The benefits of feeding duck

Jonathan Self

Now that, for the first time in several years, we have lots (and lots) of free range duck in stock I feel I can write about why, of all the different proteins one can feed one’s dog, it is pretty much my favourite.

First, I will just point out there is duck and duck. In recent years, bird flu and lower demand from the restaurant trade have resulted in a severe shortage of high welfare duck. We have visited farmers who claim to be raising their birds in a natural, ethical way only to discover that their ducks are being kept in barns (or worse) and routinely receiving antibiotics and other drugs.

Happily, however, we have worked for many years with a Devon farmer who understands what ducks need i.e. healthy, outdoor lives. They are raised in small flocks and are free to roam through pasture and woodland during the day. Crucially, they have access to either a stream, pond, lake or other freshwater for bathing, swimming and playing. At night, they have safe, farm housing. Their natural diet (which includes seeds, worms, insects, grasses and roots) is supplemented by a specially formulated duck feed. Ducks raised this way are healthier, more content and, crucially, have a higher nutritional value.

Speaking of nutritional value, the reason I recommend duck is because it is:

  • One of the leanest sources of protein and low in saturated fat.
  • An excellent source of amino acids including lysine and leucine, which are great for lowering cholesterol and building healthy bones and muscles.
  • High in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It is high in polyunsaturated fat, a common source of fatty acids found in fish, vegetable oils, and nuts. It also contains monounsaturated fats – ‘good’ fats that supply energy.
  • An excellent option for dogs that are allergic to the more common meats such as chicken or beef.
  • Full of B vitamins including vitamin B3, aka niacin, which helps regulate glucose levels and convert protein and fats into energy and B6, aka pyridoxine, which improves heart health and increases your dog’s metabolism. B vitamins also help prevent cancer.
  • High in antioxidants such as iron, zinc and selenium. Iron helps your dog produce red blood cells, while zinc is essential for over 300 bodily processes, including cell division, immune response, and cognitive function. Selenium also offers many benefits for dogs, ranging from a healthy coat to improved joint health.

There is another benefit to adding duck to your dog’s menu: it is a meat that would form part of his or her natural diet in the wild. Indeed, what wild dogs mostly eat is small mammals (shrews, mice, rabbits etc.) and birds. Variety is important for a domesticated dog – beef, venison, pork, lamb and meat from other larger animals all have a crucial role to play – but duck has the benefit of being genuinely species appropriate.

Anyway, after what seems like years of having to ration what duck we could get our hands on, I am happy to announce that we have ample supplies, starting at just £1.41 for a 250g serving.

In the 1929 Marx Brother’s film Cocoanuts, Groucho, pointing to a map, mentions that there is a viaduct between a peninsula and the mainland. Chico replies: ‘Why a duck?’ Hopefully, this short article provides the answer.