Geese, though not strict herbivores, subsist on a diet of mostly greenery with a few choice fruits and vegetables thrown in from time to time.
But, the vegetables that they like they seem to really, really like as any gardener will attest if they have ever endured a flock of traveling geese making a pit stop.
Concerning the veggies that geese go after there’s usually nothing left, a testament to how enthusiastic they are about eating them.
But not all vegetables are safe for geese… How about tomatoes? Can geese eat tomatoes?
Yes, geese can eat tomato fruit, but only on a limited basis. Geese should never eat green tomatoes or any other parts of the plant because it has toxic solanine.
This is bound to be a surprise to some people who only see geese eating grass and whatever things get tossed to them by the lake, but geese really like tomatoes and will happily gobble them up given any opportunity.
Tomatoes do have vitamins and minerals that geese need, and can be a good part of a well-rounded diet, but geese shouldn’t eat them all the time.
Too many tomato fruits in their diet can easily cause diarrhea and other digestive problems.
You also don’t want to let geese eat any other part of the tomato plant because it might poison them. Keep reading, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know…
Do Tomatoes Have Health Benefits for Geese?
Yes, absolutely. Tomatoes are a decent source of energy for geese, and they also have a well-rounded, if somewhat sparse, nutritional profile consisting of many vitamins and minerals that geese need.
Tomatoes are known to be especially good for improving and maintaining vision, overall nervous system health, oxygenation of the bloodstream and overall cellular function and organ health in geese.
They can also significantly boost immune system function, helping your birds stay healthier overall by fighting off disease and free radicals.
Several of the minerals present in tomatoes are also helpful for improving feathering, whether a goose is undergoing the yearly molt or has been injured and lost feathers as a result of fighting or accident.
Routine but periodic feedings of tomatoes are bound to improve the appearance of your flock’s feathers.
Overall, tomatoes are a vegetable that geese will definitely enjoy as a treat or occasional supplement to their usual diet, and one with significant health benefits.
Nutrition Info for Tomatoes
Tomatoes have a highly varied nutritional profile, but only a handful of standout micronutrients.
Looking at the macronutrients, we see the tomatoes have very little in the way of protein and fat, and only slightly more carbohydrates.
Nonetheless, most of these carbs are sugar and that will translate into quick and reliable energy for geese, and this can help them deal with stress from illness or injury.
Examining the vitamins, we see that pretty much all of the common ones are present, including vitamin A and beta carotene, vitamin E, vitamin K and a great amount of vitamin C.
All of the B complex vitamins are here with the exception of B4, and we see a small but still useful amount of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pentatonic acid, vitamin B6 and folate.
The mineral content is likewise diverse, but the amounts present are small though still good for geese.
We’ve got magnesium and manganese, calcium and iron, phosphorus and potassium, zinc, and just a little bit of sodium which occurs naturally.
That’s nothing to worry about: geese do need a little bit of salt in their diet with every meal.
And of course, as you already know, tomatoes are extremely juicy, and even the densest tomato is mostly water.
The water and potassium content of tomatoes makes them a great choice for hydrating geese and keeping them comfortable on a hot day.
Caution: Green Tomatoes and Tomato Plants Contain Toxic Solanine
We cannot go on without addressing a possible health risk associated with tomatoes. Tomatoes are members of the nightshade family of plants, and if they sound familiar it is because many such plants are in fact toxic or even deadly if consumed.
That’s because they contain varying amounts of solanine, a glycoalkaloid toxin used by the plant as a defense mechanism to prevent being eaten.
Green tomatoes, or rather any kind of unripened tomato, should not be served to geese as these contain the toxin.
The same goes for leaves, roots, calyx and stems of the tomato plant, many of which have very high levels of the stuff.
Geese can safely eat ripe tomato fruits only, and any variety which happens to stay green when fully ripe, but they shouldn’t eat any other part of the plant or any unripe tomatoes.
Can Geese Eat Raw Tomatoes?
Yes, they can, and this is the best way to serve tomatoes to geese. Raw tomatoes are the most nutritious and provide the highest level of benefits for your flock, and they’re also easy for them to eat.
You can cut them into wedges or cubes to adjust the size as needed for your birds.
Can Geese Eat Tomato Vines?
No. Tomato vines contain solanine, like all other parts of the plant itself. One or two vines aren’t likely to hurt geese, but solanine does accumulate quickly when the greens are ingested so it’s best to stay away from them altogether.
Can Geese Eat Tomato Leaves?
No. Tomato leaves also contain solanine. As with the vines, one or two leaves aren’t likely to hurt your geese but it’s better to keep them away from your geese.
Can Geese Eat Tomato Seeds?
Yes. The seeds of the tomato fruit are entirely safe for geese as long as the fruit is ripe, and they’re likely to eat them along with the flesh.
Are Cooked Tomatoes Safe for Geese?
Yes, though there is not a great need to cook tomatoes for geese. Cooking does destroy some of the vitamins and deplete the minerals, and won’t really make them any easier for your birds to eat or digest. That said, plain cooked tomatoes are still safe for geese…
Also, cooking will not significantly reduce the amount of solanine in unripe tomatoes or other parts of the plant, so don’t cook them in a misguided effort to make them safe.
Can Goslings Eat Tomatoes Safely?
Yes, but you should wait until goslings are at least 6 weeks old, and only feed them a few small bites’ worth.
Tomatoes are highly acidic and very moist, two factors which can result in diarrhea or crop issues in young birds if they consume too much.
So, as long as you take it easy with the quantity and feed them sparingly, goslings should be able to enjoy them safely.
How Frequently Can Geese Eat Tomatoes?
1 or 2 small servings per week. Tomatoes are healthy for geese, and they will definitely enjoy them, but don’t go overboard.
They’re not nutritionally complete, and too many tomatoes in the diet can easily cause indigestion, even in adult geese.
As a treat or supplement, and part of a well-rounded diet of feed and whole foods, they are fine…
Preparing Tomatoes for Geese
Starting with ripe tomatoes, remove the calyx (the green top or “crown”) from the fruit and discard.
Slice or cube the tomato as needed for your flock. Serve as-is, or as a component in a mash or mix of other foods.
Don’t Give Tomatoes to Geese With Bad Ingredients or Additives
Tomatoes – plain, ripe tomato fruits – are safe and wholesome for geese, but you must not give them any tomato sauce or other dishes that have sugar, salt, artificial flavors or preservatives.
All of these ingredients can be dangerous to geese and should be avoided entirely. Your geese will still love plain tomatoes, so don’t worry.
Never Give Geese Moldy or Spoiled Tomatoes
Despite being large and impressive birds, geese are highly vulnerable to foodborne illness and various toxins, and toxins created by mold and fungus in particular.
For this reason, you must never serve them moldy or spoiled tomatoes. You aren’t being frugal, and all you are doing is setting up your geese for sickness or death.
Throw away any that are showing signs of mold or decay, and only give your flock fresh tomatoes that you wouldn’t mind eating yourself.
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.