So far we’ve been concentrating on everything to do with keeping chickens, but if you’re after a bird that is full of charm, character and can guard your house like a dog, then geese are the answer! These wonderful creatures also make great pets and in the coming articles we’re going to look at everything you need to know about keeping them successfully.
Did you know?
Did you know that geese can live to be more than 20 years old, so is certainly something to consider when deciding on keeping them. They are also sociable animals and like to have each others company, so you should be thinking of getting more than just one!
What do you need to start?
Just like keeping all types of poultry, geese need space to roam. Geese are by nature, a free ranging breed, and need space to move around, so a large garden for a smallish flock is ideal.
Housing Your Geese
Just like any other pet, your geese need a safe, sheltered spot that they can retreat to at night and when they want some relief or protection from the sun, wind or rain. A stable, shed or small building will provide suitable housing. If purpose-built, the house does not need to be huge, but should be at least 6ft high and 4ft at the back and give each goose at least a square meter of floor space. An area of 8ft x 6ft will comfortably house 4-6 geese. A good wide door should be provided and most of the front should be wire mesh. The house should face away from the prevailing winter wind. A higher roof makes cleaning easier, as does a concrete or wooden floor. Sections partitioned off will encourage your geese to make their nests in a secure place, as well as preventing them from stealing each other’s eggs when sitting. Make sure the house is well ventilated and dry and that the floor is covered with a dry material such as sawdust or wood shavings, which you replace when necessary. Straw makes the best bedding and needs to be changed regularly.
As geese eat grass and the insects that live in the grass, you’ll find that the small areas of you garden the geese graze will become messy and bare, and the geese will need to be moved onto a new grassy patch as time goes on. Make sure the grass is kept relatively short; less than 4 inches high. But grass isn’t their only food source and you’ll have to make sure they get the protein, vitamins and minerals they need in their diet too. You can supplement the grass with a mixture of wheat and pellets, given dry in a bowl. Geese will also happily eat vegetables such as cauliflower trimmings, carrots and potatoes, but you need make sure that these are more of a treat, rather than a staple part of the diet. Like any bird, they will also need grit in their diet and you can provide this by supplying a dish containing coarse sand or mixed poultry grit.
Of course water is vital! If you have a pond (it must be clean) it will supply the geese with a consistent and fresh source of water. Geese are a type of waterfowl, so will want to be able to play in water, doing things such as preening and dipping their heads. Of course even if you don’t have one, they will need fresh water every day, which can be provided with special water hoppers. How about a child’s paddling pool? You’ll find the geese, like most waterfowl, are rather messy creatures, so will have to empty, scrub, and refill the water containers and tidy up their enclosure on a daily basis.
Don’t Forget to Check With Council
Finally, don’t forget to give your local council a call before you bring any geese home to see if there are any limits or restrictions on how many geese you can keep. There are more likely to be restrictions in urban areas.