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

Feeding Adult Swans – Captive Swans Need to be Fed

January 20th, 2015 | Posted by LadyNerkle1 in Feeding Adult Swans - Captive Swans Need to be Fed - (Comments Off on Feeding Adult Swans – Captive Swans Need to be Fed)

BIG Beautiful, Graceful Swans are a Delight to Behold.

Once we Pinion or Clip to Ground them,
they depend on their Caretakers to Provide a Healthy Diet.
Captive Swans are Domestic Pets.

Feeding Swans
Click on Images to Enlarge


SWAN Esophagus-FoodNOTE: If a Swan tries to Eat TOO Fast..
the Dry Feed may get STUCK in their Esophagus and Block Swallowing.
Forming a Condition called “CHOKE.”
         This could be an Emergency…
 Feeding Swans

Supply Water with DRY Feed Mixtures.


Over the Years I have heard “Swans are Wild Waterfowl.
Nature will Provide.   (Too many Times.)
They will find the Food they need and do not need supplemental feed. “

Captive Mute SwansThis Misconception seems to come from various sources..
Some Breeders may live in areas where there is year round food materials in their Pond.
 Feeding Swans
Lots of Plant growth, Insects, Tadpoles, Worms, Snails, Grubs, etc.  They pass this information on to others without looking at the BIG Picture.

Natural CreekThe remaining Feral Mute Swans living in the United States will, on average, have a Territory Range of 3 to 5 SQUARE Miles that they will access for their nutritional needs. In warmer States there may be plenty of vegetation, grains and insects year round.

Migrating Tundra SwansThis is why the Canadian Tundra and Trumpeter Swans migrate during the Fall to areas they know will provide food for themselves and their growing Cygnets.

Mute Swans in WinterMute Swans are NOT Migratory Waterfowl.. They will stay in their Territory year round their entire Adult Life, unless something significant changes for them… loss of Habitat, loss of a Mate… Chronic Harassment.

Mute Swan will fly/move to open water in Winter months if their normal Water Environment Freezes.Feeding Captive Swans

Their absence during Nesting Season may cause some Folks to think the Mute Swans have Migrated. Feral-Wild Mute Swans will generally seek a more private location to Nest.

Mute Swans Nesting

For whatever reason: “Wild-Feral Mute Swans do not Nest where they Live, and they do not Live where they Nest.”

For two months, Feral Mute Swans will likely find a private place to Mate, Nest and Hatch their Brood of Cygnets. The location may only be a half mile or so away from their normal range. They are likely to return to their normal territory once their Nest is “Closed” for the Season.

Mute Swan Nest

In the parts of the Country where Winter Climate causes plant material to become dormant, Feral Mute Swans will have a much harder time finding satisfactory food. Feeding Captive SwansIf Swans are caring for first year Cygnets.. this may cause the smaller Cygnets to weaken and die from Starvation.
Cygnets that Hatch Late in the Season are Especially at Risk..

Mute Swans Winter

I have watched Feral Mute Swans attempt to eat the decaying vegetation and leaves they find in shallow water; the same plants that provided food during the warmer seasons. Feeding Captive Swans
This organic material will have some small food value, there may be a few calories left in the decaying fibers.

During warm weather, lawn and field grasses will yield tasty insects.Feed Swans

When there is Snow Cover on lawns and fields, they will not even have this meager food source.  Hungry Waterfowl will pick at field and lawn grasses attempting to find some calories.. something to fill their Gizzard.
Swans Snow Covered Lawn

All living Creatures can live for a period of time without adequate food, as long as they have water to drink.  Swans living on Ponds/Lakes have water.. but, food may be very scarce.
Swan Winter Feed

Swans are warm blooded Creatures, they have a metabolism like all warm blooded Creatures. When food is limited or absence they will slow down, try to conserve and convert their body fat, muscle proteins – losing weight the same as any Animal or Human.
Healthy Mute SwanUnderweight Mute Swan

Wild/Free Waterfowl will generally fly in search of food. Pinioned/Captive/Fenced Waterfowl that are starving
will become increasingly desperate and will eat increasing amounts of mud and soft topsoil. There are some organic materials in mud and topsoil… hopefully a few dormant insect grubs, worms, snails, etc.Feeding Captive Swans

If this goes on too long, the Gizzard may become “sand bound.” Topsoil and mud contains silica/sand.

