What to feed a baby canadian goose

Brooding and Rearing Ducklings and Goslings, G8920

Glenn Geiger and Harold Biellier

Department of Animal Sciences

Brooding requirements

Natural brooding
Goslings and ducklings can be successfully brooded by broody chicken hens and most breeds of ducks and geese. If the young birds were not hatched by the broody female, place them under her at night. Be certain broody birds are free of lice and mites. Provide the hen and her brood with a dry comfortable shelter.

The hen will need grain and plenty of fresh, clean water supplied in a container that will not allow the young to get wet.

Artificial brooding
Today, hatcheries produce day-old ducklings and goslings in large numbers. Commercial growers brood and rear them in about the same way they would baby chicks.

Ducks and geese are hardy and are not susceptible to many of the common poultry diseases. This makes them easy to raise. Brooding requirements are simple and special housing or equipment is not necessary. Because of their rapid growth and early feathering, they do not require as long a brooding period as do baby chicks.

Types of brooders

The infrared heat lamp type of electric brooder is recommended for brooding small groups of birds. Many commercial raisers use gas brooders, but any type of good baby chick brooder may be used successfully. When using infrared brooders, allow one 250-watt lamp per 25 goslings or 30 ducklings. With other types, you can determine the number of birds per hover by cutting the brooder's rated chick capacity by half for ducklings and by one-third for goslings. Because ducklings and goslings are larger, it usually is necessary to raise the hover 3 to 4 inches higher than for chicks.

Brooding temperatures

The behavior of the young birds is a better guide than a thermometer. When brooder temperature is too hot, the birds will crowd away from the heat. High temperatures may result in a slower rate of feathering and growth.

When the temperature is uncomfortably cold, goslings tend to huddle together under the brooder or crowd in corners. Keeping a light on the birds at night will discourage such crowding. An infrared brooder provides enough light for this purpose.

When the brooding temperature is right, the goslings will be well distributed over the floor. At night, the birds should form a circle around the hover.

A starting temperature near 90 degrees at the edge of the hover is about right. This temperature should be reduced about 5 to 10 degrees per week until 70 degrees is reached. When using infrared brooders, air temperature is not so important. Heat usually is not required after the fifth or sixth week, and in good weather, the young birds can be taken out to pasture.

The brooder house

A special building is not required. It simply must provide protection from the weather and be reasonably well lit and ventilated. For brooding small numbers, a colony brooder house or any small building may be used. For brooding larger numbers, a barn, large poultry house or regular broiler house is recommended.

A wood, concrete, or dirt floor is satisfactory. Allow about 1-1/2 square feet of floor space per bird and cover the floor with about four inches of absorbent litter. Sawdust, shavings, ground corn cobs, cottonseed hulls, peanut hulls or peat moss are all good. Dampness is apt to be more of a problem with ducklings and goslings than it typically is in brooding baby chicks. Removal of wet spots and frequent additions of clean, dry litter are recommended.


Goslings and ducklings are ready for feed and water when they arrive. Use crumbilized chick or poult starter for the first week to 10 days. A pelleted grower ration plus cracked corn, wheat, milo, oats or other grain can be fed after this time. Keep feed before the birds at all times. Also, provide insoluble grit. Place feed on rough paper or cup flats for the first few days. Do not use chick box tops or other smooth-surfaced lids or paper as feeders. When such slick-surfaced materials are used, leg damage results.

Be certain the feed you are using contains only those additives approved for ducks and geese. Certain types of drugs that are sometimes included in chick starting and growing mashes for coccidiosis control are harmful to goslings. They may cause lameness or even death. Coccidiosis has not been a problem in waterfowl production in this area.

Commercially grown ducklings generally are ready for market in seven to eight weeks. Goslings usually are marketed in the fall months at 24 to 30 weeks of age. Finishing rations should contain some protein similar to turkey finishing rations.


Plenty of drinking water should be available at all times. Goslings and ducklings consume enormous quantities due to rapid growth. Use waterers that the birds cannot get into and splash. This is important in the brooder house. Water for swimming is not necessary; however, ponds provide an easy way to water goslings on pasture. Hog waterers make good range waterers for waterfowl.

