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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
Bread Twist Ties

Being Given to your Private Captive  Swans.

Mute Swan Family on Pond
Do NOT Feed them Bread

If you are Caring for Your Own Swans.. as Captive Pets..
There Should be Little or No Need to Feed them Bread.

To Enlarge Images – Right Click Image then Open in a New Tab.

Please DO NOT Feed Bread to Waterfowl, including Geese and Ducks.
Processed Foods are NOT Nutritious or Healthy for Wildlife
and CAN Lead to Disease and Developmental Disabilities.

Angel Wing in Waterfowl is an Example. This Deformity may Result from Poor Diet
when Duckling, Goslings and Cygnets are Growing their First Wing Feathers.
It is a Permanent Disability–at the Wrist Joint of the Wing, Feathers Points Out Laterally
rather than Resting Against the Body. These Birds Can Not Fly.

Swan Bread
Angel Wing Deformity Swan Cygnet

It’s a Common Problem among Waterfowl where People Feed Bread
and other Human Processed Foods.

Swans Bread 
Angel Wing Deformity

SWAN Angel Wing Deformity


This Female Swan Died as she turned Four Years Old. Her Diet was VERY Suspect.

NO Bread Swans
Poor Diet

Neighbors in her Community brought their Old Bread during their Warm Weather Walks.

Swan Bread Poor Diet

She was NOT Fed Any Proper Food by her Owners during these Months.
They Boasted that they Did NOT Feed their Swans.. the Neighborhood Did !

NO Bread for Swans

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 – her Brother was found Dead Floating on their Pond
when he was just Two Years Old.

We heard Reports that this Female would Stand in the Street to Stop
Cars HOPING they would have Food for her. It was Very Sad..

Feeding Swans Bread

The Photo Above is an Example.. A Different Swan.


When we Observe the Public at Large Feeding any Birds 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.

Feeding Swans Bread

What is Avian Bone Disease? – From the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.

Swan Cygnet Fragile Bones

Metabolic Bone Disease in Birds Results in Painful Degenerative Changes
in the Bones that Result from Nutritional Imbalance and Deficiencies.
Imbalance of Calcium, Phosphorus, Manganese and Vitamin D3 can Lead to
Soft or Brittle Beaks, Claws and Keel, Bone Fractures and Enlarged Parathyroid Glands.

Swan Cygnet Fragile Bones

Little “Winnie” had a Malabsorption Syndrome. She did not Develop Normally.
She was an Extreme Example of Proper Nutrient Deficiency.
Most of her Bone Structures Twisted Abnormally.
She had NO Preening Oil to WaterProof her Down/Feathers.
“Winnie” was EATING Constantly, but she was Unable to Gain Weight.

Swan Cygnet Fragile Bones

Below are Several Swan Cygnets we Tried to Help… by Improving their Diet.

Swan Cygnet Fragile Bones

“Abigail” was a Challenge.. Once her Diet Intake Improved.. SO did She !

Swan Cygnet Fragile Bones 
Improved Diet

The Cygnet Below had a Broken Leg – He was Hit by a Chunk of Lettuce.
After Weeks in a Splint, his Leg did not Heal.. The Distal Bones Died..
. . . and So did “Chester.”

Swan Cygnet Fragile Bones 
Broken Leg

Metabolic Bone Disease Leads to Weakness, Abnormal Postures including Torticollis,
Appetite Loss, Lethargy, Pain, and if Untreated, Death.
This Metabolic Bone Disturbance is Termed Rickets in Young Birds,
and Metabolic Bone Disease in Older Birds.
(Synonym: nutritional hyperparathyroidism/osteoporosis)

NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans

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.  

( It is Normal for Swans to Nap during Day Hours.)

NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans

A Nutritionally Weak Swan may COLLAPSE and DIE
if Stressed, even for a Short Time.

Beauty of Birds

NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans

10 Reasons Why Feeding Waterfowl is Harmful.

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

SWAN TOO Much Bread
NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans

FOR SWANS fed Bread this is What Happens:

A Swan’s Body Temperature is Normally 101-106 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..  


Auto-Brewery Syndrome, is a Rare Medical Condition in which Intoxicating
Quantities of Ethanol are produced through Endogenous Fermentation within
the Digestive System. One Gastrointestinal Organism, Saccharomyces cerevisiae,
a type of Yeast, has been identified as a Pathogen for this Condition.

Once Feeding Bread is Stopped, it may take a Week or so for the Good Intestinal Bacteria
to become Sufficient for the Diarrhea to Stop…
Our Veterinarian Suggested we Feed Probiotics Yogurt to One of our Swans
when there was Lots of 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 Bread.

NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans

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.

NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans

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 Poor Diet for Swans

The Swans at Italian Lake, in Harrisburg are a Good Example.  
Years Ago there were Swans Gracing that 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.

NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans

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
NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans

The United Kingdom has Changed this Request during the Winter Months.
They Realized many Swans were Starving during the Winter with No Public
Providing some Supportive Feed and Bread. (2020).

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 this once it is inside the Swan’s Body. 

Botulinum Toxin (BTX) can cause Botulism, a Serious and Life-Threatening Illness
in Humans, Animals and Birds.

Old Bread Laying in Water during Hot Weather Months may cause Deadly
Clostridia Botulism and other Pathogenic Bacteria to form.

Wikipedia – Clostridium botuliinum            

From Dictionary.com: Veterinary Pathology – “Limber Neck” Disease.
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.

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.

NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans
Clostrida Botulism

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 CAN NOT 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.
* * We have Lost at Least 3 Pens to this within a Short Time of Nesting.

NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans
Clostrida Botulism

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 a Working Aerator Circulating the Water in your Pond will Reduce this Risk.

Circulating Aerator 
Feeding Swans Bread

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.”  

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.

NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans
NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans
NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans
Bread Twist Ties

Not the Main Part of a Healthy Diet.


Cereals Low in Sugar & Salt with NO DYES or YEAST 

NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans
Healthy Treats

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

Read the Box – Product Ingredients.

NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans
Healthy Treats


NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans
Healthy Treats

Apple Slices, Cucumber Slices, Carrot Peelings.

NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans
Healthy Treats

Swans LOVE most Vegetables… Healthy Treats.
Swans are Vegetarians


NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans
Healthy Treats


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

In addition to a Daily Diet of Healthy Feed Mixture…

NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans
Healthy Treats

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.

NO Bread Poor Diet for Swans
Healthy Treats

Another Time a Little Fresh Bread may be Helpful.. Giving your Swan a Pill.
Pinch/Squeeze a Small Piece of Bread Around a Pill.. Be Sure the Swan Eats it.


This Information is a Work in Progress…..
As I learn more I will add to this information..
Compiled by (C) L.M.Sweger       UpDated June 2021

Feeding Bread Swans 
Poor Diet