Sand feels gritty when rubbed between the fingers.
Birds/Waterfowl regularly ingest small amounts of grit to aid digestion of the food in their Gizzard. Eating small amounts of dirt, mud is normal. When digestible food is absent for long periods of time, the Gizzard may become “sand bound.”

Once this happens there is no room for digestible food…. death from Starvation will likely follow.
Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles. The composition of sand is highly
variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions. The most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and
non-tropical coastal settings is silica (silicon dioxide, or SiO2), usually in the form of quartz.

Sand is not digestible. It will pass through a bird’s digestive system along with the plant fiber of their normal diet.
Until now, I was referring to Feral Mute Swans living in a 3-5 square miles range.

Next, I want to discuss Captive Swans living in the care of Human Caretakers.  Living in a much smaller Environment.

Captive Mute Swans

Captive Swans are no different then Pet Dogs, Cats, Horses, etc.  They need to EAT.

Just Like Cat, Dogs, Horses, etc..
Swans are Warm Blooded, they have Blood, Brain and Nerve Fibers.
They have Skin Tissue, Many Muscles, Light Weight Bones.   Feed Swan
And Beautiful White Feathers.
All these Body Systems NEED Nutrients.


All Animals and Birds we bring into our lives are subject to a wide range of care. Feeding Captive Swans
From the total care of Pets that become cherished members of our Family life, to Farm Live Stock raised for their Meat, Milk, Eggs, etc.

..To the sad neglected, forgotten, discarded, abused animal cruelty cases we see on various TV Animal Rescue Programs.
Feeding Swans
The Female Mute Swan in the above Image..
She and her Brother were Fed Floating Fish Pellets..
Fish Pellets average 35% Protein.. this will cause Lipidosis over time,
He Died before he was 18 Months Old and she did not get to Turn 3 Years Old.  She never got to Lay her First Egg..Feed Swan
Both were found Floating in their Pond.. ( at Different Times.)
I Tried to tell these Folks.. they would not Listen..

Feeding Captive Swans
Folks who have appropriate Water Environments to care for Swans, may desire to have them for various reasons. Not all People will take the time to Research Swans so they are prepared to provide appropriate care.

Swan Poor Diet

The Swans I worry about are ones chosen to be living Lawn and Pond Ornaments.
Swans are NOT Lawn Ornaments

The Striking Beauty of Graceful Swans will enhance any property.
The Novelty of having Swans may pass and neglect is likely to follow.
Swans are a commitment. They may easily live 25-35 years or longer with good care and some luck.

Healthy Male Mute Swan
Under Chin – Under Tongue Impactions will Make Eating DIFFICULT !!
Swan Under Tongue Impaction  This Swan needed Help..
The Under Tongue/Chin Impaction was preventing her from Eating.
Swan Under Chin Impaction Under Tongue-Chin Impaction

Removing these Wads of Junk-Debris under the Tongue is Simple,
ONCE you have Hold of your Swan..


If you Tire of Swan Care, ReHome them to another interested Person.
NEVER release a Swan into the Environment. NEVER..
It is illegal all across the United States and Canada to deliberately release a Mute Swan or their growing Cygnets.
Discarded Pet Swans will likely be destroyed.

Discarded Pet Swan            This Gentle Swan was Shot a Hunter in 2008.

There are so many different Regulation governing the Ownership of Mute Swans from State to State, You will need to check the Codes, Policies and Rules for your State..

Where to Find Mute Swan Information for Your State

“Can Animal Rights Be Legally Defined?”
In 1978 the HSUS, Humane Society of the United States defined Animal Rights.
“Animals have the right to live and grow under conditions that are comfortable and reasonably natural.  Animals that are used by man in any way have the right to be free from abuse, pain, and torment caused or permitted by man. Animals that are domesticated or whose natural environment is altered by man have the right to receive from man adequate food, shelter, and care.”Feeding Captive SwansChanges to their Environment or the Landscaping may Alter their Food Supplies.

