Geese NOT on grass/natural pasture?

Discussion in 'Geese' started by Denninmi, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. Denninmi

    Denninmi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hmmm, wondering if I should rethink my plan to get a few geese in the spring?

    I could NOT let them "free range" where I am, both for their own safety, and due to the nature of the neighborhood. I'm in the 'burbs, and I live on the corner of a main road with heavy traffic. If I let them "free range," they would get hit in the road, or wander into a neighbor's yard who might not appreciate it (one guy in particular always chases the wild geese). Plus, predator issues -- I have a hawk that regularly sits on the utility pole or the walnut tree and watches my birds inside their pens, but he can't get to them, as I made REALLY secure pens with multiple layers of protection.

    My 2 acres is NOT fenced, but I would fence in a smaller area, just I have done for my other birds (ducks, chickens, turkeys, quail).

    The setup I had envisioned would be a roughly 20 x 50 area, fenced and netted against hawks, with a "house" inside of that, plus a kiddie pool or two for swimming. They would have to be on some kind of artificial substrate, because I know that the lawn there now would just be mud in short order. What I was thinking was pea gravel, so it could be easily raked and hosed down. There is enough natural drainage in the area I would put them that I could hose it daily. I would also put down landscape fabric under the pea gravel so they couldn't get into the mud/sand beneath.

    Reading various threads about how much geese almost "need" to graze, would this be unfair to or unhealthy for a pair of geese? Does the above sound like an OK setup?

    I would give them a LOT of vegetable matter, daily in fact, but would that substitute for true "grazing" on grass?

    Finally, one other question -- is there a problem with diseases or parasites from wild flocks affecting domestic birds if they're in the same general area but not necessarily in direct contact? I live in a region of hundreds of lakes, and there are 5 lakes within 1/2 mile of my house, the closest being about 1/4 mile at the end of the street. Plus a drainage pond in the sub across the street, about 300 feet away. We have a tremendous population of wild geese and ducks. In the summer and fall mostly, the wild geese come into my yard daily to graze on the grass and pick at fallen fruit from my apples and pears. Other times of the year, they are more casual visitors. I like them actually. I can have as many as 50 birds in my yard some days -- they wander the whole neighborhood. Would they potentially infect the domestic geese with something IF the domestic geese were in a fenced enclosure and not wandering the same land?
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2010
  2. Cottage Rose

    Cottage Rose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For that size pen I would only keep 2- 3.
    Guess remember, the more geese the more poo/mess
    If you're not on clay or soil that doesn't drain off well I don't know why you'd
    have to put pea gravel down.
    Also I'm wondering if that would be hard on their feet.
    If you're giving them veggies, greens or leafy hay daily they should be just fine.
    Alot of animals live well under less than ideal conditions as long as they are fed well
    and have plenty of fresh water daily.
    Fresh water daily is very important.
    Good luck with your geese!
    I'm sure you'll love them. [​IMG]
     
  3. Hillbilly_Curt

    Hillbilly_Curt Out Of The Brooder

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    They would be better off in mud than on pea gravel IMO.
    Wild birds can spread diseases in home flocks. Avian Influenza can be passed on via waterfowl. Mainly ducks I believe but not sure on the statistics.
     
  4. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

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    Personally, I wouldn't keep geese at all if they couldn't graze. While on the dietary front you could certainly provide greens to make up for what they're missing, on an instinctual and mental level I think you would be hard pressed to be able to provide them with the varied stimulation the seek and thrive on. Even in the winter mine spend most of their day digging through the snow to find the vegetation underneath. Would they survive? Sure. Would they thrive? Well, I guess that depends on your definition of thrive. According to mine, it's highly unlikely.

    I also -- though far secondarily to the above -- would be concerned with their body condition. Geese are fatty creatures regardless, but limiting their mobility to a 20x50 pen makes it likely they'll be even fatter. I've never seen any research to the tune of how fat is too fat for a goose, but common sense alone tells us any obese animal is going to suffer setbacks as a result of their obesity. I've observed in my own flock fatter geese having a harder time getting around, being slower, losing position in the flock over their inability to keep up, etc. And fertility is something that we know is adversely affected.

    If you absolutely MUST have a couple geese as pets however, this would be my advice for your situation - I'd stick to 2-3, like Cottage Rose, recommended and I would devise several different greens toys/feeders to help keep them both well-fed and mentally stimulated. A long, flat hay feeder where they must pull the hay through small holes of fencing; a wooden box with holes through which they can pull lettuce leaves and other greens; hanging buckets that they can tip and reach inside to find grass clippings, etc; and so on and so forth.

