Can Ducks Eat Bread?

Ducks shouldn’t be eating bread, and until the end of this comprehensive guide, you will learn why.

Leaving the pond ducks from a nearby park better than you found them is always the goal. Avoid giving them junk food like bread.

3 slices of bread on black plate on a table
Bread is not good for ducks

Give them only a few nutritious snacks if you have to, and you will do a kind deed.

I do not doubt that ducks in parks are in bad health in most cases, so the last thing they need is another piece of bread from you and me.

If you are growing your ducks in your backyard, feed them healthy and highly nutritious food.

Don’t feed domestic ducks bread, no matter what kind.

If you love feeding ducks, read the complete guide to see why ducks shouldn’t eat junk food like bread (even though they can).

We Will Cover

In This Guide – We are covering all the possible drawbacks of feeding ducks bread. No matter if you got here to learn more about feeding wild or domestic ducks, you will see the bigger picture and negative effects every wildlife and nature lover wants to avoid.

Bread & Ducks

The fact is that bread is not toxic or bad for ducks.

If more than 10% of their daily diet is bread, that isn’t good for ducks. And to be honest, nobody can track how much bread ducks eat in the park.

If in one day, 100 people a day sitting next to a pond with ducks and everyone throws one piece, that is too much.

You get the picture.

So be creative; bring greens, peas, and cracked corn. If you are keeping ducks at home, forget about the bread. Give them duck pellet, greens, corn, peas, and even fruit as a snack when they deserve it.

They won’t have nice and healthy eggs and meat if the main staple in their diet is bread. They need protein, minerals, and vitamins.

From bread, they won’t get any of this. But more about that below.

Top 9 Reasons to Avoid Giving Feeding Ducks Bread

No matter if we are feeding bread to wild or domestic ducks, here are some disadvantages and consequences we all should keep in mind.

1. Not Nutritious Enough (At All)

Bread comes into the category of junk food.

The main reason is that highly processed flour is used for making bread in the first place.

The fact is that white bread is low in essential nutrients (like protein, fat, and fiber) and high in carbs.

Compared with vegetable, or commercial duck food, from bread, your ducks at home (or the ones in the nearest park) won’t get minerals or vitamins.

They will get only lots of calories and carbs.

2. Some Types of Bread Choking Hazard

Also, there are hundreds of types of bread, and some can be too sticky and elastic for ducks throat.

They can even struggle to swallow it.

Yes, most people give them big pieces of bread (or entire slices), and when it is mixed with water, the structure can be sticky, becoming a choking hazard.

3. They Will Overfeed Quickly

If ducks in a short time eat lots of bread, they won’t have an appetite for healthier food.

They won’t eat worms, insects, greens, and all the other food omnivorous animals like ducks should eat.

Bread will only fill them up, and their bodies won’t get any minerals, vitamins, or protein.

If you keep your ducks, you should know that eggs and meat won’t be great if you give them too much bread.

4. Short Ducks Lifespan

Yes, bread is not toxic and won’t kill ducks.

However, if ducks eat bread daily and are primarily fed only bread, their health and growth are significantly threatened.

And ducks won’t be in good physical condition for a long time.

Ducks can live for 20 years or longer, but that’s only the case if their diet is diverse and healthy.

As a Result – If a duck eats bread the entire day, whether a duck from a nearby park or a pet duck, it won’t live long. And it will develop different types of diseases in their lifetime.

5. You Could Get Fine

One of the reasons is your wallet.

This topic is pretty hot in lots of crowded parks and big cities.

There are big signs that are telling people to stop feeding ducks. Or to stop feeding ducks bread.

And if you live in an area where the situation is edgy, you can pretty quickly get a fine.

6. It’s Annoying

To be honest, it is a little bit annoying.

Most people see the signs that feeding ducks is forbidden and, more importantly, bad for ducks’ health, and they still do it.

I know that most people don’t care about other people, let alone ducks. And that’s the way things simply are.

But it’s still irritating (and pretty much sad) that you see the duck in a park and know that duck could live for 15 or 20 years, but you know it will probably get sick or die in ten or less.

