Home » Warning about feeding bread to ducks

Warning about feeding bread to ducks

Concerns: Local landlord Mark Chappell (L) with Arthur Davies
Feed the ducks: Grain not bread
Feed the ducks: Grain not bread

WITH half-term approaching, it’s probably likely that you, along with your little ones, will go along to ponds and rivers such as the Millenium Coastal Park in Llanelli, to feed the ducks, geese and swans.

However, many people are unaware of the hidden dangers of feeding them the wrong types of food, especially bread.

Feeding ducks bread has been a passtime for families since the 19th Century, and it would seem that providing food for them would make them healthier and stronger.

However, it’s since been recognised that feeding them artificial foods can cause deformities in the birds, and can cause them to become severely ill, sometimes resulting in death.

Ducks eat a variety of foods, such grass, weeds, aquatic plants, algae, seeds, grains and berries, and the carbohydrate filled dinner they’re being fed rather than their protein rich dinner isn’t what they should be eating.

Once the bread has hit the water, the naturally occurring surface algae can react, giving off toxins that damage fish populations and create a horrible smell. It can also deprive sunlight to underwater plants, causing them to die.

If the bread has been left and started to rot, the decomposing bread can spread a deadly mould named aspergillus, which can get into ducks’ lungs and kill them. The rotting bread will attract rats, whose urine transmits Weil’s disease, which can be deadly to people.

A spokesperson from the RSPB told The Herald: “Bread, or white bread in particular, has no real nutritional value, so while birds may find it tasty, the danger is that they will fill up on bread instead of other foods that could be more beneficial to them.

“There’s also a risk that ducks and other water fowl could get an illness known as angel wing, which is caused by not getting the right nutrients in their diet. The illness causes a deformity in birds’ wings that can hamper the way they fly or even stop them flying altogether, which could obviously be fatal.

“This doesn’t mean that you can’t feed the birds however, but maybe just try to vary what you give them and swap it for healthier more natural option like seeds, oats, corn, or defrosted frozen peas, for example.”

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Peter Morris of the WWT Llanelli Wetland Centre confirmed this, saying: “Being around nature and water is good for us all physically and mentally. The simple pleasure of feeding the ducks is a great way for small children especially to connect with wildlife and love it rather than be afraid of it.

“Ducks are fine with a bit of bread, but it can be dangerous for them where it forms too much of their diet. They can become bloated, become ill, and the water can become polluted.

“We recommend feeding ducks grain, which you can often get cheaply from pet stores or garden centres. Otherwise, cooked vegetables like potato or broccoli can be good. Many ducks, geese and swans in the open countryside graze these sorts of foods already in agricultural fields.”

The Llanelli Wetland Centre also display signs to encourage visitors not to feed the ducks bread, and offer alternatives to those who have brought bread to the centre.

According to the Canal and River Trust, we throw away around 1,200,00 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables each year, with salad making up a large proportion of the waste. So, next time you’re about to throw away your fruit and veg, take it to feed the ducks!

It seems their favourite food is kale, which is a highly nutritious plant and currently gracing the table of many restaurants, and something that ducks can’t get enough of. This is closely followed by pea shoots, which are best when torn up into bite sized chunks.

Iceberg and rocket lettuce aren’t high in the rank of favourite foods, but they’re better than watercress. Whilst watercress is a great food for them to eat, they’re not all that interested!

So, if you’re at home with your stale bread and wishing you had someone to give it to, you’re in luck – you can eat it! There are plenty of ways to cook something up that’s tasty, so you don’t waste your bread.

Bread and butter pudding is an obvious choice for many, and is one of the tastiest ways to use up your stale bread. Spread your leftover sale bread with butter or margarine, then layer it into an oven-proof dish, adding your choice of dried fruit of jam between each level.

You can even add mixed spice or nutmeg if you have any.

In a separate bowl, mix 400ml of milk with two eggs and 50g of sugar, then pour over your bread. Push your bread down into the mixture to make sure it’s all covered, and leave it to stand for half an hour before baking for around 40 minutes at 180 degrees.

Other than that, you can make French toast, which is perfect at any time of the day. Simply mix up an egg on a plate, put a piece of old bread in the mixture, let it soak up all of the egg and fry! It’s delicious with maple syrup, fruit, cinnamon, sugar or even bacon!