Geese for Weeding

Discussion in 'Geese' started by Ohne-Fehler, Dec 18, 2010.

  1. Ohne-Fehler

    Ohne-Fehler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 23, 2010
    Oregon
    I am interested in other people’s experiences with geese as weeders for gardens. We have been looking into using them as weeders/ mowers for our large commercial garden. I have been reading various studies out of the Midwest on utilizing geese and it seems promising. I just would like to hear what everyone else’s experiences are. What breeds have you used? Stocking density? What crops do you use them on?

    Has anyone used them as lawn mowers too? We don’t water our lawn as water is a precious commodity here and we us our water rights for crops. We try and avoid mowing if we can so we utilize our goats on the lawn, but they are intermediate grazers (prefer browsing) so an animal that grazes would be useful in the rotation as well.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2010
  2. goosedragon

    goosedragon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2009
    Central NC
    Quote:They graze my lawn all the time, I don't know about goats, but geese have pretty much wiped out dandelions (sp?) and clover from my lawn. on the Dandelions they will dig for the root with their bill so they don't usually come back and they tend to overgraze on clover so it dies out too. During the dry season about the only things growing are weeds with long tap roots and they keep them trimmed down. I don't really know if they do so by sight or if they remember the locations. They like fresh tender shoots better than old established grasses. During our wet seasons I will mow sections at a time and they tend to like the fresh sections better about two days after I mow them (keeps them out of the way as I mow the older sections for them) hope this was of some help.
     
  3. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

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    Apr 19, 2009
    Nothing that is small enough for them to bite pieces off/rip apart is safe. They love tomatoes and can go through gallons of them in minutes. Especially if you leave the basket you've been harvesting into unattended. They'll rip leaves off green bean plants, pepper plants, love lettuce, carrot tops, radish tops, leaves off squash plants, cabbage, etc. Personally, I wouldn't recommend them as weeders on field or garden crops. Too much risk and loss involved as you try to train them to their job and then there's the risk that the training won't take and you've got even more loss on your hands. In an orchard they'd be a wonderful asset though.

    Ours do a superb job mowing the lawn, though. They're awesome at that. They don't seem to favor any one area or type of grass/weed over another. We still have lots of dandelions and clover. They roam the whole property pretty much equally, eating as they go. And the manure they leave behind as they travel is excellent fertilizer that has the grass growing in even thicker and better for them. It's a self-serving cycle and a feed bill reducing one at that.
     
  4. goosedragon

    goosedragon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2009
    Central NC
    Quote:Olive Hill with all due respect, what you say is true if you don't work With the geese. I never really tried to train them, I just worked with the fact that they like young tender weeds better than mature garden plants. The Herding stick that I mentioned was to move them along if they showed interest in the garden plants. I usually only worked with two at a time so I could keep an eye on them. The only garden that I would leave them unsupervised in was the rose garden. They would get all the weeds out from the bottom of the bushes and all for the cost of a few low blooms. if you have ever raised roses you know that you need to remove blooms once they start to fade (dead heading) so I didn't consider the loss of a few low blooms as a negative.
    As for orchards they are really great on standard sized trees but not so good on the drawf trees that I had, their necks were long enough to reach fruit which they love! Keep them away from grapes or raspberries, they were their favorite but I never let them in until after harvest when they would clean up any missed fruits or drops and they seemed to like the leaves too!
     
  5. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

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    Apr 19, 2009
    Given that you basically just provided supporting evidence for exactly what I said, all due respect accepted. [​IMG]

    They're not trustworthy in gardens filled with small, leafy type plants and soft fruits without supervision. The OP is asking about weeding for a large commercial garden. Supervising two geese at a time, never leaving them unattended, would not be any more efficient than just hand weeding it him or herself. And you have the added overhead of the geese. Such a setup would be absolutely worthless.
     
  6. goosedragon

    goosedragon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2009
    Central NC
    Quote:Worth is in the eye of the beholder,Olive Hill. since I can not bend over without great effort and the real risk of losing my balance and falling on my face I have given up gardening now that I don't have my two assistants. and all gardens are not alike. There is a garden/farm for U-pick strawberries about 1/2 mile from me that use my two old assistants for all the weeding of his full acre of straw berries. he doesn't let them in when in bloom or once the berries start to red up. But after the picking is done they are out there full time and he swears by their worth.
    Off spring from my old geese are also at work at a small sweet corn operation. once the corn gets too high for mechnical (tractor) culvation He has three choices, chemicals (a no no in todays consumer's market). hired help with hoes (Expensive) or geese that work for free. He thinks highly of them too. he has refused selling any of his birds offspring because he wants more for his operation. BTW he has a partial U-Pick operation and has his helpers on a display labeled "MY Helpfull Weeders" makes the people feel good about his farm and keeps the kids that often come with parents out of the field "where they do more damage than the geese ever thought of" he is thinking of buying a coin vending machine for waterfowl pellets to help off set the cost of the feed that he is letting kids throw into the display run.
    Personally I have been approached by three others that want me to act as their Goose consultant/trainer, If my health improves I will look into the added income from this source. Worthless? I know of 5 farmer/gardeners who don't agree with you! (less respect than before) ~gd
     