Pinioned Mute Swan

Pinioning any Waterfowl… changes everything.
In the U.S. Swans “Owned” by Humans are generally pinioned to restrict their ability to roam at large.
They are Classified as:
Captive, Domestic, Exotic, Poultry. (Not Wild)
Like ALL Animals and Birds living in Captivity.
They are entitled to:     1. Adequate and Appropriate Food
–                                        2. Adequate Fresh Water
–                                        3. Appropriate Shelter
–                                        4. Reasonable Safety from Harm
–                                        5. Veterinary Care when needed.

The first rule for keeping Swans in the location you want them…. is
–                             #1. “Feed them and they will Stay.”Feeding Captive SwansFeeding Your Swans is not a Guarantee they will stay on your Pond. Adequate Food is a BIG Part of their Comfort.
Feeding Swans

Swans on a Private Pond are somewhere between Captive and Free.

“They do NOT Read the Books” about their Expected Behavior.
Swans will have many Surprises as you enjoy their Beauty and learn about them.

Mother Nature has evolved Birds/WaterFowl to be able to do some amazing things. Living without Food is not one..Feeding Captive SwansImagine watching these Captive, Graceful Birds, unable to tell their Caretakers that they are Hungry. Respect and Good Care will allow Swans to enjoy living with us/you for a long time.

Swan Diet

Spread the WORD…. Swans need to Eat.

Living on a Totally Natural One Acre Pond with NO Chemicals altering the Plant Growth and Insects is recommended for one Pair of Adult Mute Swans.

Natural Rural Pond    The Swans can Graze during the Summer on Yummy Stuff.
Feeding SwansFeed SwanA Natural Pond “MAY” Supply all the Swans Need.
Feeding Captive Swans

The use of Lawn Care Products, Insect Controls and Fertilizers changes the Natural Balance.
Feeding Swans
Underwater plants may not be sufficient, the lack of Insects will impact Protein and Calcium Resources.Feeding Captive Swans
The Lovely 1 – 1/2 Acres Golf Course Irrigation Pond in the above Image
had NOTHING Growing in the Water.  NO Plants, DuckWeed or Algae..    AND…No Water Insects or Mosquitoes  ! ! Feeding Captive SwansThere were Lots of Common Carp, Blue Gill and Bass.
The Fish Population were Consuming the Few Natural Plants.. 
Feeding Captive Swans
Carp EAT a variety of Foods. They favor Insects, Aquatic Worms, Crustaceans.  They consume Algae and Under Water Plant matter.

These are the Same Pond Things the Swans would Eat..

Use a Rake and Sweep Along the Water Edge Two to Three Feet Down..
Are there Under Water Plant.. ??  Or are they Absent.. ???
Your Swans will NEED Daily Feed Year Round..

Organic Pond Run Off
Fertilizers and Animal Waste Run-off will create Organic changes to a Pond/Lake allowing for a wide variety of unwanted Plant growth.
Big Subject…. LOTS of variations.
Feeding Swans

Waterfowl/Swans may be able to help control some nuisance Plants.. like Algae, Duckweed and Watermeal.. but, they still need other Nutrients in their year round Diet.

Pond Watermeal Duckweed

Mute Swans can live a Very Long Time with Good Care.
The less they need to Dig in the Mud/Dirt for Nutrition, the less chance they will acquire Parasites. During Warm Dry Months, Stagnant Muddy Water will put Waterfowl at Risk of Fatal Clostridia bacteria.Feed SwanWe lost Little “Hannah” to Clostridia after Nesting in 2010.
We lost Sweet “Spring” to Clostrida after Nesting in 2018.
Feeding Captive Swans

Providing a Container of Fresh Clean Water would seem helpful… But, Waterfowl will still Drink the Pond/Lake Water.

Mute Swan Mud

There are Pro and Con Discussion about Feeding Waterfowl-Swans Bread.
Captive Pet Swans should have a Good Diet..

We Avoid Bread. DO NOT ALLOW others to Feed your Swans Bread.
There is little to No Nourishment in White Bread for Waterfowl.

