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Geese for your garden "Weeder geese"Have you ever heard of "weeder geese"? I hadn't until this year, when I bought my eight little goslings in March and started researching how I might be able to use them here on the farm.
And what makes them useful and fun
If you're planning to get some geese, you should consider the following things:
Geese as home security systemsMy geese can be very territorial, which is typical of geese in general. When someone shows up at the farm, the geese let me know even before my dog does. Geese will holler when an intruder approaches, even if it is someone they have met already.
1) You need a brooder, at least temporarily. This can be anything from a well ventilated box to a dog crate with a brooder lamp attached.
I have run my geese amidst carrots, peppers, corn, turnips, onions, poll beans, peas, hops, pumpkins, squash, melons, lettuces, rye, tomatoes, potatoes, and sunflowers. They stripped a few corn stalks and ate some lettuce, but the damage was pretty minimal.
8) You should have some sort of shelter outside for the geese to go into at night. You can use a simple three sided structure, a lean to, a shed, a barn, a section of your garage that you don't care much about, or even a makeshift shelter built with a tarp. To encourage the geese to use the shelter, try herding them in there for the first week or so. I got my geese interested in my little shed by placing their dog crate brooder in the shed overnight after they were two weeks old. This helped the geese figure out that they should be in the shed at night. Make sure there is fresh water available in the shelter; this will make the place more appealing to the geese.
9) Once your geese are a few months old and have feathered out (grown all of their feathers and lost all of their baby down), they should be fairly independent birds. I have all sorts of predators where I live, including foxes, raccoons, coyotes, hawks and eagles, and even the occasional stray dog. I haven't lost an adult goose to a predator yet, and I don't expect to because the geese have somewhere safe to be during the night, and during the day they take pretty good care of themselves.
6) If you have secure fencing, your geese can be outside as long as they are at least three weeks old, it's not raining, and the temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the day. I don't advise leaving them out all night to free range until they are at least a couple months old.
Geese as PetsGeese make awesome pets, especially if you get them when they are very young. If you can, you should buy day old goslings. These little guys and girls will imprint on you, and you'll soon be followed around like a mother goose!
7) Once your geese are a couple months old, they should be Discount Women Canada Goose Snow Mantra White New Zealand able to be outside all day, have access to water they can swim in, and be given free access to lots of grass they can graze on. If you're short on grass, make sure the pelletized goose food you provide is offered free choice. Like chickens, geese will not eat more than they should, so if your geese rely solely on you for food you shouldn't let them run out.
3) Baby geese eat a lot. For eight goslings, I was replacing their feed three times daily. DO NOT feed medicated chick starter to goslings they don't need the medication (which is a coccidiostat important for baby chicks), and in fact it can be harmful, even deadly, to them. Use a duck/goose grower or a non medicated chick starter instead.
While they cut your grass for you, geese will leave droppings behind. In their favorite places where they will like to lay down and relax, like around the water source you have provided for them, there will be more manure than in other places. If the manure becomes a problem, simply use a hose to soak it. Spraying it with a hose will spread it out and disperse it, and should prevent problems like nitrogen burn in your grass.
If you have a large lawn, you may need to use portable fence to confine the geese in different areas, so that the grass is managed properly.
Geese as lawn mowersBecause their diet consists mainly of grasses, geese can be a great help in mowing the lawn.
There are three "families" of geese: The grey goose (all domesticated geese, no matter the color, fall into this category), the black goose (such as the Canadian Goose), and the white goose (other wild geese, such as the Snow Goose and Ross's Goose, barely distinct from the grey goose family).
2) Incidentally, you need a brooder lamp. These should be available anywhere where livestock or horse feed is sold.
Some people report having success using geese to weed tomatoes. My geese tore all of my young plants to shreads this year but they didn't actually consume them, so honestly I think the geese were just bored. I replanted the tomatoes, kept the geese away until the plants were larger, and the geese haven't bothered them since.
4) Water water water. Geese love water, and goslings need a constant supply of it. Until your little geese are at least a week old, you should use a waterer that is only large enough for them to get their bills in. As the goslings age, you can introduce them to water slowly. Use a small pan and let them play in it for 15 minutes at a time. Remove the pan, dry them off, and make sure they get under the heat lamp. Until they develop their oil glands, getting wet and cold can actually kill your goslings. (Tip: Teaching them to swim in the bathtub is tons of fun for the goslings and for you. not that I've done that, of course.)
Using geese to weed your garden will take some planning and management. For instance, geese won't damage most herbs, potatoes, onions, carrots, berries, or garlic. They will damage and eat corn plants and any small grains you might be growing; they will eat some of your lettuce and might damage your peas.
Geese eat mainly grass, and some clovers. Other broad leaf weeds aren't their favorites, but if you have a particular weed that just loves to grow in your garden, you can try introducing it to your goslings when they are very young. This may help them develop a taste for it.
Depending on how many geese you have, and how large your lawn is, you will probably still have to mow grass throughout the summer just not as frequently, which can be a big help. Geese will also not help you with weeds like thistles and broad leaf plants.
Geese can be used to help you weed your garden. Some farmers even use them to weed crops that are difficult or impossible to cultivate using machinery, including cotton, herbs, and berries.
I have four females and four ganders, and the ganders are always working out amongst themselves who's the guy in charge. If I had it to do again, I would buy 6 females and 2 ganders, so there would be less need for constant competition.
Raising and caring for geeseRaising and caring for geese may be easier than you think. Baby goslings require less heat and time in the brooder than baby chickens do. Some breeds, like the Embden, feather out quickly and grow very rapidly, so your time as "mother goose" is relatively short lived.
For the purposes of this article, we'll be discussing domesticated geese. These geese don't migrate, so if you decide to keep some as pets they will make your home their own.
5) Get your little geese out on the grass as early as possible, but not in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Let them play in the sun, and keep a watch over them. I cannot recommend unattended play time for goslings that haven't feathered out yet they are just sitting ducks (I know, I know.) for predators like hawks, foxes, dogs, and cats.
Well, a goose is not a duck. Unlike ducks, geese are strict vegetarians, so you won't catch them fishing in your pond or creek, and unfortunately they won't help keep bugs out of your garden. Geese are waterfowl, and as such they absolutely love water it's their favorite thing.
For pets, I haven't found enough difference in temperment between female geese and ganders (males) to make a recommendation one way or the other. I think it really depends on the individual goose. A couple of my ganders are very friendly; I can approach them and pick them up. One gander is more aggressive, so I leave him be. Two of my females are sweathearts; one of them wants to bite me every time she sees me, and another is afraid of her own shadow.
I'll say this, though: If you are planning to breed, you really only need one gander for a small gaggle.