What do geese eat? This is a very important question before you decide on what to feed geese. Just like chickens and other poultry, geese require a well-rounded course.
Geese are somehow picky eaters. These birds will not just put anything in their mouths like chickens do. However, most of their foods are similar to those of ducks and other poultry.
In this article, I am going to take you through goose food. This will help you make a decision on what is safe for geese to eat and what may lead to health problems.
What do geese eat in the wild?
Wild geese mainly prefer to hang near ponds, rivers, swamps, lakes and on open parks. During the day, geese rarely stay in water unless they want to take a bath.
These birds prefer roaming in parks where they graze on fresh grass. They also collect cracked corn, seeds and other treats tossed to them by visitors.
It is good that when you visit parks you feed geese on bird seed or cracked corn. Feeding these birds is not very good because people will try to give them all sorts of food.
When a goose gets used to hand outs and treats, it no longer makes an effort of looking for its own food.
These critters can easily get used to free meals and totally depend on free food. This will make may birds crowd in one place more than it is required.
Sometimes they are seen in corn and wheat fields eating leftover grain especially after harvesting. In the farms geese devour on weeds and other small plants.
Do geese eat fish?
Geese will sometimes dip their heads under water and catch small fish. Although they can dine on fishes that live in shallow waters and frogs, they are not fond of meat.
These birds will prefer to forage and eat green plants, water weed and tubers of some water plants. They love seeds like wheat, rice, corn and others.
Flocks of geese are seen in orchards where they eat fruits like blue berries, grapes and other types of berries they get.
Along with whatever food they eat, geese will eat sand, oyster shells and small pebbles to act as grit. Remember that these birds do not have teeth and require grit to help digest the food they eat.
The grit and shells they eat is the main source of calcium for these birds. Calcium helps them manufacture healthy egg shells.
Along the goose bill, there are serrated notches that are lined along like a hack saw blade. Some people confuse these notches for teeth.
These teeth-like structures helps the birds break small plants that they eat. They also help filter and sieve food substances out of mud.
Can geese eat bread?
Yes! Geese can eat bread when they get it. However, bread will not occur naturally for these birds to eat and they will only get it from you.
Just like it is in ducks, bread is not the best food for geese. It contains very little nutrients and will add no nutrients in their bodies.
Bread is rich in carbs which will be converted into fat making these birds too heavy and obese. Fat geese are prone to ill health and cannot escape predators.
All junk foods like popcorn, chips, chocolate and sausages are not good for these birds. Remember that some foods like chocolate are sugar rich and very unhealthy for your flock.
Chips contain oils and salt which cannot be digested by these critters. The same way junk foods are unhealthy for you, they are unhealthy for geese too.
What to feed domestic geese
Domestic geese breeds are not very different from their wild cousins. The slight difference is that they are bigger in size hence their weight makes them too heavy to fly.
For you to raise a healthy flock, commercial geese feeds are very important. These feeds are well balance and contain nutrients in the right proportions.
Let the crumbles, pellets and the layers mash comprise of 90% of all the foods they eat. The other 10% can be tasty treats like fruits, vegetables and table scraps.
If you have a large compound the better. Geese will do better when left to range and forage on their own.
This way, these birds can supplement their diet with plants, insects and grubs. Geese in the compound will act as security and alert you when someone is coming.
They prefer to forage on short fresh green grass. If the grass is too long, have a lawn mower to cut it down to about 5-6cm.
You can also mix them with other farm animals who are adept grazers like sheep and pigs. These farm animals will eat up the long grass and the geese can now munch on the short shoots.
What do baby geese eat?
Goslings are hatched precocial. This means that they are able to walk and look for food right from the egg.
Waterfowl starter feeds are good for these tiny critters until they are fully feathered. However, these baby geese are able to forage and eat young grass in the back yard.
This makes rearing them easy and cheap because they help bring down the cost of feeds. The reason why starter feeds are important is because they contain high amounts of protein.
When goslings are young, their bodies are rapidly developing building bulks of tissues, bones and feathers hence calling for more protein.
Geese are naturally hardy, robust and strong birds. They can do well in both hot and cold climates and eat an array of plants, weeds and grasses.
What do Canadian geese eat during winter?
Unlike other animals like bears, some snake species and rodents that hibernate during winter, geese do not. Animals hibernate because winter is very cold and food is scarce.
During these tough cold times, Canadian geese are always active as usual. Before winter, they eat lots of seeds, nuts and other foods rich in carbohydrates.
These energy rich foods help their bodies make fat which insulates them against cold. The fat is also broken down into energy to help them keep flying during migration.
Canadian geese are migratory birds and large flocks head south to warmer regions in winter. In the new areas they continue to forage on grass, weeds and other plants.
Here, these geese also eat grains on fields like barley, wheat, rice and corn. To top up their diet, they find aquatic weeds, small fish, morsels and water snails.
What not to feed geese
Geese are sensitive to poisoning and any slight fault can be fatal. The results of feeding poisonous food to these birds can be dire.
Any moldy or rotten food can kill them. Just the same way rotten foods are bad to you; they are bad too for geese.
Feed these birds fresh and clean foods. If you want to share some of your vegetables with your flock, ensure they are clean and free from pesticides and other agricultural chemicals.
Geese do not want milk and other daily products. Their digestive system was not designed to digest such foods. These products can be a recipe for severe diarrhea which can cause dehydration and even death.
Seeds of avocado, grapes and pits of plum and cherries should be avoided. They contain high amounts of a dangerous chemical called solanine which can be toxic when ingested.
Raw meat and other meat products are not good either. Uncooked meat is known to cause salmonella poisoning to poultry.
Stagnant water that has overstayed in one place is not good too. Blue-green algae grow and thrive in such water and can be poisonous when consumed by your goose.
Avoid feeding junk foods and those table scraps with too much oils, salt or sugar. Junk foods will make these birds obese and overweight.
When they get too heavy, geese are prone to joint, heart and back problems. They get heavy and cannot fly or run to flee from predators.
Do geese need water?
Yes! Geese are waterfowl birds. They love to live, nest and lay eggs near water sources. Domestic geese will always hang near pools and get in time to time to drink, remove parasites, bath and preen their feathers.
Water is very important to them because it helps keep their bodies cool and hydrated. It helps in metabolism and removal of waste products from the body.
Geese will flee for safety by either flying or swimming in deep waters away from the vicinity of predators like wolves and foxes.
Although geese are very aggressive especially when nesting and with baby goslings, they are attacked by agile predators like hawks.
Water bodies acts as a source of security for them. Geese mating mainly take place in water. Here, males will do several dance moves while swimming around the female and finally convince her to mate.
Final thoughts on what to feed geese
I hope you now know that gooses favorite food is grass, weeds and other types of forage. Homemade goose food can also be a good way to keep their stomachs full.
Feed good and healthy food to your pet goose to avoid any health complications. If you want to treat those wild geese, choose bird seed or cracked corn.
Do not hand feed these birds. Geese can be very aggressive, noisy and even attack you if they have young.
Feeding wild geese should not be made a routine. When they get used to free foods, they can easily turn dependent on you and choose not to shoulder their responsibilities.
If your birds get sick, call a qualified bird vet near you.
What do you feed to your geese? Let us know on the comment section.
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