- Dietary Maintenance: This is for late Fall and winter when the ducks are not laying. Protein needs can get reduced to 12–14%.
- Diet for Layers: There is a protein depletion by the eggs in a female’s diet for layers. Although 18% protein can get utilized in brief bursts, 16% protein will do.
- Diet for Drakes and Non-layers: The typical 14% is necessary to maintain drakes and non-laying hens.
Conclusively, chicken feed does not exactly help ducks achieve their desired state at these different stages of growth.
Minerals and Vitamins
Ducks need somewhat different amounts of vitamins and minerals than chicks. The duckling needs calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D to thrive. Bone disorders may result from insufficient amounts, resulting in difficulty in movement (usually called rickets in severe cases).
If you provide your ducks with chick starters, a niacin shortage in ducklings may be a serious problem. Niacin must be present in chick feed since it is insufficient for duck health. Furthermore, Brewer’s yeast powder can get sprinkled daily on the feed or water, making this task very simple.
A niacin deficiency causes neurological issues, tremors, bowed legs, seizures, and death if not treated. It may seem a little difficult to make several modifications to the protein level, and not everyone follows the precise routine. But if you want to raise healthy ducks, it is worth the time and effort.
Using Chick Starter to feed Ducks
If buying duck feed is too expensive, you can use chicken feed as an alternative. You can start your chickens’ diet off with 23% protein for the first two weeks. After that, transition to a broiler growth feeds with 20% protein.
Another option is using a broiler finisher feed with 18% protein. However, you must move forward and with prudence. The Food and Drug Administration disapproves using broiler chicken feed additives with ducks.
Even though it is not advisable, utilizing a chick starter still works. However, here’s how to adjust chick-starting meals to suit your juvenile ducklings’ nutritional needs better.
At this point, because your ducklings now need more niacin, you can add the following to your chick beginning before feeding it to them:
The most popular and straightforward method to supplement a duckling’s diet with niacin is to include some brewer’s yeast in the chick starter. Many people take this yeast, which gets used to create beer and bread, to strengthen their immune and digestive systems.
When feeding your ducklings, you must use 1.5 teaspoons of chick starter feed per cup. Brewer’s yeast is powdery, so make sure your ducklings get some by adding some to the meal before it sinks to the bottom of the pile. You can moisten it to help the powder stick to the grain easily.
Liquid Niacin Supplement
Because niacin is a water-soluble vitamin, you can add it to a duckling’s diet by buying liquid niacin and mixing it in with their water. 500 milligrams of niacin are necessary for every four liters of water. Furthermore, you might need to give a particular duckling 10 to 20 mg per day if it seems to be struggling to ensure it is receiving enough.
Vitamins with Niacin
Break open the pills and add them to the water your ducklings are drinking if you can’t find vitamin B3 in liquid form.
When your ducklings are two to three weeks old, they grow more. Contrary to what many think, this growth does not mean they need more protein. Now, you should switch them over to food containing less protein.
If you can’t locate a chick starter that contains 16% to 18% protein, you can bulk it up by adding uncooked, rolled oats. A 20% oat content in the feed is the recommended amount of oats appropriate for this diet.
Also, as stated before, you must supplement their food with niacin. You can switch your ducklings to layer feed when they are at least 20 weeks old. But until then, keep including these two types of supplements in their nutrition.
Although they can consume chicken feed, ducks should not eat it this way. While cutting costs by combining duck and chicken feed may seem alluring, the outcomes could be catastrophic for those curious ducks.
Now that you know this, feed your duck appropriately at different growth stages to maximize its growth and development.