Tons of goose questions - telling age, feeding, set-up, feral cats etc

Discussion in 'Geese' started by NOVAHorses, Jan 28, 2010.

  1. NOVAHorses

    NOVAHorses Out Of The Brooder

    24
    0
    22
    Jan 28, 2010
    Questions:
    1. How can you estimate the age of an adult goose?

    2. What should I feed my geese while they are locked up?

    3. Are my feral cats a danger to my geese (I have over 50 TNR cats that have free choice cat food)

    4. How long do I need to keep my geese confined?

    5. What can I do to protect my geese if I can't be there to let them in and out?

    6. Is there anything special that the geese need other than the obvious food/water/shelter?

    My story:

    Years ago I had a goose that was about half white and grey with blue eyes and 3 solid grey geese. i ahve no clue which ones were male or female, but they would disappear and then show up with 8-10 goslings each year which would slowly disappear (occassionally they raised 1-2) and then they would do it again the next year. They came up near the barn to sleep and spent the day in the creek. I never specifically gave them any kind of feed, but they did come up and eat some of the scraps I threw out for the chickens and some of the corn I dumped for the pigs. Eventually I moved and the geese stayed with the place. I really miss my pretty blue eyed goose so when I got a place with a nice big pond I started dreaming of blue eyed geese - after some research I found Ebdens to be white with blue eyes, but wasn't able to find any locally so I was just waiting for the right opportunity and planning to set up for them better. I have about 10 fenced acres with horses. There are 5 large barns and 2 houses on the property and it is fenced and cross fenced with old board fence and stock wire and I am slowly running electric all the way around. There is a large collection of feral cats (over 50) that I have had trapped, fixed, and vaccinated. The cats have free choice dry food at all times, but they do run loose.

    My geese:

    Alright, now to my new geese - I went to a poultry auction with a friend and there was a big cage of geese - long story short I found my blue eyed goose, but he kept screaming for the grey goose that sold before him and the grey goose kept screaming for him (she even bloodied her beak trying to get to him). It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out they wanted to be together and I convinced the person (for a $6 profit) to sell me the grey goose they were planning to eat. When I put them back together they made the cutest little noises and cuddled. The geese are very docile (at least compared to my last geese) and let me pet them and carry them around, but don't come up to me for attention. They don't run from me or hiss at me they simply walk calmly away. I currently have the geese in a 10X12 horse stall with a tub (about 15 gallons) of water, a 3 quart pail of water, a 5 gallon heated bucket of water, a dish of oyster shell, a dish of grit, a dish of cat food, a dish with alfalfa hay, a dish of horse sweet feed, a dish of water fowl pellets (with 6 brewer's yeast tablets that the lady at the feed store told me to add), and a dish of cracked corn. So far my geese have made a mess with their water and they did drink a whole lot, but they really haven't eaten much of anything. I did put a dog crate with a shipping blanket over it so they had somewhere to hide, but I haven't seen them go in there at all. I have been reading and reading and I'm pretty sure that they are healthy, that they are adults, and that they are pilgrim geese. Beyond that I am lost. I'm not sure how long to keep them penned up before turning them loose and now there are Canadian geese at the pond so I'm not sure if that will be a problem. I have no clue how old they are, but I assume that they are a mated pair. I have ordered a book on geese, but it will not be here for another week and I'm going nuts - ANY and ALL advice would be GREATLY appreciated.

    Thanks!
    Becky
     
  2. Willowbrook

    Willowbrook Chillin' With My Peeps

    192
    0
    119
    Dec 7, 2008
    western PA
    1. How can you estimate the age of an adult goose?

    2. What should I feed my geese while they are locked up?

    3. Are my feral cats a danger to my geese (I have over 50 TNR cats that have free choice cat food)

    4. How long do I need to keep my geese confined?

    5. What can I do to protect my geese if I can't be there to let them in and out?

    6. Is there anything special that the geese need other than the obvious food/water/shelter?

    It's difficult to know the age of any fowl as they don't show obvious signs of age until they are very old.

    I have a couple of feral cats that I also feed as well as my own pet cats and none of them are remotely interested in the geese. Most geese are able to defend themselves quite nicely should the need arise.

