Do Geese Eat Fish?

White geese swimming in the fishing pond.

Geese belong to the same family as swans and ducks do. Geese have become domesticated birds, and some people raised them as food sources. These waterfowl birds have stocky, plump, and large bodies than ducks. That led people to believe that they were capable of eating fish- large fish, to be exact. But do they eat fish as other aquatic birds do?

Are Geese Omnivores?

The Canadian geese are herbivores. Although geese are primarily omnivores, they eat parts of the plants, such as berries, seeds, grass, roots, bulbs, stems, flowers, shoots, and grains. 

Geese eat insects but not fish because of the physiological structures of their digestive organs. Their digestive tracts are shorter than other animals and incapable of digesting flesh. 

They also do not have natural teeth to chew and swallow fish. Geese lack digestive enzymes to be able to break down the protein in fish or meat.  

Digestive Physiology of Geese

To have a clear understanding of how geese digest food, let’s take a look at their digestive physiology. 

The digestive structure of a goose is ideal for consuming and digesting large amounts of fiber from plant matter, making them unique compared to other birds from the Anatidae family. 

The ability of geese to consume high-fiber feedstuff, along with their scavenging and foraging ability, make them suitable for the sustainable farming system. 

When you look at their digestive tract, you cannot see the differences between swans and ducks. The esophagus is elongated, extending into the crop for food storage before passing down to the proventriculus or stomach. 

The microbiological fermentation of the fiber takes place in the caeca. It is in the proventriculus where the gastric secretion of pepsin and acid occurs. The food transports to the gizzard, where the grinding of the food and digest the protein.

From there, the digested food passes to the small intestine before going to the large intestine. The last destination of the digested food goes to the cloaca.  

Reasons Why Geese Don’t Eat fish

Some geese species may eat fish, but occasionally when they find nothing to eat. The fish they typically consume are tiny ones. The top reasons why they dislike fish:

Geese have Short Intestines

Their digestive system is unsuitable for digesting fish and animal flesh. Their short intestines cannot break down the proteins from the meat they are eating. Their intestine is ideal for digesting plants, where they get their nutrients to survive. 

Some geese may eat small fishes that do not need to chew. Aside from plant matters, they eat aquatic invertebrates like shrimp and tadpoles.

Geese are Foragers

Geese rely on food they get from nature because they are not hunters. They eat what is available to them, such as aquatic plants and edible plants. They might be natural hunters, but they are in a defensive mood when big fishes are a threat to their young. 

They snatch their goslings underneath the water surface when the need arises. In winter, they fly southbound to forage on food. 

Geese Lack Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes play a role in breaking down proteins in meat and fish. 

Sadly, geese do not have enzymes and extract nutrients from fish. Their short intestine can digest bugs, vegetables, fruits, leaves, and grasses of aquatic and edible plants. Their stomach has two chambers designed to digest plant matter, but not for fish and meat.

Geese Do Not Have Teeth 

The teeth that geese have are not teeth. Their “teeth” cannot chew large amounts of fish and flesh. It is the reason they avoid catching fish as they cannot chew and digest them.  

What Type of Fish Does Geese Eat?

Sometimes geese may eat fish and aquatic animals, but it has to be small species that they swallow instead of chewing. They can eat small fish and small shrimps if plants cannot fill their stomach. 

A study in 1977 conducted by the Arctic Biology in Alaska revealed that geese and other waterfowl species search for plants rich in protein but may eat fish or meat if they have nothing to eat. Trophy fish is not their cup of tea. 

Is There a Type of Geese that Eat Fish?

Geese are known as herbivores because of their physiological differences from their swan and duck relatives. But, domestic geese and wild geese may eat fish occasionally. 

Some people believe that geese are omnivores (eat both meat and plants) because geese, like Canadian geese, eat insects and fish on occasion. Geese may eat fish for the sake of eating but return the fish to the water after grabbing it.  

Wild geese accidentally grab fish when scavenging for the aquatic plant. If there are no plants available, they eat small fish for survival or if they learn to eat from their Anatidae relatives. 

Backyard farmers would say that geese have no interest in fish; they grab them for fun. They might like to eat fish when they develop the behavior. There is no reason to worry if you see your pet catching fish from your pond; they will throw them back into the water.  

Is it Safe to Feed Your Pet Goose with Fish?

Yes, your pet goose can eat fish without going to die. They do not grab the fish if you feed them by hand. They know fish is food, but they are not interested because they cannot chew them, and they are hard to digest by their short intestines. 

Fish is not their ideal food. It is their discretion if they eat the fish they catch in the pond.  

What Aquatic Animals Does Geese Eat? 

Geese can eat small fish and crustaceans if plants are not available. Although fish may not be palatable to them, they eat them occasionally. In the winter, geese consume a bunch of crustaceans like shrimp to fulfill their nutritional needs. 

Is Cooked or Canned Fish Safe Food for My Pet Goose? 

The stomach of geese is not ideal for digesting cooked and processed foods like canned fish. Although it may not cause them to be sick or die, avoid feeding them. Try giving them natural foods, such as plants, insects, and bugs, which can supply nutrients to make them healthy. 

What is the Best Way to Protect My Pet Geese?

Raising backyard geese begins by giving them a space where they can swim on. Like ducks and swans, geese love to wade in the water. 

Build a small pond with enough clean water where they can swim any time of the day. Clean the pond at least twice a week. If water is not available, your pet goose may fly away and look for a place with abundant water to thrive.  

Wrapping Up

Geese are herbivores by nature, but when there is not enough supply of plant matter, they grab the fish in the water and eat them to survive. 

In the winter months, geese may choose to eat tiny fishes and crustaceans. Protect your goose pet by not feeding them processed foods like canned and cooked fish, as their digestive system is unfit for this type of food.  

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