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Habitat Management for Migrating and Wintering
Canada Geese: A Moist-Soil Alternative

Nutritional Quality of Moist-Soil Foods

The nutritional value of common agricultural crops such as corn, milo, winter wheat, and soybeans for domestic and wildlife species has been documented through commercial poultry work (e.g., National Research Council 1977), and some avian studies (e.g., Hoffman and Bookhout 1985, Joyner et al. 1987). Corn and milo are good sources of energy (National Research Council 1977, Buckley 1989), but monotypic diets often are nutritionally incomplete (Delnicki and Reinecke 1986, Loesch and Kaminski 1989, Joyner et al. 1987). Only recently there has been examination of the nutritional quality and digestibility of native foods (e.g., Burton et al. 1979, Hoffman and Bookhout 1985, Buckley 1989).

Buckley (1989) evaluated the gross and metabolic energy and nutritional quality of 7 commonly consumed moist-soil seeds (beggarticks [Bidens spp.], barnyard grass, knotweed, nodding foxtail, nodding smartweed, rice cutgrass, and wild millet) and 3 row crop seeds (corn, milo, and soybeans) specifically for Canada geese. Nodding foxtail and rice cutgrass, consumed together, were able to satisfy the protein and essential amino acid requirements of geese. Smartweeds, wild millet, corn, and milo each were deficient in protein and essential amino acids. However, a combination of row crop and moist-soil seeds would balance out protein deficiencies. Corn and milo contained high amounts of readily available energy. Beggarticks and soybeans seemed to be good sources of energy and protein but are of limited dietary value to geese. Beggarticks rarely are utilized by geese (Korschgen 1955, Eggeman et al. 1989), and soybeans contain factors inhibiting protein digestion (Scott et al. 1982) and are suspected to cause crop impaction (Durant 1956). Most seeds, except soybeans, resisted deterioration when flooded 90-120 days (Buckley 1989).

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