    What you are feeding sounds fine for your geese as they have many foods to choose. If you just got them, don't be concerned that they aren't eating as quickly as you think they should. They need time to adjust to their new surroundings. I'm sure they are eating something.

    Whenever I get new fowl, I like to keep them penned for about two weeks. This is not scientific, just what I have found works for me and what I am comfortable doing.

    My geese and other birds are barn kept at night, but free range during the day, whether I am there or not. My situation is such that I only have one neighbor across the road from me and have very few cars that travel my road. Also, my birds are far from the road unless they go to the stream to swim. All of my birds know how to "put themselves to bed" at night. The chickens go to their respective coop and the water fowl do the same along with the pea fowl, turkeys and guineas. All I do is a head count and close the barn doors.

    Geese are very hardy and as long as you provide them with some shelter, food when greens are scarce, and clean water deep enough to allow them to dunk their heads, your geese should be very happy.

    Personally, I think geese are one of the hardiest of fowl and they require far less than other birds do.

    Good luck with your new geese.​
     
  3. NOVAHorses

    NOVAHorses Out Of The Brooder

    24
    0
    22
    Jan 28, 2010
    Thank you so much, I really feel a lot better. I am so happy with my geese, they are just so sweet and interesting, but I wanted to make sure I was taking proper care of them. I live about half an hour from the barn that I am leasing (where the geese are living) so I am only out there once a day. I was planning to open up the door so that they could go in and out and hoping that they would come back to the barn at night, but I plan to keep them in for awhile first. I'm also hoping while they're inside we can become friends. I took them some strawberries today and they definately liked them. The female (Daisy) would take them out of my hand, but I had to put them down right in front of me for the male (Donald). I'm just SO excited and I'm really glad I found this forum - Thanks SO much for taking the time to set my mind at ease about the cats and about the way I'm caring for them.
     
  4. MsMelvin

    MsMelvin Chillin' With My Peeps

    183
    2
    129
    Mar 15, 2009
    I would just like to add; thank you so much for the rescue! When folks take the intiative to act when an animal is in trouble, always brings a smile. [​IMG]
     
  5. goosedragon

    goosedragon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2009
    Central NC
    First let me say that you have received GOOD advise on this board so far but I think I can add a few points. It sounds to me like you have a pair of Pilgrims I suspect they are '08 hatched for the following reasons: Blue eyes the ganders (white), eyes tend to be a grayish blue at first and change to blue near the end of the first year. Very firmly bonded, they usually aren't as tightly bonded as you describe going into the first mating season (Which will be starting soon now). It is hard to judge ages of geese since they get new feathers each year, but on the female (grey) they get a little more white on the face each year with only minor trace aroung the bill the first year which can advance to a all white head when they get old. Other than that I tend to judge age by bill, leg, and foot condition as showing signs of wear.
    As for feed you have just about everything they are likely to want. Fresh greens are one addition you could make. They are likely to "be off their feed" while they settle in (geese are not big fans of change)It may take them a while to pick their favorites from your broad menu and they may be taking a little bit of everything so it doesn't look like much to you. Check all foods daily to be sure they are not starting to mold! Given that mating season is coming up you should provide some nesting materials and keep an eye out for a nest. Even if you don't want goslings nothing ties a bird home like having a nest! Mama will stick close (not on) her nest and Papa will stick with her. Otherwise two weeks should be enough time to Home them. They will want to graze even if the grazing is poor and by then they will know where they can always find food and water. Your bonded pair is very unlikely to want to have anything to do with those wild Canadas. Geese seem to hate cats ( possible threat to goslings?) and they will set up their teritory where cats are not allowed.
    The biggest threat to geese are pack animals, DOGS kill more geese than anything. coyotes are problems in some areas too. Fox don't run in packs and a pair of geese can usually fight one off. Are there other animals housed in that barn? My geese were buddies to horses and cows but pigs can be dangerous. I don't know about sheep or goats.
    If you have other questions, write a good subject line and post here, answers are usually prompt (6-8 hours tops) It sounds like you are off to a great start, keep it up, and GOOD LUCK!
     
