Will: conventional poultry feed, tomatoes, cherry tree leaves, stale bread, dandelion, horseradish leaves, slugs and bugs of any kind,
Won't: snails (unless pre-squished), strawberry leaves, rocket, iris, rhubarb, rosemary, corn leaves.
While I am more than happy for them to eat bugs and dandelion, and will put up with them eating the tomatoes, cherry and horseradish that they can reach, I really wanted to not have to feed them conventional poultry pellets. Not only because they are highly processed and (to a lesser, but important, extent) cost me money, but because I had read that poultry pellets are designed for chickens and ducks have higher protein requirements and also can be made sick by the antibiotics that are generally in conventional poultry feeds.
So I decided to make my own.
What a palaver that turned out to be. I searched the source of all information - the interwebs - and found some really useful information, but not what I had really wanted; a simple recipe to make duck suitable feed. So here is what I eventually came up with, and hopefully it will help someone out there who trawls the net for a recipe for a duck friendly feed.
But firstly, the resources that I have used to come up with this recipe:
I also used some nutritional analysis software to put together this mix (a small benefit of being a dietitian by trade, not that I did this analysis on my work computer, during work time... of course not), which has a 17% protein content.
Homemade duck feed:
1kg maize (corn)
350g sunflower seeds
50g shell grit
This is something I do in the thermomix, to grind the bigger grains into a more manageable consistancy. Now I have given the ducks whole seed and they seem to do ok, but I heard that whole seed (particularly big grains like maize/corn) can cause problems, so I like to partially grind the grains for my mix.
Generally 6 seconds on 9-10 works well.
I'm quite lucky that my mother works as a seed analyst in an agricultural laboratory and is able to give me all the excess seed that are used for testing, when the owners don't want them back. So I have an almost unlimited free supply of grains and seeds to make the feed. Though I've seen some pet food stores stock the grains and they look to be cheaper than buying the commercial stuff.
Now even with the best mix of grains, the feed will not be nutritionally adequate for ducks in terms of micronutrients - ie vitamins and minerals, particularly niacin, vitamin A and vitamin D. So I add a poultry vitamin mix I bought online.
With all the grains weighed and ground as required and the vitamin powder added I then give it all a good mix.
This makes about two weeks worth and I keep it in a plastic storage container in the duck pen. They haven't discovered it... yet.
As you can see some grains are still whole, but no really big grains remain.
The ducks got weaned off the commercial pellets over a 4 week period, from a 50/50 mix, to a 75/50 mix, to a mostly homemade mix.
They seem to love this just as much as the pellet stuff.
That said they still eat all they tomato, cherry leaves, horseradish leaves and dandelion they can get their beaks on.