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Monday - March 23, 2009

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Plants that ducks and geese will not eat
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello, I have a pet duck and goose. Who I love dearly and have built two ponds for.. one 4ft deep the other 6ft deep. The ponds are for their use, first and for most, but I would like to have a plant or plants in and around both ponds. Everything I've found and purchased at local stores have really been nothing more than snacks for Duckie & Goosie.. is there any plant in southeastern Texas that isn't duck or goose food and won't kill them if they do give it a nipple?

ANSWER:

Yes, ducks and geese do like to eat plants, but they especially like to eat them when they are young and tender plants. The British Waterfowl Association in its article, Plants for Ponds and Pens has several useful suggestions.  First, it would be good if you could establish the plants for the ducks and geese before they are introduced to the area.  Obviously, you can't do that, but you could protect your plants until they reach a size that makes them less interesting and/or vulnerable to your fowls' feeding.  They suggest enclosing new plants in wire netting until they have grown sufficently to withstand heavy feeding.  The article also suggests maintaining enough grass for them to feed on to take away some of the pressure on the other plants.  Mr. Smarty Plants is going to recommend planting a large number of sedges/grasses along with more ornamental plants to distract your duck and goose from eating only the most decorative ones.  You might also like to read some of their other articles, such as Pond Construction.  Metzer Farms Hatchery also has information on Raising Duck and Geese. You might also like to read what LiveDucks.com and For the Birds say about feeding your duck and goose.

Here are some native plants for your duck and goose that occur in or adjacent to Harris County.  They have been checked against the toxic plant databases below and none of these are on any of the lists:

GRASS/GRASSLIKE

Rhynchospora colorata (starrush whitetop) 

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex cherokeensis (Cherokee sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem)

Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Eleocharis montevidensis (sand spikerush)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Tripsacum dactyloides (eastern gamagrass)

Typha latifolia (broadleaf cattail)

ORNAMENTAL

Athyrium filix-femina (common ladyfern)

Canna glauca (water canna)

Echinodorus cordifolius (creeping burrhead)

Hydrolea ovata (ovate false fiddleleaf)

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)

Pontederia cordata (pickerelweed)

Hibiscus lasiocarpos (rosemallow)

Thalia dealbata (powdery alligator-flag)

There are several databases that deal with plants poisonous to livestock:  University of Illinois Plants Toxic to AnimalsCornell University Plants Poisonous to LivestockUniversity of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants, and Texas Toxic Plant Database.  These deal, generally, with four-legged livestock.  However, if you go to the Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System, and choose Interactive Search, you can find a list of poisonous plants that affect poultry under Animals/Human: Poultry. There are also poisonous plants lists that are specific to poultry:  PoultryHelp.com, University of Florida Toxic to Poultry of Common Weed Seeds.  You can also find sites specific to birds by Googling 'plants poisonous to birds', but the lists are geared more towards exotic cage birds such as parrots and finches.

Here are photos of a few of the plants listed above:

 

 

 

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