Keeping Geese

A number of entries here on keeping chickens, but not much on other types of fowl. I don't think there's much of anything on geese. So from Mother Earth News:

Watch-Geese: The Natural Farm Guardians

Utilize the unique characteristics of geese to make them natural guardians and perfect protectors for your farm and flock.

The article talks at great length about how vigilant they are in the daytime, and if goslings are raised with flocks of smaller fowl--chickens, quail, etc.--they will defend their surrogate families from predators. And the article starts with a tale about how the sacred geese at the Temple of Juno alerted Rome to the invasion of a group of Gauls while the dogs did not. Then it admits that geese don't see well at night and are vulnerable to predators...

OK! And it says nothing about ganders... Which is interesting. In one of the BBC farm series--probably the Edwardian Farm--a fox got into the goose shed and nearly killed one of the geese. So they got a gander--which was an aggressive, domineering bird--and set it among the geese. End of fox problem, but a real nuisance for our farmers.

So, there is obviously more to raising geese than the article suggests... But it's still interesting.

David Trammel's picture

Here in St Louis we get geese twice a year, as they migrate. You see small groups of them everywhere. On the side of the streets, in the greenway between the highways, even in the parking lots. Often the group would include a dozen babies.

They are a protected species so we can't mess with them, but don't get near them or they will attack you.


Off topic but about predators.

I've been putting out bird seed on my driveway during the Winter, and this morning when I got home, there was a big flock of smaller birds and some black starlings too. The starlings found out I was putting out catfood for one of the local strays and they have since cleaned me out of the pile several times. I've started just sprinkling some cat food among the bird seed for them.

This morning just as I parked and was about to get out, a large falcon or hawks swooped in to try for a meal. It missed but for a few seconds I had a great view of it as it winged passed me. It took up a perch in a nearby tree. The other birds didn't come back until it left.

I doubt a hawk would mess with a full grown goose but might go after the smaller chicks if it could.

We kept geese for several years and we really enjoyed having them around. The ganders are aggressive, but they don't bother you once they associate you with food. Unfortunately, even the ganders are no match for bobcats, mountain lions, and coyotes. We gave up trying to raise them because it was a slow attrition game where we lost them one at a time. I suppose we could have kept them penned up to protect them, but they enjoyed feeding themselves and playing in the river so much that we also felt bad about cooping them up.