For optimal health and growth, ducks should primarily be fed a nutritionally balanced commercial waterfowl feed. However, because ducks need to eat a lot to stay healthy, feeding ducks can be expensive. Many duck owners like to supplement their store-bought bird food with human food snacks and table scraps. This not only provides a variety of food for the ducks, but also helps reduce food waste. It is important to make sure the additional snacks offered are safe and healthy for the ducks. Watermelon is a delicious fruit to eat on a hot summer day, but can ducks share this delicious snack? Yes, ducks can eat watermelon and can enjoy all parts of this fruit including the skin and seeds.
Why Eating Watermelon is Good for Ducks (and the Planet)
Apart from offering duck variety in their diet, watermelon contains several nutrients that can improve the duck’s overall health. Since ducks can eat parts of watermelon that humans don’t normally eat, ducks can be very helpful in reducing food waste. More watermelon rinds consumed than discarded benefits both the ducks and the planet as a whole.
Watermelon is a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A, both of which are important for duck health. Increased consumption of vitamin C proved beneficial in increasing egg production in ducks. Vitamin C also helps ducks manage stressful conditions, especially heat stress, and boosts overall immunity.
Vitamin A deficiency can cause various health problems in ducks. Increased levels of vitamin A, on the other hand, can help ducks grow bigger and stronger overall. Eating watermelon as part of a balanced diet can help ducks maintain healthy levels of vitamin A.
Not surprisingly, given its name, watermelon contains about 92% water. Therefore, eating watermelon can help ducks stay well hydrated. This is especially helpful during the hot summer months, when weather conditions can make it difficult for ducks to maintain their hydration status.
How to Safely Feed Watermelon to Ducks
As previously discussed, ducks love to chew on discarded watermelon rinds and seeds. They may find the skin easier to eat if it is cut into smaller pieces. While watermelon seeds are safe for ducks to eat, they should not be overfed or they will have a hard time digesting the excess seeds.
If you decide to offer your duck watermelon as a gift, there are a few different ways to feed it. Obviously, you can cut up and offer the watermelon chunks to the ducks. Be sure to keep an eye on them as they eat them as a small piece of food poses a potential choking hazard to the ducks. Another option for feeding duck watermelon is to puree it in a blender and serve it in the hollowed out half of the watermelon. You can also add pieces of watermelon or other fruit to the mixture.
When feeding your duck watermelon, make sure to only feed fresh fruit, not old or rotten. While ducks can eat a wide variety of foods, rotten or moldy food can make them sick. Be sure to remove any uneaten watermelon out of the duck’s reach before it spoils.
Other Foods Ducks Can Eat (and Few Shouldn’t Eat)
As already discussed, ducks need a lot of food to grow and stay healthy. Luckily, there are safe snack options other than watermelon for your ducks to enjoy.
Here are some food additives to consider:
Other fruits such as grapes, bananas, and peaches.
A wide variety of vegetables including cucumber, broccoli and zucchini
Whole or sprouted grains such as oats, quinoa, and alfalfa
Proteins like caterpillars, scrambled eggs, crickets, and small fish
Some foods should not be given to ducks because they are toxic or unhealthy. Some of these foods are listed below:
Citrus fruits, which can irritate duck stomachs and interfere with calcium absorption, cause eggshells to weaken
Spinach, which can also interfere with calcium absorption
Salty or fatty foods, which can lead to excess weight gain
Raw or dried nuts, which are poisonous.
A more detailed list of safe and unsafe foods for ducks can be found here.
Watermelon can be a delicious and eco-friendly addition to your duck’s diet. However, keep in mind that watermelon and other foods should not make up more than 10% of the duck’s daily diet. Make sure your ducks always have access to water and sand as well to help keep them healthy. If you have additional concerns about what you feed your ducks or their overall health and well-being, be sure to consult your veterinarian.
Featured image credit: stevepb, Pixabay