Pets & Animals | 27 July 2017Living with the Modern Goose Share article facebook twitter google pinterest The modern goose was domesticated as far back as 5,000 years ago, but they still retain some wild qualities. Unlike some domestic chicken and duck breeds, geese are seasonal egg layers. They can lay up to a hundred eggs a season. A goose can also make an effective watchdog. Geese tend to be noisy animals and will announce the presence of strangers. These are just some things to keep in mind if you are thinking about raising a goose, or more. Below are some tips on housing and nutrition. Read more in How to Raise Poultry. Housing A total pen area of 2,500 square feet should be adequate for a small flock of fewer than ten geese. If it can include a pond of 500 square feet of water, so much the better. Geese enjoy splashing in water and swimming, although they can manage without it. They stay cleaner and have fewer parasites if they have access to swimming water, and it’s easier for the geese to walk to the water than for you to bring the water to them. The water must be kept clean, despite the geese defecating in it and splashing mud around. Cement-lined artificial ponds or children’s plastic pools are easy to clean and don’t turn into mud holes, but small wetlands can be constructed and managed to enhance habitat for domestic geese as well as wildlife. Natural running water, such as a stream on your property, can provide the regular fresh water geese need. Geese tend to be territorial and aggressive in the breeding season, so plan to separate them into individual pens. Like all domestic fowl, geese are vulnerable to predation. Fence them from predators with four-foot poultry wire fencing. In mild climates, security from predators is all the protection they need. In cold climates, simple structures are adequate to protect geese from the weather. Stacked hay bales with a plywood roof facing south or a semicircular windbreak of straw bales will keep them out of the wind and snow. Provide plenty of dry litter, either wood shavings or straw, for them. Replace it as it gets wet, daily if necessary. As long as geese are well fed and have clean bedding, their natural insulation can take almost anything winter throws at them. In a winter storm, they may be out looking around while other fowl are sheltered indoors. “I have yet to see a goose get under shelter to get out of the rain!” says experienced breeder Dr. Tom T. Walker of Texas A house to lock geese up overnight should provide about 10 square feet of space for each bird. Geese confined for longer periods of time should have 20 square feet per bird. A low shelter open on all sides can offer shade and protect food from moisture. Domestic geese do not fly much. If flying becomes an issue, trimming 4 inches off the leading four or five primaries of one wing will prevent them from successfully flying away. Feathers will need to be trimmed again after each molt. Pinioning removes the entire first joint of the wing, cutting it off. It can only be done on goslings in the first day or two after hatching. Pinioning makes it impossible for the bird ever to fly. Food and Nutrition The diet should include grass since geese are primarily grazers. They enjoy greens from the garden or the local produce department. A friendly produce manager may be willing to save green trim for you. Geese are so good at eating grass that Cotton Patch geese take their name from the job that was theirs on the farm. Sources from the mid-nineteenth century advocate keeping geese primarily for their ability to clean up pasture, with their meat as an added benefit. Ms. Irvine says, “No other creature so rapidly turns grass into flesh—the commonest weed into the most coveted food.” F. J. S. Chatterton, in his 1951 book Ducks and Geese and How to Keep Them, recommends keeping geese “as a means of improving poor grassland.” Geese can be turned out in fields after harvest to glean and clean. They are vegetarians and will look with disdain, as only a dignified goose can, on the relish with which ducks devour insects and snails. Alfalfa pellets and grain may be added to the diet. Commercial preparations such as Purina’s Flock Raiser provide complete nutrition. A good breeder ration can be made from equal parts of the following ingredients: high-protein (18 percent) rabbit pellets, 20-percent-protein layer pellets, and wheat. Breeder ration should be started six weeks before hens start laying, around February. Hard foods, such as corn or bread crusts, can be soaked in water. Geese themselves may place hard food objects in water to soften them. Geese require drinking water deep enough that they can submerge their heads, five or six inches, to clean their eyes and nostrils. Watering troughs set on wire-covered platforms can minimize muddy conditions around the trough. A hard rubber trough 4 feet by 2 feet and 1 foot deep makes a good pool, does not require much water and is easy to clean. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: AU: Christine Heinrichs, author of the critically acclaimed How to Raise Chickens, teaches you how to care for every type of feathered friend. Backed by the National FFA Organization, our acclaimed series of How to Raise guides has helped countless first-time animal owners across the United States confidently care for their new companions. In this freshly updated second edition of How to Raise Poultry, fowl expert Christine Heinrichs offers her seasoned advice in raising 14 different poultry species: chickens, ducks, emus, geese, swans, turkeys, guinea fowl, peacocks, pheasants, quail, partridge, pigeons, ostriches, and rheas. From feeding and housing to husbandry and health, from showing and marketing to legal concerns, Heinrichs clearly details the differing requirements of each kind of poultry. With her comprehensive approach, fully illustrated with instructional photography, you’ll be well-equipped to select breeds, keep your birds healthy, harvest and sell products, and hatch new generations—whether you want eggs, meat, feathers, hides, or simple companionship. As you successfully raise your new flock for pleasure, profit, or both, you’ll quickly understand why Backyard Poultry magazine called the original edition of How to Raise Poultry “a book any bird lover could spend many delightful hours with.” Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.