Can Ducks Eat Cheese?

Can Ducks Eat Cheese

As you know, I always love a good conversation with my readers. Recently, I received a lot of messages asking about ducks and cheese. They wanted to know if their ducks could eat cheese or not. Having ducks nearby, I too wondered this. So, I dug into the research and found out the scientific answer to this question.

Can ducks eat cheese? Ducks do like to munch on cheese sometimes but only if they are given small amounts of cheese occasionally. Some types of cheese are safe for ducks, but you should always grate them into small bite-size pieces so they can easily swallow it. Safe varieties include cheddar, mozzarella, and brie; whereas cottage and cream cheese should be avoided.

A major difference between birds and mammals is that birds lay eggs while mammals give birth to their younger ones. Mammals also have mammary glands, from which they can produce milk for the nourishment of their babies. On the other hand, birds contain no milk-producing glands, which has led to the absence of lactase in their body.

But what is lactase? Lactase is an enzyme that breaks down lactose (a natural sugar present in milk) and is essential in the complete digestion of milk. It is the absence of this enzyme that makes the birds highly lactose intolerant. So, can ducks, being birds, eat cheese? That’s what we are going to talk about in this article.

Can ducks benefit from eating cheese?

We’ve already mentioned that eating a small amount of cheese doesn’t adversely affect your feathered pet’s health. However, you can’t simply feed cheese to your ducks because it is “not that bad for them in moderation,” can you?

As a responsible pet parent, you must have a good reason for feeding cheese to your pets.

Although most people think that cheese is a high-calorie food that is nutritionally empty, that is not the truth. Some several vitamins and minerals are present in cheese in moderate amounts.

Let’s take a look at these nutrients and see how they can help your feathered pets in their healthy growth and development:

A rich source of Calcium

To prove that cheese is indeed a rich source of calcium, we have curated a table below that displays the amount of calcium present in different cheese varieties. Take a look:

Cheese VarietyAmount of Calcium
Cheddar cheese721 mg
Brie184 mg
Parmesan cheese1,109 mg
Mozzarella cheese731 mg
Cottage cheese83 mg
Feta493 mg
Cream cheese98 mg
Blue cheese528 mg

Serving size: 100 grams

Ducks, like all other birds and animals, need calcium to strengthen their bones and muscles. The egg-laying ducks need an even larger amount of calcium to produce more eggs.


Presence of other minerals like Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, and Potassium                  

While calcium is vital for a duck’s well-being, there are other minerals they need in their diet as well.

Magnesium supports their nervous functions and regulates their heartbeats, while iron prevents them from diseases like Anemia.

Zinc is responsible for the production of insulin in their body and can also aid their cartilage development. Lastly, potassium plays a key role in promoting all cognitive functions in their body.


Contains Vitamins A, B6, and B12

Ducks need Vitamin A in their diet for maintaining their eyesight and a smooth-functioning reproductive system.

Ducklings require an even larger quantity of this vitamin for the proper growth and development of their body; its deficiency can result in stunted growth in the little birdies.

Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine is responsible for maintaining the red blood cell count in their body, while Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin aids the metabolism of amino acids and enhances their nervous functions.


Risks involved with feeding cheese to ducks

Now that we have discussed the pros of feeding cheese to the ducks, it is time for us to talk about its cons.

The presence of lactose in cheese

As we’ve briefly discussed above, ducks, like most other birds, do not have lactase, an enzyme that helps us in digesting milk completely in their body. Thus, they’re lactose-intolerant and have difficulty digesting milk or any other dairy product properly, including cheese.

While feeding small amounts of cheese occasionally might not have any severe consequences, it could lead to several digestive issues like diarrhea and watery stool when fed in excess.


The possibility of hosting bacteria

The production of cheese involves fermentation, which is essential to the entire process. Now, at times, some kinds of bacteria are often transferred in cheese during fermentation.

If the cheese you’re feeding your ducks is infected with bacteria, it can make them extremely sick.


Additives like spices and flavors

Many of us prefer to eat flavored cheese with ginger and garlic in it for an enhanced taste. But for your feathered pets, these spices and flavorings (mostly artificial) are not suitable and can lead to several health issues.

This is why we recommend you to feed them only plain cheese and not flavored ones.


Different cheese varieties

As we have gathered so far, the main issue with ducks having difficulty eating cheese is its lactose content. But since different types of cheese have a different lactose content, it can mean that some cheese varieties are safer for your feathered pets than the others.