White Bread is Poorly Digested, causing Indigestion and Bloating.
Yeast may grow in the Gizzard causing Chronic Digestion Problems.
Bread is High in Sugar and Salt taxing a Birds’ Kidneys and other Organs.

During the Summer months Bread is a dangerous Food for Waterfowl. Molds Growing on Bread may be Fatal. Some Molds will cause Fatal “Limber Neck” Disease. Once the Toxic Mold is in the Swan, there is very little you can do to Reverse these Debilitating Toxic Secretions. The Mortality Rate is Very High. The Swan becomes weak, can not hold their Neck up.. become limp.

If they are in the Water, they may Drown.
On Land, the Weakness will affect their Ability to Breathe.

The Hazards of feeding BREAD to Swans/Waterfowl

If YOU want to feed them Bread, then ONLY during Cold Winter Months (Fall Frost to Last Spring Frost). Buy FRESH, Freeze and Feed One Slice per Day of Coarse Grain or Wholemeal Bread with Seeds and Grains incorporated into the Bread is a better option.

The Grain Seeds Provide some Extra Oils, which Aid the Absorption
of Fat Soluble Vitamins – like Vitamin A, C, D, E, K, Thiamine, Riboflavin,
Niacin, B6, B12, Folic Acid,       …all important for Good Health.

If you Enjoy having Swans, the BEST thing you can do for them is
provide a wide variety of Food Items.


It “Should be Reasonable” to think that Dog Food is for Dogs,
Cat Food is for Cats and Horse Feed is for Horses…
Feeding Captive Swans
PLEASE DO NOT Feed these Feed Formulas to Swans.


Choose a Good Commercial Poultry or WaterFowl Feed:
**NON-Medicated **Poultry Maintenance Feed
–                            Mixed to keep the Protein Level LOW.

We have been using **Southern States 18% Waterfowl Floating Pellets since 2015.  Good Quality Control.  Good Usage – Little Waste. Feeding Swans

Keep the Lysine level LOW –  1%or Less.

The first thing I ask Swan Folks who have Swans Die without any Obvious Reason.. Is What are You Feeding them..???
If the Answer is a High Protein Diet.. Be Aware ! !

A Steady High Protein Diet will Significantly Shorten a Swan’s Life.. Every Year I hear from Folks who have “Healthy” Swans Die without a Reason..  They are Unaware of this being an Issue..

Their Swans LOOK Big and Healthy.. and are Suddenly Found Dead..
NO Visible Reason.   It Fits a Sad Pattern..
Swans feed a High Protein Diet.. will frequently Die within 1-3 Years.

We had a Female “Little Hannah” that someone else was Feeding for us…  She was on a Pond with their Young Swans..Feed Swan
In ONE Month “Hannah’s” Kidneys were Permanently Damaged.
I Provided the Feed Mixture I wanted for our Female.. but, the Woman kept giving “Hannah” her Feed.. Straight from the Bag 16% Protein Grower..
We Moved “Hannah” ASAP…  Feed Swan

Several Visit to the Vets.. for Blood Chemistries.. Results.. Elevated Kidney Functions. We Repeated these Chemistries several times, Hoping for Improvement.. NOPE.  Her Kidney Damage was Permanent.
So…. we had to Feed “Hannah” a Diet with Very Little Protein.
She did not get to be 4 Years Old. Heartbreaking..

Feed Swan


Swans need more Supplemental Food during Cold Weather.
Depending on the Winter Conditions, Swans will need more Calories when they are subject to Winter’s Cold Temperatures.  Increase their Daily Feed.

They need Daily Food for the Quick Energy Calories to keep Warm.
Feeding Winter SwansAvoid Yeast, Sugar and Salt.

Swans Cereal Snack Mix

Swans Cereal Snack Mix         I check the Ingredients..
Choose Cereals that are Low in SALT, SUGAR, and have NO Yeast.
Feeding Captive Swans
We try to use Cereals that Float.. some do Sink and are Wasted.
Plain Kix, Whole Grain Cheerios, Plain Corn and Bran Flakes.

