A little bird tells us that the word is getting out and bread is no longer the feed of choice for ducks around New Zealand. At parks and ponds, bird lovers are gravitating towards feed options made specifically for ducks.
In case you missed it, bread is not a good food for ducks – or for any birds. Much like deep fried takeaways, bread has no nutritional value and will often end up clogging up ponds and waterways with rotting matter. This can turn the water toxic for ducks and other waterfowl, causing an increase in bacteria that can lead to botulism.
Even if the bread is fed on dry land, this calorie dense, low nutrient food can cause malnutrition when fed regularly. In the wild, ducks eat a varied diet that consists of around 90% plant matter – that’s seeds, leaves and weeds – and about 10% animal matter, mostly insects, molluscs and invertebrates. Any additional feed given to ducks, either in gardens and parks or in a farm situation, should echo and build upon their natural diet.
Topflite’s Lucky Duck is the first duck specific feed to be made here in New Zealand from locally grown ingredients. Created under the guidance of an avian nutrition expert, the Lucky Duck blend is designed to be used as a maintenance diet for both wild and farmed ducks.
Using carefully chosen ingredients that include oats, barley, kibbled maize and sorghum, as well as some vegetable-based protein and fat, the feed will keep feathers and feet looking great and ensure ducky digestion is in check. Eaten alongside their usual, foraged feast, ducks are able to supplement their diet with this feed – especially good for the cooler months when pickings are slim.
How to feed ducks at a park or pond
It’s best to feed ducks infrequently rather than making a habit of it. Wild ducks still need to be able to feed themselves by foraging – if food is presented constantly, ducks could become reliant on humans for food. Likewise, if there are already other people feeding ducks at your usual spot, save the Lucky Duck feed for another day or move locations.
Simply scatter Lucky Duck loosely on the ground, at a good distance from the water. If the ducks stop showing interest, stop feeding. Food leftover near water may rot and cause a health hazard to waterfowl.
Be wary of feeding ducks when geese or swans are around – they can become aggressive.
How to feed ducks at home
In coastal suburban neighbourhoods or areas close to rivers and ponds, ducks may be daily visitors in spring or summer, drawn to gardens by water features or by the promise of food.
Place duck feed on a shallow dish where it can be snapped up by hungry bills. Ducks won’t overfeed themselves (unlike your beloved Labrador) so any uneaten feed should be cleared away to avoid birds revisiting the food after it has started to decay. Although this is unlikely, given the tastiness of the Lucky Duck blend. At least that’s what a little (duck-sized) bird told us...
For more information about keeping and feeding backyard ducks, see our guide: Waddle you feed your backyard ducks?
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