  7. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

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    Apr 19, 2009
    I have to admit this whole exchange is rather perplexing given that you seem to be posting with the intent of negating what I'd said, but still haven't said anything that is not in support of my original answer. Are you just misunderstanding what I posted or... ? I'm quite confused. [​IMG]

    The strawberry farmer -- who has small, leafy plants and soft fruits -- keeps his geese out of the field until after his harvest is through so that they do not damage the crop. The farmer who uses them in the corn field waits until the corn is too large for mechanical cultivation at which point the stalks, too, are no longer tender or leafy, not appetizing or at great risk by the geese; again so they don't damage the crop. Both supports the idea that they are not trustworthy in gardens filled with small, leafy plants or crops of soft fruits and vegetables.

    Likewise, in neither instance have you alluded that the geese are being supervised when they are let out after the crops are no longer considered to be in danger of damage by them, which, again, further supports my point that having to supervise them non-stop while they do their job in a large commercial setting is not an efficient use of neither man nor goose power.

    There must be confusion in here somewhere -- on your part or mine -- but I'm having a hard time figuring out where.

    I've gone back and read my post and don't see where I was unclear. Was it this sentence? "Personally, I wouldn't recommend them as weeders on field or garden crops." I thought the fact that it was preluded by four sentences explaining their attraction to small, leafy and/or soft things would serve to give it context, but perhaps not? Maybe it should have read: "Personally, I wouldn't recommend them as unsupervised weeders on field or garden crops that are small, leafy, bearing soft fruits within their reach or in a small, leafy or soft fruit bearing stage of growth during a point in the growing season where the loss of those leaves, plants and/or fruits would be detrimental to the production and profitability of said crop." That just seemed overly cumbersome and repetitive though given that, in the context of the rest of the post and in things that are terribly obvious to anyone with common sense the rest of the added verbiage was already clear. But maybe not?
     
  8. Baybrio

    Baybrio Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 11, 2008
    Poplar Grove, IL
    For the OP, goats are browsers and really would not keep the grass clipped. Sheep would work but I have to say that my geese do the best job of keeping the lawn short of all the animals I have ever owned!

    For those with much goose experience, how likely are geese to eat spruce and pine transplants in a windbreak situation? I planned on fencing the area where my pitiful windbreak trees try to grow and would be very sad if the geese ate the trees that I've managed not to kill myself. [​IMG] The area has plenty of weeds and I try and keep it mowed with a field mower so they would not be forced to eat the trees.

    Thanks
     
  9. goosedragon

    goosedragon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2009
    Central NC
    ok let us try to clear this up. In a small mixed garden they need to be tightly supervised I grant you that. Maybe it is just me but having to supervise a pair of geese (who by the way are fairly rapid weeders) is a heck of a lot less effort than pulling the weeds my self, there fore they have worth in that setting.
    Then you brought up the fact that the OP is asking about weeding for a large commercial garden. you appeared to me to be assuming that the same conditions would apply there. one person supervising two geese.thats what I got from "Personally, I wouldn't recommend them as weeders on field or garden crops." I guess we have different pictures of what a large commercial garden can be. If it is just a bigger version of a mixed garden you may be right but you are wrong when you say you would not recomend on Field or garden crops. I provided examples of where they are worth their keep in field (sweet corn) and garden (strawberry) crops.
    Of course I have no Commen Sense, I am a Goose Lover! And yes If you are applying your four lines of qualifications to ALL field or garden crops at All times again you are dead right, geese would be worthless! You win. It is not worth the effort to discuss it further. Are you Happy with your win? I hope so because I think I made my points too so it is WIN-WIN and let the OP decide if geese fit his operation. Have a nice day! ~gd
     
  10. goosedragon

    goosedragon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2009
    Central NC
    Quote:Well if spruce are the evergreens that have those tender little things on the tip of each branch(usually yellow green while the mature branches were blue green) my geese enjoyed eating any they could reach! They never bothered the long neddle pine which is the weed tree of North Carolina however. They liked to shelter under the lower branches during the heat of the day or in heavy snow and often built nests in the neddle litter under those trees. Hope this was some help but I don't know much about spruce trees, maybe mine were something else.~gd
     

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