Ducklings require some vitamins which are not readily available in chick feed. So, they are typically raised on duckling starters, vegetables, fruits, and protein.
Protein sources for ducklings include dried insects like black soldier fly larvae. But can mealworm be a source of protein for ducklings?
Can ducklings eat mealworms? Ducklings can eat mealworms. The high protein value in mealworms makes them more nutritious for ducklings than some other treats. However, never forget that since mealworms are treats, they cannot be the basis of the diet of ducklings. The primary part of the diet of baby ducks should be duckling starter feed.
You should consider waiting about 2 weeks before you let your baby ducks eat mealworm. Here is why:
Ducks do not have teeth. They instead use their bill to pick up and strain their food.
- Once they have gathered their food, they use their tongue to move it to their esophagus.
- From the esophagus, the next stop is the glandular stomach, also known as the proventriculus. The proventriculus secretes digestive enzymes on the food to soften it, making it easier to digest. The proventriculus and esophagus form the upper digestive tract of a duck.
- From the upper digestive tract, the food moves to the ventriculus, also known as the gizzard. In ducks, the gizzard acts as teeth. The gizzard contains grit that helps the duck break down large food particles. Digestion of proteins also begins in the gizzard.
- Before the food enters the large intestine, the food moves into the caeca. The function of the caeca is to digest fiber/plant cellulose and aid the absorption of protein and water.
- Once the caeca have absorbed the available nutrients, the undigested food goes into the large intestine. The undigested food and urine pass through the cloaca as waste.
If you got your ducklings from a hatchery or a farm store, chances are the grit content of their gizzard is low since they may not be free-range. So the waiting period of 2 weeks we mentioned earlier is a period to allow them to stock up on grit before they start eating mealworms.
Why do ducklings need grit to digest mealworms? Mealworms naturally have hard exoskeletons, and baby ducks may find it difficult to break down and fully digest them. But with chick-sized grit and coarse sand available, digestion will be easier for the ducklings.
Once you offer them the grit, wait for at least a week or two before giving them mealworms. This will afford your ducklings enough time to build up the gizzard grit they need to digest mealworms.
How Do You Know When Ducklings Are Old Enough to Eat Mealworms?
There really isn’t a specific answer to this question. You can offer your ducklings mealworms a few days after they hatch, and they will be fine. But you have to be cautious when you give treats to your ducklings.
To be on the safe side, wait a week or two after they hatch before you offer them mealworms. Before then, ensure your ducklings have had access to grit to enable them to digest the mealworms.
Nutritional Value Of Mealworms
Mealworms are nutritious for ducklings since they are rich in protein. Depending on how big they are and what you feed them, mealworms can easily contain 14 – 25% protein. Mealworms also contain essential amino acids, fiber, and vitamins like selenium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, and copper.
Of all the nutrients ducklings can get from mealworms, protein seems to be the most vital. Of course, this is understandable since not many treats offer as much protein.
How Many Mealworms Should You Feed Your Ducklings?
When offering mealworms to your ducklings, ensure you incorporate them along with other treats and starter feed as part of a balanced diet.
A rule of thumb you can follow is offering 1 mealworm per week of duckling age. This means you should try not to feed a 2-week-old ducking more than two mealworms. You can also place a few mealworms in their feed bowl and let the ducklings share amongst themselves.
Remember to factor mealworms into the overall diet of your duckling. Excessive consumption of mealworms may cause Angel Wing in ducklings. Then again, inadequate levels of protein may lead to stunted growth and various health problems.
Other Safe Treats For Ducklings
Besides mealworms, the following are some safe treats for ducklings:
- Dried shrimps
- Small pieces of Swiss chard or romaine lettuce
- Black soldier fly larvae
- Darkling beetles
- A small amount of cooked pumpkin
- Chopped kale
- Garden snails
- Cracked corn
Remember, ducks are not chickens; the design of their beaks does not allow them to pick food up readily. But you can toss their treats in a water bowl, so they can easily scoop them up.
Treats should not be more than 10% of the daily diet of your ducklings. So, ensure you monitor what treats you give your ducklings and how much you give them.
Remember offering too many treats to your ducklings can change the color, odor, and consistency of their poop.
Ducklings can eat mealworms. But ensure you give them to them in moderation to avoid any dietary issues.
Remember to incorporate mealworms with other treats and starter feed to ensure a balanced diet for your ducklings.