Swans Cereal Snack Mix

Some Swans enjoy Plain Graham Crackers.  These can be broken into One Inch Squares.. and Frisbeed out to the Swans.  It is Proper Order to give the First Treat to the Dominant Female Swan then alternate between the other Swans on the Pond. Mute Swan Treats

If there are Lots of Fish in the Water, they will QUICKLY Snatch these Treats. Feeding Swans

Swans are Grazers not Gobblers. They Naturally eat small amounts throughout the day. Since they are Programmed to Fly, they will not over eat. Every Extra Ounce their Body does not need will make Flight more Difficult. When their diet is not balanced, they may over eat starchy grains, trying to get the minerals and vitamins their body’s are craving.
Corn Alone is NOT a Complete Diet.

Mute Swans Grazing

The Bone Structure of Birds is a light-weight scaffolding. There are just enough Minerals to form Rigid Bones.

Female Swans need Extra Calcium Rich Feeds. Females give-up Calcium to Coat their large Eggs. Once the Cygnets hatch, the Female may ingest the Shells to Reclaim some of this Calcium.
BIG Swan Eggs

If the Female is not able to Eat these Shells due to some loss of the Eggs – Due to Flooding, Spoiling, Egg Predation or Management Replacement Removal she will Benefit from your help.
Mute Swan Nest

To help supply her needs, it is a very good practice to start, in January, adding some Egg Layer Feed to the regular Feed Mix.
The Eggs she lays will be Stronger and she will not need to sacrifice as much Calcium from her body.
Mute Swan Eggs

Once her Cygnets hatch, the Female Swan is HUNGRY for EVERYTHING.
A Good Balanced Feed Mix, with some Extra Calcium, will Help her Body Recover from the Five LONG Weeks of “Sitting” with very little to eat.
Nesting Female Swan

“Sitting” Females Barely Eat for 35 Days… They typically will Start to EAT
the Two Days before their EGGs are going to Hatch..  A Signal to Watch for. 

Feed Swan
Swans are Grazers.. they Nibble all day.Feeding Captive SwansFeeding Captive Swans
Feeding Swans
Because their Neck is long and slender, Swans like to have water with every bite to make swallowing easier.SWAN Esophagus-FoodNOTE: If a Swan tries to Eat TOO Fast..
the Dry Feed may get STUCK in their Esophagus and Block Swallowing.  Forming a Condition called “CHOKE.”
         This could be an Emergency… 

Supply Water with DRY Feed Mixtures. Mute Swans Grazing

When Food-Feed is only available once or twice a day, shared from a tub or bucket for assorted Waterfowl, a Swan will Gobble in a hurry knowing there will be nothing until the bucket is filled the next day.

Feeding SwansFeeding Swans
Eating TOO Fast his Neck is Bulging.
Feeding SwansThis is not normal eating behavior for a Swan.
This is the way Ducks and Geese eat.. they are Gobblers.
Migrating DucksMigrating WaterFowl may Bring Diseases to Your Pond.

One Scary Disease is Duck Viral Enteritis.   DVE
Healthy Domestic Ducks, Geese and Swans will start to Die in just a few Days.  While the Wild Carrier Waterfowl just Fly away.

Try to find a Way to feed your Swans so they do not need to leave the Water. They are SAFEST in the Water.
Swans WANT Water with their Feed-Food.

Feed Swan in Water
Try to Find a Place you will be SAFE
Servicing their Food-Feed Station in the Winter.
Some Feeding Ideas. Things to think about.
Nice to vary feeding for the Swans…

Swan Vegetarian
In addition to a Healthy Feed Mixture remember Swans are Vegetarians.

Swans are Vegetarians

Feeding Swans

They like Fresh Cut “Untreated” Grass.. put out into the Pond.

Swan Fresh Grass
Grass floats and they can graze on it. Not enough to clog Drains or Spillways.. but, maybe a Gallon or so… just be sure the Mower Bag does NOT contain any MOLD..

Lettuce Play – “Let-Us-Play”

Swans Lettuce

If you toss a Head of Lettuce in the Pond..
they will Play with it like a Soccer Ball.  Or Push it Under to Pop-Up.
Fun to Watch them take turns, Biting the Head and Tossing it About.

*** Swans are VERY Sensitive to METAL.
Best NOT to Store Feed in a Metal Container, unless it is Lined with
a HEAVY Plastic Bag.. or Kept in the Original Feed Bag.

