It rarely fails that whatever kind of animal people are responsible for keeping, it won’t take long before they want to give some of their own food to the animals in their charge. Maybe it’s out of curiosity; maybe it is out of a misguided desire to share.
It’s a nice sentiment, but most of the time, the things that people eat aren’t fit for any animal to eat, and very rarely fit for birds to eat. But sometimes, it’s actually okay.
Not everything is truly harmful. How about popcorn? Is it okay for our geese to eat a little bit of popcorn?
Yes, geese can eat popcorn safely so long as it is plain without any added salt, butter, or other seasonings. Popcorn does contain vitamins and minerals that geese need, but it is still basically junk food for them.
Well, color me surprised, although maybe it isn’t that surprising: geese can eat corn, and popcorn is really just another kind of corn.
But, as you might expect there are some significant reservations when it comes to feeding geese popcorn, and you should never give them any that is buttered, salted or has any other flavorings.
But giving them a little bit of plain popcorn as a snack is fine. I’ll tell you everything you need to know and the rest of this article.
Does Popcorn Have Health Benefits for Geese?
Not really, though it is safe for geese to eat in moderation. Practically speaking, popcorn is just a source of calories for geese, though it does have a respectable vitamin and mineral profile that they can benefit from.
The vitamins and minerals found in popcorn can improve everything from skeletal health and overall growth to the quality of their feathers and the ability to re-grow feathers during the molt or after an injury.
Popcorn can also help laying dames produce strong and healthy eggshells that can lead to more eggs, more often or just more viable hatchings.
Not too bad for what is commonly viewed as junk food for people, and popcorn is also a pretty decent source of energy for geese like any corn.
However, the problem with popcorn is that it is just likely to fill geese up quickly before they can eat a significant amount.
This means they won’t be getting as much nutrition from it as you might think, and even worse they’ll be missing out on other, more nutritious foods that are available.
So popcorn, plain popcorn, isn’t truly bad for your geese but it’s not something you want to make a regular item on their menu.
Nutrition Info for Popcorn
Popcorn is surprisingly nutritious, assuming it isn’t slathered in sugar, butter, or other flavorings. It has a good shot of protein and lots of carbohydrates for energy, two things that geese certainly need.
It also has a decent assortment of the B-complex vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and B6 but it’s the mineral content that is surprisingly good and extensive.
Popcorn contains tons of manganese and phosphorus, lots of magnesium, a great amount of zinc and plenty of iron, copper, selenium and a little bit of calcium.
That’s definitely all good stuff, and geese need all of them in their diet in varying amounts. So, assuming that the popcorn is plain geese can and will derive nutrition and energy from it.
Can Geese Eat Raw Popcorn?
They can, but they shouldn’t: raw, unpopped popcorn is extremely dense and hard, even by the standards of dried corn, and that makes it very difficult for geese to digest.
That means they won’t provide any real nutrition or energy to the animals so they would be missing out on the important vitamins and minerals that normally come from popped popcorn, and it also increases the risk of them getting an impaction in their digestive system.
Raw popcorn kernels should simply be avoided altogether, and make sure you remove unpopped kernels before you let your geese have popcorn.
Is Popped Popcorn Safe for Geese?
Yes, and this is really the only way you should give it to them. But, popcorn should never be salted, buttered or otherwise flavored. Plain popcorn is safe for geese, and easy for them to eat and digest.
They also seem to enjoy themselves while they’re eating it, and this makes it a great treat for geese that will always bring them running.
Can Goslings Eat Popcorn Safely?
Yes, but only plain, popped and served in limited amounts very sparingly. Goslings have pretty strict nutritional requirements, and popcorn doesn’t fit into their diet.
In fact, it can be fairly unhealthy for them since they’re so young and don’t really need the “empty” calories of popcorn in place of other items.
Remember what I said about popcorn quickly filling geese up? It does, and it’s even worse for goslings since they will eat it up and then fail to get other, more nutritious foods they need instead.
You can give your goslings a little bit of popcorn every once in a while, but never feed them a bunch of it or feed it to them often.
How Frequently Can Geese Eat Popcorn?
1 or 2 small servings per week. While popcorn is generally considered safe for geese, it should still be fed in limited amounts and as an occasional treat.
Remember that even nominally healthy foods like popcorn can be bad if geese eat too much of it.
Even though the nutrients are there, the calorie profile and bulk of popcorn make it totally unbalanced for geese. The more they eat, and the more often they eat it, the more out of alignment they will get.
So keep it infrequent and keep the servings small. Popcorn is a treat and one that your geese will enjoy, but don’t give them too much!
Preparing Popcorn for Geese
You probably already know what to do: pop the popcorn, let it cool, and then let your geese have at it!
That is all there is to it, but it is worth reminding everyone that popcorn should never be buttered or salted, or flavored with anything else like sugar or other sweeteners as this will make it unhealthy for the geese.
You might also consider lightly crushing the popcorn into smaller pieces if you are dealing with some seriously picky eaters.
Don’t Give Popcorn to Geese if It’s Covered in Butter or Other Flavorings
I’ve mentioned several times throughout this piece that you must never give your geese any popcorn flavored with butter, salt, sugar, cheese and so forth.
That includes any artificial flavorings, caramel and all of the other good stuff that takes popcorn to the next level of deliciousness.
Here is why: These ingredients are actively harmful for geese to consume. Geese can handle some salt and sugar in their diet, of course, but not at the levels that are found in a typical popcorn product flavored with this stuff.
The sodium content in the butter and salt can cause a variety of health issues, like obesity, heart and digestive problems, as well as impaired vision and potentially liver failure.
It can also reduce the birds’ ability to metabolize other nutrients they need, such as proteins.
Furthermore, a major increase in sugar or salt may cause them to suffer from weakened bones and brittle feathers, and even seizures which make it difficult for geese to move.
Believe me, it’s bad news, and your geese don’t need or want this stuff. Stick with plain, unseasoned, popped popcorn only to treat your flock.
Never Give Geese Moldy or Spoiled Popcorn
One last warning about popcorn, though this is really applicable to all foods. Never give your geese any popcorn that is obviously moldy or spoiled, as this can make geese gravely sick, maybe even kill them.
Geese are surprisingly vulnerable to the toxins produced by some molds and fungi, and some of the worst affect corn and other grains, even popcorn.
Two of the most dangerous are mycotoxins and aflatoxins, both of which can cause fatal nervous system or liver damage.
So make sure any popcorn you give your geese is fresh. Stale is one thing, but spoiled is another!
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.