Can Geese Eat Potatoes? Is it Safe?

The stereotypical components of a goose’s diet are greens, be they plants found in the wild or vegetation provided to them by caring owners. But geese can in actuality eat all kinds of plant matter, even some things that they theoretically almost never encounter in life.

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

For instance, root vegetables like carrots; while basically inaccessible to geese are fine for them. How about some other similar vegetables? Ah, potatoes, great example! Are potatoes safe for geese to eat?

Yes, potatoes are safe for geese to eat in moderation if they are plain with no added ingredients. Note that geese must never eat green spots from a potato or any other part of the plant because they have highly toxic solanine.

This is one of the most surprising foods that I found out about when researching what could make for some good, nutritious additions to the diet of my own birds…

Potatoes are not just a starchy, tasty side; they are tasty, but also nutritious. Geese can definitely benefit from getting some potatoes in their diet, but you’ve got to know how to prepare them and when to feed them for best results and safety. Keep reading, and I’ll tell you all about it.

Do Geese Like Potatoes?

Yes, they do. Or at least most of the geese I have encountered like potatoes when they were offered to them.

It makes sense when you think about it: potatoes are easily digested and a great source of energy. And they are very starchy, and geese and other birds tend to like starchy foods.

However, potatoes do require a bit of preparation if you want them to appeal to your flock; you can’t just throw a potato at them and let them devour it! That just isn’t going to work.

Are Potatoes Good for Geese?

Yes, potatoes are a respectably nutritious food for geese and have many vitamins and minerals that they need, along with important macronutrients. They are pretty much all carbs, you likely knew that, but they also contain a little bit of protein too which will help.

Looking at the vitamin content of potatoes we see that they have a good assortment, including a great amount of vitamin B6 backed up by lesser but still good amounts of B1, B2, and B5. They have B3 and folate also, but very little. Potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C.

When it comes to minerals, potatoes have even more to offer but the total content isn’t quite as nice as the vitamins. Potatoes are still a solid source of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and potassium with significantly less calcium, iron and zinc.

Nonetheless, these are all things that geese need in order to stay healthy and thrive.

How Can Potatoes Hurt Geese?

Now, I mentioned above in the intro that geese must never eat certain parts of the potato plant or any green spots from individual potatoes. Why is this?

Believe it or not, it is because potatoes belong to the nightshade family. Yes, the same family as the infamous deadly nightshade plant. What does it have in common with these plants? Solanine, a glycoalkaloid toxin designed to protect the plant from being eaten…

So how can potatoes be eaten in the first place, then? Simple: immature potatoes and ones that have been exposed to the sun turn green and develop the toxin. Normal, mature, and sun-protected potatoes don’t.

Likewise, every other part of the plant from the roots to the leaves and vines contains high levels of solanine and must never be fed to your geese.

Ingestion of solanine can be deadly for birds, including geese, with low concentrations resulting in massive digestive upset, diarrhea, and other similar problems whereas higher concentrations will result in paralysis, inability to stand, and eventually cardiac arrest. Not good!

So, while your geese can safely have potatoes, and they are good for them you must check the potatoes for any green spots before serving and never, ever give them any other part of the plant.

Are Raw Potatoes Okay for Geese?

Yes, they are. Raw potatoes are just fine for geese though they are a little bit harder for them to digest.

Are Cooked Potatoes Okay for Geese?

Yes. Cooked potatoes are a good option for geese as long as you don’t add any extra ingredients like sour cream, butter, salt, cheese and so forth.

Cooking potatoes makes them easier for geese to swallow and digest at the cost of giving up some vitamin and mineral content.

Are Potato Peels Safe for Geese?

Yes, potato peels are safe and nutritious for geese as long as they don’t have any green spots on them as detailed above. You can if you want to, but you don’t need to peel potatoes before serving.

Are Potato Vines Safe for Geese?

No. Potato vines contain high concentrations of solanine and must not be served to geese.

Are Potato Leaves Safe for Geese?

No, again. Like the vines above, the leaves contain solanine and are dangerous to geese.

Can Geese Safely Eat Green Potatoes?

Absolutely not! Although the correlation between green spots on potatoes and the development of solanine is not exactly correlated, it’s a reliable guideline for which parts of the potato are considered toxic.

Entirely green potatoes should be thrown out, and green spots on good potatoes should be cut off.

How About Sweet Potatoes?

Yes, sweet potatoes are also fine for geese but typically need to be lightly cooked to make them more digestible. Also, sweet potatoes aren’t true potatoes: they are only distantly related.

How Often Should Geese Eat Potatoes?

I’d advise giving your flock one or two small servings of potatoes weekly as part of a well-rounded diet.

This will allow them to make maximum benefit of the nutrients potatoes contain and give them a big boost of energy, but without the risk of getting too many calories or missing out on other foods they should be eating instead.

The Best Way to Serve Potatoes to Geese

This all depends on how much work you want to do. If you have larger geese that are enthusiastic eaters, you can just cut up a raw potato into small pieces that are easy for them to swallow.

Otherwise, consider cooking potatoes lightly to make them a little more tender, and allowing them to cool before serving. Plain, unseasoned mashed potatoes are also a good option for geese and one they seem to enjoy.

Never Give Geese Potatoes if They are Rotting or Moldy

I mentioned the danger of green potatoes up above, and similarly, you should never feed potatoes afflicted with blight or any other disease to your birds.

Geese, like most animals, will eat “bad” foods that you and I wouldn’t even consider but just because they will it doesn’t mean they should.

Geese are highly vulnerable to foodborne illnesses, and especially vulnerable to various kinds of mold. Toxic mold can make geese incredibly sick or easily kill them.

What About Goslings?

Yes, potatoes are nominally safe for goslings but I strongly recommend that you let them grow up a little bit before adding them to their diet as an occasional treat.

This is simply because raw potatoes are going to be a little bit too difficult for them to digest reliably, and also because goslings that fill up on potatoes might say ‘no’ to other, more nutritionally complete foods that they should be subsisting on at this early stage of life.

Because of this, I like to start giving potatoes to my goslings around 4 or 5 weeks of age in very small portions, once a week.

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