When you picture a quaint scene of geese paddling around serenely on the surface of a lake, or waddling along the shore, chances are you probably include people throwing bread crumbs to them.
It’s a common pastime in every park and lake where geese are known to congregate. But bread is definitely a hotly contested menu item when it comes to these big birds…
Some people say that bread is okay for them. Others say that bread is genuinely harmful, even deadly. Is it possible?
f bread was really that bad for geese would so many people give it to them so regularly? Can geese eat bread or not?
Geese can eat bread, but they really shouldn’t. Bread is difficult for them to digest, and has a very little in the way of actual nutrition for them.
It will fill them up, preventing them from eating other, more nutritious foods and it might possibly be linked with angel wings syndrome and geese and other birds. Don’t feed your geese bread if you care about them.
This is bound to ruffle some feathers, if you’ll pardon that awful pun, but it’s the truth.
Giving bread, crackers and the like to geese and other birds as a treat is something of a time-honored tradition, but you can make a comparison to birds and bread being the same as you or I having ice cream for dinner.
We can, and it won’t poison us, but it sure isn’t good for us. There’s more to learn on this topic, and I’ll tell you all about it in the rest of this article…
Does Bread Have Health Benefits for Geese?
Flatly, no, it does not. Bread is truly junk food for geese, and anything more than a tiny amount here and there is going to be harmful for them.
This is because bread, in any form, is very difficult for geese to properly digest, and in any case, it does not contain very much in the way of nutrition that they need although they can derive calories from it.
What nutrients are there will be squandered due to its indigestibility.
What’s worse, geese that eat bread tend to fill up on it, even if they don’t eat very much. No, it’s not because it will swell up in their stomach and make them blow up or anything like that, that’s an old urban legend.
But just like you or I filling up on chips or pretzels means we won’t eat a more wholesome and nutritious meal, geese will do the same thing with bread given half a chance.
And, it might be even more harmful than that, but we’ll talk about that in just a minute…
Ultimately, bread is empty calories for geese. That’s all you need to know. If you want to give them just a little bit every once in a while because they like it or you have some handy, that’s okay, and it probably won’t hurt, but you definitely don’t want to make a habit of it.
Nutrition Info for Bread
The nutritional content for bread varies depending on the grain that was used, the baking process and any industrial production steps in the case of commercially sold supermarket bread.
Bread is mostly calories in the form of carbohydrates, plain and simple, but they tend to have some vitamins and minerals also, and even your most basic, cheapest white bread is fortified with some vitamins, particularly B vitamins like riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, and more.
These nutrients are things that geese need, but the general indigestibility of bread to them means of these nutrients are typically wasted, and they’ll only get calories out of them.
Warning: Excessive Bread Consumption Might Be Linked to Angel Wing in Geese
One seriously harrowing risk factor associated with regular consumption of bread in geese is angel wing syndrome, though this link has been disputed in recent years.
Angel wing syndrome, sometimes referred to as airplane wing or crooked wing, is a condition where the last joint of the wing is twisted out of position during a goose’s development.
This leads to the wing feathers sticking directly out horizontally from the bird’s body instead of lying flat in the proper position that gives geese and other birds their usual, sleek silhouette.
Although the syndrome definitely affects adult birds, it is acquired early in their development.
It’s thought to be linked to a badly unbalanced diet, particularly one that is too high in calories and too low and essential vitamins like vitamin E and vitamin D along with mineral deficiencies.
In the end, this badly deformed wing structure is unable to function according to its design, and birds so affected are flightless.
If it affects geese, it’s possible to correct or at least somewhat remediate the condition by drastically improving the diet, and sometimes by strapping the wings down into the proper position.
But, once a goose reaches adulthood and is still suffering from the syndrome, particularly if their diet was truly terrible during development, it is permanent and the affected adult will be flightless.
Again, some biologists dispute the link between bread being particularly antagonistic regarding the development of angel wings syndrome, but it is known that a poor diet and nutrient deficiencies are major contributing factors.
Bread is in no way part of a good diet for a goose, so you can make your own determination. But as for me I don’t feed any goose bread!
Can Geese Eat White Bread?
Yes, geese can eat white bread safely but only in extremely limited amounts (for all the reasons described above).
Can Geese Eat Wheat Bread?
Yes, they can. Brown bread or wheat bread is also safe for geese in strict moderation. For clarity, there is no kind of bread that is genuinely toxic to geese.
Can Geese Eat Raw Bread Dough?
No! Raw bread dough is even less digestible to geese than baked bread, and it’s also a significant choking risk that is likely to cause crop problems in any case due to the presence of active yeast.
Never, ever give your geese or any bird bread dough.
Is Fresh Baked Bread Safe for Geese?
Yes, fresh baked bread is safe for geese to eat. To be perfectly clear, “safe” means it isn’t toxic for geese. It still isn’t healthy, and you shouldn’t give it to them except once in a blue moon.
Can Goslings Eat Bread Safely?
No! No matter how much you think they might like it, don’t give any bread to goslings.
Goslings require proper nutrition in order to grow up into strong and healthy adults, and the aforementioned angel wing syndrome strikes in developing geese, and other birds.
If you start treating your goslings with bread, not only are they going to lose out on getting any meaningful nutrients from it, but they also won’t have as much room for other foods that do contain the nutrients they so desperately need.
In this way, bread is worse than a junk food for goslings: it’s actively harmful and you should never feed it to them.
How Frequently Can Geese Eat Bread?
Rarely. I would not give geese any more than a tiny handful of scattered bread crumbs once a week at the absolute most.
Ultimately, the less bread that you give them the better off they’ll be, and as a reminder never give bread to goslings.
Preparing Bread for Geese
If you are, in spite of every warning, still going to give bread to your geese, the best way to do so is by crushing it up into large crumbs or tearing pieces of it off so they are about the size of a dime. This will make it easy for geese to eat and minimize the risk of choking.
Don’t Give Bread to Geese if it Has Any Bad Ingredients or Additives
Bread is bad enough for geese, but you can make it a whole lot worse by serving them bread that has added ingredients that they really shouldn’t eat.
Extra sugar and salt, cheese, artificial ingredients and the like are all seriously bad news for geese and can make them sick outright in addition to setting them up for other serious health problems, not just angel wing syndrome.
Fatty liver syndrome, sour crop, hypertension, obesity and more are all potential outcomes linked with excess sugar and salt intake, to say nothing of the tremendous amount of calories that bread already has.
If you insist on serving your geese bread, stick to some form of plain baked bread with no cheese, no frosting, no fruit bits or anything else in it.
Never Give Geese Moldy or Spoiled Bread
One last tip: resist the urge to feed crusty, moldy bread to your geese. They will still eat it, but any moldy foods, including bread, can be extremely harmful or even fatal to your geese.
If it’s not something that you yourself would feel safe or comfortable eating, your geese don’t need it either, and that’s all I’ll say about it.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.