Something's wrong with my goose

cdclark707July 15, 2009

I thought I posted this last night, but can't find it, so here we go again... :-)

I have a 20-year-old goose who has been in excellent health his whole life and acts like he's still a kid. He climbs up on his water bucket and perches on the rim to look in the window at me, for example.

However... we've had temps close to 100 for the last several weeks (I'm in Hattiesburg, Mississippi) and although he's been shedding some feathers, I'm wondering if the heat is taking its toll on him. I make sure he has fresh drinking water and he has an above-ground pool that he swims in occasionally.

The problem is that for the last couple of days, he's not himself -- he doesn't honk back when I honk at him, he doesn't come up to the fence and poke his head through, and yesterday, when I captured him to check him out, he didn't try to nibble on me like he usually does when I pet his chest (he just stood there). I felt him all over and he didn't react until I lifted a wing and felt his body under the wing, then he made a not-so-happy noise. Same thing when I felt under the other wing. When I picked him up, same noise.

So... is it the heat or something else? Any ideas? He's safe from other critters, so it's not that. I'm organic, so no pesticides anywhere. Only new variable is the heat. He's still eating and drinking water.

Any insights would be appreciated. Thanks!


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Problem appears to be with his wings. He won't let me extend them out. I tried to gently feel around for BBs, but didn't feel anything.

I'm going to see if there's a vet around here who treats geese.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 3:08PM
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20 years old? Your goose has pretty much reached the end of his life expectancy if he's lived twenty years. He's old.

I am sure the heat is bothering him. It would bother any creature, but it's more likely his age.

I doubt you'll be able to find a vet who knows much about geese. Most vets with that knowledge work in zoos or wildlife rehabilitation.

I'm afraid I don't know of anything you can do to help him feel better. All I can do is wish you luck.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 5:08PM
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Just got back from the vet's. We saw a vet who is the local zoo vet and he takes care of barnyard animals.

I told him the whole story, then he subdued Mr. Goose by holding his feet. Mr G tucked his head in his breast and was the most submissive I have seen him in 17 years. The vet then pulled each wing out to its full extension and the goose didn't make a PEEP. He listened to his lungs (clear) and said he couldn't find anything wrong with him, although his breastbone ridge is a little prominent (indicating loss of muscle mass, probably due to age he said). He decided that he should have 2 days of antibiotics just in case.

I suggested, early in the visit, that it might be the heat. "See how he's breathing through his mouth?" I said. "And he's not talking like he usually does or trying to peck us."

By the end of the visit, the goose wasn't breathing through his mouth, he was muttering quietly to himself, and he was grooming himself.

The vet said that when I said it might be the heat, he thought I was nuts because he's never heard of that. I suggested that considering that the goose spent his first 15 years in Northern California, where it gets to 100 maybe 3 days a year, and has been here only a few summers... and this is the first period with sustained high temps like we've had recently... He said by the end of the visit, he was inclined to agree with me, based on the goose's behavior change after he'd been in the AC for half an hour.

He also said that when I pulled his wings out and got resistance plus he made a painful sound, that it probably was because I wasn't restraining him and he was just letting me know he didn't like what I was doing. If I had grabbed his feet like the vet did...

So, that's the story... the vet suggested that during the hot part of the day that I bring him in the house and put him in the tub (I fill it with water). We're headed toward 85 degree temps in a few days, so I'll be bringing him in the house between now and then for guest privileges.

And, no, he doesn't have a little silver bell so he can summon me to bring him treats. :-)

One more thing... I told the vet I'd been feeding him whole corn and cracked corn the whole 17 years I've had him (the local feed store told me I should feed him that back in the beginning). The vet said that corn had very little protein, lots of carbs, and that I should find a waterfowl mix for him. He also said that he seemed to be doing pretty well on a corn diet, especially at his age.

Okay, I'm done. Thanks for listening. :-)


    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 8:04PM
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Glad to hear you diagnosed the problem!

If you're looking for a new feed, I highly recommend Mazuri Waterfowl Maintenence. It's made by Purina and you may have to special order it from a feed store. I have a standing special order at mine.

I feed it to my ducks. Its expensive, so for my geese (8), I stretch it a little by mixing in some poultry grower pellets. If you cant find someone to order the Mazuri, you will do fine with plain poultry grower--it has more protein than cracked corn. And you can always add greens to the diet to round things out. During the winter when my geese dont have access to pasture, I supplement with cabbage from the "not our best quality" bin at my local supermarket.

Hope that helps.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 10:32PM
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Thank you so much, Patch. I'll call our local feed stores tomorrow and ask if they have it or can order it for me.

My guy likes mixed greens, too. I planted some this year that I didn't gather as fast as it grew, so I turned him loose on it. If he had lips, he would have licked them.

Unfortunately, the zucchini was next to the lettuce and the next day, he started waging war on the zuke plants (not eating them, just ripping them out of the ground). I figured he was irritated that there wasn't any more lettuce so it was having a goose fit. LOL

Didn't even think that he might like cabbage. I'll get him some tomorrow to supplement the lawn.

Thanks again!


    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 10:44PM
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Hey Goosemom/Carol,

I saw your post yesterday, but didn't respond because I don't have any geese. Wanted someone to answer your question 1st.

Posting to say hello. I'm from south MS, Crystal Springs. This was the worst June temps that I remember having for a long time. It could be my old timers, but I don't remember it being this bad.

Glad Mr. Goose is doing better. So glad you found a vet who seemed to know about waterfowl.


Here is a link that might be useful: MY BLOG

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 10:43AM
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Hi Ramona!

I haven't seen any stats, but the weather guy on the local NBC affiliate seems to think this extended heat is a big deal. We're supposed to have rain for a few days starting this afternoon, thank God.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 10:52AM
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