28 Things Geese Like to Eat Most (Diet, Care & Feeding Tips)

Like most feathered animals, geese enjoy natural food, including insects, grass, finely chopped fruit, and vegetable peels.

On the other hand, feeding geese with common ingredients like bread is always counterproductive and can slow their growth and development or contribute to various diseases.

Therefore, it is crucial to find out what do geese eat and stick to the regular diet.

Geese Habits and Biology

Wild geese are light, medium, or heavy waterfowl birds that live near lakes and rivers. Unlike other waterfowl that consume aquatic plants and animals, geese preferably eat their vegetarian meals on land.

Goose types

Scientific classification Goose
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Anseriformes
Family Anatidae
Species 29 known

Almost all domestic geese have the Greylag goose (Anser answer) as an ancestor. You can commercially breed domestic geese for their meat, eggs, and foie gras. Interestingly, geese can be intelligent pets, efficient lawnmowers, and even trustworthy guardians.

Domestic goose breeds

Goose Type Weight Variety
Embden geese Heavy 20 to 25 pounds (9 –  kg) White
African geese Heavy 18 to 22 pounds (8 – 10 kg) White and brown
Toulouse geese Heavy 18 to 20 pounds (8 – 9 kg) Buff and gray
American Buff geese Medium 16 to 18 pounds (7.2 – 8 kg) Buff
Pomeranian geese Medium 14 to 17 pounds (6.3 – 7.7 kg) Buff and gray saddleback
Pilgrim geese Medium 12 to 14 pounds (5.5 – 6.3 kg) Sex-linked
Sebastopol geese Medium 12 to 14 pounds (5.5 – 6.3 kg) White
Steinbacher geese Medium 11 to 15 pounds (5 – 6.8 kg) Blue
Tufted geese Light 10 to 12 pounds (4.5 – 5.5 kg) White
Chinese geese Light 10 to 12 pounds (4.5 – 5.5 kg) White and brown
Canada geese Light 3 to 13 pounds (1.4 – 6 kg) Eastern
Egyptian geese Light 2 to 9 pounds (0.9 – 4 kg) Brown

You can recognize six goose species bred in North America, including:

  • Canada goose (Branta canadensis)
  • Snow goose (Chen caerulescens)
  • Ross’s goose (C. rossii)
  • Brant (B. bernicla)
  • Black brant (B. nigricans)
  • White-fronted goose (Anser albifrons)
  • Barnacle goose (B. leucopsis) occasionally seen on the northeastern coast during winter
  • Emperor goose (Philacte canagica) occasionally seen along the Alaskan coast during winter

With 15 million birds, Canada and Snow geese are the most abundant species in the US.

Do Geese Eat Dirt?

A goose uses both stomach parts, proventriculus and gizzard, and small intestine to break food down. Typically, this bird needs to swallow gravel and pebbles to ground everything ingested and speed up digestion efficiently.

Only such prepared ingredients can go to the small intestine for additional decomposition in the presence of the enzymes. Thanks to the high metabolic rate, geese digest food fast, allowing undisturbed flight.

What Do Geese Like to Eat Most?

What Do Geese Like to Eat Most

Backyard geese

An average adult goose consumes approximately 0.5 pounds (227 g) of food per day, but that amount can vary depending on many factors, including their diet and activity levels.

Newborn goslings will need balanced commercial food before learning to eat outdoors. Add brewer’s yeast to goslings chick starter and offer this mix to baby geese for three weeks.

Once they grow up, juvenile and adult geese need to get about 80% of their diet from your garden and yard. Keep in mind that geese prefer foraging instead of sitting inside and waiting for a commercial feed.

Even though these birds don’t need commercial food, you should ensure that your birds get enough niacin responsible for strong bones development. The best option is to provide enough:

  • Plants like dandelions, alfalfa, chickweed, dill, thyme, and sage
  • Peanuts
  • Whole wheat, sunflower seeds, and wheat bran
  • Veggies, like sweet potatoes and peas

They will also enjoy eating:

  • All grass types, fresh herbs, and weeds
  • Clover and chickweed
  • Flowers and Hosta
  • Cucumber
  • Watermelon
  • Plantain
  • Blueberry and raspberry leaves and bushes

Keep in mind that geese often only chow but never ingest plants like:

  • Sunflowers
  • Dahlias
  • Peonies
  • Zinnias

During winter, your geese will require:

  • Whole wheat, oats, rye, and barley
  • Some grass hay
  • Cabbage, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, spinach, lettuce, and kale
  • Herbs
  • Squash and pumpkin
  • Carrots, parsnips, and cracked corn
  • Grower feed

Geese can be weird and suspicious of new food, so you should offer it a few times before it decides to try.


Your goose will enjoy trying treats like:

  • Chopped watermelon and cantaloupe
  • Grapes
  • Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries
  • Sliced apples without seeds
  • Bananas
  • Oatmeal


Geese need a deep water bowl or bucket since they clean their beaks and nostrils by dunking heads into the water.

Wild geese

Geese have a consistent feeding schedule and usually fly to feeding areas twice a day, in the morning and afternoon. The rest of the day, they nibble aquatic grasses.

