For first-time duckling and gosling owners, going down the feed aisle can be a frustrating experience. We are here to explain the different types of feed form you will encounter. These are only the final forms of the feed – how they are presented to the bird. It tells you nothing about their ingredients or nutritional breakdown.
Mash is a fine mixture of the ground grains, vitamins, and minerals that an animal needs and has roughly the consistency of corn meal. The benefit of grinding feed to make a mash is that the ingredients are mixed uniformly. If given the choice, the 'good bits' in a feed would be picked out if the feed was not ground, leaving some of the nutrition they need behind. With mash that is not possible.
The downside to mash is that waterfowl have trouble swallowing mash without added water. Therefore their tendency is to take the mash to water, wasting feed in the process and usually leaving quite a bit of feed in the water.
Pellets start as a mash that has steam added and is compressed into its pellet form. This means that any bacteria that could have been in the mash is cooked out of the pellet, leaving a nutrient rich and clean feed.
There are many benefits to using pellets. The animal receives all of the nutrients it needs in each mouthful. It is easy for them to eat. Salmonella and any other potential pathogens have been destroyed and …. it is normally easier to pour from a bucket than mash.
Between a mash and a pellet is a crumble. A crumble is a pellet that has been broken into smaller pieces, and has the consistency of Grape Nuts breakfast cereal.
Crumbles are typically made for young birds as it is easy for them to eat and it has all the advantages of pellets. But it is also easily eaten by adult waterfowl so do not shy away from an adult bird feed made into crumbles.
Whole and Cracked Grains
Many people like to save money by using predominantly whole or cracked grains for feed. This is cheaper than a commercially made, balanced ration. However, whole and cracked grains do not share the same nutritional advantages that processed feed has. It is like feeding your children only bread, pasta and rice. They also need the vitamins, minerals and proteins from fruits, vegetables, proteins and dairy products. A balanced ration provides all these nutrients in the correct levels. If you simply add a mixture of vitamins and minerals to your whole and cracked grains, it will sift to the bottom and probably not be eaten.
Money Saving Tip
You can use whole and cracked grains as long as it is mixed with a balanced feed – and they are not under eight weeks of age or laying eggs. Our suggestion is that you can substitute up ¼ of your birds’ usual daily feed, but no more as this can imbalance their nutritional intake and cause havoc on their bodies.
When you next go down the feed isle, I will hope you have a better understanding of the purpose and advantages of mash, crumbles and pellets.