Top 9 Things To Not Feed Your Ducks

You’ve probably heard as of late that you shouldn’t be feeding ducks with bread you buy at the store.

But there are other things you shouldn’t feed your duck as well because they might be toxic to them.

Things you shouldn’t feed your ducks include citrus fruit, mangos, spinach, iceberg lettuce, white potatoes, raw beans, crackers, nuts, and large seeds.

Read on to find out the reasons why you shouldn’t feed these different items to your ducks.


Feeding ducks bread used to be all the rage.

It was something you could grab while going out the door before heading to the duck pond.

This meant you didn’t have to pay extra money at the duck pond to buy the seeds they offer there as well.

I remember growing up there was a theme park we went to where you could purchase seed while waiting in line for a ride to feed the ducks.

I never had quarters for the machine, so I never ended up feeding the ducks.

But now whenever you go to a duck pond, you usually run into a sign or two that tells you that you shouldn’t feed bread to the ducks because it’s bad for them.

This is mostly because the ducks eating bread can lead to diseases in the ducks.

According to

Feeding ducks bread can increase the spread of diseases in two ways. First, a carbohydrate-rich diet leads to greater defecation, and bird feces easily harbors bacteria responsible for numerous diseases, including avian botulism. Second, moldy bread can cause aspergillosis, a fatal lung infection that can decimate entire duck and waterfowl flocks.

Seeing that feeding the ducks bread can lead to the entire loss of a flock, it seems pretty clear that we should steer clear of feeding our ducks bread.

Citrus fruit

Something else that might be easy to grab while you are heading out the door is some kind of citrus fruit.

This could include lemon, limes, oranges, and more.

Not that I have ever done it, but I can imagine grabbing an orange walking out the door on my way to the duck pond.

But please avoid doing this, as the citrus fruits can make it hard for ducks to absurd calcium, which then leads to thin shells on their eggs.

And if you are keeping ducks at your home for their eggs, this is not a good thing.

It can also be very dangerous to your flock.

The fruits can also cause acid reflux in the ducks, which can get them pretty sick.

Instead, try giving them grapes, bananas, plums, or watermelon.


I’m not sure who would think of giving mangos to ducks.

Humans have a hard enough time eating mangos without getting an itchy throat and mangos are kind of hard to peel in the first place.

Ducks can have the same difficulty with the itchiness from the mangos.

So while it might not kill the ducks if you give it to them, it will annoy them quite a bit.

If you decide to give them mangos, keep an eye on them to see how they react to it.

If they act like they might have an itchy throat or leave the mangos behind, then don’t feed your ducks anymore in the future.

But if they react fine to the mangos, then you shouldn’t feel bad about giving them to them in the future.


Spinach is another one of those things that interfere with the calcium absorption in the ducks.

This again means that it could lead to thin shells in the eggs, which could then mean you aren’t getting as good of quality eggs.

And if you are like us, you have other animals in your animal area that might take advantage of the eggs being easier to get to and eat.

On the other hand, according to, adding a little bit of apple cider vinegar to the duck’s water should help counteract these issues with spinach:

My mom went on to tell me that by adding a splash of apple cider vinegar to a spinach salad, the stomach acids are increased, which helps with absorption of not only calcium but other minerals and nutrients.

Low stomach acid prevents proper absorption, so the acetic acid in the ACV raises the stomach acids and boosts absorption.

So if you feel pretty desperate or really want to give your ducks some spinach, put some apple cider vinegar into their water.

You probably still want to keep an eye on them and their eggs to make sure they aren’t suffering from the spinach.

If you notice their eggs are getting thin-shelled, pause giving them spinach for some time and make sure the eggs get better before you attempt to start giving them spinach once again.

Instead try giving them cucumbers, peas, lettuce, or squash.

Iceberg lettuce

Iceberg lettuce has very little nutritional value for the ducks.

If you look up what it does contain, there are some vitamins like A and K that it provides.

But outside of that, it doesn’t do much more.

To top it off, too much iceberg lettuce for a duck can lead to digestive problems, including but not limited to diarrhea.

So while you can give iceberg lettuce to your ducks, it is a good idea to give it to them in moderation.

And probably not worth spending the money at the local market to pick some up.

White potatoes

White potatoes are part of the nightshade family, which means that they are most likely not good for the ducks to eat.

Other members of the nightshade family include:

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Egg plant
  • Bell pepper
  • Jalapeno
  • Tamarillo
  • Caster bean
  • Olliander

There are many more on this list as well.

And while the vegetables from these plants MIGHT be ok for the ducks to eat, the leaves and stems of the plants definitely are not.

So you will want to keep these options as far away from the ducks as you can.

Otherwise, you could end up poisoning your ducks.

Raw, dried beans

Raw, dried beans contain something hemagglutinin.

Hemagglutinin is toxic to birds, therefore it will be toxic to your ducks.

So, avoid giving these to your ducks at all costs.

A solution to this would be to either overcook the beans before giving them to your ducks or sprout the beans before giving them to ducks.

Doing either of these gets rid of the hemagglutinin and makes it safe for your ducks to digest.


Crackers are typically loaded with salt.

That was my favorite thing about them growing up.

I loved being able to get a good shot of salt while eating them and I could typically eat a sleeve of crackers with my lunch or whatever meal they were provided with.

So I can see how ducks would love to have such a salty meal.

But salty isn’t always the best for the ducks.

Ducks are really susceptible to getting overweight.

And the salt and other ingredients in the crackers can contribute to ducks becoming overweight.

Salt and other sugar-laden foods should be avoided when feeding your ducks.

Otherwise, they will put on unneeded weight and this puts too much strain on their legs.

If you happen to give them crackers or something that has too much salt, but sure to provide them with plenty of water so they can counteract what the salt will do to them.

Instead, try giving them whole grains.

Nuts and large seeds

There is nothing directly with nuts and large seeds that are bad for your ducks.

It is not poisonous to them or will cause them to get overweight.

But the overall shape of the nuts and large seeds are hard for ducks to digest.

First, ducks don’t have the largest throats and they actually need to drink water while they are eating to make sure the food makes it all the way day their throat.

And if you give them nuts and seeds that are too large for their throats, they could end up choking and dying.

If it does get past their throats, their bodies might have a hard time digesting them.

So if you really feel the need to feed your ducks large seeds and nuts, make sure to grind them up first.

Then the ducks can get the nutrients from the nuts and seeds without having to deal with any complications trying to get it down.

Instead, try giving them all types of insects, including mealworms, earthworms, or slugs.


As mentioned previously, the immediate reaction to feeding ducks is to give them bread.

But avoid this option as much as you can.

Make sure to avoid giving them anything from the nightshade family, or something that they might not be able to swallow.

Also avoid giving them things that will halt their ability to absorb calcium, including spinach and citrus fruit.

And if you have any questions about other things you can give them, do to your local pet store and ask the employees there what they might recommend.

If you want to learn more about what to actually feed ducks, you can read more from this blog post – Feeding Ducks: A Guide

Bill Lantz

Bill Lantz is a database analyst by day and a weekend warrior by... weekend. He's currently building up his own miniature homestead in Central Utah with his wife and six kids. He has his own blog at

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