Geese are omnivores, technically speaking, though much of the time practically they live as herbivores with a diet that’s mostly composed of plant matter. Among their very favorite foods are grasses and leafy vegetables.
And don’t take my word for it, you can ask any farmer or gardener who has enjoyed a flock of geese stopping by to sample their crop!
But not all foods are safe for geese, even some wholesome ones that you wouldn’t expect. How about cabbage? Can geese eat cabbage?
Yes, geese can eat cabbage and it is both safe and highly nutritious for them. Cabbage is full of vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy, including B vitamins, folate, vitamin K, manganese, iron and calcium.
Cabbage is really a picture-perfect food for the average goose, and though it is not nutritionally complete it can be a large part of their diet.
Whatever kind of diet you have your geese on, there’s a great case to be made for supplementing it with whole, fresh cabbage.
Keep reading, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about giving cabbage to your geese.
Does Cabbage Have Health Benefits for Geese?
Absolutely! Cabbage is a great food for geese, and one with a well-rounded assortment of vitamins and minerals that can only improve the health of your flock.
Cabbage can provide geese with a little bit of energy, though it is hardly a high-calorie food. More importantly, the nutrients in cabbage can improve almost every facet of a goose’s health:
- the production of red blood cells,
- the efficiency with which the bloodstream moves oxygen around the goose’s body,
- skeletal growth and healing,
- the performance and longevity of connective tissue,
- organ function,
- cellular health,
- and even eggshell quality.
The improvement of skeletal growth and healing and the eggshell quality, are two things that make cabbage especially important for adolescent geese and laying dames.
Young geese need all the help they can get to grow up strong and healthy, and laying dames will always benefit from stronger eggshells because it will reduce the likelihood of becoming egg-bound or suffering a broken egg while laying.
Not to mention, better eggs means better viability if you’re growing your flock or just higher quality eggs in general if you are collecting them.
All of this from a common, and cheap, leafy vegetable that you can easily grow yourself in abundance.
Nutrition Info for Cabbage
Cabbage is surprisingly nutritious for what most people consider a humble salad green. It has a little bit of protein and a few carbs, but the vitamin and mineral content is quite impressive.
Looking at the vitamins first, we see most of the B complex vitamins present and accounted for, including vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, niacin, thiamine and riboflavin along with folate.
But the real winners among the vitamins are vitamin K and vitamin C, of which cabbage has in tremendous abundance.
The mineral content, while not quite as spectacular as the vitamins, is still respectable, with a great amount of manganese backed up by slightly lesser amounts of calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium and finally a little bit of sodium.
Cabbage also happens to be full of water, approximately 92% water by weight, and this can make it a hydrating snack for geese in addition to a nutritious one.
Can Geese Eat Raw Cabbage?
Yes, they can. Raw cabbage is nearly the ideal type of food for geese: crisp, green, easy to eat, easy to digest and highly nutritious.
Raw cabbage also contains the best possible amount of vitamins and minerals, meaning that geese will get the most out of their food if they are given it raw.
Can Geese Eat Green Cabbage?
Yes. Green cabbage is safe and healthy for geese, and arguably the best choice. While all varieties have similar amounts of vitamins and minerals, green cabbage tends to be a little bit richer in some areas such as manganese, vitamin B6, and iron.
Can Geese Eat Red Cabbage?
Yes, they can. Red cabbage is actually very similar to green cabbage, but with a few differences that can make it more attractive for your purposes depending on the nutritional needs of your flock.
For one thing, red cabbage has more vitamin C than green, and slightly more manganese and iron too.
Can Geese Eat White Cabbage?
They sure can. White cabbage is a bit of an odd one, as it has fewer vitamins and minerals than either green or red.
That said, it’s still healthy and is a fine choice if you are looking for something to supplement the diet of your flock.
Can Geese Eat Coleslaw?
Yes, if and only if it is not mixed with any sauce or dressing. Common coleslaw mix is just shredded cabbage and maybe some carrots and geese can eat both.
Never feed your geese coleslaw that has been mixed with any dressing, as it can be harmful to their health. More on that in just a little while…
Can Geese Eat Sauerkraut?
No! Sauerkraut is always prepared with tons of salt and vinegar, two things that can be very harmful to geese if ingested in large enough quantities.
Even if it is made with a low-salt recipe, the vinegar will still pose a risk and shouldn’t be given to your flock.
Is Cooked Cabbage Safe for Geese?
Yes, though there’s definitely no good reason to cook the stuff for your birds. Cooked cabbage will just lose most of its nutritional benefits, and become quite soft in the process.
Considering geese won’t have any trouble at all eating raw cabbage, there is no need to give it to them cooked. Save your effort, and help them out at the same time.
Can Goslings Eat Cabbage Safely?
Yes, and it is a great option to give goslings a little bit of variety in their diet. However, goslings, compared to adult geese, should not get a lot of cabbage as it can make their stomachs upset, causing indigestion and potentially diarrhea.
It is okay for goslings, no doubt, just mind the quantity as you would with all foods when they are young and vulnerable.
How Often Can Geese Eat Cabbage?
2 to 4 times a week, perhaps more. Cabbage, as mentioned several times already, is a great option for your geese, but it should not be given exclusively.
Rotate it in and out of their diets with a few other firm greens, such as kale and spinach, to provide them with a balanced diet along with their usual grass and grains, and feed if they get it.
As long as your geese aren’t eating cabbage exclusively it is a food they will love and thrive on!
Preparing Cabbage for Geese
My favorite thing about cabbage is how easy it is to prepare for geese. All you really have to do is wash it and chop it into small pieces that your birds can eat easily, and that’s a wrap.
Alternately, if your geese are larger and strong, you can simply hand over a whole- or half-head of cabbage and let them pluck and pick at it.
Also, don’t forget that plain coleslaw mix, without any sauces or dressings, is also an option. Just make sure the mix you buy doesn’t contain any extra ingredients.
If, for whatever reason, you want to cook cabbage for your geese, cook it as lightly as possible and then let it cool prior to serving it to them.
Don’t Give Cabbage to Geese if it Has Any Bad Ingredients or Additives
As I have mentioned several times already, cabbage is a regular ingredient in all kinds of recipes and dishes, some healthy and some not so much.
In any case, it’s invariably added along with salt, sugar, seasonings, butter, oils, and a whole bunch of other things that geese just cannot have.
You must never feed these ingredients to your geese, even in small amounts, or else their health can and will suffer.
Always make sure that any cabbage you give to them is plain and free of anything that may be harmful.
Never Give Geese Moldy or Spoiled Cabbage
One last warning: Do not give your geese any rotten or moldy cabbage, no matter how minor the spoilage may seem.
Geese are vulnerable to the toxins produced by certain molds and fungi that attack grains and veggies, and if ingested they could become deathly sick, or even die.
So keep an eye out for any signs of spoilage, and if you spot them, just toss the cabbage serve them a fresher head. Better safe than sorry!
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.