The possible importance of nutritional requirements for Dark-bellied Brent Geese in the seasonal shift from winter cereals to pasture.

Brant Goose (Branta bernicla) Science Article 7


The use by Brent Geese of five pairs of winter cereal and pasture fields at Pagham Harbour, West Sussex, England was measured from November 1991 through the end of March 1992. A switch from winter cereals to pasture was observed between November and December. Monthly vegetation samples were analysed for quantitative and qualitative changes which may have affected feeding by the geese. Depletion of winter cereal biomass or percentage live matter, or changes in sward height did not appear to be responsible for the shift from cereals to pasture. Nor was there evidence that geese responded to relative changes in nutrient quality. Additionally, human disturbance did not prompt the switch. One possible explanation is that Brent Geese maximize dietary protein early in the winter, perhaps to replace that lost during migration; thereafter water soluble carbohydrates are maximized.

Mckay H., Bishop J.D. & Ennis D.C., ARDEA 82 (1): 123-132.

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