Using geese to protect chickens?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Fredster, Dec 4, 2008.

  1. Fredster

    Fredster Chillin' With My Peeps

    278
    5
    151
    Feb 21, 2007
    Alabama
    A couple of months ago, we lost a chicken to a predator in the daytime. The chicken appeared to be whole, but everything from her head to her breast except the spine was missing. The chickens were enclosed in 5-foot welded wire fencing at the time. Around the same time, I also found a dead one in the yard with her head twisted up under her, but no signs of being consumed.

    A couple of days ago, something ate most of our lone white silkie, and left her remains under a giant oak tree near the coop. Whatever got her ate more than half of her, again in the daytime. The chickens are now enclosed in 5-foot poultry wire.

    Much as I hate to think it, I'm beginning to suspect feline, though not one of ours. I thought maybe it was a hawk, but I figured one of those would snatch a chicken and take it away, not sit right out there in the chicken yard and eat it. We have a few coyotes around, but it seems to me they'd be stopped by the fence unless they got under it somehow and didn't leave evidence of digging.

    There are also occasional skunks, possums, and raccoons here, but I figured them all to be nocturnal.

    Our chicken yard is about 2 acres, so it's infeasible to cover it. We originally talked about getting a couple of livestock guard dogs, but that's an awfully big investment to save the occasional chicken.

    This morning, I've been reading that geese can act as good guards against some predators like hawks. I wondered if maybe their size would deter a cat, too. Anyone have experience using geese to guard chickens, or suggestions for something else I could use?

    What about a donkey?
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  2. Pumpkinpup

    Pumpkinpup Poultry Princess

    Jul 16, 2008
    North-West Georgia
    I have a friend who has a gusrd goose that was raised with the chickens and it is VERY protective. It also prevents squabbling within the flock as it won't tollerate discord. It's real funny to watch this goose discipline the chickens when they start a fight. LOL
    It works great!!! The goose is good with people but runs off everything else.
     
  3. Pumpkinpup

    Pumpkinpup Poultry Princess

    Jul 16, 2008
    North-West Georgia
    I don't know if a small mini donkey would work or not, Hmmm [​IMG]
     
  4. Fredster

    Fredster Chillin' With My Peeps

    278
    5
    151
    Feb 21, 2007
    Alabama
    This may also be important for people to know: We have about 90 chickens. [​IMG]

    How many geese (or donkeys, or whatever)? One? Two? More?
     
  5. hatchaholic

    hatchaholic Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 23, 2008
    South Carolina
    We are up to over 50 chickens, and we have 3 geese in the mix, for protection. The geese are very protective of the chickens. Papa Goose always tries to knock the roosters off the hens, but other than that, everyone gets along pretty well.
     
  6. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

    4,889
    16
    261
    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    I have around 40 geese wandering this place. They are not guardian animals. They are called this because they make so much noise when being attacked that you're likely to hear the commotion. But, all the predators who'll take chickens will also take geese.

    Raccoons will come during the day if hungry, and that's very typical to hear the head/neck removed and the heart too if you look into the carcass. If it happened at night and you just didn't notice until daytime, it could also have been a great horned owl (if you have those).
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. Fredster

    Fredster Chillin' With My Peeps

    278
    5
    151
    Feb 21, 2007
    Alabama
    Quote:Definitely daytime things; the chickens are locked in a coop at night. Whatever did it ate on the birds in place, left the heads, and a bunch of feathers around as though there'd been a struggle.

    The feather scatter reminded me of when a cat gets a bird.
     
  8. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

    4,889
    16
    261
    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    domestic cats won't take chickens; and all larger predatory cats are nocturnal

    it's not an exaggeration to say that 90%+ of predation is domestic dogs, so that should always be your first avenue to explore. Some breeds shake the animals to death, which leads to the feather piles.
     
  9. Mojo Chick'n

    Mojo Chick'n Empress of Chickenville

    Quote:Well, supposedly for guard donkeys they are single - but donkeys are herd animals, and hate to be alone -- I would never do that to a donkey.

    Geese, I don't know about. I'm getting my first geese in the spring.

    I have - 9 donkeys, one coop is down in their pasture, and the other is surrounded on three sides by their pasture. I also have guineas (which I do not recommend, if ya want any peace and quiet at all). They do, however, sleep in a tree above the lower coop and go off at the slightest change in the scenery. This works great if it is summer and my windows are open, not so good in winter, since the guineas will warn, but not fight.

    With 90 chickens, if ya want to try geese, I'd get at least 4 of them, so they can mingle a bit more.

    Only predator problem I have had was my own fault - had a coon get to a hen while she was inside the coop. He didn't get IN the coop, I had a smallish crack by the floor (about 1 to 2 inches wide), big enough for his paw to get in and rip her head off while she slept in the corner. (she was a bantam cochin and didn't roost).

    The crack was on the back side of the coop, also, so technically out of the pasture, and out of the guinea's line of sight. I did, however, have a hotwire running right above the crack, how the coon missed it is beyond me, or maybe his fur was just so thick it didn't phase him.

    I hope the geese will be good guards, because I would dearly love to find new homes for those guineas [​IMG]

    meri
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 4, 2008
  10. Fredster

    Fredster Chillin' With My Peeps

    278
    5
    151
    Feb 21, 2007
    Alabama
    Quote:I haven't completely ruled out dogs, but I saw no evidence that one went under the fence or climbed it. We're out in the country, so if it is a cat, I suspect it's a feral one.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by