Ducks and geese eat a lot of insects, so feeding them mealworms or freeze-dried crickets mimics their natural food choices. Other good options include barley, oats, birdseed, cracked corn, vegetable peels and chopped-up grapes that have been diced into pieces.
Fortunately, you can offer many other healthy, safe, and nutritious foods to omnivorous birds like ducks, geese, and swans. The best foods have nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that the birds need for healthy growth and development.
Food to Avoid
The most common items people feed to ducks and waterfowl are often the least nutritious and most unhealthy. Bread, chips, crackers, donuts, cereal, popcorn, and similar bread-type products or junk food scraps are not the right foods for birds.
Feeding ducks bread is bad because the food has little nutritional value and can harm ducklings’ growth. The uneaten remnants often pollute waterways and attract vermin and other pests. Some people may feed ducks their leftover stale or mouldy bread, which should never be fed to the birds: Several types of mould can be fatal to waterfowl.
Good Foods for Ducks and Geese
Many of these foods are similar to the insects, molluscs, seeds, grains, and plants the birds will forage for on their own. The best foods include:
- Cracked corn
- Wheat, barley, or similar grains
- Oats (uncooked; rolled or quick)
- Rice (plain white or brown, cooked or uncooked, whole or instant)
- Milo seed
- Birdseed (any type or mix)
- Grapes (cut in half or quartered if very large)
- Nut hearts or pieces (any type but without salt, coatings, or flavoring)
- Frozen peas or corn (defrosted, no need to cook)
- Earthworms (fishing bait or dug from the garden)
- Mealworms (fresh or dried)
- Chopped lettuce or other greens or salad mixes
- Vegetable trimmings or peels (chopped into small pieces)
Duck feed pellets or poultry starter pellets are other great options. You can get poultry feed from farming or agricultural supply stores. These pellets are the same food that some parks and zoos may offer in coin-operated vending machines.
Human and Pet Food: Geese also enjoy eating food that humans or animals consume. Foods such as rice, porridge, cake, cereal, and pet food such as dog kibble are enjoyed by geese. These foods are safe for them, but should be given in little quantities and should not replace their main diet.
Fruits and Vegetables Geese Love to Eat
1. Apples: These are known to be an absolute favourite of these birds. Apples are a great source of energy and they also provide the necessary nutrients for geese.
However, it is not advisable to give your pet whole apples to munch on as they can be difficult for them to chew. Instead, chop the apples into sizable bits and pieces for easy consumption.
Ensure you remove the apple seeds to prevent choking.
2. Bananas are also very popular with geese. They are very nutritious and high in vitamin C and fibre. They are also soft to chew, which makes them safe.
Bananas may lack seeds which can cause choking. Bananas should be given in moderation to your geese to prevent digestive troubles.
3. Lettuce Greens: If you let your geese into your vegetable farm, you will have a first-hand view of how much geese love lettuce.
Lettuce greens are ideal vegetables for your pets. These leafy vegetables are highly nutritious with lots of vitamins. Always chop lettuce leaves into tiny bits to make it easy for your pets to consume them.
4. Grapes: grapes are loved by geese and contain high amounts of beneficial vitamin C. Ensure you feed only fully ripened grapes as unripened grapes are high in acidic content which can cause harm to your goose’s digestive system.
5. Carrots: Carrots are great sources of vitamin C for your geese. They look very inviting to them and are very nutritious.
Due to the strong nature of carrots, they are best cooked mildly to enable your geese to eat them properly. Chop carrots into bits and pieces and boil over medium heat until partly cooked before serving your pet.
6. Watermelon: The high water content in watermelon makes it the perfect treat for your geese especially in the summer as it helps to prevent dehydration. They are also low in calories and high in fiber.
A slice of watermelon on a hot summer day is very enjoyable and nutritious for your pet.
7. Strawberries: These berries are also high on the list of a goose’s favorite fruit.
Strawberries are rich in vitamins and also high in calories. They should not be given as a staple diet.
Fruits, in general, are treats and they should make up only a part of the diet and not all of it. Therefore, it is imperative you have a balanced diet, mixed with varieties of nutrients for your pet.
Tips for Feeding
If you want to feed the ducks or waterfowl at local ponds, do it rarely. An occasional visit here or there is better than regular visits. If you feed them regularly, they are likely to get excessive food. Other tips include:
- Stop feeding the birds if they appear uninterested or are leaving the food uneaten. Leftover food can quickly rot and attract unwanted pests.
- Avoid feeding the ducks if other visitors are already offering treats: Too much food can lead to health problems and uneaten leftovers.
- Ducks do not chew. No matter what foods you provide, only offer foods in bite-sized pieces that the birds can easily consume without choking or struggling.
- Be wary of birds that approach closely; they can get aggressive, particularly larger waterfowl such as swans and geese.
- Litter can hurt birds and the environment; dispose of all trash properly, including bags, twist ties, plastic clips, and any unsuitable or mouldy scraps.
- Do not allow pets or children to chase or disturb the ducks, particularly young birds or families. It can stress out the birds or cause injuries (to you and the birds).
- Be aware of local ordinances and obey laws that restrict or prohibit feeding ducks or geese. If you disregard the law, you can face fines or penalties.