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Ten Things I Know About Geese

Corrin  asked me a little while ago about the geese – “At some point, I’d love to hear about your geese, I don’t recall you mentioning them previously than your Lemon Glut. Do they lay? how many? I assume they’re wild? do they do anything else for you .. as in composting like chooks? They’re very beautiful.”

We are relatively new to geese.  The original incentive for trying them was an idea that perhaps they would be territorial enough to ward off some of the predatory wildlife like goannas, and give the chooks a bit of protection.  Plus we had, for the first time ever, a secure body of water in a lined dam.  And the original pair were so picture-book picturesque.

Our first pair of geese were named Kirsty and Xanana (my partner is huge on puns – sorry!)  But being very ignorant about geese at the time, we didn’t know that male Pilgrim geese are always pure white with blue eyes, and the mixed colours of Xanana and Kirsty were a sure giveaway of two females.

Xanana sadly got got by a a mother wild dog teaching her pups to hunt.  Kirsty sat on the island crying for days. It was heartbreaking.  So we got some more geese to keep her company.  This time we got five more – José, Patrick, Trevor, Jackie, and Charlotte.  After watching the way they worked as a team with one standing guard while the others grazed, we thought that a larger flock might be better at self defence.

The first year Jackie successfully hatched six goslings, one died from a tick, five grew into adulthood, but Patrick was got by a fox and Charlotte died of no obvious cause.  This year poor Jackie has had ten eggs taken one by one by goannas, but one of the younger generation has been smarter and is sitting on a nest of eight eggs on the island.  So now we have nine adult geese and potentially up to eight goslings due in a couple of weeks time.

So, from that limited experience, ten things I know about geese:

1. They are intelligent, endearing, and have lots of personality – way too much to be suitable meat animals. Goodbye goose dinner idea.

2. They are really demonstrable in their affection, racing up to greet us when we get home, agreeing (under a bit of sufferance) to being picked up and cuddled, which makes them great pets once you get over how big and noisy and scary they are.

3. They are raucous.  Really raucous. Early in the morning. Very early in the morning. Did I mention raucous?

4. It takes a village to raise a child and a gaggle to raise a gosling.  The whole group are devoted and diligent parents. The males guard the female on the nest and make sure the babies eat first.  It’s probably how Patrick got got. All young fathers should watch goose movies.

5. It is cruel to keep them without a swimming size body of water.  They are water birds.  They love it so much.

6. Watching geese on the dam is one of the great pleasures of life. Beautiful, graceful, happy, entertaining.

7. They graze, and they eat lots of grass. We give them a scoop of laying pellets a day too, but mostly what they eat is grass.

8. They poo soft green pellets, like wallabies but softer, but quite acceptable (unlike ducks that are really messy poo-ers).

9. They can fly, quite a distance when in danger.  We have had to go collect Trevor a couple of times from a neighbour a kilometre away, downhill, when they were spooked by wild dogs.

10. Though they are large and noisy and scary and hang in a flock with guards, they are still vulnerable to foxes and dogs and need a safe place (like an island) to sleep at night.

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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • lewie September 14, 2012, 10:31 am

    You should add that these are Pilgrim geese which are noted for their placid nature….Other breeds of geese may not let you pick them up so easily. and most are bigger birds. Pilgrims are also quite rare and are worth keeping for that reason. They also need deeper water to mate on.. they can’t mate on land.

  • Hazel September 14, 2012, 4:17 pm

    Oh, Linda, now you have made me want some. We don’t have a dam though, DAMN! We do have the creek, but I suppose they don’t like flowing water so much. *sigh*

  • cityhippyfarmgirl September 15, 2012, 6:38 am

    Linda, I loved this post. I’m miles off from getting geese but just reading from your experience of them makes me ponder goose thoughts…
    (and love the fact that you have a goose named Trevor 🙂

  • Corrin September 15, 2012, 6:55 am

    Thanks Linda, I’m glad I asked.

  • Elizabeth September 15, 2012, 5:46 pm

    They are so beautiful!! I’ve always wanted ducks but maybe it’s geese I really want.

  • Louise September 16, 2012, 9:15 am

    Thanks so much for this, they are lovely photos and obviously great additions to your garden.

  • Joy September 22, 2012, 3:44 pm

    Linda
    I loved this post and have often thought about geese but tales of “killer geese” who do guard dog duties has put me off. I am wondering, as we have wild ducks on our dam all the time, would they get on? Also do they go to “roost” in the evening like the chookies do? Sorry I’m a bit late commenting on this. Joy

  • Linda September 22, 2012, 4:45 pm

    Hi Joy, our geese get along fine with our ducks, and also (unfortunately) with the wild brush turkeys. The whole lot come up to be fed together and lately the ducks and the geese have been laying in the same nest. Our geese sleep on the dam, feet tucked up and head under a wing. In wild weather they get under the house, which we don’t like both because they are vulnerable to foxes there but also because they wake us up. Only Jackie likes the actual goose house, and she has laid her eggs in there all spring, but goannas can get in and they have been stealing her eggs every day. I have heard of aggressive geese. In fact we first got them imagining that they might stand in for guard dogs and chase off goannas. But ours are way too tolerant for that.

  • Pat October 6, 2012, 12:45 am

    It sadden to have to say that today we lost one of our goslings to a tick also. I would have thought the mothers would clean the young ones but I guess they only pick the ticks from the ground. We hav locked them in our one and only chook to see if this prevents the tick. Our chook is in a small bird type aviary, so heres hoping. Unfortunately it is past midnight as I write this and the geese are all still letting me know and the neighbours as well that the goslings are not under their care. Poor things and I am just trying to be kind.

  • Linda October 7, 2012, 7:19 am

    Hi Pat, we let our goslings range with the geese, but checked them for ticks every day. We rigged up a little barrier where we could feed them to get them in so it was possible to catch them. The parents stood outside and kicked up a stink, but they seemed to get the idea that it was for the babies’ good. They are such diligent parents though, aren’t they.

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