A site dedicated to the proper care and general information of mute swans

BREAD is a “NO – NO” for Swans

August 17th, 2014 | Posted by LadyNerkle1 in BREAD is a "NO - NO" for Swans - (Comments Off on BREAD is a “NO – NO” for Swans)



SWAN Bread
being given to your Private Captive  Swans.


NO Bread

This Female Swan died as she turned Four Years Old.

No Bread for Swans

Neighbors in her Community brought their Old Bread during the warm months.

She was not fed any Proper Food by her Owners during these months.

She was found dead by the Spillway of her Pond.  It was noted that her Neck was strangely twisted.
(Suggesting “Limber Neck” Disease)      No Necropsy was Preformed.

The Male on her Pond was found Dead – floating on the Pond when he was just Two Years Old.

NO Bread


When we observe the Public at large feeding any Bird Bread, my concern is how hungry the different Birds act.  Are they acting like they are STARVING?  …Well they likely are !!!  Many kind People mean well, but do more harm then good.  This is often a result of Birds being fed so much BREAD!!!  Instead of providing Food Items that will truly feed the Birds’ Nutritional needs.

NO Bread

Generally, it is difficult to observed Weight Loss in Swans.  They will become less active, probably sleeping more, and will not be able to endure much stress.  A Nutritionally Weak Swan may COLLAPSE and DIE if stressed, even for a short time.

Beauty of Birds

NO Bread










10 Reasons Why FeedingWaterfowl is Harmful.

New York State – Department of Environmental Conservation Article http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7001.html                                     2014

WildCare Article 2012

SWAN TOO Much Bread

FOR SWANS fed Bread
This is what happens:

A Swan’s Body Temperature is normally 106 degrees F.   Mix Bread with Water and the leftover Active Yeast will become Bread Dough in the Swan’s Gizzard.  This mixture is indigestible for the Swan and may causes painful gas.

Repeated feeding of Bread will push the Good Bacteria out of the Swan’s Colon and causes Chronic Diarrhea.  A large population of Yeast in the Swan’s Colon may cause the digestive process to be sluggish and create painful gas..  Without its normal Intestinal Bacteria the Swan cannot breakdown and absorb the Good Nutrients in their Proper Foods.  It is like Humans given a Broad Spectrum Antibiotic which wipes out our normal Intestinal Bacteria and results in Diarrhea.

Once feeding Bread is stopped, it may take a week or so for the Good Intestinal Bacteria to become sufficent for the Diarrhea to stop… Our Veterinarian suggested we feed Probiotics  Yogurt to one of our Swans when there was Yeast in his Stool.  But, I could not get our Swan to eat it..  We moved him to a new Pond where the Public was unable to feed him.

No Bread

In Public Parks and Waterways where the Public is allowed to feed Swans Bread freely, the Swans fed large amounts of Bread will be eating and starving to death at the same time.  It is common for a more then average number of those Swans to die over the Winter. The general Public is unaware that these Swans may just be replaced the following Spring. This is one reason many place have stopped having Swans – it becomes too expensive, as well as time consuming to keep replacing them.

NO Bread








The Swans at Italian Lake, in Harrisburg are a good example.  Years ago there were Swans gracing this Public Lake.  All day long well meaning People were bringing leftover bread to feed these Swans. When the Swans showed signs of illness, it was too late to help them.. Efforts to save them failed.  The City did not replace them.

In England, they are now posting signs – “DO NOT FEED SWANS BREAD”. They lose thousands of Swans to Bread Starvation every year.

News BBC UK Coventry & Warwickshire
White Bread causes harm to Waterfowl

UK DO NOT Feed Swans Bread

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654

IF BREAD HAS MOLD: ANY Mold on old bread may cause a Swan to die within a week… Bread Mold in the slow moving digestive system of a Swan will allow time for the Dangerous Toxins excreted by some Molds to concentrate and POISON the Swan. This is very, very difficult to reverse once it is inside the Swan’s body.  “Limber Neck” disease is a fatal infection of Botulism affecting Birds.  It is characterized by weakness of the neck muscles and inability to eat.

Old Bread laying in water during hot weather months may cause deadly Clostridia Botulism and other Pathogenic Bacteria to form.

Wikipedia – Clostridium botuliinum               http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clostridium_botulinum

From Dictionary.com: Veterinary Pathology – Limber Neck
A fatal infection of Botulism affecting Birds, characterized by weakness of the neck muscles and inability to eat.

From Wikipedia: B. Botulinum toxin is a protein and neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.  It is the most acutely lethal toxin known. A Lethal Dose may occur from introduction by ingestion,  intravenously, intramuscularly or when inhaled.

Botulinum toxin (BTX) can cause botulism, a serious and life-threatening illness in humans and animals.

Avian Botulism (Type A) or Limber Neck is a toxemic disease found in Poultry and Waterfowl.  The early visual sign is a weak, hanging, floppy neck.
Hence, the common name “Limber Neck” disease. This has been noted when Birds are repeatedly fed contaminated Human food.

The affected Birds display weakness, poor coordination, prostration, poor appetite, shallow breathing, progressing to coma and death.  B. botulinus was isolated from the intestinal tract of the affected Birds.

All cases of Botulism cannot be prevented because the various strains of the bacteria that cause this disease are in soil, dust, compost piles and easily form in stagnate standing water.

Stagnate water can be dangerous for drinking because it provides a better incubator than running water for many kinds of bacteria and parasites.

Stagnate water is often contaminated with human and animal feces. Having an working Aerator circulating the water in your Pond will reduce this risk.

There is a Vaccine for C. Botulism available and used by some  Swan Owners in the more Southern States. If you are interested in this Vaccine, inquire to the “Regal Swan Project.”  http://www.theregalswan.com
You will need to have it sent to your Veterinarian to be administered.
Or ask your Avian Veterinarian about this Vaccine.

Another problem with Bread in general: Bread has Salt at levels too high for a Swans system. Salty Foods will tax and over work a Swan’s Kidneys.  It may cause them excessive thirst and to retain fluids. Over time this may lead to Cardiac Overload, Congestive Heart Failure… and Death.

Swan Bread Stopped


Swan Bread Stopped

SWAN Bread


Not the Main Part of a Healthy Diet.


Cereals Low in Sugar & Salt with NO DYES or YEAST 

Plain Cheerios, Corn Flakes, Kix, Chex, etc. 

Read the Box – Product Ingredients.

SWAN Treats


Swan Treats

Apple Slices, Cucumber Slices, Carrot Peelings.

Swans LOVE most Vegetables… Healthy Treats.
Swans are Vegetarians


For Captive Swan OWNERs ONLY..
During the Cold Winter Months…

In addition to a Daily Diet of Healthy Feed Mixture…

A “LITTLE” Fresh Course WHOLE GRAIN BREAD may be OK!!
The Oil in Whole Grain Breads may be beneficial during Cold Weather.
The extra Quick Energy Calories may help the Swans stay warm.
Freeze the Loaf of Bread to prevent any Mold. One Slice per Day per Swan.
My Rule – From Fall’s First Heavy Frost to Spring’s Last Frost…
NO BREAD during Warm Weather Months.


This Information is a Work in Progress…..
As I learn more I will add to this information..
Compiled by (C) L.M.Sweger       September 2014