Compared to chickens and ducks, geese are nowhere near as popular when it comes to raising them as livestock.
But these big waterfowl have their own unique charms and advantages that is seeing some people start to raise them in greater numbers.
For folks who keep their smaller cousins, having even a single goose around might help your flock stay safe from predators.
Maybe we have all been overlooking the benefits of geese, but if we are going to correct that deficiency we need to learn more about their care, and that means first learning about what they eat.
Let’s start with that contentious, lakeside favorite: rice. Can geese eat rice?
Yes, geese can eat any kind of rice, plain or cooked. Rice is a nutritious treat or supplement for geese, but it should only be a small part of their diet.
It is totally fine to feed rice to your own geese, or to geese by the lakeside. They love the stuff, and will get plenty of energy from it.
That being said, there is a lot you need to know, and you should never overfeed geese with the stuff. Keep reading to find out what you need to know.
Won’t Rice Blow Up the Stomach of a Goose?
We need to address this before we go any further…
One of the single most persistent rumors about feeding rice to birds in general, not just geese, is that it will swell up in their stomach and kill them, and some say it will literally blow them up, rupture them. Is there any truth to this emphatic warning?
I am happy to say that no, there isn’t. It isn’t true. Made up, urban legend, myth busted!
Rice, whether it is cooked or uncooked, will not harm a goose unless they eat way too much of it, or eat it way too often.
Rice, like all other grains, has a hard husk or bran layer that protects the seed inside.
In order to be digested properly this husk must be broken down and the rice must be cooked before eating. Both these things will happen in the stomach of a goose.
Their digestive system is designed to deal with this kind of thing. They will not get a literally explosive case of indigestion from eating rice, and won’t have their guts clogged by it.
As long as you don’t overfeed your geese and give them only a small amount of rice at any one time, then there is no need to worry about it making them sick or causing any other problems. That’s it!
Can Geese Raw Rice?
Yes, geese can eat raw rice. Raw rice has the very best nutritional value since it does not lose vitamins or mineral during cooking.
Can Geese Eat Cooked Rice?
They sure can. Geese can eat cooked rice with no issues.
However, you want to be cautious about feeding geese too much of any food that is moist and sticky as it can get caught in their crop. This rarely a problem, however.
And, as mentioned above, cooked rice does give up some nutrition compared to raw. This is because vitamins and minerals are degraded or expelled during the cooking process.
Can Geese Eat Brown Rice?
Yes. Brown rice is a fine choice for geese since it is more nutritious than white rice and they don’t mind the difference in taste or texture.
Can Geese Eat White Rice?
Yes, with no issues. Another old wives’ tale concerning rice and geese states that white rice is either extra dangerous for waterfowl or is unsafe compared to brown.
Neither is true: white rice is not as nutritious as brown for geese but geese sure like the taste of white rice just fine.
Can Geese Eat Whole Grain Rice?
Yes, they can. Geese can eat any kind of rice, any color, whole grain or not.
What are the Nutritional Benefits of Brown Rice?
Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice due to the fact that it contains more vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
The bran and germ layers of brown rice have not been removed as they have in white rice.
Brown rice contains an excellent assortment of vitamins and minerals, including lots of B1, B3, B5, B6, and folate, along with tons of manganese, phosphorous, and magnesium, rounded out with iron, selenium, and zinc.
Geese need all of these nutrients, and particularly need them when they are growing or in the case of a laying hen.
What are the Nutritional Benefits of White Rice?
White rice is not as nutritious as brown rice because it has had the bran and germ layers removed. These layers are where most of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber are found in rice.
That being said, white rice still contains some vitamins and minerals, just not as many. Geese will still get some benefit from eating white rice.
Compared to brown rice, white rice contains a lot less B1, B3, B5, B6, and folate, but still has a decent amount of manganese, phosphorous, and magnesium. Notably the iron, selenium, and zinc content is still quite respectable.
As you might expect, white rice has no “gain” or benefit nutritionally compared to brown rice so, if you have a choice, always go with brown for your birds.
How Often Can Geese Have Rice?
You should only ever give your geese a small amount of rice at one time as a treat, or to supplement their diet. A good rule of thumb is no more than a small handful a day for a healthy adult goose.
As part of a complete diet, rice should only make up a fraction of their calories, 10% or less, and preferably in conjunction with other supplemental foods.
This is just a guideline, however, and you should always use your best judgment when it comes to feeding your animals.
If you are wondering whether you should give them more or less, lean toward giving them less.
Never Give Geese Rice if it is Made with Bad Ingredients
So, rice is definitely a good option for geese whether it is cooked or raw, but in the case of cooked rice you must never, ever serve it to geese if it has been made with any sort of food or ingredient that they cannot have.
What kind of things? For instance, rice as part of a dessert like rice pudding, rice cakes, or something of that nature.
Butter, oils, fats, and so forth are just asking for trouble. In short, anything with a ton of salt, sugar, seasonings, and tall stuff that people love is just plain bad for geese, whether they are yours or not.
If geese eat stuff that isn’t good for them they will pay the price. At best, they will suffer from scours, indigestion, high-blood pressure, and potentially crop issues like sour crop.
On the really severe end of the spectrum fatty liver syndrome, sodium poisoning, or cloacitis.
These conditions can range from harmful to deadly, and in the latter case are often agonizingly painful as well.
You don’t want an innocent goose to go through that, do you? Of course not. Don’t give geese any rice or food containing rice that has bad stuff.
How Should You Serve Rice to Geese?
There is not much to it if you want to give rice to geese. You can scatter dry rice on the ground for them to forage or mix it in with other dry feed to bulk it up.
Cooked rice is best served to them in a bowl or tray to make it a bit easier for them to eat.
They really love the stuff, and will happily overeat on it, so make sure you measure portions out and then serve it to them; never let them eat it to their heart’s content!
Can Baby Geese Have Rice?
Yes, baby geese (or goslings) can have rice, but they should only have it as part of a nutritionally complete diet.
Their little bodies are growing and changing so rapidly that they need all the nutrients they can get, and rice alone does not provide everything they need.
As with adult geese, you should only give them a small amount of rice at one time. A good rule of thumb is no more than a tablespoon for goslings that are a few weeks old.
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.