Raising a Flock of Geese: From Gosling to Goose

Dive into our guide to raising a healthy flock of geese.

| May/June 2016

Geese make a delightful addition to any farm operation. They offer entertainment, guardianship, meat, eggs and more. If you’ve decided a flock is in your future, be sure you are ready for your first goslings.

Food and water

When goslings first arrive, either from a hatchery or local farm, they will need immediate access to food and fresh water. Goslings need their food soaked in water in order to swallow the meal. They need water to wash dry feed down, and it’s pretty entertaining to watch a gosling fill their mouth with feed, waddle to the water for a drink, then wattle back to the feed for another mouthful. Most farm supply stores offer feed specific for waterfowl chicks, but if you already have chick starter, you can feed them this with the addition of brewer’s yeast to help prevent any growth. Feed at a ratio of 3 pounds of yeast to a 25-pound bag of feed.

In addition to the moistened feed or dry feed, goslings also obviously need a source of fresh water for drinking. Goose nostrils tend to clog if they do not have the ability to fully submerse their beaks in water, so be sure their water bowl is deep enough for them to dip their beaks into. Do not give them so much water that they try to swim. Chick waterers usually offer plenty of depth for submersion without the extra space for splashing. Water must be checked and cleaned regularly – once or twice daily – to prevent contamination from droppings.

Safe swimming

Goslings love swimming, but until they are at least a couple of weeks old, they should not be allowed to swim. In the wild, a mother goose will dry off and warm a damp gosling. In a brooder, they have no such protection and can become ill if they get soaked in water. A wet gosling can be dried with a towel, but it’s best to remove the option of swimming entirely. Once they are a couple of weeks old, you can introduce them to a pond or a tub for bathing, and they will splash and swim with delight.

Brooder amenities

As with any baby bird, a gosling’s brooder needs to be warm and dry. Shavings make ideal bedding, but you can also use hay or straw. Geese are notoriously messy, especially as youngsters, and any bedding will need to be changed frequently. Bedding usually lasts a few days with new goslings, but as they grow they’ll need fresh shavings daily.

New goslings need a secure space with about a half square foot per bird. Within just a few weeks, they will need at least double that space. If possible, block off a small portion of a brooder box or livestock stall, and slowly move the partition out as the geese grow.

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