On average, these birds spend half a day feeding and even more before migration to provide extra fat reserves before their long flight. During spring and summer, you can see geese consuming:

  • Skunk cabbage leaves
  • Aquatic plants like eelgrass
  • Grass and alfalfa
  • Sedges seeds
  • Agricultural grains, like winter wheat and barley
  • Berries

In late winter, geese will look for sedges’ rhizomes and roots.

Even though geese can eat insects, they won’t enjoy such food. They also don’t need bread or crackers since they have no nutritional value for birds’ bodies. Instead, you can offer some beans, grains, or grass when wishing to feed wild geese.

Food Avoid to Feed Geese

Typically, geese will instinctively avoid toxic food or stop eating it because of its bitter taste. However, some poisonous ingredients can be tasty and jeopardize the birds’ health and even life, often in only small amounts. Let’s take a look.

Food toxic to geese

  • Citrus fruits
  • Avocados
  • Green potatoes and tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Uncooked dried beans
  • Nuts, including old peanuts and unshelled and raw nuts
  • Mango peels
  • Pepper, rhubarb, and eggplant leaves
  • Spinach
  • Coffee, tea, and alcohol
  • Chocolate and tobacco
  • Salt
  • Moldy and rotten foods

Plants toxic to geese

Toxic plants that cause health issues

  • Bitterroot, Indian hemp, fiddleneck, heliotrope, and dogbane
  • Emerald feather, bracken fern, asparagus fern, Jack in the pulpit, and mistletoe
  • Ragwort, St John’s wort, rattlepod, and spring parsley
  • Showy rattlebox, lantana, autumn crocus, climbing lily, black hellebore, mountain laurel, corn cockle, Sabi star, meadow saffron, and Christmas rose
  • Crown vetch, longstalk spring parsley
  • Tall fescue, wild parsnip, Sudan grass, milkweed, giant hogweed, and poison hemlock
  • Castor bean and sweet pea
  • Gooseberry and pokeberry
  • Christmas holly, toyon, jimsonweed, and Christmas berry
  • Boxelder, European spindle tree
  • Upland cotton and cottonseed
  • Tobacco and Ranger’s button
  • Acorn and horse chestnut
  • Coffee husk

Toxic plants that cause death

  • Azaleas, star of Bethlehem, Lily of the valley, Cardinal flower, Carolina jessamine, evening trumpet vine
  • Monkshood green cestrum, fly poison, periwinkle, horsenettle, Patterson’s curse, water hemlock, lupine, deathcamas, and sacred bamboo
  • Lambsquarters, scarlet pimpernel, and creeping indigo
  • Nardoo
  • Wild cassava, Mexican poppy, coffee senna, and bellyache bush
  • Nightshade, rosary pea, physic nut, and chinaberry
  • Cocklebur
  • Black locust, cherry trees

Toxic plants that cause sudden death

  • Bitter almond
  • Chokecherry, coffee weed, and Brazilian glory pea
  • Black bean tree, Rattlebox tree, rubber vine, yew, Spanish gold, and sago palm
  • Summer pheasant’s eye and foxglove
  • Curly dock, black henbane, Johnson grass, and hairy vetch

Other potentially fatal toxins

  • Blue-green algae
  • Cedarwood
  • Snakebite
  • Chick starter
  • Hardware like nails, staples, and screws
  • Zinc, copper, and lead
  • Mycotoxins
  • Rodenticides, pesticides, and herbicides
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene
  • Paints

Tips to Feed Geese

Tips to Feed Geese

Remember that penned-up domestic geese can’t thrive, so you should let them out on grass during the day. Wandering will help young geese develop correctly and prevent possible leg issues. They also need plenty of sunlight and outside walk to avoid overweight problems.

When you plan to attract wild geese to come into your yard, you should organize a safe environment and provide adequate food. They also need open spaces, an attractive body of water, and fresh drinking water.

Wild geese often rely on humans when it comes to feeding. If you like feeding them, you should always offer them nutritious food, including:

  • Greens, like lettuce, cabbage, and cauliflower
  • Wheat
  • Peas and sweet corn
  • Seeds
  • Pellets

Always collect seeds in small piles instead of scattering them randomly or tossing them into the pond. Geese prefer walking on land and grazing, not looking for food in the water. Keep in mind that geese will never eat sunflower seeds, unlike other bird species.

Even though geese adore bread, you should never offer it or similar products like crackers and chips. Bakery products have no nutritional value for these birds, and they often end up malnourished because of such a diet.

Geese are vegetarians, so that they won’t consume bugs, worms, lizards, and slugs. Finally, you should never use insecticides and herbicides since they can jeopardize these birds.

Sometimes, even feeding geese has its downsides since you can attract too many of them. They can deplete natural water and food sources in such a case, while parks and streets will overrun with bird droppings.


Over five million resident or non-migratory breeding geese live in the US and Canada. As you probably know, wild species usually find food in nature, but domestic ones depend on humans. Therefore, it is hard to say what do geese like eating the most, even though their primary taste is quite similar.

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