Can Geese Eat Oats? Is it Safe?

When you think about the diet of geese, you probably think about green plants. Whether geese are in the wild or in a domestic setting on our homesteads and farms, they tend to focus on the greenery. However, geese actually eat a huge variety of plant matter in general, including various grains.

collage of geese eating various foods
A collage of geese eating various foods

I know that most folks don’t think of grains immediately when it comes to feeding their own birds, but they can prove to be a great source of nutrients. Let’s look at one of the most popular grains for feeding livestock, oats. Can geese eat oats, and is it safe for them?

Yes, oats are safe and nutritious for geese to eat as long as they’re only a part of a balanced diet. Though highly nutritious, geese shouldn’t eat oats or other grains as an everyday staple.

If your geese are anything like mine, they will love getting a handful of oats every now and then. They love the taste, sure, but you will love the health benefits, and this is one snack that you can feel good about giving them.

But, there is so much more you’ll want to know before adding oats to the diet of your flock. I’ll tell you everything in the rest of this article.

Do Geese Like Oats?

Yes, and I think you can count on that! I have never heard of any goose that didn’t like oats. In fact, if you take the time to ask any farmer that grows oats, you’ll probably hear more than a few stories about flocks of geese landing in or beside their fields and starting to decimate their crop.

Turns out geese have a taste for oats that can rival any other domestic animal!

Are Oats a Healthy Food for Geese?

Yes, they really are. Oats are definitely a healthy food for geese so long as they get them in moderation.

Despite not being a food that you would normally associate with them eating in the wild, oats are easily digestible, a good source of quick energy, and full of micronutrients that all geese need.

Now, the exact nutrient levels of oats will be different depending on what type they are. One thing you should know is that, as a rule of thumb, the longer the oats take to cook, the more nutritious they tend to be. Keep that in mind when picking some to give to your flock.

Assessing the vitamin content first, we see that all kinds of oats are rich in B-complex vitamins, including B1, B2, B5, B6, and folate. The mineral content is also very impressive, even more so than the vitamins.

Oats also tend to improve antioxidative protection in geese, as per this study.

Whatever kind of oats you decide to feed to your geese, you can be sure they’ll be getting plenty of iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc.

If you add up all of these nutrients and assess what they can do for your birds, you’ll see that they can improve everything from circulatory health and metabolism to organ function, skeletal health, egg laying, feathering, and more.

Your geese won’t know that, of course, but you will see the difference!

Never Give “Sowing” Oats to Animals as Feed!

Before we go any further, I need to caution you concerning the type of oats that you feed to your flock. Geese can eat pretty much all kinds of oats and oatmeal as long as they haven’t been adulterated with any added sugar, sweeteners, and other things they can’t have…

But what they definitely cannot eat are oats designed for actually planting fields- oats specifically for the growing of oats! Many of these commercially available sowing oats have been treated with all kinds of chemicals that can gravely sicken or kill a goose and other birds.

Make sure you only buy oats designed for use as livestock feed, or else oats you can buy at the grocery store assuming they meet all the requirements.

Are Raw Oats Safe for Geese?

Yes, raw oats are just fine and safe for geese. They’re easy to swallow, and generally pretty easy to digest, although not quite as easy as cooked oats. The trade-off is that raw oats often have the best possible amount of nutrition.

Are Cooked Oats OK?

Yes, cooked oats are fine for geese and if you have any picky eaters, this is a good way to make them slightly more appealing to them.

But, one thing to know is that cooked oats tend to give up some nutritional value because they lose plenty of vitamin content and even some minerals during the cooking process.

On the other hand, there is some evidence to suggest that, even though some nutrients are lost in cooking, the increase in digestibility means that what nutrients exist are more bioavailable to the goose.

This is something of a contested topic, but I can tell you from experience that geese definitely benefit from having oats in their diet periodically one way or the other. My advice to you is to prepare the oats for your geese in whichever way they like best.

Are Instant Oats Okay for Geese to Eat?

Yes, instant oats are nominally okay for geese but they can’t have any added ingredients in the form of sugar, sweeteners, syrup, cream and so forth. All that is very bad for them, so stick with plain, undoctored instant oats only if you want to go that route.

Can Geese Eat Quick Oats?

Yes, quick oats are fine for your geese and safe. Quick oats have undergone processing that makes them faster to cook at the expense of their overall nutritional content. Still a safe choice as long as they are plain

Are Rolled Oats Safe for Geese?

Yes, they are. Rolled oats are just another type of processed oat designed for quicker cooking. As long as they are plain, they are fine.

Can Oats Hurt Geese in Any Way?

Unlikely as long as you mind the quantity you feed them. There are some instances of geese eating cooked oats suffering from problems with their crop or gizzard, but based on my research, this is pretty rare.

A bigger problem is nutritional imbalance: geese really like oats, and if you allow them to eat all of the oats, they can stand they’re going to miss out on other foods that they still need in order to get complete nutrition.

And, as good as the oats are, they aren’t something that geese can live on alone. They still need greenery or a nutritionally complete feed in their diet in order to thrive.

But assuming you aren’t going crazy with serving the oats, you shouldn’t expect them to give your flock any problems.

How Often Should Geese Eat Oats?

I recommend giving geese no more than two small servings of oats weekly. This is plenty to give them something interesting to eat that they will enjoy, while still benefiting from the nutrients that oats have to offer.

At the same time, they’ll leave plenty of “room” for other foods to help make up for the nutritional deficiencies of oats.

What’s the Best Way to Serve Oats to Geese?

This depends on your geese and how much work you want to put into preparing the oats. If your geese will eat the oats raw, I like to serve them that way.

Just make sure you put them in a bowl or some other feeder so they don’t have to try and pick them up off the ground.

Oats obviously are flat and small, and this is going to make it very challenging for geese to scoop them up with those flat bills- they aren’t as nimble as a chicken’s beak!

If your geese seem to prefer cooked oatmeal, just prepare it until it is soft and tender but don’t add any sugar or extra ingredients. Let it cool, and then set it out for them in bowls.

Remember, do not let your geese free-eat from a huge quantity of oats, cooked or raw! They cannot be trusted to stop before they eat too much.

Never Give Geese Oats if They are Moldy

You never want to feed your flock bad food, and that includes bad oats. Oats that have gone musty, moldy or in any other way bad should be discarded, not given to your birds. Geese are incredibly vulnerable to many kinds of mold that infest foods, including various grains like oats.

More specifically, it is toxins created by certain strains of mold that are oh so very deadly. These poisons, called mycotoxins, can kill an adult goose stone cold in no time, and they are practically a death sentence for young geese.

Are Oats Safe for Goslings, Too?

Yes, but cautiously. Oats are pretty easy for baby geese to eat and digest, but the problem is that they will fill them up quickly and that means we’ll be missing out on other foods they should be eating, specifically their early life feed which is nutritionally complete.

Oats are also a leading contributor to pasty butt, another condition which can kill a gosling if not remediated.

If you want to give them a few small bites of oats as a treat, that should be just fine, but again you’ve got to be sure they don’t get too much.

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