Thursday, August 13, 2009

Keeping geese

We have kept all kind of domestic animals however it is the first time we keep geese. We have lost a few to diseases (bacterial infections caused by hot weather and stagnant water), accidents (electric fencing and overrun by other geese!) and predators (most likely foxes during day-time). Our flock is now three and a half month old and birds are already weighting between 3 and 5 kilos. They are very healthy and seem to be very happy geese. We do not feed them except some hands of wheat in the evening before penning them for the night. During the day they run free and forage for their food.

When keeping livestock there are always some basic guidelines that should be followed to keep your animals healthy and happy. Hereby my mine for successful raising geese;

Goslings (0-10 weeks):
► Keep them warm and dry.
► Drinking water containers that are used the first couple of weeks should be designed so the birds cannot enter and become excessively wet. Until well-feathered (ten weeks) young geese should be put under cover during hard rains and should not be allowed to swim. Chilling and drowning are among the goslings’ worst enemies.
► Keep them on dry, mold-free bedding that provides good footing - Damp, filthy bedding is a breeding ground for internal parasites and disease organisms.
► Up to ten weeks old supply a balanced diet of fresh, non-medicated, feed like waterfowl starter with a minimum of 16 to 17 percent protein. Mix it with finely chopped fresh stinging nettles. Don’t feed them chicken layer ration, it contains far too much calcium. Allow them to forage on good quality pasture during the day.
► Provide fresh drinking water. Dirty, stagnant water is a source of health problems. Once goslings are two weeks old providing water that they can submerge their heads in helps to prevent eye infections.
► Protect them from predators especially at night.
► Be calm and gentle, move slowly and talk to young geese - Goslings thrive on tranquillity. If repeatedly frightened, they become nervous wrecks, grow poorly and pile up in corners.
► If the bird is not eating, or passing watery droppings, get it quickly on antibiotic. The more rapid your response, the more likely the recovery of the bird.

3 weeks old: foraging on wild herbs and grasses during day-time

Geese (>10 weeks):
► Geese can be kept exclusively on grass, but this should only be practised on free-range on farms where the birds are run extensively and can select the highest quality of grass and herbs. A low stocking density for geese reduces the concentration of parasites for them.
► Protect them from predators especially at night. Although few mature geese die from disease or exposure to severe weather, quite a number are lost to predators such as foxes. Geese should be penned every night in a securely fenced yard.
► Provide a steady supply of reasonable clean drinking water - geese do not need swimming – but they must have a constant supply of water preferably supplied in containers that are deep enough for the birds to submerge their heads.
► Disturb them no more than necessary, geese do not well when stressed frequently.

3 1/2 months old: Comming home for dinner

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