Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner with a strong background in nutrition.
Can ducks eat kale? It’s a question you might ask if you have a pet duck or live by a body of water and routinely feed ducks. Kale is a nutritious food for humans, and you might wonder whether it’s safe for a duck to eat and whether it’s healthy.
The short answer is yes. If you want to feed your duck kale, then yes, ducks can eat kale and it supplies their body with nutrients. However, there are a few things you should know before feeding this delicious leafy green to your birds.
Ducks Are Omnivores
Ducks are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. Ducks can eat worms, insects, and even duck feed. Some species of ducks, like pintails and mallards, consume more plant foods than others, such as mergansers, who consume more fish.
Being a leafy green, ducks can eat kale too. And it’s safe to feed it to them whether the kale is raw or cooked. However, make sure it’s not cooked in a greasy sauce or heavily spiced.
It’s also wise to buy organic kale if you feed it to a duck. Kale may be heavily sprayed with pesticides and washing is unlikely to remove all of them. But it’s still important to wash kale before eating it or giving it to a duck.
The Nutritional Benefits of Kale for Ducks
Kale is a good source of plant-based protein and fiber, and it contains a variety of vitamins, including vitamins A, C, and K. It’s one of the better sources of plant-based calcium and iron.
As with humans, ducks need these vitamins and minerals for health. Kale is also rich in antioxidants, compounds that fight oxidative stress that damages the cells and tissues of all species.
Introducing Kale to a Duck
Many ducks will eat raw or cooked kale but it’s best to introduce this veggie into their diet slowly and see how they respond. Ducks need a varied diet, so kale should be only a small part of their diet.
There are a variety of types of kale, and all are safe for a duck to eat. If you buy kale for the humans in your household, you can also save some for the ducks.
Even ducklings can eat kale and are more likely to embrace it if you introduce it to their diet early. Being nutrient-dense, kale offers nutritional benefits for growing ducklings.
Kale contains a lot of water and is easy for ducks and ducklings to digest. It’s best to cut the leaves into small pieces before offering them to a duck.
They Enjoy Kale
According to a charity that oversees more than 2,000 miles of waterways in Great Britain, kale is a favorite among ducks. They tested a variety of healthy foods, including leafy vegetables, on the ducks in the region.
They discovered that ducks love kale, lettuce, and pea shoots but aren’t crazy about watercress, another leafy green. They urged British citizens to donate their leftover kale to the docks and feed it to the ducks. Due to its nutritional value and low-calorie content, it helps ducks stay a healthy body weight.
Ducks Should Eat a Varied Diet
Ducks can eat kale and seem to enjoy it as well as other leafy greens such as lettuce. Since it’s low in calories and rich in nutrients, it’s a healthy food to offer ducks in moderation.
However, ducks should enjoy a varied diet rather than a single food. Fortunately, they’re not picky eaters and will munch on everything from fish and insects to vegetation, berries, and acorns.
They Are Foragers in the Wild
Being foragers in the wild, they can adapt to the food supply that's available. As with humans, ducks may a preference for certain foods. You will discover whether kale is one of their favorites after offering it to them a few times. Don’t be surprised if they eat it with enthusiasm!
With good nutrition, ducks can live a long healthy life and kale has lots of vitamins and minerals that keep them stay healthy.
- "Ditch the breadcrumbs... the best duck food's kale!." 28 Mar. 2016, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3511937/Ditch-breadcrumbs-best-duck-food-s-kale-Experts-reveal-feeding-superfood-mallards-trim.html.
- "Kale, raw nutrition facts and analysis.." https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Kale%2C_raw_nutritional_value.html.
- "Domestic Ducks | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine." https://www.vet.cornell.edu/animal-health-diagnostic-center/programs/duck-research-lab/domestic-ducks.
- "What Do Ducks Eat? (Complete Guide) | Birdfact." https://birdfact.com/articles/what-do-ducks-eat.
- "Wood Duck Diet: Lesson for Kids | Study.com." https://study.com/academy/lesson/wood-duck-diet-lesson-for-kids.html.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.