Thursday, June 13, 2013

Of Chicks and Goslings

Remember how excited I was that one of our "missing" hens was in fact sitting on a clutch of eggs and hatched out six chicks?  Well, she's down to one now.  I tried for over a week to corral her in to a pen or otherwise catch her little chickenbutt, but couldn't manage to do it.  I thought that was the sign of a good chicken momma, but apparently she's not so good at protecting her chicks at night.

I have some idea of the general area of her night time roosting spot, but have not found it.  So several days after first seeing her and her six chicks, I noticed that she only had five chicks following her.  The next day, only three.  Then a few days later, only one.  She and her lone chick have been strutting around the edges of the chicken / goat yard and when I get close, her & her only offspring high tail it out to the woods.

So I'm just writing this batch off as "survival of the smartest / fittest".  It would have been nice to have a few more laying hens (especially ones that I didn't have to care for), but given the track record for free-range, hen-raised chicks around here, they were pretty much doomed from the start.  I just hope that the mother hen doesn't end up dead and if she eventually loses her last chick that she decides that it's much safer to roost in the coop at night rather than start another clutch of eggs out in gawd-knows-where.

As for our little gosling, he (or she?) is putting on some weight.  I've also noticed his feet are getting much bigger and "webbier".  It's been almost-Africa-hot here the past week so Rhiannon has been spending time in the kiddie pool and the sprinkler and the gosling is never far from her.  I finally moved him out of the barn (where he stays when unsupervised) and into the chicken tractor.  Paul moved it out of "storage" (i.e. out in the back 40 leaned up against a tree) to the front yard so now he has sunlight (and shade), breezes and fresh greenery to peck at instead of bring cooped up in the coop.
Outside Kitty watching the gosling.  Now that I think about it,
he may be the reason we are down to only one chick.
Never having been a keeper of geese, I was wondering about a few things and was hoping those of you that have (or had) geese could give me some pointers and answer some questions for me.

Exactly what is meant by the term "Weeder Geese"?  Is it just a generic term for a mutt goose?  Kind'a like when they call a goat a "Brush Goat"?

What do you feed your goslings and older geese?  Our feed store doesn't carry "Goose Food", so right now he's getting Game Bird Grower (21% protein I believe) and he's nibbling on grass/clover/weeds.

When is he going to get "real" feathers?

When are we going to be certain that "he" is a he and not a she?  Not that I care, just curious. Don't want to give him a complex if we give him a masculine name and it turns out he is actually a she.

Is there going to be a problem if he is a he?  I've heard that male ducks will try to do anything that stands still.  Not sure I really want a horny gander hanging around my toddler.

And lastly, if he is a total peckerhead, how do you cook your goose?  I have to admit that the thought of a Christmas Goose is pretty tempting.


  1. A neighbor gave us a full grown goose once;he flew away and was never seen no help here.

    I was just wondering if one of your kitties was enjoying fresh baby chick......With all of ours here they wouldn't have a chance!

  2. Sounds like the goose and your daughter are good friends - how cute that they swim together. :)

    I guess if your goose lays an egg you'll know - haha! Sorry, no help here, we haven't raised geese. I do hear that they are tasty critters.

  3. My MIL made me a goose one Christmas.... We later found out that instead of roasting it that we should have spit turned it... That way the grease falls into the pan instead of the meat sitting in it. Sorry I can't be of more help!

  4. We finally got rid of our mating pair of geese last year because the gander had become waaay too aggressive. Hubby has a scar on the back of his calf from an attack. The attack that sealed Father Goose's fate. He was never mistreated in any way but I guess was just doing what a male goose is supposed to do. We couldn't have him around thinking he could possibly attack a small child or visiting adult for that matter.

    Ours were fed chicken laying mash and got whole grain scratch in the a.m. and p.m. But when they had access to grass, they hardly touched any other food. They truly are grazers and will eat grass all day long. Which makes them an economical meal if they have access to good pasture. Ours got along just fine with the chickens and ducks although Father Goose would occasionally chase them just to show he was "boss."

    We always butchered and cooked the geese raised here. I put them in a big roasting pan on a rack (just like a turkey) and ours actually never had any large amounts of grease. They were good, but we prefer the taste of chicken or turkey.

    Hubby and I were just mentioning yesterday that we miss the sight of the geese on our pond where they spent a lot of time. I told him we could get them again if we only got a couple/few females. But then we'd never have them hatch out goslings . . . which was half the fun.

  5. Sorry about all the chicks. Hubby finally broke down and bought me four at the feed store a couple of weeks ago because my hens kept abandoning the eggs after sitting on them for over two weeks. Grrrr...
    It will be fun to watch your goose adventures! Sounds like Mama Pea will be the most help (as usual)! :)

  6. Oh geese! Love ours. What we learned from many is that you have to really hand raise them. Just like you are now, spend lots of time with them, handle them, feed, pet, etc. Our white embden is a year old now, protector of the duck flock, pretty easy to corner and catch, once caught, very well behaved and we take her to ag demos for the kids to pet. She might be a He, which we think is correct. We now have two additional ones-this time a gander and goose, doing the exact same thing and they are very nice to have around. We've actually noticed a decrease in our raptor kills on the chicken and duck flocks with the goose around. Game bird food is the best but then we transitioned to regular pelleted all flock food, free ranging and table scraps. Good luck!

  7. Ohio Farm Girl has had geese for a long time, you may want to ask her about them.