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Feather friendly food

Many of us have grown up feeding bread to waterfowl like ducks and swans, but have we been doing more harm than good?

A trip to the park clutching a bag of crusts for the ducks and swans is something many of us remember fondly from our childhood. And we’re still doing it – research carried out by the Canal and River Trust found that around 15 million people fed their local waterfowl in 2017, with 12 million saying bread was on the menu. But you might be surprised to hear that bread is not a good choice for our feathered friends, or our waterways for that matter.


Better than Bread - Wild Things

What’s so bad about bread?

In moderation it’s fine, but with so many of us regularly throwing bread into our lakes and rivers, ducks and swans are eating it in excess and not getting the balanced diet they need for a happy, healthy life. And although we’ve been feeding bread to wildfowl for years, today’s white bread is unhealthier than ever before. It’s made of highly processed, simple carbohydrates – and these are digested quickly without providing many nutrients.

Bread is also detrimental to our waterways. If not consumed, it will most likely sink to the bottom of rivers and lakes and rot. This can lead to algae growth, which in turn can spread disease and attract pests.

Two ducks paddling

A healthier alternative

Happily, you don’t have to stop feeding ducks and swans. Take advice from the WildThings campaign ‘Better than Bread’ and it’s easy to discover other food you already have at home to put on the menu – sweetcorn, frozen peas, lettuce and rice are all better choices.

To make feeding-on-the-go even easier, WildThings has developed a nutritious and wholesome alternative to bread. It gives wildfowl all the essential vitamins and minerals they need – it also floats on the water’s surface, making it accessible to birds for longer and friendlier to the environment. It’s available in a range of sizes, including the new easy-pour packet that’s just perfect for little fingers on a day out.


Exclusive offer for Countryfile readers!

Get 20% off your next WildThings purchase when you enter code CF20 at checkout

Close-up of swan

Swot up on swans

You’ve probably seen hundreds of swans in your lifetime – and could be forgiven for thinking they’re all the same. So, it might come as a surprise that there are seven different types of swan worldwide. The most common in the UK is the Mute swan, but you’ll also find Whooper and Bewick’s swans, although these normally only grace us with their presence during the winter.

Two ducks paddling

Here are five swan stats you can use to impress your friends!

Two ducks paddling

Swans are one of Britain’s largest and heaviest birds, with a wingspan of up to 2.4 metres

Two ducks paddling

The Mute swan can fly at a speed of up to 50 miles per hour

Two ducks paddling

The swan has more than 25,000 feathers on its body

Two ducks paddling

When a cygnet hatches it weighs about 20g, but can weigh up to 14kg as an adult

Two ducks paddling

Swans can reproduce from the age of three

Find out more about the ‘Better than Bread’ campaign

or Buy WildThings Swan & Duck Food here

T&Cs: This coupon may be used for 20% off your next purchase of WildThings Swan & Duck Food when entering code CF20 at checkout on Code must be entered at the time of purchase and can only be used once. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer, promotion or discount. Valid from 01/08/2019 until 31/10/2019.