Like many birds, geese have a varied diet, but compared to chickens, their diet is significantly more specialized.
Although they aren’t true herbivores, geese do subsist primarily on a variety of plant matter, and among plants, their very favorite foods are leafy greens. Geese love them whether they are in a domestic setting or in the wild.
Does this mean that geese can eat the same salad veggies that you and I do? How about lettuce? Can geese eat lettuce, and is it safe for them?
Yes, lettuce is fully safe for geese and is a healthy, nutritious staple in their diet. They can eat all kinds of common lettuce including iceberg, romaine, and bibb.
Not much of a surprise here. There are all kinds of plants that are very similar to lettuce out in the wild that geese eat day in and day out, and if you want to add whole foods to the diet of your flock, lettuce is one of the best ways to do that.
But it isn’t something you want to give to your birds in unlimited abundance. There are still limits, and you need to know more about the nutritional content of lettuce before you do. I can tell you about all of that below.
Do Geese Like Lettuce?
Yes! And I mean they really like it: Geese will always be happy to have some, no matter what kind.
Is Lettuce a Healthy Food for Geese?
Yes, it sure is. Lettuce is very close to being an ideal food for geese: It has a great assortment of vitamins and minerals and can also provide them with a decent amount of energy (although it isn’t the most calorie-dense food that they typically eat).
The great thing about lettuce is that it is highly digestible, and a goose’s biology and digestive tract are particularly optimized for handling leafy greenery as a food source.
Note that the vitamins and minerals present in lettuce will vary depending on the type, but let’s look at one of the most well-rounded kinds of lettuce, butterhead
We find that it has plenty of vitamins in the form of vitamin A and beta carotene and a good assortment of the B-complex vitamins, including vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B6. These are backed up by folate and a decent amount of vitamin K.
The mineral content is likewise pretty impressive, and butterhead lettuce has a good amount of calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and potassium with a little bit of zinc for good measure.
Altogether, these nutrients can improve nearly every element of a goose’s body and biology:
- ✓ circulatory health,
- ✓ feathering,
- ✓ a healthy laying schedule,
- ✓ strong eggshells,
- ✓ good blood circulation,
- ✓ red blood cell creation,
- ✓ the maintenance of soft tissues and bones,
- ✓ organ function,
- ✓ and even nervous system health.
Not bad at all for a salad veggie, is it? Especially one that your geese will love…
Is Raw Lettuce Okay for Geese?
Yes, raw lettuce is okay for geese. Also, note that raw lettuce is ideal because it is so easy for them to eat and digest. It also contains the best possible amount of nutrition.
What Kinds of Lettuce Can Geese Have?
Geese can have all kinds of common lettuce, and anything that you and I can eat is safe for them. Any of the ones that you would typically grow in your garden will all be good choices.
Geese can eat, but are not limited to, the following kinds of lettuce:
There’s a lot of variety out there, and half the fun is finding which one is the favorite of your flock. Rest assured, though, that they will get decent nutrients from any of them, even the ones that are fairly lackluster like iceberg!
Is Cooked Lettuce Good for Geese?
Cooked lettuce is safe for geese to eat, but there’s no reason at all to cook it for them. All this will do is make it a wilted, nasty mess, and deplete those vitamins and minerals that make it such an attractive menu option for your flock.
Can Lettuce Hurt Geese in Any Way?
No, assuming you’re still giving them a diverse and nutritionally well-rounded diet. There is always a chance of giving your geese too much of a good thing, and they cannot thrive on lettuce alone.
Plus, if you let them fill up on lettuce all the time, they’ll be missing out on other foods that they still need in their diet.
But if you don’t overdo it as mentioned above you don’t have to worry about giving lettuce to your flock at all.
How Often Should Geese Eat Lettuce?
Your geese can eat lettuce often, anywhere from four to six generous servings a week so long as they are getting it as a part of a well-rounded diet.
Leafy greens like lettuce are an entirely natural part of a goose’s diet, and they will readily eat all kinds with little prompting.
Even so, do be careful and watch the quantity at any given feeding: if geese eat too much lettuce in one sitting there’s a chance it could cause indigestion or give them diarrhea due to the water content.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Lettuce to Geese?
Most geese will be happy to work on an intact head of lettuce, whatever kind it is, but you can make life a little bit easier for them by chopping it up into smaller pieces that are easy to portion out and also easier for them to swallow.
But don’t worry about this too much because they can easily tear off bite-size pieces themselves.
However, if you’re dealing with a particularly large or tough type of lettuce, I still recommend that you chop it: a choking hazard is never out of the question and it’s best not to risk it.
Never Give Geese Lettuce if it is Rotting or Moldy
One thing to note is that lettuce can still go bad like any other food, and geese are vulnerable to foodborne illnesses. They are vulnerable to toxins created by some molds that sometimes grow on rotting food.
Certain strains of mold produce dangerous mycotoxins which can kill geese very quickly through paralysis of their respiratory tract.
For this reason, you should only serve your geese lettuce that is fresh, wholesome and unspoiled. If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t give it to them!
Is Lettuce Safe for Goslings, Too?
Yes, it sure is. This is one food that goslings can eat just like adult geese can. All kinds of lettuce have different nutritional benefits for goslings, but the only thing you need to be aware of is that they must get plenty of calories at this early stage of life to support their growth.
I would rely on an early-life or starter waterfowl feed for most of their food, but don’t be afraid to let them have a little bit of lettuce now and then.
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.
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