Pasture for goslings

Make arrangements to provide pasture or lawn clippings starting as early as the first week. When the weather is mild, goslings can be let out and allowed to graze when only a few days old.

Grass is the natural food of goslings. Great savings in feed can be made by providing good pasture throughout the growing period. At five or six weeks of age they can subsist entirely on good pasture, although some supplemental feeding is recommended until the birds are completely feathered.

Experience has shown that ladino clover makes fine pasture for goslings. Other types of white clovers also are very good, as are most varieties of grasses. In Missouri, bluegrass, orchardgrass, timothy and bromegrass have been used. Small grains such as barley, wheat and rye make excellent early or fall pasture. Goslings or geese will scarcely touch sweet clover, lespedeza or alfalfa.

Allow about one acre of pasture for each 20 to 40 birds. The amount required depends on the size of the goslings and quality of pasture. When the pasture is poor, supplemental grain feeding is necessary.

A pasture rotation system is recommended. Protect goslings from rain or wet grass for the first few weeks, especially when the weather is cool. Shade must be provided in hot weather.

Because ducks do not forage as well as geese, it is recommended that commercial growers rear ducks without access to pasture. Ducks will, however, use some green feed and eat insects. The small grower probably will not want to confine his flock.

Be certain that pasture and green feeds you use do not have any chemical treatment that would be harmful to the flock.


It usually is necessary to fence the pastures or fields. Most woven wire field fencing is of small enough mesh to confine birds 4 to 6 weeks or older. Two-inch mesh poultry netting is commonly used for younger birds. The fence does not need to be higher than ordinary heights since the birds seldom fly. Eighteen inches to two feet is an adequate height. Several farmers have reported good success using electric fencing.


  • Brooding Chicks With Infra-red Lamps, U. S.D.A. Leaflet number 397.
  • Raising Ducks, U.S.D.A. Farmer's Bulletin number 2215.
  • Standard of Perfection for Domesticated Land Fowl and Water Fowl, American Poultry Association, Inc., Crete, Nebraska 68333.
  • Duck and Goose Raising, Bulletin number 532, Ontario Department of Agriculture, Parliament Building, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • Raising Geese, Fact Sheet, Poultry number 44, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101.
  • Raising Geese, U.S.D.A. Farmer's Bulletin number 2251.
The authors are grateful to Fred Cervinka, Heart of Missouri Poultry Farm and Hatchery, Columbia, Missouri, for information, assistance and advice in the preparation of this guide.

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What Do Canadian Geese Eat? 20+ Foods They Prefer

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Canadian geese, also called the Canada goose, are large waterfowl that live in North America and migrate to many far-flung places in the world during winter. Since they live in so many diverse places throughout the year, it’s only fair to ask, what do Canadian geese eat? Although they’re waterfowl that are frequently seen chomping on vegetation, the answer to that question is not cut and dry.

We’ll explore the various foods that Canadian geese consume throughout their lifespans while also considering how they fare in less-plentiful situations.

What Foods Do Canadian Geese Eat?

Canadian geese eat grass, aquatic plants, and insects.

Roxana Bashyrova/Shutterstock.com

The key to that question lies in the answer to “what do geese eat?”. These large birds love to feed on vegetable matter especially fresh, nutrient-rich grass, aquatic sedges, and rhizomes. They may also snack on the occasional berry as well. They have rather efficient digestive systems including a gizzard which is actually more effective compared to those of chickens and ducks.

Canadian geese eat grass, aquatic vegetation, algae, and insects. They are herbivorous most of the time, but they also integrate other foods into their feeding habits as necessary. For example, these birds will often consume more insects when they’re young and more roots as adults during winter when their preferred foods are not as widely available.

Consider the various foods that Canadian geese survive on throughout the year:

  • Kentucky Bluegrass
  • Cattails
  • Grasshoppers
  • Eelgrass
  • Grains
  • Earthworms
  • Corn
  • Root bulbs
  • Sedge
  • Duckweed
  • Freshwater snails
  • Tadpoles
  • Shrimp
  • Alfalfa
  • Tall fescue
  • Bermudagrass
  • Bentgrass
  • Mice

The favorite food of most Canadian geese is grass. It’s plentiful, easy to come across, and available just about everywhere they live or migrate to throughout the year. Of course, Canadian geese eat different foods depending on whether they are spending time on the water or land.

