Domestic geese tend to have things a little bit easier than their wild counterparts. Aside from living longer and benefiting from human care and attention in the form of shelter and a well-rounded diet, they get more treats and novel foods, too.
Lots of owners supplement their flocks’ menus with fresh produce, and geese can eat lots of the same vegetables that we eat. But as you might expect they can’t eat quite all of the vegetables there are. How about tomatoes? Can geese eat tomatoes and are they safe?
Yes, tomatoes are safe for geese but only occasionally and only if they are fully ripe. Geese should never eat unripened tomatoes or any other part of the tomato plant because they contain solanine, a dangerous toxin.
Tomatoes are yet another vegetable that you can add to the diet of your birds, but more than most other veggies you’ve got to be cautious.
Tomatoes are somewhat notorious for causing indigestion even under ideal circumstances, and unripened tomatoes or any other part of the tomato plant can cause major issues for geese.
There’s a lot more you need to know on the subject before you decide to feed them to your flock, so keep reading and I’ll tell you about it…
Do Geese Like Tomatoes?
I would say that most geese seem to like tomatoes okay. I’ve seen some birds that do enjoy them, and others that just aren’t interested no matter what. Compared to something like lettuce, cabbage, or sunflower seeds, this is one of those love-it-or-leave-it items on their menu.
Yes, they are, but with some significant reservations we will talk about in the next section.
But for starters, let’s check out the nutritional profile of tomatoes. Tomatoes are a pretty good source of energy for geese and have a decent lineup of vitamins and minerals that can benefit them.
Looking at the vitamin content, we see that tomatoes contain a great variety, including lots of vitamin A and beta carotene, most of the B-complex vitamins including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Pretty impressive!
The mineral content is similarly varied, but tomatoes don’t have quite the quantity compared to violence. Nonetheless, tomatoes have iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium.
These are all things that geese need, and these nutrients together can significantly improve their overall health, including:
- nervous system function eyesight,
- circulatory health to include the creation of new red blood cells and effective blood oxygenation,
- the growth and repair of tissues and bones,
- and immune system function.
Most practically, adding tomatoes to the diet of geese is known to improve their ability to grow feathers during the molt, which is ordinarily a pretty stressful and resource-intensive time in a goose’s life.
This all sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? So what’s the bad news I was talking about earlier?
Can Tomatoes Hurt Geese in Any Way?
Yes, they can, and if you are careless or lack caution in several ways.
Let’s look at the basics first. Tomatoes are highly acidic, having a fair amount of sugar, and are full of moisture. These three things together set the stage for serious digestive upset in geese.
Diarrhea is an expected consequence and that can lead to outbreaks of disease, dehydration, and more. If a goose is already stressed or sick, it might finish them off!
But the bigger concern for tomatoes is if a goose is allowed to eat unripened fruits or any green part of the plant. Troubling, I know, considering how much geese tend to love and be attracted to leafy greenery!
This is because unripened tomatoes and all other parts of the plant contain a toxic compound called solanine. Solanine is a glycoalkaloid poison; it’s basically the plant’s defense against being eaten.
If ingested in sufficient quantities, solanine can cause death, but it is more likely to cause horrendous digestive tract issues and damage. It’s true!
Tomatoes, it turns out, are in the nightshade family along with several other veggies like peppers.
So, whenever you’re going to give your geese tomatoes, you must only give them small amounts of fully ripened tomatoes with all other greenery removed. And you’ve got to take care to keep them away from the plants themselves!
Are Raw Tomatoes Okay for Geese?
Yes, raw tomatoes are safe for geese to eat as long as you remember what was discussed above: Small serving sizes, infrequently, ripe, no green parts of the plant.
Also, if you aren’t giving your geese a tiny variety of tomatoes (grape, cherub, etc.) you’ll need to cut them up to make it easier for them to swallow.
Are Cooked Tomatoes Safe?
Yes, cooked tomatoes are also fine for geese but you really don’t need to go to the trouble. Cooking isn’t going to make the tomatoes any easier for geese to eat or digest but it will reduce the nutritional content.
And just an FYI, cooking does not reduce the toxins in unripened tomatoes, so they are still off-limits for your geese.
Whatt About Tomato Seeds?
Yes, tomato seeds are completely safe for geese to eat assuming that the fruit is ripe. You won’t need to go to any trouble to remove them prior to feeding them to your flock.
Are Tomato Leaves Okay for Geese?
No! Tomato leaves contain solanine at all phases of growth and should not be eaten by geese.
If your geese take just a bite or two of the leaves off of a nearby plant you shouldn’t expect them to have any issues, but you must not make a habit of feeding them the leaves- or letting them eat from the plants freely.
Are Tomato Vines Okay for Geese?
No, they are not! Just like the leaves above, the vines of the tomato plant contain solanine, and compared to the leaves they contain a lot of it. In my experience, most geese seem to shun the vines, but you can’t count on them to take care of themselves in this regard.
Don’t serve the vines to your birds and keep them away from any growing plants.
How Often Should Geese Eat Tomatoes?
I recommend you only serve your geese two small servings of tomatoes weekly, and that is at most. If you have a smaller breed or sensitive eaters, I would scale that back to once a week.
If your geese like tomatoes, they will enjoy them as a periodic treat and still get maximum benefits from them and you’ll avoid all of the unhappy outcomes discussed above…
What’s the Best Way to Serve Tomatoes to Geese?
The one thing you must do when serving tomatoes to your geese is ensure that the tomatoes themselves are entirely ripe. That means no green patches at all, and remove all green parts from the fruit, including the little crown or calyx on top.
With that done, you can cut your tomato into small slices or even smaller chunks before serving them as is or mixing them in with other foods that your geese like.
Never Give Geese Tomatoes if They are Rotting or Moldy
This isn’t unique to tomatoes but applies to all produce and other foods that you would serve your flock: never give your geese any tomatoes that are rotting, slimy or moldy.
Geese are highly vulnerable to a variety of foodborne illnesses, especially those caused by mold. Certain kinds of mold produce deadly toxins that can kill very quickly when ingested.
If the tomatoes aren’t fresh and wholesome enough for you to eat, they definitely aren’t fresh enough for your geese to eat safely.
Whether they are store-bought or homegrown, toss them if they go bad!
Are Tomatoes Safe for Goslings, Too?
Yeah, tomatoes are safe for goslings but there are a lot of “buts” attached to that assessment: for starters, tomatoes are so acidic that they will easily cause tummy trouble and diarrhea in goslings.
That’s a really big problem because baby geese can dehydrate quickly or suffer from electrolyte shock, either of which is fatal when they are young and delicate.
But, assuming your goslings are a little bit older, let’s say around 5 or 6 weeks, and preferably a bit older than that, they can have a few tiny bites of tomato once a week without much worry.
Do make it a point to keep an eye on them and be especially cautious that they never get an unripened tomato or any other part of the plant! Solanine will be very deadly for a young, small goose!
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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