Can Ducks Eat Chicken Feed?

Can Ducks Eat Chicken Feed?

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Chicken Feed

Chicken feed is usually made with the sole intention to provide poultry chickens with the maximum amount of nutrients necessary to keep them healthy and robust. Usually, the chicken feed is made into more compact forms like pellets to ensure that the chicken eats more. The chicken is very high in proteins and vitamins to ensure that your chicks grow and develop as they are supposed to.

For that reason, chicken feed may not exactly be suitable but there are ways to make up for its lack of necessary nutrients needed in ducks.

Can Ducks Eat Chicken Feed?

Yes, ducks can eat chicken feed although it shouldn't be their major source of nutrients/calories. The reason is that chicken feed contains fewer proteins and niacin than the average chicken feed could provide.

At most, chicken feed contains about 18% of protein and an even lesser amount of niacin, which is the perfect mixture for chicken but potentially harmful when it comes to ducks. So, if you're to feed your ducks on chicken feed, you're going to have to make up for the lack of niacin content. A lack of niacin in a duck's meal could cause stunted growth and severely damage the bone structure resulting in bowed crooked legs that may hinder their ability to walk.

The most common solution to solving this is by adding brewer's yeast to the feed. The proportion to note when feeding a duck is; 1.5 tablespoons of brewer's yeast for every cup of chicken feed. On average, a duck may need about 9 mg of niacin to supplement for a lack of it, so other options to add niacin to their diet include; liquid B3 vitamins, mineral packets, or niacin tablets which can be gotten at your local pharmacy or vet office.

Making up for the niacin content in the chicken feed may be difficult since there are a lot of measurements included and the math of it may also be a barrier so a preferable alternative is the waterfowl pellets which is a perfect alternative for your ducks and you may not need to account for much niacin.


Can Ducklings eat Chicken Feed?

Yes, ducklings can eat chicken feed but there is an exception to this. The average chicken feed contains about 18% of protein which for a chicken and an adult duck is more than enough but could result in problems for a young duckling.

Ducklings do need proteins to help them grow properly however, a very high amount could lead to problems.

Another caution is the medication for chicken feed. Usually, chicken feed is medicated because growing chicks and adult chickens are susceptible to coccidiosis, so amprolium is added to the feed to help combat this condition. Ducks are not susceptible to this condition and so do not need any of the medication.

Additionally, ducklings can be placed on the chicken starter feed for the first 2 weeks, which is a nice alternative to the regular chicken feed which is more suitable for adult ducks or chickens. After which they can be placed on the lower-protein grower feed until they are about 18 weeks old.

After 18 weeks, the diet can then be switched to the layer feed, during which they would have grown substantially in size and can then be integrated into the adult duck and chicken flock.

Note: For poultry farmers, young ducklings and chicks should not be kept in the same space. The reason is that ducklings tend to grow faster and they also splash in puddles a lot, so not only do you have tiny chicks struggling to survive but you will have constantly wet and shivering chicks.


Basic Constituent of Chicken Feed

Chicken feed is a mixture of several meals to provide a perfect balance and mixture of nutrients to promote healthy growth and development. The constituent of such may differ from one individual to another.

Several supplements and nutrients may also be added along with natural fruits, vegetables, and food to create the perfect balance. Examples of these basic constituents include:

  • Protein Meals
  • Cereal Grains
  • Feed Additives
  • Fats and oils
  • Minerals and Vitamins

Health Benefits of Eating Chicken Feed

Asides from the lack of niacin in chicken, it contains quite a lot of nutrients that are useful for growth and development. Some of these benefits to help you grow strong and healthy ducks include;

Healthy Flock

Enzymes can help break down the feed and provide good bacteria that help digestion in the gut. Also, the feed (if organic) contains fewer chemicals, toxins, and additives, so they will be less likely to have diet-related health issues.

More Nutrition

Vitamins ranging from Vitamin A to vitamin D3 help provide optimal health benefits.

Growth and Development

Protein helps to repair and build bones and muscles that may otherwise be injured.

Dangers of Chicken Feed for Ducks

Ducks may be fed chicken feed for multiple reasons including monetary costs/expenses or even a lack of knowledge but chicken feed should not be proffered as a long-term solution for ducks.


The chicken feed contains a high amount of proteins which are perfectly healthy for chickens but can be dangerous to ducks.

Some of the dangers of feeding ducks with chicken feed include:

Lack of Niacin

Niacin is not stored in the body and so ducks need an outside source to supplement their body's lack of nutrients, whereas, chicks do not need niacin and so chicken feed does not contain niacin or Vitamin B3.

If the chicken feed is to be fed to ducks, ensure to mix it with about 5% of the brewers' yeast to account for the lack of niacin in the chicken feed.

High Amount of Proteins

The high amount of proteins found in chicken feed is useful in helping chickens grow faster and optimize their egg production but in ducks, can result in stunted/damaged bone growth.

This results in a condition called "Angel Wings" in ducks whereby their feathers turn outwards and prevent flying and migration.


In summary, it would do your duck better to be fed with food designed just for them as the nutrient requirement for all birds differs in slight quantities. But, these slight differences could be the difference between a healthy life and a stunted growth for ducks. Waterfowl feed is usually a much preferable option when compared to chicken feed.

Remember to mix about 5% of niacin or its equivalent in capsules to account for the lack of niacin in chicken feed.

Also, make sure to use only un-medicated chicken feed when feeding your ducks, to avoid any health issues.

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