Elderly domestic goose -- winter protection?

cdclark707January 29, 2009

Hi community!

I have a goose (he might be a Toulouse) who is 20 years old this year. When I moved from Northern California to Mississippi in 2005, I moved him with me.

When it gets to the mid 30's at night here, I overnight him in a filled bathtub in the house. Okay, that's probably weird, but we're okay with it.

Here are my questions --

-- If I move to an area where the winters are colder for longer periods (like Michigan), I can't keep him in the bathtub for months on end. I've read in this forum where people lay down straw in a shed and hang a lightbulb for heat. Is that enough if the temps are at zero? I'm particularly concerned about keeping him safe because of my goose's age... which leads me to Question 2 --

-- How long do geese live? This one doesn't show any signs at all of aging... from time to time, he still balances on the edge of his water bucket (which is, what, a quarter inch thick???), and peers in the window at me when I make coffee in the morning.



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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Something tells me my normal response (i.e. its plenty warm in the oven) isn't going to cut it here.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 12:52AM
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LOL, Brendan... shame on you!

I get that a lot, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 1:08AM
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lol at Brendan! I don't know how much difference there is in geese. Some Canada geese winter over here if there is a break in the ice in the lakes. They are out there all winter long, even when it's -20F and don't seem bothered by the cold.

Wow 20 yrs old! That's amazing. I had no idea geese lived any longer than chickens.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 6:59AM
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Our goose, George, is 8 years old and at night he lives in our barn in an enclosure with a heated water bucket and a lamp. I have straw on the floor and he does just fine. It was 8 below this week and he has never had a problem. He is an American Buff, but similar to a Toulouse in size and feathering. In the winter I put a water bucket outside with his food during the day and he takes his bath in the bucket. In the summer he has a kiddie pool I keep filled for bathing. I don't know if they need to have a tub of water in the winter. I think they just need to be able to rinse their heads and flush out their noses with water periodically. He does a good job of getting wet all over just with the small bucket.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 12:04PM
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Thanks so much, Bonnie. Love your goose's name.

Hmmmm... I just Googled "American Buff" and pulled up a photo of one that looks very much like my goose.

I've noticed that mine uses the water bucket to dip his head in, too, so I can see how that would work for the winter months instead of a pond.

I'd never heard of a heated water bucket before... great idea. I just Googled that and found some resources, too. They also have heated larger containers (for horses), if I wanted him to have his own "hot tub".

Thanks so much, Bonnie. Where are you, by the way, where it gets to 8 below?


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 2:20PM
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My Mother-in-Law had some for over 30 years and had to give them away 8 or so years ago when her knees prevented her from properly caring for her animals. As far as I know they are still alive. There are numerous records of 40-50-and one that was 71 years old. Wonder if He kept flying South for Christmas???

Google "oldest goose" you will get a link for the New York Times article published Feb 25, 1907-the original article was in the Kansas City Journal.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 4:24PM
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Lets face it, a 20 year old goose is getting up there ! there are geese on record as being quite old but is not thatr common. Cold doesnt bother geese much. Our domestic geese are derived from the Swan goose(Anser cygnoides)(( African & Chinese)) or the Gray Lag goose(Anser anser)(( Am. Buffs, Pilgrims, Sebastapols, Toulouse, etc)). They are tuff critters who regulary tour cold country.
A wind break is a good idea or you can use a dog house or a pile of straw/hay bales. My geese, American Buffs & Pilgrims rarely utilized shelters for more than brooding eggs. They would look like bumps of snow until they moved. They do need a source of water they can get their heads in all the way. Remenber, goose down !!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 8:07PM
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Goosemom, I bought our heated water buckets at Big R for less than $20.00. They really come in handy for the goose and our dogs as well. We live in Black Forest, Colorado, elevation at 7850 ft. We get lots of snow and cold (we are on the Palmer Divide) and are on a ridge which gets most of the cold and snow while Colorado Springs only 15 miles away will get nothing. I love it though.

Your goose has darker coloring than our Buff, but could be. The picture of a Toulouse I have seen looks like they are quite a bit stockier as well as having darker feathers. George had a mate, Gracie, who died a three years ago. He is really my buddy now and follows me on walks everywhere and lets me pick him and give him hugs. But, he has his moments as well where he doesn't like my outfit and won't come near me. He doesn't recognize me unless I'm in my farm clothes and sweat pants.;-)


    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 12:48AM
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seramas -- I found the article on the 71 yr old goose! (link is below). Great that your mom-in-law found new homes for her geese. Both stories make me think that I may have my buddy for another 10-20 (or more!) years.

fancifowl -- Sounds like you have a nice variety of geese. Thanks for the shelter ideas. Your description of "bumps of snow" made me laugh out loud!

Bonnie -- Your description of where you live made me cold... I bet it's absolutely beautiful up there. Love your story about George not recognizing you by your clothing! Is his last name Burns, by any chance? ;-) Thanks for the tip about where to get the bucket. Maybe he's a crossbreed? I was told by the first owners that he was a Chinese Brown, but he doesn't look anything like that breed.

I've read that geese have around 10 different "sounds". I've noticed that mine will sometimes open his beak and make a sound that's like he's exhaling loudly (well, that's what I do when I "talk" with him in this voice). Anybody have that experience?


Here is a link that might be useful: the oldest goose article

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 2:10AM
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I have 2 Roman Tufted female geese and I was worried they would get cold in the winter. In their 10x10 barn I put shavings on the floor and stacked 2 bales of hay on each side in a corner and filled the middle with loose hay for a nest. Remember goose down feathers are their natural insultation so they are plenty warm. When their face or feet get cold they tuck them into their bodies.

Also keep a bucket of water (heated bucket in winter) deep enough for them to dip their heads, they have to be able to blow out their noses. The floor by the water bucket is always frozen because they still like to pour water over their back and sometimes I go in and their back have droplets of ice on them. Don't worry, if its too cold (in the teens) or too windy and cold just keep them in. I have a light source but I do not have a heat lamp in their barn, they don't need it remember they have goose down. On nice days above 25 they will come out into the yard, in the snow and preen, when their feet get cold they go back in.

I love my geese and the two females give me eggs all winter and summer!! I have never heard of a goose living til 20 you should call the Guinness Book of World Records, yikes!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 10:12AM
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Thanks, laturcotte1! Your nest idea sounds cozy and would block any wind that might come into the barn.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 3:31PM
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