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Advice on feeding waterfowl

Dacorum is home to hundreds of waterfowl including ducks, geese and swans.

Taking leftover bread to feed the waterfowl is something many of us will have done, either as children or adults. However, it could actually be harming them and the environment.

Poor nutrition

Bread is very low in protein and contains ingredients that waterfowl can't digest properly. This causes them to become malnourished and slow, and they may find it difficult to escape from predators such as foxes. 

Some are likely to suffer from Angel Wing, a disease that affects the growth of flight feathers, and it can also greatly reduce their life span. Bread is a poor alternative for the natural foods that waterfowl eat, such as water plants and natural grains.


Feeding bread attracts more birds, which can then overcrowd the area. They can become more aggressive, spread diseases and overgraze the grass on the river banks. All that bread can also attract pests, such as rats and foxes.

Water pollution

Rotting bread and the bird mess in the water causes a build-up of algae that makes the water smell and can be harmful to fish.

What you can do to help

Ducks and geese that do not rely on free handouts of bread have a more natural, healthier diet and they can expect to live a longer and happier life. Please respect the waterfowl and the environment by keeping these areas a bread-free zone.

You can read more about the  real story of feeding ducks and geese (PDF 2.32MB).