And that’s all because of lousy bread and diet.

That duck got used to people hand feeding and never saw healthy greens, cracked corn, grapes, peas, or any other nutritious snack.

7. Ducks Become Lazy

Not only will ducks become lazy, but they will also become fat and unhappy.

Healthy duck is foraging around, looking for insects, bugs, algae, hunting, and having a good time.

All ducks in parks getting used to hand feeding from people throwing bread don’t have the motivation to “hunt” for food.

They will become stationary, lazy, fat, unhealthy, and miss all the perks they can only get from active life.

That reminds me of one overweight black Labrador lying next to one pizza place in my city center.

They are throwing him everyday leftovers, and he is every day bigger and lazier.

He is not barking and playing, only lying on the sidewalk and waiting for someone to throw at him the next leftover.


If you love ducks and nature, bring healthy snacks and only give them a handful, not too much.

And people working there are telling customers not to feed him, but they listen like people in parks when they are said not to feed ducks.

8. Ratts, Diseases & Pollution

That brings us to the next problem. When people throw ducks too much food at once, chances are they won’t eat everything.

All the food in the pond or around will attract rats, mice, and squirrels.

If Too Hot – That food will quickly become moldy, and in a few hours, another hungry duck can pick that up and eat it. It will get sick; it can die and start rotting. It will attract more rats or dogs…

You get the picture. This is what is happening every day in big parks.

In some areas, big ponds are polluted, wildlife is at risk, and all the people, flora, and fauna.

9. Bad & Aggressive Behavior

People are spoiling ducks with bread, and in most big parks with ponds and ducks (or swans and gooses), you can see a bunch of ducks waiting for food.

Ducks often start being aggressive and fighting other ducks or even small children.

Feeding ducks seem like a fun and relaxing activity with kids, and in most cases, it is.

However, if a toddler is holding a piece of bread, and 5 or 10 bigger ducks or goose are approaching, you can expect them to attack the child.

Ducks are not lions, of course, but they can scare your kid quickly.

Also, they can use their beak to go after the child’s face, which can be dangerous if you ask me.

Heads Up! Feeding ducks with bread can lead to pretty aggressive behavior in ducks.

Types of Bread People Are Giving to Ducks

The worst bread people are giving to ducks is white bread.

There are practically no nutrients, minerals, or vitamins. That is not even good for us to eat.

Also, garlic bread is terrible because ducks shouldn’t be eating onions and garlic at all.

However, some other types of bread, made from whole grains, have more nutrients and are not just filling ducks with bad calories.

I want to list different types of bread that people ask if they could give instead.

As mentioned, giving bread to ducks is not great, but these are the least harmful options:

  • sprouted bread
  • sourdough bread
  • whole wheat bread
  • Oat bread
  • sprouted rye bread
  • gluten-free bread
  • Flaxseed bread
  • Ezekiel bread

Also, if you made bread from whole grains and added a few flavors, that can be an alternative as well:

  • cinnamon bread
  • banana bread
  • raisin bread
  • bread with sesame seeds

But, again, I want to point out that these are less harmful, but also keep that at a minimum.

In the next section, we will list much healthier food for ducks.

What Can Ducks Eat Instead of Bread?

Even for this food I’m listing here, feeding ducks in moderation always stands.

Remember, cracked corn is better than feeding ducks bread, but if you give them too much, that will have a negative impact as well.

We should know that ducks are omnivorous animals, and they should enjoy a pretty diverse diet.

We can’t just fill them with fiber and forget their needs for meat-based protein, insects, minerals, and vitamins.

Here are just a few items you can feed ducks instead of bread:

When it comes to fruit snacks, essential to know is to avoid all citrus fruit like lemons, oranges, and grapefruit.

Citrus fruit is terrible for ducks’ digestive system, it negatively impacts nutrient absorption in their bodies, and it should be avoided from feeding the ducks entirely.

For any other fruit and vegetable, make sure not to give them more than 15% – 20% of the daily duck diet.