Swan Lead Zinc

Galvanized Feed Container can contaminate Feed with LEAD and ZINC.
Galvanized Feeders

Keep any small Metal Items Picked-Up. Swans, like other Waterfowl, will Ingest small Stones for their Gizzards.
If they ingest a Screw, Nut, Nail, Piece of Wire, a Coin, Soda Can Tab, Bread Twist Tie, etc.    This may become a Fatal Snack.
Swan Metal Poisoning“Kate” looked Healthy… Died Suddenly within a Week of this Photo.
Her Necropsy found a small piece of Iron in her Gizzard.

The Metal will stay in their Gizzard and slowly Dissolve.
Your Swan will become Heavy Metal Toxic..
Destroying their Liver and other Organs.
Heavy Metal Poisoning is VERY Difficult to Treat.

Watch for Non-Edible Things in the Water.. Basic Trash..
Feeding Captive Swans  I Dropped a Rubber Glove in the Pond..  “Meadow” started to PLAY with it.
I SAW what had Happened..  And, QUICKLY.. Grabbed the Glove.. SIGH !!

Vinyl Feed Bucket

Use Clean Dedicated Polyvinyl Containers for Feed Safety.

The Metal Pan below is NOT Safe as a Food Container for Poultry and Waterfowl.  The Metal will Slowly Dissolve in the Water.. Heavy Metal Toxic.
Feeding Swans

Every Pond-Lake Situation is Different.
Feeding your Swans can be a Challenge. Brain Storm.

Canadian Geese Pond
If you have a Canadian Goose Problem. They will Raid the Feed.

Ducks Clean-up

Wild Duck can be Helpful as the Clean-up Crew for Feed Spillage.
Fixed Feeders like the Aut-O-Dine have some Draw-Backs and some Advantages.
Swan Feeder

If the Pond Water Level Drops, it will be difficult for the Swans to Reach-in.  OR if the Water Level Rises, the Geese will Enjoy a Feast.

One EASY FEED STATION is to use an Old Tire.
(Pick a Nice One.)  AND a Clean Five Gallon Bucket.
(Take the Handle Off – Tangle Hazard.)

Tire Bucket Feeder
Angle the Bucket as needed for the Swans to Eat from.
There is a Good Chance the Geese and Ducks will not be able to Reach into the Bucket.  Some Clever Ducks may Jump-in and out.

Tire Bucket Feeder

The Bucket is Easy to Clean.. and it can be Taken in at Night.

ONLY Feed Swans by your Pond.
Put Feed out in Early AM…. have available during Day.
Normally Swans Graze from SunRise to SunSet.
Feeding Swans

They Float Quietly out in the Water at Night.. trying not to be

Removing Feed Container at SunSet Discourages Predators.
Feeding Swans

Feed-Corn Attracts Mice, Shrews, Moles, Voles, Rats, Muskrats,
Squirrels, Rabbits, Woodchucks, Opossums, Deer, Raccoons.

All these Rodents may be carrying Dangerous Diseases/Parasites.
As they Raid a Feed Container, they Contaminate the Feed with Saliva, Urine and Poop.

There are some Nasty Diseases carried by Raccoons.
You do not want them “Pooping” where Children will be Playing.

The Smaller Rodents will attract the Carnivores – Fox, Coyotes, Coywolves,
Roaming Feral Cats, Bobcats.
Mouser Barn Kittens
Depending on your Location maybe a Bear would be attracted to a
Feed Container.
Feeding Swans

Feed and/or Small Rodents may attract Skunks, Weasels,
Mink and Larger Predators like Fox, Lynx Coyote/Coywolves. These may take the small Ducklings, Goslings and Cygnets.
Adult Swans become vulnerable to Predation.

Have Feed Mixture available during Day Light Hours Only.

Cover Feed and take Inside Over Night.

There are ways to Discourage Geese.. a Few Ducks are Good for

An Aut-O-Dine Feeding Box for Swans – Polyvinyl.
Positioned just out of Reach, Canadian Geese can not Feed from this Feeder.

