DAY-TO-DAY DIET FOR WILDFOWL
The first point of advice is that if you aren't sure, speak to your Avian Veterinarian. These specialists are not just for parrot owners, and using them to help with your Wildfowl species could be a real benefit. Check them out below.
Think About The Species
Every animal is different, and subjected to a different environment. When we discuss diet, that's not just the types of food they receive but also the prevalence of food in that habitat. Or, more specifically, the seasonality of food in that habitat. Now, as people, we can't exactly provide everything that is available in the wild. What we can do is try to replicate that and offer a well-balanced diet that promotes health and well-being.
Let's look at Gallopheasants. There are many species in this group, all roaming a variety of terrestrial ecosystems ranging from taiga, to deciduous forests, right up into humid tropical rainforests. The berries and seed pods available in deciduous forests are completely different to the fruits and insects found in rainforests. That provides complexity to how we feed, but if we all aim to offer a wide array of foods we will often meet those nutritional needs.
What Are The Foundations
The foundation to any diet should be something that has some science to back it up. There are many who will swear black and blue that pelleted diets aren't appropriate; however it guarantees that our birds are obtaining many essential vitamins and minerals. One of the best range of products comes from Laucke Mills. Many bird-keepers I know will use the Showbird Breeder, as it has a high protein value; something all Wildfowl will benefit from.
For those that keep domestic poultry, there are a number of Laucke Mills products that are excellent egg laying and finishing diets. Red Hen Se17enteen is one of those premium diets, and very palatable.
The best place to purchase your Laucke Mills from is Parrot Supplies Australia. They're a Not-For-Profit store, and Members of The Pheasant & Waterfowl Society of Australia have been granted a 20% discount off of all poultry and gamebird products. They ship all across Australia too!
A Little Extra
Now we've got some idea on the foundation, we need to think of what is appropriate to build around that.
Effectively, it's all about freshness. A huge range of produce can be offered, and targeted at different times of the year. There are low, medium, and high energy foods; obviously the higher energy should be left for breeding season, rearing young, or juveniles you're rearing to adulthood. There is some great information on the Brisbane Bird Vet website.
In the United Kingdom, many gamekeepers rearing Ring-Necked Pheasants will release the birds near deliberately planted kale or maize fields. Not only do the birds feed on the fresh produce, but also the insects these plants attract. It isn't also just the physiological benefits for our birds, but the psychological ones. Imagine eating the same food, day in day out. Providing our birds with that variety really helps.
Seeding grasses and other native flora can be of equal benefit to our Wildfowl. Even some of the weeds that grow in and around waterways are fantastic for Waterfowl.
On top of fresh produce, there is a serious benefit to feeding Wildfowl live food. This is of particular importance when rearing youngsters, with some species only feeding live food at certain stages of development. There's more information on that in our Live Food pages.
Things To Remember
Just because your bird lays eggs, does not mean they're healthy. Birds are evolutionary champions, and can survive through nutritionally deficient times. Dry bird seed, or poor quality poultry diets, are not appropriate as a staple diet for Wildfowl. These birds crave higher levels of protein, and are experts at foraging the floors of their habitats to source a wide array of different foods. It is important to remember that we are here to promote the longevity of these birds, and to do that we need to adopt a best-practice approach for their care and husbandry.