Much of the time, geese do not directly search for mollusks and crustaceans to eat. They just happen to be near the different vegetation that the geese are eating, and they get are an added morsel.

Sometimes, Canadian geese will start to look for insects, mollusks, and other creatures when they have a nutritional deficiency. Like other waterfowl, most people refer to these creatures as herbivorous even though they’re not strictly plant-eaters. They’re certainly omnivorous.  

How Do Canadian Geese Find Food?

Canadian geese find food by upending in water or grazing.

Millie Bond – Copyright A-Z Animals

Canadian geese do not have extraordinary senses with which to find food. They have a decent sense of smell and a good sense of sight that provides them with the opportunity to find and distinguish between different foods.

The primary way that Canadian geese find food is by grazing through the vegetation on land. They will bite the grass or plants and then tear away from it to break it since they lack teeth. They do possess tomia like some other waterfowl, rudimentary teeth-like protrusions on their bills, and tongues that help them tear through vegetation quickly.

Canadian geese often look for and consume foods while they are on the water too. Like other waterfowl, they will spot something they want to eat while paddling on the surface, and then dive to get it. This behavior is called upending as they tip their bodies into the water to feed, leaving just their tails above the water. The geese grab and tear water vegetation much as they do on land.

When it comes to eating insects, mollusks, or other invertebrates, the geese do not necessarily hunt. They opportunistically snatch up these creatures when they are near, especially when they lack access to their other preferred foods.  

What Do Baby Canadian Geese Eat?

Goslings start eating grass and other vegetation as soon as they’re born.

Leena Robinson/Shutterstock.com

Baby Canadian geese are called goslings, and they can find their own food from the time they hatch. Like adults, they will prefer to feed on grass because it is plentiful and easy to consume. Sometimes, they will consume clover as well as dandelions that are mixed in their natural grazing areas.

Goslings will also eat small insects that they find, like mosquitoes and worms. These insects are filled with protein that will help the goslings get the nutrition they need.  

Although they mostly stick to dry land when looking for food for the first few weeks of life, the goslings soon follow their mother into the water. Once there, they will include aquatic vegetation in their diet and assume fully adult eating habits.

What Do Canadian Geese Eat During Winter?

These geese migrate to warmer lands and eat grains, roots, and grass in the winter.

iStock.com/Wayne Marinovich

The wintertime is a period of change for geese as many of them migrate south in search of warmer climates and food. In North America, Canadian geese can migrate all the way from Alaska to the southern portions of the United States and into Mexico.

Living in areas with less access to their favorite foods means geese have to diversify their diet to stay healthy. Among the foods that geese add to their diet are:

  • Roots
  • Berries
  • Grains
  • Sorghum
  • Cracked corn
  • Herbs
  • Barley
  • Berries

These birds will try to supplement their diet to include more carbohydrates to give them the energy they need to continue their migration and make it through the less-plentiful times of winter.

Canadian Geese often stop in fields that were just harvested for vegetables and will gladly stop at homes that put out fresh vegetables, especially leafy greens, for them to eat.

What Predators Eat Canadian Geese?

Coyotes can make a quick meal of Canadian geese.


Now we’ve provided answers to that all-important question, “what do geese like to eat?” (those of the Canadian variety, more precisely), it’s time to take a look at what likes to eat them. Not that these sturdy avians make it easy for would-be predators: like other waterfowl, they have a reputation for being aggressive creatures, especially when it comes to defending their young. They are not all bluster, either. These geese will provide a warning with a threat display including spread wings and loud screeches. They will attack if the threat doesn’t scare off the encroacher.

Although their threat display is enough to scare off some of their predators, it is not enough to protect them all the time.

The common predators of Canadian geese include:

  • Coyotes
  • Raccoons
  • Eagles
  • Bobcats
  • Crows 
  • Ravens
  • Foxes 
  • Bears
  • Skunks
  • Snakes
  • Snapping turtles
  • Humans

Goslings face the greatest threat of predation, especially from snakes, eagles, and snapping turtles. They have no defenses against these creatures, and their parents can only protect them to a certain extent. 

Adult Canadian geese are viewed as pests by humans, but they are also protected from outright slaughter by laws. Sometimes, the geese are culled in local areas, but these birds do not have a struggling population by any means.

Canadian geese are migratory herbivores that do eat some insects, invertebrates, and mollusks from time to time. They are a common sight throughout North America, where they have become known for their threat displays and unique coloring that includes a black head and white cheeks.

Although they may be noisy creatures, they’re not a threat to people that leave them be and keep their distance, just like most other wild animals.

How to feed geese at home: recommendations for feeding, diet

Proper and balanced nutrition of geese brings a good income to the breeder. Birds give a lot of eggs, meat, soft fluff. They get sick less often, the survival rate of chicks increases. Feed costs are repaid by increasing the productivity of geese and reducing the cost of veterinarians. Many breeders are interested in how to ensure proper nutrition for free-range and caged birds, in winter and summer, which foods are better to add and which ones to limit or eliminate from the diet.


  1. Features of the diet of geese
  2. Composition of feed mixtures for geese and diet
  3. Specifics of feeding geese by seasons
  4. Prohibited products
  5. Farmers advice on feeding geese

Features of the diet of geese

Compound feed and greens form the basis of the nutrition of agricultural birds. The diet of geese should also include fresh vegetables: potatoes, beets, pumpkin, cabbage, silage and tops. In addition to herbal ingredients, whey, skim milk, fishmeal, yeast and salt are added to goose feed. It is not necessary to give all foods daily, but each of them must be regularly present in the diet.

Since it is difficult for geese to digest whole grains, dry crumbly compound feed is not recommended for them. Small particles can be inhaled. Birds begin to choke and choke. It is better to give them granulated feed. Geese with appetite eat oilseeds and legumes meal and cake, and prefer clover from meadow grasses.

In order to prevent the predominance of fat mass over muscle, geese are fed only greens once a week. They tolerate the absence of grain without damage to health and growth, but they cannot do without grass or hay.

Composition of feed mixtures for geese and diet

The diet of birds is made taking into account the conditions of their keeping. There are 3 modes of feeding geese: dry, wet and combined. Regardless of the type, each of them provides for the use of:

  • compound feed,
  • greenery,
  • roughage,
  • vegetable crops.

Dry feeding, as less labor intensive, is more often used in large poultry farms. For small and medium-sized farms, wet or combined is preferable.

Dry mixes are the most economical and easy to use option. They are undemanding to storage conditions. They include wheat, millet, barley, corn, rye products. All components are carefully crushed and mixed in equal amounts, so it is enough to pour them into bird feeders. However, geese gain weight more slowly on dry food, so such mixtures are usually given during the non-productive period. Also, they can't be used all the time. With the constant use of only dry food, the risk of intestinal blockage is high.

Wet mashes are given to birds three times a day. Such feed cannot be stored for a long time, so they are prepared directly on the day of consumption. Stale mixtures can cause indigestion. To prepare feed, crushed grain components are poured into wooden containers and poured with water at a ratio of 1.5 liters per 1 kg, and then yeast is added. The stirrer is infused for 6 hours. After that, chopped vegetables (beets, carrots, potatoes, cabbage) and fresh chopped greens are added to the feed. The preparation of such mixtures is a rather laborious process, therefore its organization at a medium and large poultry farm is not always advisable.

Ready mixed food combines the advantages of dry and wet food. It is easy to prepare and provides a high average daily weight gain. Roughage in combination with moist foods is much better digested, and the birds get more nutrients. A mixture of grains and vegetables is served along with a small amount of table salt.

In all feeding regimes, birds must be provided with clean drinking water. In addition, geese require mixtures of sand, gravel and small shells to cleanse their stomachs.

Feed for farm birds must fully meet their need for vitamins and minerals. There may be an insufficient amount of biologically active substances (BAS) in grain fodder and vegetables, especially in winter or early spring. In this case, premixes rich in vitamins A, D, E, B2, as well as pantothenic and nicotinic acids, which are necessary for the normal growth of birds, are introduced into goose feed. Due to the high concentration of biologically active substances, premixes should not be given as the main product. They are added to the feed mixture in the amount of 1-5%. An excess of vitamins and minerals is no less harmful than their lack.

It is recommended to adhere to the following feeding schedule for geese:

  • 7:00 - dry mixes containing germinated grains;
  • 15:00 - vegetable crops with the addition of vitamin-mineral complexes and hay dust;
  • 20:00 - a mixture of flour and grains.

Geese need special fattening before laying for at least 30 days. Their diet must include wheat and oats, legumes, vegetables, meal and oilseed cake, as well as bone or fish meal. Geese are fed 4 times a day, giving them dry and wet mixtures alternately. 1 week before laying eggs, vitamin complexes are added to the diet.

Feeding specifics of geese by seasons

In summer, the main part of the bird's diet is a variety of greens. Geese grazing on the range feed on:

  • fresh nettles,
  • dandelions,
  • cereals,
  • sorrel,
  • legumes,
  • plantain,
  • yarrow,
  • clover,
  • alfalfa.

Swimming in reservoirs, they catch duckweed, cattail, reeds, chastukha. Grazing provides significant savings in feed, but they cannot be completely excluded, since greenery alone is not enough for birds to gain weight. Normally, geese eat about 2 kg of fresh grass per day, and they get the rest of the calories from grain fodder, vegetables, roughage (hay and branches).

For accelerated weight gain, it is preferable to give them a mixture of high grains twice a day: oats, barley, wheat, rye, corn. On average, in addition to greens, geese daily need:

  • 700 g of cereals and legumes;
  • 500 g potatoes;
  • 250 g carrots and beets;
  • 300 g hay dust or flour;
  • 100 g silage;
  • 25 g minerals (salt, shell).

In addition, it is useful for geese to give cottage cheese, eggs, chalk (10 g per bird). Solid legumes are introduced only in boiled form, so that they cannot be choked on. Cereals can be partially replaced with dried bread in an amount of up to 60 g, coniferous hay flour (up to 20 g).

Geese who are constantly in the house must be fed three times a day. In winter, the diet is based on cereals:

  • barley,
  • oats,
  • ground corn,
  • wheat bran,
  • millet.

The lack of fresh herbs is compensated by silage, dried tops, hay dust and premixes. In a warm climate, short-term grazing on water bodies is possible, during which geese feed on the remains of duckweed and other algae. A significant place in their diet in the autumn-winter period is occupied by silage, which in its composition is closest to green fodder. It is also useful to add needles of pine or spruce. It compensates for the lack of vitamin C, stimulates the appetite and immunity of geese, helps to increase the number and improve the nutritional quality of eggs. It is important to consider that needles require preliminary preparation. It is first dried and then carefully ground. It is more profitable for owners of medium and large poultry farms to order ready-made vitamin complexes with a similar composition.

Sunflower meal and cake are often added to hay dust and flour. Geese eat oilseed products well and put on weight quickly. Dried gray bread is introduced as a delicacy to stimulate appetite, but it is not recommended to give it in large quantities.

Prohibited foods

Not all herbs are good for geese. The use of some of them can provoke indigestion, decrease in productivity, and in some cases lead to death in the poultry house. Especially dangerous herbs are:

  • sedge,
  • cuff,
  • goose foot.

Geese usually avoid them. However, with insufficient nutrition and the absence of other vegetation on the pasture, they can begin to eat harmful grasses. Breeders need to check grazing areas and make sure the geese are getting enough calories while feeding in the poultry house. This question is especially relevant in early spring. On the first outings on the water, geese that did not receive fresh greens can eat harmful algae, silt, small fish and become infected with intestinal infections. To avoid this, birds are fed and released at first for no more than 3-5 hours before walking.

In addition to wild grasses, outbreaks can be caused by freshly harvested rye, cereals contaminated with mycotoxins, or sprouted potatoes with green areas containing solanine. All ingredients must be carefully checked before use. Rye should rest for at least 3 months, cereals damaged by mold and green potatoes are thrown away.

Farmer's recommendations for feeding geese

  • The type of diet depends on the direction of the birds. To obtain meat, it is important to provide geese with high-calorie nutrition. If you plan to breed chicks, it is important to reconsider the feeding regimen for geese. Overweight females are less healthy and less likely to lay eggs. On the other hand, just before laying, geese require a hearty diet high in vitamins and minerals. To meet the needs of birds in calories and prevent obesity, their diet is enriched with fresh fish, skim milk and whey.
  • The immune system of chicks begins to form already at an early age, but their stomachs are not yet able to digest all the components of the feed. Therefore, in the first 3-4 days they are given a yolk pre-cooked and mixed with boiled water, gradually adding chopped onion feathers to it.
  • Starting from the 6-7th day, the ration of goslings is replenished with fresh alfalfa and nettle. From a week old, wheat or corn porridge and boiled potatoes are added to the feed. However, the number of new products should not exceed 15%. By 12 days, goslings are able to absorb well-chopped raw vegetables.
  • Chicks at the age of 17-28 days are independent enough to pluck greens on the run. They are released to pasture along with adult birds, but in the morning and evening they are fed separately with crushed and steamed grain with the addition of fresh vegetables. The content of cereals in the diet during this period should not exceed 20%. It is useful for goslings to give carrots, beets, pumpkins, boiled potatoes so that they receive enough vitamins of groups A and B.
  • After 4 weeks the chicks switch to an adult diet and start fattening them for meat. In order for geese to gain weight better, from this age they are given high-calorie compound feed with a high grain content. In the finished product, all the necessary components are balanced for rapid weight gain, strengthening of the skeleton and normal digestion.
  • Approximately 30 months before slaughter, geese are transferred to enhanced fattening. The daily portion of cereals alone reaches 400 g. Birds must always have food and enough water. If you leave the feeders lit, the geese will eat even at night. During this time, they gain about 1.5 kg.
  • With the intensive rearing method, the total fattening period is on average 2.5 months. Geese are not released to pasture to limit their movement. Birds are kept in special boxes with a hole for the head, and feeders are placed in front of them. To accelerate weight gain and increase slaughter weight, force-feeding is used.

Compiling a balanced diet for geese of different ages is a difficult task. Buying ready-made feed and premixes greatly simplifies it. In our company, you can order safe, high-quality mixtures for meat and egg-laying poultry.

Canada goose: features of a bird, external, reproduction

Canada goose is a wild bird, which is also called Canada goose. This bird differs from its relatives in appearance and behavior. This is a waterfowl, which in winter prefers to spend the winter in warm regions, and most of the bird's life is spent in mountainous areas.

Help. The down of these birds is highly valued, down jackets are made from them, as well as insulation for high-quality winter clothes.

Features of the bird

In America, this is a very common breed, sometimes birds can be found in Europe, but they are not particularly widespread here. Canada goose is an excellent prey for a hunter.

Help. At home, this breed did not take root.

Wild breeds lead a quiet life far from people, flocks, usually close together. Birds from the same group are attentive to each other, help their relatives not only to incubate, but also to raise their young.

External features

The appearance of a flock of these birds is recognizable. They begin to migrate in the fall, when the air temperature drops, the reservoirs begin to freeze. Goose do not like frosty winters, warm living conditions are more suitable for her.

You can see the beauty of these birds in the photo. Canada is the native home of these birds. Their features are as follows:

  • Body length can be between 55 cm and up to one meter.
  • Body weight between 2 and 7 kg.
  • The wings are powerful and wide, a possible span of up to two meters.
  • The head is dark in color, the feathers gleam in the sun.
  • The belly is painted grey.
  • Dark beak and eyes.
  • Juveniles show a light shade of feathers.

Geese settle near reservoirs, which are enough in Canada. Preferably, they choose places with high vegetation on the coast.

Interesting. Canadian goose are excellent at hiding, they are nimble. They are not large in size, which allows them to skillfully hide, and in case of danger, fly away from the danger zone.

The eggs are incubated by the female twice a year, but on condition that the ambient temperature allows the offspring to be raised. Goose are unpretentious when choosing food, this is especially evident during flights.

How birds of this breed breed

With the onset of the mating season, birds find a mate. The process of flirting takes place on the water, if you watch it from the side, it can be noted that it is very beautiful and at ease.

The male raises his beak to his neck and slowly swims up to the goose, thus he shows his intentions.

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