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?'s about keeping geese

Posted by askewgardens z6 East OH (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 9, 08 at 19:39

I have 8 geese that I bought this spring. I've kept chickens for years, but this is my first attempt with waterfowl. My geese are penned at night in the chicken pen and allowed to free range all day. My questions are regarding mating season next spring. Will they use a nesting area if I were to build one. If so, what should it be like? If not, I guess I need to put them in their own pen in the spring so they won't just nest anywhere and be unprotected. If I pen the geese in the spring does it need to be more than a fenced in area with a shelter? (What predators do I need to worry about? They're all large geese.) Finally, it looks as though I have 5 geese and 3 ganders. Should I cull 2 geese this fall before they mate? They mate for life right?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: ?'s about keeping geese

They seem to nest wherever they see fit. If you want that to be in a certain area, then pen them up there until they go broody.
If anything, I'd get rid of a gander. While they will mate for life, a gander will still get around some and cover all the girls. I ran one gander with four geese last year and had great fertility.

RE: ?'s about keeping geese

OK, thanks for your input. It shold be interesting here next year. :)

RE: ?'s about keeping geese

I rescued 2 roman tufted geese from the oven last year. At the time we didn't know if we had he/he, she/she, he/she. Well we have Betty and June much to my pleasure. If you see one you always see the other and they lay eggs about 5 times a year! Winter, spring, summer, fall and then some, we counted 98 eggs YTD. I make nests in the barn when I notice them carrying, as they lay them I remove them, the last 2 eggs I leave for them to "hatch", of course they aren't fertile. A couple days ago they started laying them in the yard between the bushes. Not sure why because it is now in the low thirties and very windy. I think they are hiding them so I don't take them.

One thing to remember; make sure they have plenty of clean water and their water source allows them to submerge their heads, they need to clean their nostrils or it will result in disaster. You will see them blowing bubbles and when you dump the water you will notice all the dirt, grain etc at the bottom. By the way, not sure where you're located but mine will use their baby pool right up until it freezes over.

Good luck, they make great watch dogs and are very loyal to their (parent) you.

RE: ?'s about keeping geese

Hi Askew,

We're approaching our third year raising geese so are around the curve a bit. Welcome! Of the four types of fowl we raise, geese are my favorites for many reasons.

You'll need a kiddie pool (or two) if you don't have a pond.

A few comments if I may - I'm not at all convinced that geese mate for life. The dominant male may have a favorite (and she may stay his fave) but he'll service others. Not sure that equates with what we concieve of as 'mating for life'.

You didn't mention the breed, but no matter - be ready to assist with some management during breeding season (which starts early by the way). The males and females will get feisty. It's natural, but be careful - particularly if you have children about. Structured routines help the birds, but give them a wide berth, and watch your back! Don't underestimate the damage a gander can do. Ours calmed down after it was over, so hopefully yours will too.

With 3 males, there may be some fighting. Too few females can also cause the males to oversex the girls. You may wish to cull a male, but it depends on your space and set up I'd imagine.

As for predators to worry about - ALL predators! Regardless of size of your geese. Coyotes, weasles, dogs (even small ones) can wreak havoc - if nothing else, geese risk breaking their legs in attempts to flee.

We keep ours penned in a goose paddock at night. INside the paddock we provided a large wooden shipping crate filled with straw for the females to nest in. (7' X 3' / 4' high) We fabricated screened doors on it, and put in a divider, so the crate supplies 2 nests areas. I fill it with a nice layer of fluffy fresh straw. If there seems to be no more suitable place, the gals get in the habit of laying in the crate, and will share the nest until someone goes broody. Thereafter, I have to intervene, otherwise I have dominate females fighting to use the nest - and a broody female valiently defending her right to occupy it - full time!

A broody goose will fiercly protect her nest! So, as soon as we have one go broody, I shut her in (with food and water, though they don't eat as much), and give her opportunity to leave the nest for ten or twenty mins morning and evening. She doesn't always care to, but will occasionally stretch her legs, graze a bit and bathe - which is important as she needs to keep her eggs moist somewhat, so be sure she has access to the community pool as well.

Now, this means i have to be prepared to provide alternate nest boxes for the other gals...and mind that gander!

Last year some of them decided that the blackberry bush which aprons a large pine was a keen place to lay each day. (They'll cover their eggs, so you'll have to follow them to find their hiding places). For some reason, the two that went broody still elected to nest in the crate, which was good. Again, I made the crate a much more appealing place. They need the protective shelter at night, broody or not, so I can't let them sit anywhere.

Goslings are fair game for rats, and raptors. The geese are good about herding their young under cover when an owl flies over, but that crate is sound protection for them too! The first few days, I leave mom alone with her babes. The rest of the community get awfully curious and anxious to meet the new additions.

I believe incubation is about 30 days. Ours begin to lay in Feb/March and quit about the end of May. Goose eggs are delicious!

We've lost a number of geese from free ranging - so fair warning. If you're property is fenced, you'll be better off - but no goose is a match against most predators. It's tough to manage because they really do thrive when they're able to graze.

I hope this helps some. Good luck - welcome to geese.


RE: ?'s about keeping geese

I had a gaggle of geese for about seven years-starting from one female and one male. They don't always mate for life, however they are very loyal to the mate they choose and to the others in the group. At one point I had three girls and four guys and the guys all took part in guarding the girls (without fighting) while they were nesting and caring for and protecting the goslings once they hatched.

I used metal 55 gallon barrels laid on their sides steadied with a small rock on each side and filled with straw. The girls and their eggs were well protected with the ganders guarding the front. They returned to the barrels every year.

Good Luck with yours.

RE: ?'s about keeping geese

I should have mentioned, the males may fight, but they do not duel to the point of injury like roosters. Our boys may have bruised egos, but we've never had scarring, scratched eyes, or bloodied up battles of any kind. Just very noisy.

I like the barrel idea - ours seem to return to the same spot too.

RE: ?'s about keeping geese

A neighbor gave me my first 2 geese which turned out to be some breed of French geese (I don't recall what the name was at the moment). They were so incredibly loud that I evicted them from the barn into an area I'd fenced for my garden. Then I bought 2 pilgrim geese, male and female and they are much more quiet.
I heard that geese need to be in water to mate and was wondering if this is true. Also was wondering if the 2 differant breeds will cross?

RE: ?'s about keeping geese

Does "Toulous" sound famliar? It's a popular breed, and Toulous is French word - a city I believe, in France.
Not the loudest of the breeds, but geese are known for being noise makers.

Yep. They will cross breed - ours did. IF you have some of the heavier breeds have an easier time breeding in a pool or pond. Ours prefer it (did most of their hanky panky in the kiddie pool). Geese are overall much happier if they have access to water anyway. May not be an absolute requirement for all breeds, particularly the smaller ones, but I think they're more successful.

RE: ?'s about keeping geese

Thanks lfrj for the info. Toulous sounds like the name for my "french" geese. I'll get a kiddy pool and a nesting box ready next Spring. Maybe I'll be having some "Toulous Pilgrims" next summer. ;-)

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