When you think about the diet of geese, not knowing any better you probably assume they eat nothing but plants. Grasses, maybe some lily pads and any other plants that grow in or near the water.
You’d be pretty much right in that determination, but you might be surprised to learn that geese are, strictly speaking, omnivores and they can eat animal proteins. It’s true!
But, what we need to know is what kind of animal proteins they can have. How about meat? Can geese eat meat?
Geese can eat certain kinds of meat as part of their usual diet like snails, slugs, small fish, and certain insects. Domesticated geese raised in captivity are sometimes fed other meats and animal proteins in order to help them gain weight quickly.
Geese can indeed eat meat, however it isn’t something they need an awful lot of, and practically speaking, they are mostly herbivores.
The basis of a goose’s diet should always be plant matter for best health, but animal protein is still important, including meat. I’ll tell you more about the subject below…
Does Meat Have Health Benefits for Geese?
Yes, meat does have some significant health benefits for geese, and they do need various animal proteins in their diet, though they don’t need much.
As with most animals that consume meat, geese need it both for calories and minerals, and also as a concentrated source of protein that can help them grow and heal.
Extra protein is especially important for any goose that is undergoing molting or when laying eggs.
Accordingly, the usual animals that are on the menu for geese in the wild are commonly associated with the water and surrounding wetlands, namely small fish, slugs and snails, but also various kinds of insect.
These are all things that geese would normally eat, but it is possible for geese to eat, digest and derive nutrition from other kinds of meat including meats that people and other animals eat.
Geese, strictly speaking, can digest beef, pork and, perhaps most alarmingly, chicken as long as it’s prepared in a suitable way that makes it easy for them to swallow or is incorporated into their feed.
I hope it’s obvious, but geese don’t eat these meats in the wild; they aren’t predators and not equipped for tearing meat off the bone!
Nutrition Info for Meat
The nutritional content of meat varies considerably depending on what animal it comes from. Vitamin and mineral levels are obviously different, as is the net amount of protein and fat.
But we can look at fish, one of the animal proteins that geese would be most likely to eat regularly. Even then, the vitamin and mineral profiles of fish can vary considerably, so this is a generalization!
Fish are invariably rich in fat and protein, and have low- or non-existent carbs. Fish also has plenty of vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, vitamin A, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorous and selenium, along with other heathly compounds like omega-3 fatty acids.
All good stuff for geese, and whatever kind of animal protein they are eating we do know meat provides lots of calories and lots of high-quality protein that can help geese grow quickly, or heal from an injury.
Can Geese Eat Raw Meat?
Yes, geese can eat raw meat and they are generally well adapted to consuming certain meats and other animal proteins while raw.
However, the risk of contracting a foodborne illness or parasites from any raw meat, even kinds they would normally access in the wild, cannot be ruled out.
Can Geese Eat Fish?
Yes, these can and will eat small fish, and are likely to take small fish that are given to them.
They don’t eat nearly as many as most people would think, but they still make up an important nutritional component of their diet.
Can Geese Eat Insects?
Yes, definitely. Although nowhere near as fond of insects as chickens are, geese can and will eat various bugs, including some pretty big ones like grasshoppers or locusts.
Various crickets, beetles, and other creepy crawlies are definitely on the menu for geese, and you can supplement their usual diet with mealworms and things to boost their protein intake.
What Other Animal Proteins Can Geese Have?
Geese also eat other animal proteins that don’t fall squarely into the above categories, and these are typically things like slugs and snails.
This certainly makes sense because these creatures are often found in moist conditions, and since geese predominantly hang out near water sources it makes sense that there will be plenty of them for them to feast on.
If you have slugs, snails or both hanging around on your property, your geese will usually be happy to wipe them out when and where they find them.
Is Cooked Meat Safe for Geese?
Yes, assuming it is any kind of meat that geese will eat. Geese don’t have to have cooked meat, but cooking meat is one surefire way to eliminate or at least reduce the amount of potentially hazardous germs present.
If you’re going to give your geese some sort of meat, and particularly if you’re going to mix it in with their feed or other foods, cooking might not be a bad idea if you want to rule out the chance that they contract parasites or some foodborne illness.
Can Geese Eat Processed Meats?
No! Invariably, processed meats are prepared with lots of extra salt and sometimes sugar, and also crammed full of preservatives and other “mystery” ingredients that geese should not have.
Salt and sugar are bad enough, more on them in a little while, but preservatives that are “safe” for human consumption are believed to have far-reaching, harmful health consequences for geese.
Don’t feed your geese canned tuna, canned sardines, Spam, or any other canned, processed meat, even if it is a type of meat they could ordinarily eat!
Can Goslings Eat Meat Safely?
Yes, but only very small insects, worms, tiny fish and other similarly sized creatures. Goslings are very sensitive eaters and have a delicate constitution, and there’s really no reason why they need animal proteins from any other source.
Arguably, goslings do best on a steady diet of starter feed and other needed supplements, and if you want to hold off on giving them any live or whole animal protein until they reach adolescence that will probably be just fine.
How Often Can Geese Eat Meat?
Geese should have meat as a regular component of their diet only if it is part of a properly prepared and regulated food plan in the form of fortified pellets.
Otherwise, geese can have several servings of their typical animal protein options per week, anywhere from three to four depending on their breed and size and nutritional requirements.
The typical animal protein options, as described above, are things like fish, insects, worms, slugs, snails and so forth.
Remember that geese are primarily herbivores, and the majority of their diet is and should be plant matter.
They might be able to handle more meat than what is described above, but this is something you’ll probably want to discuss with a vet depending on your plans for the geese.
Getting them to pack on pounds for a quick slaughter is one thing, but a sustained, meat-rich diet might result in long-term health problems if you aren’t planning on slaughtering.
Just something to keep in mind.
Preparing Meat for Geese
If you are preparing any whole meat options for your geese, things like insects, small fish, slugs, snails, etc, all you need to do is hand them over and let your geese chow down on them.
Other kinds of meat can be cut up into tiny cubes or morsels and then you can see if your geese will eat them. If not, consider grinding it up and mixing it into their usual feed.
Don’t Give Meat to Geese if it Has Any Bad Ingredients or Additives
Another thing to keep in mind when giving geese any meat, particularly meat that humans might eat, is that it should never be prepared with any ingredients that they cannot have.
Things like salt, sugar, other seasonings, butter, oil, cheese and so forth are all terrible for geese and they should never have them.
Meat can be a little tough on a goose’s system since it is so protein dense and rich, and adding these other ingredients to the mix is setting the stage for disaster.
You might like a perfect cheeseburger or a wonderfully juicy pork chop with all the fixins’, but these are nothing that your geese should ever have.
If you’re going to give them meat, give them things they would normally find in nature, or plain, small portions of other meat if not.
Never Give Geese Moldy or Spoiled Meat
Just because geese will eat critters that they literally find in the mud next to the lake doesn’t mean you have an excuse to give them any spoiled or otherwise unclean meats in their diet.
Geese are not invincible, and giving them rancid or spoiled meat could make them seriously sick or even kill them. If it’s nothing that you yourself would conceivably eat, don’t serve it to your geese.
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.