Geese are very fun, loving creatures that can make great pets, not just great farm animals. When raised from hatchlings, geese love their owners and follow them around the yard like a little dog. But perhaps you are like me and got your goose when it was already an adult and had absolutely no idea how to take care of a goose. I have chickens down pat. Geese were a new experience for me. The first and foremost question I had was, what should you feed your geese?
Geese are Grazers
Like chickens, geese like to free range. Unlike chickens, geese are not carnivores and don’t eat every little thing in sight. Geese are herbivores and prefer to eat plenty of grass. In fact, if you have the space, geese can live off of grass exclusively. Grass contains the vitamins and minerals necessary for the goose to survive.
To free range your geese, keep your grass at about 3 inches or shorter. Geese will enjoy their free ranging salad bar. If you have long grass, simply mow or get a larger animal to eat the taller grass first (like a cow or sheep).
Geese digest food very quickly, so geese like to eat all day. That’s why a constant source of grass is important when free ranging. An alternative to grass is grass hay, if that is available near you. They also like to eat weeds, meadow grasses, rye, oat grass, and dandelions.
What should geese eat if I don’t have a lot of grass?
It’s not a problem if you don’t have a large area of grass. In fact, I don’t free range my goose (I know, I only have one, I need to get him a mate). He stays in the chicken run with the chickens so that he’s not lonely. Because he’s in the chicken run, there is no grass. My chickens have scratched it and ate it all up. Eventually, we will build a larger run so that we can portion off the run to allow the grass to grow back.
Feed your goose chicken feed
But until then, my goose doesn’t get a lot of grass. In fact, he eats chicken feed. Yes, you read that correctly. As long as your chicken feed is non-medicated and not starter chicken feed, geese can eat it. Right now it’s a mix of cracked corn and layer feed. The goose seems to enjoy it.
Geese will eat approximately 200g of feed if they are not eating grass. I don’t give geese any kind of mash feed, as it can get stuck in their bill.
Feed your goose wheat
If you have access to a supply of wheat, wheat is a great choice to feed to geese. Simply take a bucket of water and put the wheat at the bottom of the bucket. The goose will dive down and eat the wet wheat. They love it.
Keeping the wheat in water helps to keep pests away, such as mice, rats, or other birds. Honestly, my chickens eat the goose’s food constantly, so if the wheat is in the water, then the chickens can’t get to it either.
Feeding Geese Leftovers
As I stated before, geese are herbivores. Therefore, you cannot feed them table scraps like you would a chicken. However, you can feed them plenty of vegetables, such as lettuce, cabbage, corn, watermelon, cantelope, green peppers, carrots, apples, tomatoes, and other leafy greens. Depending on whether your goose likes cooked vegetables, you could also serve them cooked potatoes and carrots, or any of the previously mentioned veggies.
Bread is not good for geese, as well as spinach. Spinach releases an acid that blocks calcium absorption, so it’s bad for bone growth and for laying eggs.
What should I feed laying geese?
If your goose is laying eggs, then it needs a source of calcium. If you free range your geese, then also offer them layer feed since it contains a source of calcium. Laying geese on a diet of wheat and layer feed may also tend to lay a few more eggs than by solely free ranging. In addition, layer pellets go bad in water, so feed layer pellets to geese in a dry container.
You could also purchase oyster shell powder to give to the geese as an additional source of calcium. Simply sprinkle over the geese feed, if necessary.
What should I feed goslings?
Feed for goslings is a little bit more complicated. If you can find it, feed goslings a formulated waterfowl starter and raiser. Due to the fact that this can be hard to find at your local farm store, you can buy un-medicated chick starter feed. Make sure that it states that it’s approved for geese. You will also need to feed goslings a supply of niacin if you are using the un-medicated chick starter feed.
The medicated chick starter feed contains a drug to prevent coccidiosis. This drug can cause lameness and death in goslings. That’s why it’s important to buy the un-medicated feed.
Goslings can be fed grass clippings once they are a few days old. They should not be fed grass solely, but as supplement to their regular feed. If the weather is nice, goslings can go outside once they are a few days old to graze on the grass. Once they are 5-6 weeks old, the goslings can survive on grass alone.
As always, make sure that the goslings have access to a constant supply of fresh water.
Geese are fun and simple birds to raise and are happy with large spaces of grass or in small contained areas, but with plenty of food. They are loving birds and like company, so keep them surrounded with feathered friends. Whether feeding them grass or feed, geese are a great addition to any homestead.