When it comes to food, what do geese eat? In this manual, I analyze the diet of wild geese and then offer suggestions for what to feed domestic goose breeds and wild geese at your local pond.
Grass is the preferred food of geese if there is an adequate supply of high-quality grass. All the nutrients that geese require can be found in grass, but only when it is newly sprouted in the spring. It is necessary to keep the grass short (around 8cm or 3 inches) for our domestic geese, which may necessitate more frequent mowing at home or housing in a mixed farm system with larger animals that will graze the longer grasses first.
When grass loses its nutritional value or when there isn’t much grass available, what do geese eat? Wild geese can fly to different areas in search of food, and you can often spot them there. In brief, all there is to know about feeding geese!
You may also want to read about the best chicken feed.
What do geese eat?
An estimated half of a wild goose’s day is spent foraging for food. Geese eat grasses, clover, alfalfa, seed heads, wheat, maize, barley, and beans from fields (usually foraged from fields after harvesting). Hedgerow berries are a treat when they are available, but they generally prefer to be out in the open where they can better spot potential danger.
Canada geese eat a wide variety of aquatic plants, including sedges and their seed heads, as well as roots and rhizomes that have been buried under the mud. While insects are a part of a goose’s diet, it is not a major component.
Wild geese will eat more in the days leading up to a migration in order to stock up on energy before taking off on their long journey. In order to generate more body heat, they up their consumption of carbohydrates (grains and berries) in the fall and winter.
Feeding domestic geese
You might wonder if it’s fair to keep domestic geese unless you have a paddock, orchard, or similar with about half an acre of grass for them to graze. Since domestic geese cannot fly, it can be difficult to make orchards, lawns, and fields fox-proof. Even if there is a lake or pond nearby, startled geese do not always immediately take to the water, nor do they always feed in close proximity to the water’s edge. You can also provide them with a commercial food.
Since grass is one of the geese’ preferred foods, it’s important to provide them with a grazing area; however, the nutrients provided by grass can vary greatly depending on its species, its length, and the season. Poultry keepers like myself need to supplement the diets of domestic breeds of geese with other foods because these birds are larger than wild geese and cannot forage as far when kept in captivity.
The wild goose is smaller and lighter than its domestic counterpart. None of the domestic breeds are capable of flight because they were all bred to have a good size for the table, and only a few were lighter and bred to produce eggs, like the Chinese goose.
Assuming they have flight capability, at least they won’t be able to go very far! Although my Brecon Buff geese can “take off” when running downhill or when the wind is blowing in a favorable direction, they always return to the ground after only a few seconds of flight.
Feeding geese in local parks
Ducks and geese in parks get used to being fed because so many people enjoy doing so. Many people, unfortunately, make the mistake of providing improper nutrition for waterfowl.
Geese: what should you feed them? Bread is a popular food, but it has no nutritional value at all. The bread they eat quickly fills them up, so they don’t have room for the other foods they normally consume. They become malnourished over time.
Unfortunately, as more and more geese arrive at the pond in search of the free food, the pond’s natural food supply quickly depletes. They stop feeding their young what they find in the wild and eventually come to rely solely on human assistance.
Choose healthy options like sweet corn and peas (can them or defrost them in warm water first) and greens like cabbage, cauliflower leaves, or lettuce to feed wild geese. Chickens would benefit from some of the readily available wheat or mixed corn.