Is Feeding Bread to Waterfowl Safe?

We have swans, geese and ducks that call Milford their home year round. We are lucky enough to have a picturesque river running right through the middle of it which brings a lot of wonderful waterfowl. The one thing that I see all the time is people taking their kids to 'feed' the wildlife. They feed the waterfowl sugar coated donuts, bread and most anything they have that doesn't cost a lot. I understand why they do it, but what they don't know is that it's filling them up with '0' nutrition when they could be eating nutritious food that they find on their own.

A true experience; We once had a pair of swans that would come to breed on our lake each year. One of the babies had been eating 'junk food', bread-stuff, and when winter came, her chest was so underdeveloped that she couldn't fly. She couldn't leave with her siblings and parents. It made me feel so sad that we went out and bought 'Turkey Pellets' (cracked corn in a pellet shape) as soon as we caught on what was happening. We wet the pellet food and fed it to her so she could regain her strength. She did make it. She was able to fly right before the winter reared it's ugly head.
Our Milford Geese (above) share the pond with ducks and Canadian Geese.

If you're thinking of feeding waterfowl, they need soft food. Something that will soften enough when it's in the water. Please refrain from feeding them bread and sugar coated food. It's not good for them. Turkey pellets can be found cheaply at any feed & grain store. You can ask the Audubon society in your area what they suggest. Cracked corn is everywhere, and if it's small enough, it will soften in the water rather quickly.

I found this useful information from The Metacomet

"Another reason to restrain from feeding Ducks is that although Ducks seem to love bread, it is not nutritious. White bread in particular is made from refined flour and is not proper for avian nutrition. Many Ducks suffer from degenerative liver disease because they eat too much. Also, leftover bread and Duck droppings pollute the water. The uneaten bread turns into a deadly mold called Aspergillus, which is fatal to Ducks, fish and other animals. Rotting bread can also breed other deadly diseases and parasites, particularly a Duck virus Enteritis, which with a single outbreak will kill all the Ducks of that area. "

It's something to think about in the future. If you don't feed them bread-stuff, then you won't be teaching your children or grandchildren the habit from seeing you feeding it to them.  Win-Win all around. I hope you'll consider feeding them healthy food if you're going to feed them.


  1. Aw, man. I feel really bad. I had no idea. I did it, I've taken the kids to do it. Thought I was doing a GOOD thing. Not sugary stuff, but plain bread. But what you say makes perfect sense.

    I'd like to link to this, if I may. I bet there are a lot of well-meaning people who do it and would never intentionally harm the ducks.

  2. Great article, I'm going to share this one. Hate to state the obvious, but white bread and donuts aren't nutritious fare for humans either! ;)

  3. Please, link it or copy it. The info needs to get out there any way it can. Appreciate it.

  4. Funny … I'm not really a wildlife feeder. I don't put out bird feeders in my own yard … though I grow plenty of seed, berry and nectar yielding plants and have no shortage of birds on my little acre.

    Wild animals have a diet that is natural to them … and that is at it should be. It's a share us two-leggeds are forgetting the vital value in this - for ourselves, the animals around us and for the earth.


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