Below, we will look at which of the following cheese varieties are okay for ducks to eat and which ones should be avoided.


Can ducks eat mozzarella cheese?

Although developed in southern Italy, mozzarella is an Italian cheese that is the most-consumed cheese variety in the United States. It is made from the milk of the Italian buffalo using the pasta filata technique.

The typical shelf life of mozzarella is 1 month, although some shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese can even last up to 6 months.

The lactose content in 100 grams of mozzarella ranges between 1-3 grams. Therefore, you should only feed it to your ducks in strict moderation.


Can ducks eat cottage cheese?

Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese variety that is prepared by draining the cheese and is mildly flavored. Because it has a low calorific count than the other cheese varieties, cottage cheese is quite popular among dieters.

However, it has a high lactose content (3.3 grams in 100 grams of cottage cheese) and is, thus, not fit for your feathered pets.


Can ducks eat cheddar cheese?

Originated from the Cheddar village in England, cheddar cheese is the most popular type of cheese in the UK (second most popular in the United States). This natural cheese has a hard texture, a sharp taste, and an off-white color.

Like all the other hard and aged cheese varieties, cheddar cheese also has a low lactose content (0.4-0.6 grams in 1 ounce of cheese) and can be safely fed to your pets once a month.


Can ducks eat brie?

Just like cheddar cheese, Brie is also named after the French region, where it was first produced. Brie is made of cow’s milk and has a soft, somewhat ripened texture.

It is pale-grey in color and is surrounded by a white rind of mold from all sides. The rind is considered to be edible as well. 100 grams of brie cheese contains about 0.1 grams of lactose, which means that your pets can eat brie in moderation.


Can ducks eat cream cheese?

Made from cream and milk, cream cheese is a fresh cheese variety with a soft texture and a mild flavor. It is always consumed fresh and goes great with bagels, bread, and crackers.

Not only does cream cheese have a high calorific count, but it is also high in lactose and, therefore, unsafe for the consumption of your ducks.


Pro-tip: All the fresh cheese varieties, like ricotta, have a higher lactose content, while the lactose content of the hard, aged cheese varieties is almost negligible.


Non-dairy cheese varieties

Have you ever heard of vegan cheese? This cheese is often extracted from the milk of plants, seeds, rice, potatoes, and coconut oil and contains no lactose.

In other words, it can safely be consumed by lactose-intolerant people. But does it mean that our lactose-intolerant pets can safely eat them as well? Let’s find out!


Can ducks eat rice cheese?

Rice cheese is a lactose-free substitute for cheese made from rice, food oils, casein (milk protein), and some added seasonings. It has a smooth texture and can be produced in different flavors like cheddar and mozzarella. Ducks can safely eat rice cheese as a treat.


Can ducks eat coconut oil cheese?

Coconut oil cheese is a processed form of cheese made of refined coconut oil and other processed ingredients. And because processed foods are unsafe for your pets, it is best not to feed them this cheese.


Can ducks eat potato cheese?

Potato cheese is a soft cheese made using cooked potatoes, a small amount of milk kefir, salt, and other spices. This cheese is often prepared as a dip to go with crackers and chips. Ducks can eat potato cheese in moderation; however, when you prepare this cheese for them, avoid adding salt or any other spice to it.


Can ducks eat nut-based cheese?

Made primarily from cashews, along with other nuts like almonds, pistachios, and macadamia nuts, the nut-based cheese is the creamiest cheese ever produced. It can be prepared in various forms: meltable cheese, hard cheese, smoked cheese, and sliceable cheese.

This cheese variety is the healthiest vegan cheese you can feed your ducks. However, try not to overfeed it to them, for they could gain unnecessary weight if they eat it too much.


Conclusion: Can Ducks Eat Cheese?

Ducks can eat cheese, but you should feed cheese to your ducks in moderation. You can feed them grated cheese, or sometimes your ducks will eat it off of flat surfaces, like a spatula or sandwich. Feeding ducks too much cheese is not ideal for them because it could cause them to have stomach or digestion problems.

It’s interesting to see how something so trivial as a duck eating (or not eating) cheese can make the news and then turn into a viral sensation. The natural curiosity we all have as humans makes this happen.

That brings us to the end of our article! Thanks for reading, and please contact us with any feedback you may have. And don’t forget that sharing is caring so please share this post with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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