Feeding ducks with commercial duck food is a priority because that food gives them precise nutrition every duck needs in one day.

What to Do with Leftover Bread You Have?

If you are feeding the ducks bread just because you have lots of few-day-old bread, I have a few ideas that work well.

Add that bread to your compost pile if you have one in your backyard.

You could dry it and create breadcrumbs and use them for cooking.

To Consider – I use breadcrumbs to make crispy pasta toppings, deserts, or dumplings. Here are some ways to use leftover bread and breadcrumbs.

Also, if you notice that old bread is moldy, throw it in the garbage.

However, if still okay, you can freeze it and toast it later if you want a quick solution.

Should You Stop Feeding Ducks?

If you are keeping ducks in your backyard, I would suggest feeding them bread only 10% of their daily diet.

And stay away from white bread. Give them some sprouted bread, sourdough, whole wheat, or oat bread.

Now, if you are walking through the park and see lots of ducks and a ton of people are already feeding them, you probably should not feed ducks in that scenario.

Also, if you see a famous sign: “Please, do not feed the ducks” you probably should not be feeding them because locals recognize that these ducks are overfed.

However, if you notice skinny lonely ducks near the lake and nobody around feeding them, you can give them a few healthy snacks.

Also, if winter is approaching or if these ducks are unsuccessfully trying to find food in the freezing weather, you should probably give them some food to save their lives.

Few situations you should not feed the ducks:

  • signs that forbid feeding the ducks
  • police around writing tickets for feeding ducks
  • you notice lots of molded food around ducks
  • lots of people are already feeding the ducks
  • you notice fat and lazy ducks
  • if ducks are aggressive

Situations you should feed ducks:

  • Nobody around is feeding them
  • In wintertime, everything is frozen
  • You notice unhealthy skinny ducks

If everyone stopped feeding ducks (especially ones that are used to being fed), they would die, especially through the winter.

But we need to start providing them with more nutritious and healthy food and forget the bread.

FAQs About Feeding Ducks Bread

Can ducks eat moldy bread?

Moldy bread will hurt ducks, and you should not be feeding ducks with it. If you think that bread is near to becoming moldy, throw it away.

Can baby ducks eat bread?

No. In the first 4-6 weeks, baby ducks need nutritionally balanced feed for ducklings. It would be best if you were not giving your ducklings anything else, especially bread.

However, few snacks like greens or fruit (up to 10% of their diet) can provide them a vitamin and mineral boost. But at all costs, avoid feeding ducklings bread.

Is bread bad for ducks?

Yes. Looking at it long-term, feeding ducks bread daily is pretty bad for their health.

You should limit the amount of bread that ducks are eating. Or, even better alternative, stop feeding them bread.

Can bread kill ducks?

Bread won’t kill ducks immediately. But ducks won’t live as long as they should if their diet is terrible.

From a nutritional point of view, not only that bread have no nutritional value to ducks, but it is also bad for overall health.

Can ducks digest bread?

Yes, ducks can digest bread if they are not overfed. If they eat bread in limited amounts (10% of their diet), they can digest it easily.

However, the problem comes when people give ducks too much bread. Then they can have issues with digesting all that fiber and useless carbs.

Does bread make ducks sick?

Too much bread in the duck’s stomach will make them feel sick.

And the long term, feeding ducks too much bread will lead to health consequences and make them prone to get sick more quickly, and reduce their lifespan.

What happens when you feed ducks bread?

You are giving them zero nutrients when feeding them bread. They won’t get minerals, vitamins, and protein, and they won’t forage for insects and more nutritious food because they feel full-fed.

It’s as if I would eat ten slices of bread. It’s all “okay” – I wouldn’t be hungry; I will digest it. But the body doesn’t have anything healthy to absorb into the system. And doing this long-term will do more harm than good.

Final words

Whether walking through the park or keeping ducks at home, ducks should not eat bread because this food has almost zero nutritional value to our lovely feather friends.

If you enjoy feeding ducks, give them something with protein, minerals, and vitamins.

Fortunately, there is a ton of alternatives that your favorite ducks will appreciate.