    Personally, I think your fabric/pea gravel is a fine idea. I wouldn't keep them on mud 24/7/365, just my preference. I do not like animals on mud/dirt. I might also put some sandy areas around their pools, too, just for a change of pace. I wouldn't worry about the gravel on their feet however, mine choose to spend plenty of time on the gravel driveway here and don't seem adversely affected in the slightest.

    If you're wanting them for meat, on the other hand, you're better off buying them from a farm already processed and bagged. If you have to pay for their every ounce of food you'll be paying dearly.

    Good luck!
     
  5. Cottage Rose

    Cottage Rose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Another thing to think about before you get geese is the noise factor.
    While they're not noisy all the time, the have their moments and your neighbors
    might not appreciate that. You might want to consider Muscovies Ducks if
    that could be a problem. Muscovies are basically a quack-less duck, they don't drill
    in the soil as bad as other ducks, they're great for keeping flies and mosquitoes down
    and are very good setters if you feel like hatching anything out.
    They're typically very laid back and beloved by many.,
    Just make sure you only have 1 drake with females or all females because
    the males will fight and can really do some serious damage to each other.

    I was thinking about your pen situation while doing chores tonight.
    I have 3 - 30' x 30' pens.
    I use them for duck breeding pens and for raising young ducklings
    and gosling's. Even when the pens are at capacity the whole pen
    never gets muddy....it only gets wet by their pools but
    then again I have very good drainage, a sandy sub soil.
    If you have a pea gravel covered pen that you're hosing down everyday
    thats going to be a wet mess all the time and a breeding ground for bacteria.

    See my website for more info on Muscovies and raising geese.
     
  6. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

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    You might want to consider Muscovies Ducks if
    that could be a problem.

    And with muscovies unsuspecting visitors may mistake your drakes for geese anyway. I had a friend stop by a couple weeks ago. As we were standing in the driveway talking my muscovy drake waddled around the front of the truck. We'd just watched the geese walk by a few minutes ago and had been talking about them so he looked down at the drake and said: "What kind of goose is THAT?!" [​IMG] I told him it was a duck and he said: "That's the ugliest duck I've ever seen." [​IMG]

    Cottage Rose is right about the noise though. Geese can be very loud. And they don't necessarily keep it to the daytime. Mine go off almost every night and it can be all hours. They've woken me at 3 in the morning on more than one occasion. And I'm a sound sleeper.​
     
  7. Denninmi

    Denninmi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the replies. You've put a lot of thought into them, and it is helpful.

    Yeah, I don't know. I still have a few weeks to think about it, the couple of sources I have checked into both said to contact them in early to mid February to order for the upcoming spring. I am considering either Pilgrims or Sebastopols.

    I'm not particularly worried about the noise factor. We have a constant cacaphony most of the year from the wild geese and ducks around the neighborhood. Even in the winter, they congregate on the open water canal that runs between the lakes, the current keeps it open, and it's pretty rare NOT to hear geese honking and making noise most days at some time in the day. My own current birds make a little noise at times (mostly the chicken "egg song"), but it generally gets drowned out by the wild birds. Frankly, the home daycare business behind me is a bigger noise source, screaming kids 6 days a week from mid-morning to pick-up time at night, but I realize you never know. Well, I've got ONE neighbor one one side who CAN'T complain -- my sister lives next door. If she complains, I just won't feed her (she gets home after I do, so I do all of the cooking). I doubt that the neighbors across the main road ever hear much from my birds because the traffic noise drowns them out -- it's pretty steady from about 5:00 am to about 10:00 pm 7 days a week. The only time the road is quiet is on a major holiday, like early on Christmas or Easter.

    I'm still pondering whether this is the right thing to do or not. I think I need to consider the birds needs ahead of my own wants. I want to get geese, but I think they need more space and pasture than I can offer.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2010
  8. Cottage Rose

    Cottage Rose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How nice that you're thinking this over seriously vs. impulse buying. [​IMG]
    Idea: how about a couple Shetland Geese or Oregon Mini Geese?
     
  9. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    Cottage Rose, I saw some pictures of your geese a while back and have to say they are beautiful, they actually make me think of Emden geese in the face but with a beautiful boa coat on, do they have blue eyes?
     
  10. Cottage Rose

    Cottage Rose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Ha-ha cute description! [​IMG]
    Yes they have ice blue eyes.
    Upon first seeing them my daughter-in-law said: "they look like they're wearing wedding dresses!"
     

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