Goose plucking out breast feathers?

Willowfield

In the Brooder
Mar 19, 2018
23
43
44
Aghadowey, Northern Ireland
I have 2 gorgeous geese left Bella & Betsy, having recently lost Lancelot the gander. Betsy has recently developed a bare patch on her chest and I assume she has been plucking out her feathers. I know some birds do that to line their nests etc but is this normal for geese? I don't know if either have laid before but without a gander will they still display nesting behaviour in Spring? Or maybe it's part of a moult?
Bella & Betsy.jpg
Bella & Betsy in the herb garden.jpg
Bella & Betsy in the garden.jpg
All the girls together.jpg
 

Willowfield

In the Brooder
Mar 19, 2018
23
43
44
Aghadowey, Northern Ireland
I think when waterfowl get stressed they do this,cause mine use to.
Thank you, she doesn't seemed stressed but having lost her mate maybe she is. However, WOW, guess what I found today - an egg! Her first egg laid here! It may even be her first egg ever! So, now I'm thinking it was nesting behaviour - either way I'll keep a good eye on her.
 

Gray Farms

Conserve Heritage Breed Livestock
5 Years
Apr 11, 2016
14,355
19,125
647
NW Missouri
I was getting ready to say that she is getting ready to lay. Its that time of year. Females will still lay without a male. And will sometimes even set the eggs even though they won't hatch.
 

The goose girl

Crowing
11 Years
Jul 7, 2010
976
451
272
Denmark
My goose also plucks out a patch of her chest feathers every year around this time - mating season.

I was puzzled at first, because the plucking starts weeks before she even begins to lay eggs, and she doesn't use the feathers for her nest. But now I'm convinced it's mating behavior.

When she "assumes the position", she'll start pulling at her chest. If I pet her, she'll flatten out and pull at my sleeves or my pants. I think it's her way of showing serious interest.

Also, I remembered I had a couple of ganders once who also did it during mating season. Back then I just figured they'd been fighting, but I never saw them grab each other's chest; only their own.
 

Gray Farms

Conserve Heritage Breed Livestock
5 Years
Apr 11, 2016
14,355
19,125
647
NW Missouri
Its typically a sign of nesting. They pull the feathers to "sometimes" line the nest and so that the eggs are closer to the skin for incubation.
 

Willowfield

In the Brooder
Mar 19, 2018
23
43
44
Aghadowey, Northern Ireland
Thanks all for the info, yes she hasn't used her feathers in her nest. She just scraped out a kind of nest on the gravel and laid on the ground, ignoring a lovely sheltered, wood-shaving filled kennel that Guinevere used to nest in. Each to their own :)
 

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