Information on feeding swans


Information On Feeding Swans And Other Wildfowl

The activity of feeding bread and food to swans and ducks is a long standing tradition for people and families using the canals. However, much of the foods we regularly feed to swans is actually unsuitable for them, contains little nutritional value and causes digestive and other health problems for them.  Stale and mouldy breads in particular can be damaging to water fowl by damaging the waterproofing function of their feathers, which can result in the birds contracting a form of cold, flu or even hypothermia.  Birds also need gritty grain materials to help their digestive systems function properly.

Swans normally find enough food in the wild without supplementary feeding. It is only during the winter in freezing weather that extra food can be helpful.



  • Grains: wheat, corn, barley etc. (Specially formulated wildfowl/swans feed mixes can be purchased from some pet food shops/suppliers.)
  • Fresh Raw vegetables: green lettuce, spinach, celery, chopped carrots, chopped/diced potatoes.
  • Unprocessed, sugar-free and fruit free muesli mixes
  • Grasses found along the canal bank
  • All food should be bite sized and thrown onto the water so that they can swallow water with the food.
  • Feeding swans/ducks on land:
    • encourages them onto land bringing them into harm from cars, dogs etc.,
    • Encourages pests such as rats and mice
    • Results in erosion of the bank edges.



  • Processed Breads – especially white bread, chips, cake, crackers, cookies, biscuits, processed cereals (Cheerio’s etc), popcorn, crisps.
  • Sugary, starchy or fatty foods, junk food, fast food, cooked or processed food.


For further information, please see: