Speaking for myself and, I’ll bet, most of the readers out there, I imagine one can recall a childhood memory of throwing some breadcrumbs to the geese and ducks by the lake. Seems to be a rite of passage, almost!
But what you might not know is that bread, surprisingly, really is not good for birds generally. That means geese, too.
But, there are some people out there who defend the practice, even claiming to give their very own birds bread with no issues. When it comes to our geese, what’s the truth? Is bread safe for geese or not?
Bread is only safe for geese on a very limited basis. Although it can provide geese with energy and some minerals that they need, it is difficult for them to digest and has been linked with a variety of health problems. You should generally avoid giving your geese bread.
Well, color me shocked. As much as they seem to like it bread is indeed bad for geese and other birds. But, people love things that are bad for them, too!
You might want to hang on to those cherished memories, because if you care about your flock, you’ll want to avoid giving them bread, or at least avoid giving it to them any more often than once in a blue moon.
There’s a lot more that you’ll want to know on the subject, so keep reading…
Do Geese Like Bread?
Oh yes! Geese love bread; any which way they can get it and any kind of bread there is. But just because they like it doesn’t mean it is good for them, and that doesn’t mean you should give it to them.
Is Bread a Healthy Food for Geese?
No, it isn’t. Bread is nothing more than empty calories and potential problems for geese, despite how much they love the taste and texture.
Bread is difficult for them to digest no matter what kind it is, and no matter if it is crushed up into crumbs or left in slices. It isn’t overtly harmful: the old wives’ tales about bread making birds swell up or bursting their stomachs are just not true.
But bread is truly nutritionally bankrupt in every sense of the word.
Bread can provide geese with some energy, yes, and it does provide some vitamins and minerals, but it is so difficult for geese to digest they aren’t going to be able to make good use of those nutrients.
Worse, when geese fill up on it, they miss out on other foods that they need for both energy and overall nutrition, meaning it is a lose-lose proposition.
In short, you should only give your geese a tiny bit of breadcrumbs every once in a while, as a rare treat, if you even give them that much.
Can Bread Hurt Geese in Any Way?
Yes, it absolutely can. In fact, bread has been linked to some devastating health problems in geese, like angel wing syndrome.
Angel wing syndrome is a debilitating deformity that affects geese while they are young and growing. You’ll sometimes hear it referred to as airplane wing or drooped wing, and it is when the last joint of the wing grows in a twisted, out-of-alignment position.
This leads to those final feathers on the wing sticking out perpendicularly from the goose’s body instead of lying flat against their flanks as usual.
The syndrome is thought to develop as a result of serious nutritional deficiencies during adolescent development, particularly a pronounced lack or total absence of vitamins D and E, along with excess calorie intake.
Inevitably, any goose that is stricken with this terrible malady is left deformed and flightless.
It should be noted that adolescent geese starting to show signs of angel wing might sometimes be healed by a radical improvement of nutrition and by strapping the wings down using a special harness.
But once the bird matures into adulthood, the resulting deformity is permanent if uncorrected early on.
So, in short, suffice it to say that bread is in no way harmless for your geese. And beyond angel wing, the yeast and sugar present in bread have been linked with all sorts of digestive issues, crop problems and more. Bread is just no good for geese, and that’s the bottom line.
Is White Bread Okay for Geese?
White bread is safe for geese to eat in very small amounts.
Is Wheat Bread Okay for Geese?
Wheat bread is likewise safe for your geese to eat if they only have a little bit occasionally.
Can Geese Eat Unbaked Dough?
No, never! Raw bread dough is strictly off-limits for geese. Aside from being a major choking hazard, it is highly likely to cause a yeast infection of the crop or elsewhere in the digestive tract. This can eventually result in fatal complications. Never give any bird unbaked dough!
How Often Should Geese Eat Bread?
Very rarely, if ever. I’m talking about a once-a-week (preferably once a month) treat in the form of some scattered bread crumbs. Even then, you can make a great case for never giving it to them at all so they aren’t tempted by it in the first place.
If they are tempted by it and enjoy it, you will become tempted too to give it to them more often! Just to make them happy, sure, but in doing so you could doom them.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Bread to Geese?
The only way you should give bread to your geese is if it is completely cooked, dry, crusty and crushed into crumbs or small chunks. This will minimize the risk of crop impaction and other problems.
As a reminder, never give unbaked dough to geese or any other bird, and never serve your flock any bread that has been made with frosting, toppings, cheese, extra salt or anything like that.
All of these products are extremely bad for geese and will certainly result in major digestive upset or other health issues like sour crop, high blood pressure and potentially something like fatty liver syndrome which can be fatal.
Never Give Geese Bread If It’s Rotting or Moldy
And another point of order: don’t ever serve your geese moldy bread. They aren’t garbage disposals, and birds generally are highly sensitive to certain toxins produced by various molds that can infest and grow on spoiled foods.
The rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t give your geese bread, but if you do, it should be bread that you would feel comfortable eating yourself. If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t serve it to your precious geese; they’re counting on you to take care of them.
Is Bread Safe for Goslings?
No! Resist the temptation to give bread to goslings. As I detailed above, giving bread to goslings will facilitate the onset of angel wing syndrome which can permanently deform and cripple them in adulthood. This is a terrible fate for any baby goose.
Beyond this, if goslings are allowed to fill up on breadcrumbs, they are missing out on other more nutritious foods that they desperately need at this young and sensitive stage of development…
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.
Find out more about the team here.