  6. NOVAHorses

    NOVAHorses Out Of The Brooder

    24
    0
    22
    Jan 28, 2010
    Wow! Thank you SO much - that is a ton of information and helps a lot. From what you said it does sound like they are 2008 birds - my female does have just a tiny bit of white near her beak and they are definately CLOSELY bonded. If I pick on of them up the other will follow me and when I set the one back down they make the cutest little wha-wha-wha noise. My male also makes a noise that sounds like smacking your lips (he only opens his mouth a tiny bit) towards the female - he also makes the noise back if I make it to him. They seem to be settling in and I do see where they have gotten cracked corn into the water fowl food (they were next to each other) so I assume that means they are eating. I will definately get them some greens (I gave them some strawberries yesterday) and start taking them a fresh treat each day. As far as other animals there are only horses out in the field I am hoping they will stay in (10 acres) and pet cows in the next pasture over (7 acres). The fencing is VERY good towards the road on one side (it is an interstate) and they are about a mile from the road in the other direction, then they could probably walk to the left or right for hours before they would find traffic (which is pretty impressive, because I am 25 minutes outside of Washington D.C., but I'm right next to Bull Run Park and Manassas Battlefield). There isn't much wildlife except the occassional deer and there are dogs on the property, but they are locked up and I've never seen them get out. I will give them some nesting material - Any suggestions? - and I would love to get some goslings. A friend of mine really wants a pair of the babies if I get any and I would just love to "grow" my goose family. As far as the cats the geese hiss and threaten my cats, but the cats don't seem at all concerned and have even walked up and sniffed them without the geese actually biting them. I'm concerned that the goslings wouldn't survive the cats (they did take out my pigeon not that long ago), but I guess I'll see how protective mommy and daddy get when there are goslings around.

    Well, I'll keep your posted on them and I REALLY appreciate the advice - I will try to get some pictures soon
     
  7. farmerlor

    farmerlor Chillin' With My Peeps

    Yep, gotta have those pics! Sounds like you have a great pair of geese. Don't forget to get them some treats. They love, love, love some nice buttercrunch lettuce or any other greens that they can get their beaks on. By golly, they'll be running to greet you if you start bringing them some of that.
    My cats, even the feral ones, and most of the other predators out here on our farm, are terrified of my geese. They spread those eight foot wings and make those big scary noises and everything on the farm runs the other way.
     
  8. NOVAHorses

    NOVAHorses Out Of The Brooder

    24
    0
    22
    Jan 28, 2010
    I'll definately snap some pics later today when I go to visit them (I actually just found my camera last night) and I'm going to take them some green beans and I'll go shopping for them this evening - Are there any greens that they can't have?

    Do you think when they start laying they will actually bite the cats and get their attention. I have 3 cats that walk up to them, eat their water fowl pellets, and have NO fear of them. The geese spread their wings out and hiss and carry on - the three cats that aren't afraid of them are young cats so maybe they'll grow up and get some sense or maybe the geese will finally nail them and get their attention.
     
  9. farmerlor

    farmerlor Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oh yeah, you got some kitties that got a lesson to learn. I'm sure those geese will be glad to teach them with a little nip on butt here pretty soon.
     
  10. NOVAHorses

    NOVAHorses Out Of The Brooder

    24
    0
    22
    Jan 28, 2010
    It looks like they are finally settling in - I brought them some mixed greens (a handful from one of the salad kits) and some cherries (I took the pits out) and they definately liked the greens. I can tell they've been eating now, because they ate all of their cracked corn (about 2 cups) last night. I gave them more, but I put it in the same bowl as their fowl pellets, because I was concerned that they shouldn't be having too much of one thing. The kitties still haven't learned any manners, but hopefully when the geese feel more at home they will teach them. I snapped some quick pictures of them and will try to get some better pictures when I have more time, but there was a lot to do today. At any rate, here are the pics:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I also wanted to get a good shot of Daisy's but on her bill - she did it trying tog et back to Donald - isn't that so sad?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    While I was taking those pics Donald posed and wanted a head shot so here is his head shot (sorry about the red eye) - Isn't he gorgeous?

    [​IMG]
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by