Aut-O-Dine for Swans
Average Cost Varies Year to Year – Out in the Elements these will Need to be Replaced after several Years of Exposure.
They Need a stable Post to be Mounted on..
These need several Modification to work for Swans.

SWAN FEEDER – Aut-O-Dine 25

THE FOLLOWING FEED MIX IS FOR Swan Cygnets at least 4-6 months old or older.
THERE IS NO COMMERCIAL BAG FEED in the United States that is Formulated for Swans. You need to Mix for a Healthy Diet.

At one Pond we visited, the Swan was being fed Floating Fish Pellets.
Feeding SwansThe Protein Level in Fish Pellets is 30-40% – WAY TO HIGH ! !
She died before turning 4 Years Old.

Swan Fish Pellets

*** Always ask for “UNMEDICATED /UNTREATED”
Commercial Feed & Corn   Very Important.
with “GROWER” or “FINISHER” in the name.

***DO NOT FEED THE SWANS “Game Bird Feed”

The Lysine Levels are too HIGH… 
These feeds are designed to increase the muscle tissue
and are for Poultry/ Fowl headed to someone’s dinner table.
These feeds damage internal organs, shortening the natural life span of a Swan. Many birds fed these products will die in 12-36 months.

The unnatural increased muscle tissue will add stress to the Swan’s
legs and feet. This will increase the risk of painful “bumble” foot sores.
The Swans may look BIG and HEALTHY.. but, they are not.

***UnCaring Breeders may feed these “Grower” Feeds… without regards to the long term health of the Swans. They just want the Cygnets to grow fast, look BIG and healthy when they sell the young Swan Cygnets.
Sadly, the damage is done. They many only live a few years.

When you Acquire a New Swan ASK the Previous Owner/Breeder what they have been Feeding the Swan/Cygnet.
Female Swan Died

Lysine Feed

Keep the Lysine Level at 1.00% or Less.  Swan Feed Mix

Lysine Feed

Horse Feed is for Horses !!  NOT for WaterFowl.
Horse Feeds are Lower in Protein.
And they are TOO Low in Calories to Fiber.
Swans will Starve when Fed Horse Feed.

Swan Horse Feed

*** The Commercial Feed Mix we use is:
Swan Feed Mixture

Mixture of: Southern States 18% Waterfowl Pellets
(OR Southern States Poultry Maintainer Feed)
These Feed Product provide Vitamins, Minerals, Etc.
 Feeding Swans
SOUTHERN STATEs FeedFeeding Captive Swans
Southern States Whole Dried Corn
*** CORN is not a Complete Diet… It is a Supplement.

Commercial Bag Corn

The Following can be added as a Treat: About 10%
Scratch Mixes – Cracked Corn, Wheat, Barley
Crimped Oats, Alfalfa, Rye Grass Seed.
Swan Feed

Start-n-Grow for Cygnets

**Southern States Start-n-Grow for the young Cygnets
( OR Crumble – Specialty Poultry Feed)
This Product has an Antibiotic that will cause Chronic Diarrhea, Malabsorption and the Death of many of the Cygnets.
This is Formulated to help Poultry Chicks deal with Coccidiosis. .


*** FOR SWANs and CYGNETs over 4-6 Months Old.
*** MIX Bag Feed so the Protein % is between 6-8%

60%       Whole Dry Corn
40%      18% Waterfowl Pellets
(OR All Grain Poultry Feed Maintainer).

Whichever you choose mix to the Protein Level of ** 6-8% **

Feed Mix for Swans

The Protein percentage of U.S. Poultry Feed
–                     is TOO HIGH for SWANs.

Duck, Geese, Turkeys all tolerate Protein levels up to 15-20%
***Swans average daily Protein should not exceed 6-8%.

Adjust the Feed Mix by mixing Whole Dry Corn or Scratch Mix.
Adding Lots of Vegetable-Plant Material helps to keep the daily Protein level down.

Feeding Swans

Young Swan Cygnets can develop tendon slippage from a High Protein diet. This can result in “Angel Wing” deformity.
Angel Wing
With diet adjustment and a little luck this might be corrected before a young Swan is 18-24 months old. (A little Body Banding may Help.)

