Can Ducks Eat Mealworms? (Answered)

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Mealworms are gradually taking over as the preferred source of protein for many animals and its growing popularity is evidenced in zoos as it is used to feed captive animals.

Ducks can eat mealworms and it is recommended for ducks and other poultry birds for its high protein content.

Mealworms are not real worms but are larvae of a species of beetle. It is a delicious and healthy treat packed with nutrients for ducks. 

Today we will discuss what mealworms are, the health benefits they contain, whether to feed them dried or live mealworms and the different ways of feeding them. 

What Are Mealworms?

Can Ducks Eat Mealworms

Mealworms are insects rather than worms. They are the larvae of mealworm beetles (Tenebrio molitor), a type of darkling beetle.

Ducks have been observed eating insects similar to mealworms, such as slugs and earthworms.

Mealworms however, are high in protein. A mealworm has about 22% protein and 18% of fat.

Mealworms are a high-protein food that all waterfowl including ducks enjoy.

Protein is essential to ducks all year, but especially during duck breeding season and in winter.

Mealworms are able to provide the protein that ducks require to grow and mature. Duck protein requirements vary according to age.

On average, ducks require about 14 – 22% of protein in their diet.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Mealworms To Ducks

  1. Protein

Mealworms have a high protein content which offers ducks the necessary protein needs they require.

Proteins are important in egg development and maturity, molting and even growth of the ducklings. 

Proteins in mealworms particularly have amino acids and fatty acids which are important for repairing body tissue. 

  1. Vitamins

Mealworms have been discovered to be a rich source of Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is an important vitamin that regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate found in the body.

A deficiency of Vit D in your ducks can lead to health problems osteoporosis and bone deformities in the ducks. 

  1. Fat 

Mealworms have a high fat content with about 28% of fat found in a mealworm. Fat is needed for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D and E. 

It is also a source of essential fatty acids that provide energy for your ducks to move around their day.

  1. Fibre

Mealworm has a 10% fibre content. This fibre is important to aid digestion of food. Fibre helps to speed up the digestive process and reduces the incidence of constipation in your ducks.

  1. Minerals 

Mealworms have a higher mineral content than even the traditional meat and egg sources.

Minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus are found in good amounts in mealworms.

These minerals are important for the smooth running of your ducks body systems.

These and many more are the health benefits the ducks can get from eating mealworms. 

Here is an article I wrote on can ducks eat blackberries

How Often Should I Feed Them Mealworms?

Mealworms are safe and healthy treats to give your ducks regularly.

Ducks usually catch insects with their bills to supplement their diet as a source of protein so adding it to their diet would not pose any problems. 

You can feed your ducks mealworms on a regular basis because they provide a lot of nutritious protein.

However, you do not want to feed your ducks only mealworms.

As such as mealworms are extremely nutritious for ducks, they do not provide all of the nutrients that a duck requires to be healthy.

Instead, every duck should be fed a varied diet that includes proteins, fruits, and vegetables.

Their main diet should remain the feed, you can mix the mealworms in with their feed or offer it as a tasty snack about three times a week. 

Can Ducks Have Dried Mealworms?

Mealworms are a favorite food of ducks.

However, keeping mealworms can be difficult, and this would necessitate frequent trips to the pet store to obtain more live mealworms.

Furthermore, this is an expensive method of feeding mealworms to your ducks.

You could also feed your ducks dried mealworms instead. Dried mealworms are far easier to keep because they don’t require feeding or care.

Furthermore, dried mealworms are a less expensive way to feed your ducks. Although dried mealworms tend to have less protein and fat content than the live mealworms. 

Can Baby Ducks Eat Mealworms?

Ducklings require lots of protein as they grow as the protein helps them develop all the necessary features they require.

It is perfectly safe to feed mealworms to baby ducklings, however it is important you start feeding them only after they are 2-4 weeks of age.

The reason for this is that mealworms have hard shells that can be difficult for baby ducks to break down and digest.

Ducks generally swallow grit and small stones to aid digestion in their gizzard. 

Newly hatched ducklings have not acquired the grit but before they are 4 weeks they would have had enough to completely digest hard food.

Mealworms are more nutritious for ducklings than other treats due to their high protein content.

However, keep in mind that they are a treat and cannot be the sole source of nutrition for ducklings.

Duckling starter feed should remain the main diet of baby ducks. 

How Many Mealworms Do You Feed A Duck?

As much as mealworms are nutritious treats for your ducks you don’t want them to get hooked on the snacks.  

For ducklings, one mealworm per week is a good rule of thumb to follow. You can also put very few mealworms in their feed bowl and let the ducklings share them.

For the adult ducks, you should introduce it to them gradually so they get used to the protein and fat content in it.

Also in summer, give them less as they also eat bugs, worms and insects and in winter you can feed them more.

Can Ducks Eat Live Mealworms

Live mealworms are good for ducks as they have a higher protein and fat content than dried mealworms.

They also have a higher moisture content, this makes live mealworms more nutritious and easier to digest.

Live mealworms can be expensive to feed to your ducks though as a bag of quality mealworms can cost as much as $5 per bag.

When you calculate the cost annually it amounts to a sizable price. 

To reduce the cost you can raise live mealworms on your farm or backyard.

This will not only help you save up on mealworm costs, your ducks will have an endless supply of live mealworms and you can even share with the backyard birds that come visiting. 

Things To Consider When Feeding Ducks Mealworms

Mealworms are always a treat for the ducks and you should keep it as a treat. Do not replace their main commercial or feed with mealworms.

As nutritious as mealworms, they do not have the nutrients ducks need to stay healthy. 

Mealworms can be eaten by ducklings. However, to avoid any dietary issues, make sure you give them to them in moderation.

Excessive mealworm consumption may result in Angel Wing in ducklings.

For the adults, if you give out mealworms in excess they might get unnecessarily fatty and will go hungry if you do not feed them.

As all treats, let it be incorporated into their main diet for the best results. 

What Are The Ways Of Feeding Mealworms To Ducks

When feeding mealworms to ducks you can feed them live mealworms.

You can purchase a bag of quality live mealworms from the store or if you have the capacity, rear mealworms on your farm.

When giving them live mealworms you can pour it into their water so as to moisturise it and make it easy for them to swallow and digest.

You can also feed them dried mealworms which are a cheaper alternative to the live ones.

Before ducks the dried variety, ensure they are soaked as to reduce the dryness and make it easy for the ducks to eat.

You can mix both dried and live mealworms with their feed or serve it to them separately and watch your ducks gobble up the offering.


Mealworms are the larvae of the darkling beetle species. They are a great treat for ducks and other birds.

Mealworms have a high protein content which is great for the birds as they require a high protein diet.

Adding mealworms to your ducks diet is great as it would supplement their protein needs.

Mealworms have a lot of nutritional benefits for ducks including proteins, fat, and low carbs. vitamins and minerals. 

You can feed your ducks both dried and live mealworms and it is safe to feed mealworms to ducklings after 2 to 4 weeks.

Always keep the mealworms in moderation though to avoid causing health problems.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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