Goose Behavior Question

Discussion in 'Geese' started by buggymuffin, Dec 15, 2015.

  1. buggymuffin

    buggymuffin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 25, 2012
    Keene, NH
    I am new to geese this year and am trying to understand some recent changes to the behavior of my geese. I am hoping I can get some input from fellow goose owners. We purchased a pair of Pilgrim geese, George and Martha this last spring. Unfortunately we lost the goose at about 4 weeks. Not wanting to raise a lone gander, we ordered another goose (along with several ducklings) from Metzer. Since George was much larger, he spent his days outside with our small flock of ducks and nights inside in a dog crate next to the ducklings and gosling so that they could see each other. Unfortunately they only sell straight run for single geese and we found out after a few weeks that our new Martha was actually Marcus. A disappointment, but they got along okay and I was able to line up a couple females for purchase from a somewhat local farm next spring. We were hoping the geese would bond with both the older ducks as well as the ducklings. Unfortunately, Marcus didn't seem to take to the older ducks and had a penchant for climbing on top of our slowest hen, Boudica, and pulling out her feathers. We also think that George may have killed our male Khaki duckling. Whether intentional or accidental we don't know, but we found him laying next to the pool with missing feathers and he died a few minutes later. So we separated the geese from the ducks when they weren't supervised. Luckily we were able to find a 4 month old Khaki drake locally that needed a new home, an absolute sweetheart that we are happy to have. The geese sleep in the garage in the dog crate and the ducks all sleep outside in their shed. We were originally hoping that they would all get along and they would be able to stay outside together, especially in the winter when we usually have to shovel snow. Oh well.

    We have tried reintroducing them several times since, but after a few minutes, Marcus would always go after Boudica. More recently, Marcus has behaved, but George has taken to going after Boudica even though she used to be his favorite. It may be important to note that Boudica is also the favorite target of our two young drakes as she is the most submissive. Are the geese maybe trying to mate with her? I am not sure what to make of their behavior, since they don't typically have issues with the other ducks, especially the drakes.

    As they have gotten older, Marcus has been the more vocal one, and not as well behaved. George usually follows directions when I take them out in the morning and in at night. But the other day, I heard a commotion and looked out to find Marcus pinned up against the fence (we were letting them free range and they tend to hang out close to the duck's enclosure) and George had hold of one wing. I ran over to separate them (Marcus was trying to go through the fence to get away and I was worried he would hurt himself). I had to pry George's mouth off of the wing feathers (luckily it was only feathers) and Marcus wouldn't come within 5 feet of George for the rest of the day. That evening we put them in their crate and had no more than closed the garage door when I heard a commotion and returned to find Marcus pinned in the corner of the crate. We opened the door, out flew Marcus with George right behind him chasing him across the garage. We pulled them apart again and tried to figure out what to do with them for the night. Luckily, I remembered that we had a divider for the crate and we were able to keep them separated that way. We haven't had any incidents since and Marcus is becoming less nervous around George, but we aren't ready to get rid of the divider yet.

    The other thing I have noticed lately has been different behavior from Marcus. I can't really "herd" him anymore. Instead, when I am trying to direct him, he will walk up and push against my legs instead. It is kind of frustrating when I am trying to fill their waterer. And a few times he has pecked at the ground near my feet, then my legs, then try to walk through my legs. He lets me pet him when he behaves like this but then he will sometimes grab my pant leg and try to climb up them. George won't let me touch him unless I corner him or I am pulling him off Boudica or Marcus.

    So what is the cause of this new behavior? Is it mating behavior? Territorial aggression? They have recently started hissing, but not really aggressively. It is more of a "look what noise I can make" type of thing. It has been unseasonably warm, but I would think that sunlight would be more of a trigger than temperature. Not really sure what to do. Can I expect some of this behavior to relax once they each have a girlfriend and it is not mating season?
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Their hormones are raging. They are teen agers awakening sexually and unsure of how to behave. Mates should help the situation. They are trying to breed Boudica - multiple males trying to breed a hen at the same time can injure her. If they have access to a pond, there is the possibility that they may drown her.
  3. buggymuffin

    buggymuffin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 25, 2012
    Keene, NH
    No pond, just a kiddie pool when it is warm, and right now they only have occasional supervised access to the ducks. It is good to hear that this may be less of an issue next year.
  4. Carrosaur

    Carrosaur Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 8, 2014
    Nashville, TN
    It's breeding season soon, they're both males, hormones, etc. I suggest you separate them from the ducks 100%. And ducklings should never be left alone with geese, they could kill them on accident just by stepping on them, or a quick bite. Things should calm down if you can buy one female for each gander and keep them away from the ducks.
  5. The goose girl

    The goose girl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 7, 2010
    Two ganders can get along fine when they're both single. But it seems your ganders really, really want to have mates. They'll fall in love with the ducks, the drakes, you ... and then try to keep the other one away from their chosen one.

    I once had a pair of ganders. They got along fine until spring, when one of them fell in love with his own reflection and started viciously attacking the other one. I had to cover up all windows to make the thrashing stop. It worked like a charm. Within half an hour they were best buds again. But that was only because "loverboy" could no longer see the love of his life, his reflection. If his chosen one had been a duck or a wheelbarrow, and it was still within sight, he would have kept chasing his rival away.

    I agree with sourland and Carrosaur: keep them separated from the ducks all the time and get them suitable mates instead.
    1 person likes this.
  6. buggymuffin

    buggymuffin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 25, 2012
    Keene, NH
    Well, unfortunately Marcus figured out how to get over the fence the other day. We found him in with the ducks going after Caligula today. I guess it is time to clip their wings. :(
    1 person likes this.
  7. servpolice

    servpolice Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 10, 2013
    Clipping their wings is the best solution ;)
    I clip my flying geese flight feathers once they become more active in spring.
    I let them have their flight feathers in winter in case of a predator attack.
    It doesn't hurt them at all but be careful not to clip their skin.

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