Geese tend to eat a fairly varied diet in the wild, but one that is composed primarily of plant matter. They eat all kinds of grasses, nibble on shoots and leaves, and like most birds, they eat their fair share of seeds to go along with it.
There’s one kind of seed in particular that most birds love, and it is also one that people love to snack on. I’m talking about, of course, the sunflower seed.
But, considering they have their own unique dietary needs, we shouldn’t assume that just because other birds can have them they are safe for geese. So, can geese eat sunflower seeds?
Yes, geese can eat sunflower seeds safely, and they are in fact highly nutritious for them with a great variety of vitamins and minerals that they need. However, sunflower seeds are very calorie dense, and should only be given to geese in moderation.
It’s true that geese, like most birds, really enjoy getting seeds, and plenty of goose owners and goose watchers at parks and lakes will report that geese tend to come right up to them when they know they have sunflower seeds for them.
You can give your own geese sunflower seeds with no worries, but there is more you’ll want to know if you want to make it a regular part of their diet.
I’ll tell you everything you need to know in the rest of this article.
Do Sunflower Seeds Have Health Benefits for Geese?
Yes, sunflower seeds do have health benefits for geese. Aside from being a great and easily digested source of energy, sunflower seeds are chock full of all kinds of vitamins and minerals that can help geese stay strong and disease-free.
Adding sunflower seeds to a goose’s diet significantly enhances its health by aiding in the growth and repair of bones, tissues and organs as well as all kinds of other cellular-level processes.
Sunflower seeds also furnish many nutrients that can keep feathers shiny and healthy, and even help them re-grow after injury or during the molt- an invaluable benefit when geese need lots of nutritional resources for the task!
Not only that, but can sunflower seeds can improve circulatory health by aiding in the production of red blood cells and bloodstream oxygenation, and they are also incredibly beneficial for egg health: adding sunflower seeds to your laying dames’ diets can result in eggs with thicker, better-formed shells and improved viability overall.
Consider too that the dame herself will be safer since better eggs means fewer problems when laying, like egg-binding.
Sunflower seeds are too rich and too calorie dense to be a constant part of a goose’s diet, but as a supplement or a treat packed with nutrition, sunflower seeds are excellent.
Nutrition Info for Sunflower Seeds
Chances are you’re only familiar with sunflower seeds yourself as bird food or as a tasty, salty snack for yourself.
They are definitely the latter, but what you might not know is just how jam-packed with nutrition sunflower seeds really are.
Sunflower seeds contain a tremendous amount of protein, lots of carbs and healthy fats that will produce long and short-term energy in geese.
More than this, the vitamin content is really quite tremendous, with a crazy amount of vitamin E and nearly all of the B complex vitamins will represented, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6 and folate.
Choline is also present as is vitamin C, though vitamin C is the most lackluster vitamin on offer.
But it is the mineral content in sunflower seeds that is truly amazing, and they blow pretty much every vegetable and fruit right out of the water by weight.
Sunflower seeds are extremely dense in magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc with excellent levels of iron, too. Calcium, potassium and sodium are also present in far lesser amounts.
To clarify, sunflower seeds do contain a not insignificant amount of sodium, but so long as you aren’t feeding salted seeds to your geese you really won’t have to worry about it.
Can Geese Eat Whole Sunflower Seeds?
Yes, they can. Geese have no trouble eating whole sunflower seeds, or ones that you and I would call un-hulled.
Can Geese Eat Shelled Sunflower Seeds?
Yes, they sure can, although you really don’t need to go to the extra effort of shelling sunflower seeds or the extra expense of purchasing them for geese.
A sunflower seed, properly, is the whole seed with the hull on. Little tasty tidbit inside, the part that people eat, is called the kernel.
Can Geese Eat Raw Sunflower Seeds?
Yes. Raw sunflower seeds are entirely safe for geese, and this is the most likely way that they will eat pretty much every seed they encounter naturally when out in the wild.
Raw seeds are plenty easy for healthy geese to digest so long as they have enough grit in their diet, and they also have the maximum nutritional benefit for geese.
Are Cooked Sunflower Seeds Safe for Geese?
Yes, they are, though you don’t need to go to any extra trouble to prepare sunflower seeds by cooking or roasting them.
Arguably, it might make them a little bit easier for your birds to digest but it will also significantly deplete the nutritional content present in the seed, so it’s a trade-off.
Also, while we are on the topic, never give geese any roasted sunflower seeds that have been prepared with extra salt, seasonings, flavorings or other ingredients. I’ll tell you more about these risks a little later on…
Can Goslings Eat Sunflower Seeds Safely?
Yes, goslings can eat sunflower seeds safely once they grow up just a little bit. While they’re very young, sunflower seeds are a choking hazard.
Sunflower seeds are fine for goslings once they’re about four, perhaps five, weeks old. They are a wonderful source of energy and concentrated nutrition for goslings, but they’re very high in calories, so you still only want to give them on a very limited basis.
Excess calorie consumption is one contributing factor to angel wing syndrome and is obviously a major factor for obesity, so never make sunflower seeds the primary item in a gosling’s diet.
How Frequently Can Geese Eat Sunflower Seeds?
I’ve already spent a fair bit of time bragging about how good sunflower seeds are for geese, and I stand by that, but now is the part where I tap the brakes and tell you to only give them to your geese periodically as a treat or supplement.
As good as sunflower seeds are, they should not be the primary item in any goose’s diet.
Small portions given to them once or twice a week is more than adequate for supplementing their usual feed, and they’ll get plenty of nutrition from them this way while avoiding potential negative consequences of excess calories and protein.
Remember that domesticated geese should be subsisting primarily on a diet of grass and other fresh vegetation, or else nutritionally formulated goose pellets.
A small fraction of the total calorie intake can be in the form of other wholesome foods, including sunflower seeds.
Preparing Sunflower Seeds for Geese
There’s nothing to do if you want to give sunflower seeds to your geese. Hand them over in a bowl, make a small pile of them, or scatter them and let them pick them up off the ground.
Any way will work, but if you’re serving them in a large quantity, do measure out the portions and prevent any one goose from hogging all of the seats: if they overindulge, they could get sick…
Don’t Give Sunflower Seeds to Geese With Any Bad Ingredients or Additives
One major risk associated with giving sunflower seeds to geese is if you aren’t giving them one’s designed to be bird feed, and instead are giving them human snack food.
Generally speaking, most of the sunflower seeds sold for human consumption are roasted with salt, or else have any number of seasonings and spice blends on them.
Pretty much all of these seeds have way too much salt for geese, and often added ingredients like sugar, various flavorings and artificial ingredients. None of these things are good for your birds…
Geese, like many birds, can suffer easily from salt poisoning, fatty liver syndrome, obesity and other issues like hypertension.
Sunflower seeds are a great treat for geese, no doubt about it, but you don’t want to give them any human snack food made with tons of salt or any of those other ingredients I mentioned. Plain sunflower seeds will do just fine…
Never Give Geese Moldy or Spoiled Sunflower Seeds
One special risk associated with sunflower seeds is that of mold. Geese, like many birds, can be surprisingly vulnerable to mold and in particular certain varieties of mold that can affect sunflower seeds, and others, can be quite harmful to geese.
If you have any old sunflower seeds that are moldy, rotted, fermented or in any way unwholesome, don’t give them to your geese.
If you think it would make you sick, it will probably make your geese sick: don’t do 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.