When raising ducks, you’ll quickly realize that they can be picky eaters. But, when they enjoy something, they really can’t get enough of it!
Still, it’s our responsibility to ensure ducks only eat what’s actually going to benefit them, whether it’s your own backyard ducks or ducks at the local pond.
There’s always been a heated debate about feeding citrus fruits to poultry, but is there really any truth to it. I mean, oranges seem healthy right?
To squash any myths, let’s look at the evidence.
Here’s whether ducks can eat oranges or orange peels, what the risks are, and if there are actually any benefits.
Can Ducks Eat Oranges?
Ducks aren’t just limited to eating their standard mixed flock food or duck pellets, they absolutely love various fruits and vegetables.
So, it’s natural you might think that oranges would be OK to feed ducks.
The truth of the matter is, in small quantities oranges may be OK for your ducks to eat. However, there are some apparent health problems that come with ducks eating too many oranges or citrus fruits.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, along with citric acid that is abundant in citrus fruit can cause calcium absorption problems, which can lead to calcium deficiency in your ducks.
This can manifest in several ways, like:
- Stiff legs
- Swollen Joints
- Soft eggshells
- Egg binding
- Ruffed feathers
There are also gastric problems that can arise from too much citrus consumption.
It’s not likely these problems will show up overnight if your ducks eat some oranges. However, when fed in large quantities, or small quantities are given frequently, oranges can cause harm to your ducks.
For this reason, it’s not recommended to feed your ducks oranges, in any way, shape, or form.
When you’ve got so many other healthy options for ducks, it’s not worth risking any potential downsides to feeding your ducks oranges, or any other citrus fruits for that matter.
Note: never feed ducklings citrus fruits either, they simply can’t handle the acidity.
Can Ducks Eat Orange Peels?
Unlike the flesh of the citrus fruit, orange peels don’t have the same concentrations of acid the flesh has. So, the orange peels aren’t likely to upset the ducks’ stomachs as much or lead to the same health problems.
However, due to the presence of a very bitter pith layer in the orange peel, most ducks don’t find orange peels enticing.
But, if your ducks have found some orange peel in the backyard and have pecked at it, don’t worry. It’s not toxic in any normal amount! Besides, most ducks will avoid it, as it simply isn’t nice tasting to them!
Are There Any Health Benefits Of Oranges For Ducks?
So, you would think given all the potential long-term health risks, there would be no way to feed oranges to your ducks safely.
Well, as it turns out, studies have been done on poultry to test whether citrus fruit peels and waste would have any benefit to commercial operations.
Interestingly, they found that citrus peel inclusion had a positive effect on weight, and significantly lower blood cholesterol levels predominately caused by Pectin, a substance in citrus peel.
However, this was done on broiler chickens. Although broiler chickens can lay eggs, they are not raised to do so, and are most likely processed before any long-term impacts of citrus could be found.
Still, it’s known that small amounts of citrus fruits in chickens and other poultry is considered safe.
As harmless as it sounds to feed your ducks oranges, all evidence and voices in the community point to avoiding feeding ducks oranges or other citrus fruits.
Further studies would need to be done to show no negative impact on a duck’s health to change this consensus.
For this reason, you should not feed your ducks or other poultry oranges. It’s just not worth the risk, especially when there are so many other healthy foods you can feed your ducks.
Instead, try berries like blackberries or blueberries, vegetables like zucchini, broccoli, or carrot, or healthy seeds and grains, like oats or other healthy cereals.
Happy backyard farming everyone!