Hitting My Stride with the Geese

Reader Contribution by Jennifer Quinn
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I’ve written before about the hardships of keeping my three geese confined 24-7 now that the breeding season has begun (“The Challenges of Geese in Confinement“). I’ve vacillated between letting them go — which at first resulted in their disappearing for days at a time — and reconfining them lest one should make a nest somewhere down by the creek and be lost to me, at least for the breeding season. Not only was I concerned for their safety, but I wanted to collect their eggs after the trouble and expense I’ve put into housing and feeding them!

For a while I was concerned because I wasn’t finding any eggs even a couple of weeks after seeing the first mating activity. I thought maybe the confinement was too stressful for them, so I started letting them out again during the day. Then one evening after a long absence, I found them back on my property, lounging in and around an open shed.

As it happened there was some straw on the ground in the shed, and I noticed one of the females setting on a mound of straw. After a while she got up and left, and sure enough, in a depression in the straw, there was an egg. Then I discovered another nest in the straw with another egg!

Still, I didn’t think an open shed was the safest location for nesting, so I placed large cardboard cartons in their shelter that I hoped would make acceptable nest boxes, filled them with straw, and placed the eggs in them. Later I found the eggs rolled out or buried under the straw. But new eggs were laid, not in the nest boxes but in mounds of straw like the ones they had made earlier.

I started keeping them confined again, hoping once they got in the habit of laying in the shelter they’d be inclined to stick around. It seems to have worked. Every now and then I’d let them out for a day if I wouldn’t be around to bring them fresh water and greens. They always came back in the evening. Finally, I started letting them out every morning, and most days they haven’t even left the property. Now that they’re in a routine with their egg laying, they seem to prefer staying close to home, the gander included. And I’m getting a nice, big, goose egg almost every day!

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