Can Geese Eat Sunflower Seeds? Is it Safe?

If you were going to associate one kind of food in particular with birds, what would it be? If you said seeds, you aren’t alone! All sorts of seeds are the favorite foods of many different kinds of birds, and that includes domestic ones like chickens, ducks, and, of course, geese.

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

But geese, compared to other waterfowl, have a somewhat specialized diet consisting mostly of greenery. Can they eat the usual seeds that are fed to birds such as sunflower seeds? Can geese eat sunflower seeds safely?

Yes, geese can safely eat sunflower seeds and they are a great source of nutrition and energy for them. But, they should only have them in limited quantities because they’re high in calories.

So, we can chalk this up under “not very surprising.” Geese can eat sunflower seeds like most other birds, and I can tell you right now that they really love them.

You’ll also love what sunflower seeds can do for the health of your flock, but at the same time, you need to be careful not to give your geese too many…

These seeds are loaded with lots of good stuff, but they’re also full of calories. It’s easy to overdo it! It isn’t a very big problem, but you do need to be aware of it. We’ll talk more about it below.

Do Geese Like Sunflower Seeds?

Yes, geese actually love sunflower seeds! Sunflower seeds are filling, a great source of energy and easy for geese to swallow and digest, making them one of their favorite foods.

Geese will go out of their way to get more of them, and if you put out a large quantity, they’ll gorge on them.

You don’t want that to happen, and it’s up to you to limit the amount they get. We’ll talk more about that in a bit…

Are Sunflower Seeds a Healthy Food for Geese?

Yes, sunflower seeds have some great health benefits for geese. They are loaded with protein which can help geese grow and heal from injury, they’re a wonderful source of energy, they have healthy fats, and they’re crowned with vitamins and minerals that can support every element of their biology.

For starters, sunflower seeds have a huge array of B vitamins, among them vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and folate. Sunflower seeds also contain a little bit of vitamin C and choline but a tremendous amount of vitamin E. These are all good things that geese need in order to thrive!

The mineral content is similarly incredible, and these seeds are among the best sources of critical nutrients like iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc with a somewhat reduced amount of calcium.

Notably, sunflower seeds also contain a fair bit of sodium naturally. Keep this in mind for a moment.

Not bad at all from such a tiny, humble seed! If you look at all this nutrition together, it can do a lot of good for a goose:

  • ✓ it can improve everything from tissue and skeletal growth,
  • ✓ the healing of organ function,
  • ✓ metabolic regulation,
  • ✓ circulation in the production of new red blood cells,
  • ✓ feathering,
  • ✓ nervous system function,
  • ✓ and even promote the laying of healthy eggs with good, strong eggshells for viability.

Are Whole Sunflower Seeds Safe for Geese?

Yes, they are. Whole sunflower seeds are totally safe for geese to eat. And to reduce confusion I am talking about sunflower seeds with the shell on.

And before you ask, yes, they can safely swallow and digest the tough outer hull of the seed. Or at least they can as long as they are getting enough grit in their diet.

Assuming you are supplementing their diet with grit or giving them access to natural grit when foraging, it’s no issue.

Are Sunflower Kernels Safe for Geese?

Yes, they are. The little edible bit that you and I eat inside a sunflower seed, variously called the kernel or heart, is completely safe for geese to eat.

I do want to point out, though, that you need not go through any trouble to pre-shell your sunflower seeds before giving them to your flock, and you definitely don’t need to spend extra to buy just the seed kernels.

Are Raw Sunflower Seeds Safe for Geese?

Yes. Raw sunflower seeds are totally safe for geese, and this is the typical way they would find and eat them in the wild.

Can Geese Safely Eat Roasted Sunflower Seeds?

Yes, they sure are. However, there’s a caveat: you must never serve your geese any sunflower seeds that have been roasted with added salt, oil, seasonings or other ingredients that they can’t have.

Can Sunflower Seeds Hurt Geese in Any Way?

Potentially, but this is only likely if you’re giving them the wrong kind of seeds or you are giving them way too many sunflower seeds generally.

I mentioned it in the previous section, but it is imperative that you never give your geese the kind of sunflower seeds that are made and marketed as snacks for people. Extra salt, oil, sugar, seasonings, spices and stuff like that is bad, bad news for birds.

Any of it can cause them serious indigestion, diarrhea and other health issues besides. Salt is particularly a major problem because these seeds already contain quite a bit naturally.

If geese get too much salt in their diet over time, or a big dose at once, it can cause high blood pressure or even sodium poisoning. Sodium poisoning can cause seizures and neurological damage or even kill your geese!

The other issue, though thankfully one that is far less serious, with sunflower seeds is that they aren’t nutritionally complete. Despite being very healthy, they don’t have everything that geese need to thrive, and they are very high in calories. Considering that geese love them so much, they’ll happily overeat if you keep handing them over.

This means that your geese will start to gain weight, but they will also suffer from nutritional imbalance because they aren’t getting other foods to make up the deficit of nutrients.

How Often Should Geese Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Sunflower seeds are truly good for geese, but they aren’t something that needs to be a majority part of their diet, or even a large secondary part. I recommend that you give your flock sunflower seeds no more than twice a week, in small portions.

This is more than enough to give them the great benefits of all the protein and nutrients that sunflower seeds have without overloading. Plus, it’s good for geese to get them infrequently enough to look forward to them as a treat.

What’s the Best Way to Serve Sunflower Seeds to Geese?

The only thing to do with sunflower seeds is just give them to your geese. They’ll be happy to snatch them off the ground, but you can make it easier on them if you put them in a bowl or feeder. And just a reminder: you do not need to shell the seeds; geese will eat them hull and all.

Never Give Geese Sunflower Seeds if They are Moldy

If you’ve been sitting on a large quantity of sunflower seeds for a long while, there’s a non-zero chance they can go bad over time. This is highly likely if they’re exposed to moisture!

There are lots of different mold varieties that will grow on sunflower seeds, and some of them produce really dangerous toxins that can kill your geese.

If you notice any such mold on the sunflower seeds, or if they smell musty or off or in any way seem less-than-fresh, don’t risk the health of your birds by serving it. Throw them out, buy new, and store them better so they last longer.

Are Sunflower Seeds Safe for Goslings?

Yes, sunflower seeds are just fine for goslings once they reach about five or six weeks of age. They’re a bit too risky in terms of choking for younger ones, and you should also be cautious to avoid giving them too many.

Baby geese can definitely benefit from the calories and protein, but they’ve got to get complete nutrition one way or the other and if you let them fill up on sunflower seeds, they won’t be getting it.

As with adult geese, mind the quantity and serve rarely enough for best results.

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