Alternative Feed for Ducks

AuroraSprings

Songster
10 Years
Jun 18, 2009
654
17
164
Atlanta, GA
Does anyone know of anything I can add to "extend" my duck's pelleted layer feed? They have access to roughly one acre of pasture. BUT they choose to sit at the feeder and chow down. They aren't free-ranging as much as I'd like. I'd like to be able to leave out something but I want it to be a protein supplement, not their entire diet. Could I do oats or another grain? I dare not put in cracked corn! They would eat themselves to a heavenly death, lol. I have geese out there too - again not really grazing like they should be. We did just move and pasture is new to them, will it just take time to adjust? Do I keep free-feeding layer pellets or cut it out altogether to encourage them to forage?
 

Oregon Blues

Crowing
8 Years
Apr 14, 2011
5,531
251
273
Central Oregon
Ducks aren't really grazers like the geese are. So they won't eat so much grass and it shouldn't be their main diet. Grass has to be young. After it is grown and tough, the ducks and geese can't get much out of it.

If you want your birds to forage, start weighing their food and only put out what they clean up in about 15 minutes, twice a day. If there is no feed in the feeder, they will go out and hunt.
 

grawg

Chirping
8 Years
Aug 31, 2011
360
8
93
East Tennessee
Quote:Since the grass has to be young, do you sow the grass seed directly in their pen/pasture and let them graze on the grass while it is sprouting? Also, do you have any recommendations for a forage? Rye,clover, wheat, etc...

Thanks
 

AuroraSprings

Songster
10 Years
Jun 18, 2009
654
17
164
Atlanta, GA
Well, in this "pasture" there are PLENTY of bugs, which I assumed the ducks would eat. The grass isn't young, because we just moved here in the last month and it was overgrown so we are cutting as we can (when it rains). We are putting out some each morning and it's about what they will clean up in 10-15 mins. I would think that's enough, but I'd prefer to leave food available in the range feeders. Any suggestions for what?
 

Amiga

Overrun with Runners
10 Years
Jan 3, 2010
23,213
2,772
531
Southern New England
You might consider hard wheat - as with all feeds, you need to be sure it's not moldy, left out too long, etc. Wheat has some protein in it. I add some hard winter wheat to the ducks' feed sometimes, and sometimes I add thick rolled oats. I usually give them some dry cat kibble in their feed, too.

We only have a little acre, but I take the ducks on walks, and they forage for creepy crawlies. They also eat some seeds (tick seed, dock), acorns, hickory nuts, and plant sprouts. They reach through their pen fence to snack on the leaves of asters, violets, jewelweed, buckwheat, clover, and goldenrod. I sow buckwheat seeds in areas for them to snack on, and they generally wait till the seedlings are about three inches tall, then they eat them to the ground.


I've sprouted seeds for the ducks, and while they aren't as crazy about sprouts as they are about peas and lettuce, they'll nosh on them.

You might broadcast some wheat in an area and see if they like it. Also, watering the soil to make it muddy can get them enthusiastic about drilling in the mud, which I find helpful if they do it where I want the weeds drilled out.
 
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Senna95

Songster
9 Years
Apr 6, 2010
537
130
196
Woodland
What breeds of ducks do you have? Some breeds are better at forraging then others. And sometimes it takes them some time for them to learn how to forrage.... Also, they need a regular routine: not sometimes out forraging, and sometimes "breakfast in bed".

Try feeding them only in the evenings. When I feed in the morning they all lay around for the rest of the day, but when I night feed they will cover my whole property looking for bugs all day long. Try putting a kiddy pool as far away as your hose will reach. They will discover this and will spend more time away from their "home base".

They will pick up a lot of protein (insects) on their adventures, so I wouldn't worry too much about protein supplements; just normal feed, or even their normal feed mixed with grains.... (scratch grains, corn, wheat, oats, barley, etc.) And feed only enough so that they will be ready and eager to go out and forrage again the next morning.
 
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jenny_kap

Songster
8 Years
Feb 20, 2011
261
2
101
Romania
i fed my ducks with wheat since they were one month old. they ate all the grass from the yard too. i butchered 5 when they were 3 months old and they weight 9-10 pounds each (pekin ducks). 1 ton of wheat helped me to feed 70 ducks and 65 chickens (out of 120 i bought
). i fed them store bought food only for the first 1-2-3 weeks of their life. i'm very pleased with the result. in a week or so, i'll be able to post pictures.
 

AuroraSprings

Songster
10 Years
Jun 18, 2009
654
17
164
Atlanta, GA
Mine are being fed layer pellets in the morning (about what they can stuff down in 15 mins) and then have three pools scattered throughout the field. They are Anconas and the oldest is a foraging-machine, but she's sitting a nest right now so now no one goes out and about. The geese are Americans and Cotton Patch, the Americans are much lazier than the Cotton Patch, but they don't roam/graze like they used to.

Can restricting the ducks diet to pellets only in the morning make them stop laying? Our ducks have never quit laying so early in the year. They usually only stop for about a month in the Dec-Feb range.
 

dianaross77

Songster
9 Years
Oct 10, 2010
1,794
5
141
Grand Blanc, MI
I have a few medium sized rocks in the duck run (dirt) that I alternate flipping over. They love to grab up all the bugs that come to the surface. My ducks also LOVE dandelion greens and clovers.
 

desertskynm

In the Brooder
9 Years
Jun 3, 2010
71
4
39
Albuquerque
Ok, that raises a great question. I have a yard and let my chickens out to forrage late in the afternoon because I know they will put themselves back in the coop when it is dark.

How do you get ducks to go back in their pen? I have ferral cats in the neighborhood and good hiding places if the ducks get adamant about not coming back in, I fear they might become a snack..


Thanks in advance...


Quote:
 

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