If there is enough of it and it is of a high enough grade, geese will mostly eat grass. All the vitamins and minerals that geese require are present in grass, but they are only present when it is young in the spring.
For our domestic geese, short grass (approximately 8 cm or 3 in) means frequent lawn cutting at home or keeping them in a mixed farm system with bigger animals who would graze the longer grasses first.
When the nutrients in the grass decline or when there isn’t much grass available, what do geese eat? Wild geese can fly, so they may search for different meals, and you can frequently observe them foraging on fields, village greens, rivers, lakes, or ponds.
Feeding domestic geese
You could wonder if keeping domestic geese is ethical unless you’re fortunate enough to have a paddock, orchard, or something similar with around a half-acre of grass for them to graze.
Since domestic geese cannot fly away to safety, it can be difficult to keep orchards, lawns, and fields fox-proof. Geese don’t usually dive into the water when frightened, even in ponds or lakes, and they don’t always eat close to the water’s edge.
Since we know that geese adore grass, feeding geese simply involves giving them a place to graze. However, the nutrients differ greatly depending on the species of grass, its length, and the season.
Since domestic breeds of geese are bigger than wild geese and cannot travel as far when kept in captivity, we must provide additional items to supplement their nutrition while feeding geese at home.
Additionally, domestic geese weigh more than their wild counterparts do. All domestic goose breeds are too heavy to fly since so many of them were developed to be a fair size for the meal while just a few, like the Chinese geese, were lighter and bred to lay eggs.
If they can fly, at least they can’t fly very far! My Brecon Buff geese may occasionally “take off” while running downhill or when the wind is blowing in their favor, but they will eventually land.
What do geese eat in the grass?
Goose bills are powerful and serrated, making them ideal for eating thick plant material. They will cheerfully feast themselves on grass if they are unable to locate anything else to eat. Animals like geese, as well as other grazing animals like cows, must make up for the fact that grass is not the most nutritionally complete food by consuming large amounts of it.
One kilogram of grass, or about 1/5 of the weight of a big goose’s body, can be consumed in a single day, and the bird may spend as much as half of each day grazing.
In addition to eating grass, geese are likely searching for roots, seeds, and bulbs that have more nutrients than just grass. Although geese presumably aren’t looking for live insects, they probably wouldn’t mind if they sometimes snatched up a beetle or small worm while grazing.
What Do Backyard Geese Eat?
Since introducing geese to our backyard, I’ve had several inquiries on the diet of backyard geese. Before we received our first goose, I thought they would be like ducks, just bigger, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Our experience raising geese in our backyard has been both entertaining and instructive.
I’ve studied every book on the subject I could get my hands on, spoken with John Metzer, the nation’s foremost authority on waterfowl care, and spoken with numerous friends who have raised geese for much of their adult lives in order to rear our geese as best I can.
Since we have been raising our geese for quite some time, I am continually reading articles and.edu websites to learn as much as I can about them. The more I learn about them, the less they resemble ducks or chickens at all.
Our first batch of goslings grew up to be stunning adults, and our second batch is following in their footsteps, so it seems that all my study was worthwhile.
And to be quite honest, we’ve been astonished by how absurdly simple it is to grow and feed them.
What do geese eat in the water?
Geese consume aquatic plants including seaweed, kelp, and watercress, just like the majority of birds. But geese often eat terrestrial rather than aquatic food. Although tiny water invertebrates and even small fish are occasionally consumed by geese, they do not generally eat meat.
In general, geese have a great preference for eating grass plant stuff and don’t make a special effort to consume fish and aquatic invertebrates. Instead of aquatic vegetation, they mostly eat terrestrial plants.
What to feed geese on your local pond
The practice of feeding ducks and geese in parks is popular, and the animals quickly become accustomed to it. Unfortunately, a lot of people feed waterfowl the incorrect food.
What are the geese fed? Although it is a favorite, bread has little nutritional benefit. They quickly exhaust themselves on bread, abandoning other items they might often consume. They eventually become undernourished.
There isn’t much natural food available since, regrettably, more and more geese keep showing up for the food handouts until the pond cannot maintain their numbers. They cease preparing their young to find food locally, and finally they depend entirely on us to provide for their needs.
Choose healthy meals like sweet corn, peas (tinned or frozen; simply thaw them in warm water first), and greens like cabbage, cauliflower leaves, or lettuce if you’re planning to feed wild geese. Ideally, some easily accessible wheat or mixed corn feed chickens.
What do geese eat in the winter?
While not all geese migrate in the winter to escape the cold, the majority do. In order to boost their intake of carbohydrates—which also help birds produce more body heat—geese will consume more grains like wheat and barley.
Geese are often chubby and stocky with plenty of fat reserves; they’ll eat everything to keep up their proudly rotund physique!
What Foods Do Canadian Geese Eat?
Grass, water plants, algae, and insects are all consumed by Canadian geese. The most of the time, they are herbivorous, but they occasionally incorporate other things into their diets.
For instance, during the winter months when their favored meals are less accessible, these birds will frequently consume more insects while they are young and more roots when they are adults.
Grass is the primary dietary item for most Canadian geese. Throughout the year, it is accessible almost anywhere they dwell or travel since it is copious, simple to find, and readily available. Naturally, Canadian geese consume various things depending on whether they are on land or in the water.
Geese frequently don’t go looking for mollusks and crustaceans to eat. They simply happen to be around the various plants that the geese are eating, so they get an extra treat.
