Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sustainable duck feed

We do feed our ducks commercial feed, but also try to provide them as much fresh food as we can. They load up on the greens we give them in the morning and only nibble their game bird feed as needed. We have increased our gardening beds and are giving them as much home grown food as possible, but between the family's use and the Saturday farmers market, there isn't as much for them as they would like.

Fortunately we have been using our pond to not only grow people food, but to grow things just for the ducks. It took several attempts, but we finally found a strain of duckweed that grows well in our pond. Usually people DO NOT want duckweed in their water, but duckweed is a very nutritious feed for ducks. It also keeps the algae down by shading the water's surface. Now that the duckweed has started to cover the whole pond, we have started scooping some out and putting it in the duck's water. It disappears in seconds.

We also added rosy minnows to the pond. Their main function is to eat mosquito larvae. Between mosquito larvae, algae and other bugs, you don't even have to provide additional feed. Just put them in the pond and let them do their job. A secondary benefit of rosy minnows is they reproduce like mad. We have seen very small fry swimming at the top of the pond. Just like the duckweed, extra minnows get scooped out and fed to the ducks.

Both duckweed and minnows are food a wild ducks thrives on. By providing as much natural food as possible to our animals, we are helping to keep them happy and healthy.

Lexus and her ducklings took advantage of a temporary security breech in the pen and tried to gobble up all the duckweed


  1. that's a great use of your pond. I really like the potted plants growing around it.
    I see a lot of pond forms for sale on craigs list lately & was thinking of setting up something similar. Is it difficult to maintain?

    How do you clean it up after the ducks build up sludge in it?

    I have a stock tank that collects rainwater that I was thinkibg of keeping minnows in, does it need some kind of aeration?

  2. The ducks don't usually swim in this pond anymore. A hawk found us so they usually stay in the covered pen where they have a swimming pool. When they were swimming in the pond, we used a skippy filter (google that term and you will find very helpful links). We only had to clean it out about 3 or 4 times a year. We did use a big shop vac to get out the sediment but it really wasn't that difficult to maintain.

    I would use something for aeration in a stock tank. I think those little pumps with the air stones are around $15. Rosy minnows are only 12¢ each at Valley Pets.

  3. What strain of duckweed did you find? And where did you get it? The stuff i have simply doesnt seem to be reproducing all that much.

  4. Email me Melissa. I can get you a starter.