Sep 212019

What Do Baby Ducks Eat?

Ducks might belong to the waterfowl family, but ducks are not similar to other waterfowl. Ducks are smaller than swans and geese, and they have different dietary characteristics.

Raising a duckling is a complicated matter, requiring one to know ‘What do baby ducks eat’? 

This is critical as, right from the moment of hatching, feeding a duckling must be done with the utmost care for the first few weeks. This is because you must ensure that you are providing the ducklings with enough vitamins.

Here, you can learn more about what you can feed ducklings, including what they should eat, what they should not eat, and the treats you can give them to help them grow.

‘What Do Baby Ducks Eat?’ 

Adult ducks can enjoy a feast of food but ducklings must follow a specific diet from the moment they hatch until they grow feathers. 

Ducklings quickly outgrow their baby diet, yet one must still pay attention to the duck’s diet. It should include fruits, vegetables, and proteins, including dried insects such as black soldier fly larvae, mealworms, etc.

The Feed from the 24 Hours to 16 Weeks

At first, ducklings live on the yolk sacks they absorb before hatching. This yolk abounds with nutrients to nourish a duckling for three days.

Ducklings require foods rich in  proteins because these food sources help baby ducks grow. As an occasional treat, you can include mealworms, black soldier fly larvae, or dried shrimp, but the baby duckling diet should be specifically formulated for ducks.

Ducklings require extra vitamin B, specifically niacin – to grow correctly and have strong bills and bones. Without it, the ducklings may end up having curved bills and crooked legs.

The simplest way to make sure your ducklings have the right feed is to add brewer’s yeast to their starter. You can mix 1 pound of brewer’s yeast with chick starter feed or duckling starter.

Look for good-quality brewer’s yeast like this here. It should be formulated with garlic, herbs, oregano, and echinacea to support the immune function of the duckling as well as to support a healthy system.


You can give your ducks dried insects such as dried shrimp or black soldier fly larvae. The dried shrimp, which float on the water, are easily digested and the ducks will enjoy snapping them from the water.

The other protein treats that baby ducks will love and can be fed include:

  • Crickets
  • mealworms
  • superworms (large mealworms)
  • dried shrimp
  • boiled and diced eggs without shells
  • black soldier fly larvae
  • darkling beetles

Ducks are different from chickens mainly in that ducks have round bills and cannot pick with their beaks, as hens do. Thus, you must float their treats on the water so that your ducklings can scoop them up effortlessly. Before offering anything, consider their age; otherwise, you will end up feeding them too much and choking their fluffy butts.

In terms of dried river shrimp, black soldier fly larvae, and pumpkin chunks, the safest bet is the dried river shrimp. This is because they are soft and can easily be broken into smaller pieces.

Treats should not exceed 10% of a duck’s daily diet. The treats change the look of the poop in terms of odor, consistency, and color. Therefore, monitoring is a must so that you can determine how much to give them.


Baby ducklings can be fed oatmeal, rolled or uncooked, though it lacks the essential nutrients required, and should be fed sparingly. 

However, there will be times when you will have nothing but oats on hand; in such cases, it is okay to feed oatmeal for a day or two. There is no harm in feeding cracked wheat, corn, or barley to the ducklings.

Fruits to Feed Ducklings

You can also provide small portions of fruits and vegetables as snacks for baby ducklings. Ducks enjoy fruits.

If it is very hot and the ducklings are fully feathered, you can offer them fruits as a treat, especially if you are concerned about the ducklings staying hydrated. Cut the fruits into small pieces. You can also float the fruit pieces on water, enabling the ducklings to easily reach for it.

Fruits have natural sugars and it is best to offer them sparingly. You will enjoy hearing happy quacks!

The fruits that can be given to baby ducks include:

  • Flesh of tomatoes
  • Mashed-up pears
  • Mashed apple flesh 
  • Mashed banana (not peel)
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries (mashed)
  • Berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries)

Leafy Greens and Vegetables

Yes, you can feed leafy greens to ducks. However, for ducklings, tear the leafy greens into bite-sized pieces and float the leafy greens on water.

Don’t feed your ducks long strands of grass, as ducklings do not properly chew food. Such strands may get trapped in their digestive systems. 

It is crucial to feed young ducklings with care. Of course, mature ducks must be fed with care, too.

The leafy greens and vegetables that can be given include:

  • Kale
  • lettuce
  • turnip greens
  • radishes
  • cut grass without any chemicals sprayed on it
  • cucumber
  • Swiss chard
  • peas
  • pumpkin

Yes, your ducks can eat pumpkin; they will love it

Create a garden and grow the greens. They do not cost much and will be the best food supply for your flock. 

Dairy Treats

  • Dairy is good, but if you notice stinky poops, stop feeding dairy immediately.
  • Cottage cheese is good, as is shredded cheddar, which the ducks can easily swallow.
  • Plain, whole-milk Greek yogurt is great, especially with extra probiotics.

Can Chicken Feed Be Given to Ducks?

Yes, you can give chicken feed to adult ducks. However, baby ducklings should have formulated starters; they also need lots of niacin to ensure bill and bone growth. Most chick starters lack niacin, so you can use brewer’s yeast to add this vitamin to the feed. 

Baby ducklings should be fed clean, fresh, cold water in an open dish. Ducklings take food one mouthful at a time and drink to push it down. Water is required for the ducklings to wash their beaks and nostrils.

So there you have it! Do you still wonder “what do baby ducks eat?”

Mallard duck chick standing on pebbles, spring in UK.