Keeping ducks and geese in the garden

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by moenmitz, May 30, 2008.

  1. moenmitz

    moenmitz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have seena lot of speculation about what they MIGHT do to a vegetable garden, but I would like to hear definitively from someone who has experienced first hand, whast they will and wont do. I have several (5) very large gardens (about 50' x 50') some are flowers, some are vegetables. I purchased some "weeder geese" from MMH with the idea of using them to keep the weeds down once the gardens were well established. (I know they will devour seedlings) I also have a few ducks, and was curious about putting just a couple in each garden-say, 2 geese and 2 ducks in each patch to keep weeds and bugs under control. I am ok with SOME damage, I figure it is inevitable. I do not want the whole thing demolished however. I plan on putting a kiddie pool on one end, with a dog house for shelter. The gardens are fenced. So, is this plan feasible? Or am I really being completely unrealistic in my expectations? I dont mind them messing things up with poo, I know that will happen. I dont want to sacrifice all of my veggies though! So, who has actually experienced their behaviors in a veggie/flower garden firsthand?
     
  2. SueNH

    SueNH Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've seen my geese pull down mature corn plants. Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli were eaten to nothing.
    Leaves on tomato plants shredded and the tomatoes eaten or pecked and ruined. Peas are eaten entirely. Beet greens are chewed to the ground and make for some interesting colored poo. Melons are devoured. Tops are chewed off onions and often the onion bulb is uprooted.

    Radishes...they didn't touch the radishes but the gate was only open for maybe an hour. My kid and her friends were grazing and forgot to secure it.

    Daylilies are grazed down. So is spiderwort. Irises get their bloosoms eaten and the leaves taste tested. Pansys and violets are chewed. I've got a lot of shredded hosta leaves but I think that's my muscovies looking for slugs. My chives live permanently under a milk crate now. Same for my ribbon grass, it lives under an old bird cage. Lots of other things are trampled to get to the other tasties. True lilies snap off easily.

    Essentially if it's edible for you it will be to them and then some. Save yourself the grief.

    Voice from my past....My grandmother did say the geese were good in a strawberry patch until the fruit started then you had to fence them out. My strawberries are fenced.

    None of my comments have been speculation. I've had geese since I was 6 years old. I'm 49 now. The garden gate has opened more than once.
     
  3. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just want to say I don't have the experience you are looking for, but my goslings (under 2 months old) DEFINITELY taste every plant, and know which ones they like. The "favorite" weeds were cleared from almost an acre in less than 2 weeks. Completely gone. There is one type of weed I've noticed that they don't like. That one is flourishing. Everything else is ... getting eaten. [​IMG]

    So just to say, mine definitely test everything, and remember which ones they like, and search those out.

    trish
     
  4. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Anything leafy they will eat, regardless of the age. So, keep them away from lettuces, spinaches, etc.

    I've also watched my geese pull down entire corn stalks (working as a team). But, I have a hunch they only resort to that when bored. So, if you're limiting their time in there I doubt that would be an issue.

    I've also heard about people double fencing the garden then letting the ducks patrol the space between the two fences for bug control.
     
  5. SueNH

    SueNH Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mine weren't bored when they were doing in the corn. They have 20 acres with streams, swales and ponds they can roam plus the nearest neighbor is a mile away. Feeders are rarely empty. Geese really like corn plants.

    My garden is double fenced on the side I grow peas because of beaks reaching through and pulling the plants out.

    Don't have a dandelion on the place though!

    I let the birds in the garden before I plant and after the harvest. The geese will even chew the frost killed corn stalks to split them open to get at the soft pith inside.
     
  6. moenmitz

    moenmitz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, since it seemed it was still a 50/50 spilt of pros and cons, I decided to give it a whirl today. Poor birds were so dirty from being in their hutch, just goten too big for it and were starting to pick. So, out to the garden they all went, and oh what a party they had. First few hours were good. They were scared to venture past my trellised peas so they stayed int he strawberries and after tasting a few of the leaves, happily returned to the weeds. I WAS feeling SO proud. As the afternoon wore on, they got braver and began exploring the whole garden. I was engrossed in rehabbing the dog house for them and failed to notice as they DECIMATED the rest of the garden. Oh what fun they had! The peas are shredded nubbins now, the radishes I assume are still underground, but the leaves are gone, lettuce, spinach, and carrots-vanished. They didnt bother the cabbages, broccoli, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, peppers, beans or onions. The berry patch was a bit trampled, but only taste tested. Little stinkers. Course, I DID put all 12 geese and all 7 ducklings in the garden at once, just for fun. They had such a blast splashing in the mud puddles and ripping my veggies apart, that I can't really regret the experiement. Everything they attacked was still small enough it will grow back I am pretty sure. So, my conclusion-we can do this, BUT, I am going to have to fence off the tastier morsels, and keep the gang down to 3 or 4 at a time to reduce trampling. What is with geese that they cant walk anywhere unless the WHOLE flock is walking together? It is like they are a unit! Good news also-they followed ME all over and even ran over squawking to me to "tattle" when our Pug Sophie got in and was herding them around. They have been terrified of us up until today, so perhaps they were so giddy with their new freedom and snacks that they decided to trust us a bit. Sorry for the long post, and I appreciate all of your guys' input! Thank you!
     
  7. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hehe, sorry to hear about your garden, but thinking of them having their freedom and having a party out there is kinda funny. Good thing you can have a good humor about it for the same reason. [​IMG]

    I only have 3 geese and 4 ducks, and I think I'm going to allow them in one bunch at a time ... after everything gets big and IF I ever get it all put in, for that matter. I still have tomatoes, lavender, and all the rest in pots on my front porch.

    Funny, I throw out a fresh cob of corn every day or two for the chickens. I tried giving it to the baby gooses first. They looked at me like I was crazy or something. They refused to even taste it.

    For the record, nobody likes fresh cold apple juice either. I took some out that was left out of the fridge, and tried to give it to everyone. Only the ducks would even taste it, and they were not impressed. Nobody else wanted any.

    Silly animals [​IMG]

    Best of luck in getting your garden re-established! At least it's still early. [​IMG]

    trish
     
  8. moenmitz

    moenmitz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, if one can't have a sense of humor about these things life could be pretty unpleasant! It was a hoot to watch them traipsing around in there, madly dashing from my plants to the pan of water I set out, all as a group of course! No apple juice, huh? I am surprised, would have thought they would go for that! It is still early-heck we had snow here less than 3 weeks ago, not too concerned at the damage at this state, better now than later!
     

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