When Canadian geese are malnourished, they may start to search for insects, mollusks, and other animals. Despite the fact that these animals are not technically plant-eaters, most people nevertheless describe to them as herbivorous, like other waterfowl. Undoubtedly, they are omnivorous.
What is the best food for geese?
The primary component of a goose’s diet is plant materials. A healthy diet for geese includes grains like barley, oats, and wheat as well as birdseed, sweet corn, vegetables, and grasses like clovers and bluegrass.
Both domesticated and wild geese are notorious for being picky eaters (and are highly selective in general!) despite having large appetites. Even within the same flock, individual geese have varied preferences! As choosy as a goose is perhaps a better description than “as greedy as a goose”!
Grasses and Grains for Geese
A goose’s usual diet should consist of roughly 80% grass (fresh or dried hay) and 20% grains (oats, wheat or corn). You wouldn’t believe how much geese enjoy grasses, herbs, and weeds; in the summer months, I would guess it skews closer to 99 percent grass. However, throughout the winter they unquestionably require some food support.
So I give our geese pretty much unlimited hay (orchard or timothy) and wheat during the day, and the occasional cabbage to work on, but they actually ate very little through the winter and yet kept at a good weight. They appear to be particularly good at using the calories they consume and metabolizing them.
Adult geese consume almost half a pound, or about 1 cup, of food daily. Of course, there are a lot of variables that might affect that quantity, such as the diet of the geese and the energy and nutrients in their food.
The geese don’t require any commercial grit to aid in meal digestion while they are out on grass. However, it’s a good idea to offer them grit at their discretion if the ground is frozen or covered with snow so they can eat as much or as little as they require.
In terms of nutrition, geese don’t require commercial feed, and since a female lays so few eggs on average over her lifetime, they shouldn’t be fed a layer diet with high calcium levels. A grower or meat bird feed (all flock-type feeds) isn’t really ideal either because they don’t need a high protein diet.
Grass control with geese
For grass management, keeping a few geese as eco-friendly “lawn mowers” might be helpful. You may let your flock of geese graze on a decent patch of grass, including some shady places, as long as there are no problems with predators like foxes.
In organic agricultural practices, geese are occasionally employed to eradicate perennial grasses and broadleaf weeds from fields. Unlike ducks, geese do not stray far from their flock, giving them excellent personalities. Once educated to remain in a specific location, they will frequently remain there and concentrate on the current work!
Although geese like short, new grass, if an area is large enough, they will locate shorter grass in between the long strands.
It’s generally a good idea to give them some parts that have been trimmed shorter as well, but depending on where you live, doing so can cause the grass to turn brown and die off during the hot months. It is thus advisable to use your own discretion and some trial and error.
Your geese will occasionally consume the seed heads of long grasses and weeds in addition to grass.
Geese may offer a sense of security to the area by making a lot of noise whenever something strange approaches and warning you of approaching intruders or predators.
What should you not feed geese?
Although geese frequently opt to eat a high-carb diet, it’s crucial that they don’t overeat on “empty carbohydrates” like bread. For both geese and many other bird species, moldy bread and other food can be exceedingly hazardous. Geese should be given a variety of foods and should have a varied diet.
Another factor to take into account is the increased feces caused by overfeeding geese on bread and other “empty carbohydrates,” which might make their feeding sites vulnerable to bacterial and fungal development. In addition to harming birds like geese and other birds, this may also injure other animals, insects, and even canines.
What do baby geese eat?
Plain grass and clovers make up a gosling’s main food sources. Chickweed is also frequently fed to domesticated goslings. In the wild, geese typically pick lush, green meadows for their nests since there are so many different types of grasses there for the chicks to eat.
Goslings don’t require a complicated diet, and their stomachs are ideally suited to soft plant food as a kind of weaning. They develop rapidly until they are ready to fledge after 3 months and depart the family unit after around 9 months. They thrive on grass.
Vitamins and Supplements for Geese
Niacin is required by geese for their strong bones and legs, though. Your geese graze on dandelions, chickweed, alfalfa, dill, sage, and thyme, among other grasses, weeds, and herbs, all of which contain niacin.
However, the simplest approach to give them what they need is to add brewer’s yeast to their meal. The following are some of the top plant-based sources of niacin:
- Peanuts (4.2 mg per ounce)
- Wheat bran or whole wheat (4 mg per cup)
- Peas (3 mg per cup)
- The sweet potato (2.4 mg per cup)
- kernels of sunflower (2 mg per ounce)
- Vitamin D is beneficial to geese as well. While in in Maine, adding some Coop Kelp to our geese food during the winter can be beneficial, their body can generate vitamin D during the summer.
The females don’t need as much food as their chicken and duck counterparts do since they only lay for approximately a month each spring. This results in their being relatively affordable to raise and feed, regardless of the season.
Poultry grit for geese
What do geese consume to aid with food digestion? To aid in the digestion of their meal, geese in the wild will pick up tiny stones, grit, and sand from the ground and the bottom of lakes and rivers. Sand (ordinary construction sand would do) and mixed poultry grit with oyster shell and flint grit are required for our domestic goose population.
Burying a flowerpot in the ground and pinning it down through the bottom holes is a simple technique to accomplish this. After that, it may be filled with grit and left open to drain during rainy weather.
You should read my post on poultry grit if you’re not sure what the two distinct grit varieties are used for. The same ideas apply to geese even if it was created with chickens in mind (except they also need sand).
You now know what to feed the geese. As always, I’d love to hear your feedback in the section below. I hope this article has been helpful.