A High Protein diet will cause a Fatty Liver- Lipidosis to develop.
May damage the Swan’s Kidneys, both will eventually be Fatal.

Most Extruded Poultry Feeds dissolve sitting in water.
It is more efficient when using these products to place the mixture in a container/bowl.

Bowl For Swan Feed

Any Feed put out for Swans should be checked and changed Daily.
SWAN FRESH Daily Poultry Feeds
In the Summer Feed spoils very easily if it gets wet.
Spoiled/Soured Feed can make a Swan VERY Sick.

Rainy Day Corn
If it is going to rain… We only put Whole Corn out.
In Cold Weather Spoiling is not as much a Problem.

Feeding Swans

(Adding a little Crimped Oats is a Floating Treat.)

Add a Tablespoon of Corn Oil to the Winter Feed Mixture.

Around Mid-January consider starting Feed formulated for Egg Layers.
Mix a Cup into the Daily Feed Mixture Ration.

Crushed Boiled Egg Shells

I save my Hard Boiled Egg Shells.. and Crush them. I add a Tablespoon to a Gallon of Feed Mix. When I see white Calcium in their Poop, I know I have added enough.
SWAN POOP Excreted Calcium

Poop Tells its own Story. Learn what Normal Swan Poop Looks like.
It varies GREATLY with their Diet.
Occasionally, look for any signs of Parasite.  Things that Wiggle !!
Watch for Persistent Wet Sloppy Waste – Diarrhea.  ???
There are MANY possibilities.
Check with your Veterinarian.. see if they will do a Stool Work-up.
Sample needs to be Fresh. Their Lab will give you instructions.

Crimped Oats Float

I have started to add a small amount of Crimped Oats to the Corn tossed into the water. It floats and is nice for the Swans to graze. This is not practical where a current just carries the Oats away.

Swans are very Messy, Wasteful Eaters.
The Floating Pellets have Less Waste.

SWAN Esophagus-Food

NOTE: If a Swan tries to Eat TOO Fast..
the Dry Feed may get STUCK in their Esophagus and Block Swallowing.  Forming a Condition called “CHOKE.”
         This could be an Emergency… 

Supply Water with DRY Feed Mixtures.

Feeding Winter Swans

Swans need 30% more food during Cold Weather Months.
If there is a small amount left after 24 hours, or at end of day they are getting enough.

This Information is a Work in Progress…..
As I learn more I will add to this information..
Compiled & Revised by (C) L.M.Sweger           .. July 2020SWANLovers Info

These Commercial Feed Prices are an Average
for 2015-2018 
In Central Pennsylvania.

Average/General Cost of Commercial Feed Products
Aug. 2017

Quotes from Davis Agway in Mechanicsburg.
40 Pounds
– Southern States 18% Floating Waterfowl Pellets $ 14-15.00
50 Pounds – Mazuri Waterfowl Maintenance $ 40-50.00
Mazuri Waterfowl Feed has been Popular for many Years.

Mazuri Waterfowl Feed
50 Pounds – Poultry Maintainer (unMedicated) $ 15-18.00

Feed for Swans
50 Pounds – Scratch (Cracked Corn & Wheat) $ 15.00
50 Pounds – Crimped Oats $ 16-18.00
50 Pounds – Whole Corn (shelled) $ 8-14.00

50 Pound of Crumble for the Cygnets $ 16-17.00
25 Pound Southern States Start-n-Grow for Tiny Cygnets $ 15.00
Average Annual Usage for Two Adult Mute Swans

2 – Bags of Poultry Maintainer $ 36.00
2 – Bags of Waterfowl Floating Pellets $ 30.00
1 – Bags of Scratch $ 15.00
1 – Bag of Crimped Oats $ 17.00
2 – Bags of Whole Shell Corn $ 24.00
Addition Expenses if there are Cygnets in the Spring.
2 – 25 Pound Start-n-Grow for Cygnets       $30.00
1 – 50 Pound of Crumble for the Cygnets $ 16-17.00

Healthy Pinioned Cygnets 6-10 months old can be SOLD for:
$100 – 150 – 200 – 350.00
Depends on the Number available for Sale.