Domestic Geese are an important species of poultry. They do not need a large body of water and mainly eat grass. So, it is very profitable to raise geese where grass grows. This method reduces the food cost. Egg productive efficiency of geese is very low. They can lay only 30 to 40 eggs per year. Geese are large and they weights more than ducks. Geese eat more food than ducks so feed to egg production is quite high. Geese are better suited for meat and feather production.
Geese are not as prolific as chickens. So if you want to produce eggs from geese, then choosing the best egg laying geese breeds is very important. Chinese geese are the most common and popular backyard flocks kept throughout the world. They are raised for both eggs and meat.
During the first few weeks of life, the goslings are in need of supplemental heat management until they are fully feathered. Keep the goslings in an brooder at 95° Fahrenheit for the first week if they are not being raised by their mother. After the first week reduce the temperature by 5° per week. Reduce temperature at this rate until they are fully feathered out at about six weeks of age. If the goslings are kept with their mother, provide about four square feet per bird.
You can feed the goslings chick starter supplemented with various types of vegetables and grasses. Adult geese can consume all types of cracked corn and they spend most of their time foraging for bugs, insects or trimming grasses. Naturally, geese leave board leafed plants like vegetables, herbs and flowering plants alone while foraging. Always provide geese with a sufficient supply of fresh and clean water.
Geese start laying at about seven months of age. Provide sufficient nesting boxes inside their house and provide one nesting box for every 2 to 3 female geese. The box must be at least two square feet wide. Generally, Chinese geese begin egg laying in February or March. Their production will drop off during summer months. When autumn arrives, their egg laying production will pick up again until mid November. Provide artificial lighting in morning and evening for encouraging them to lay eggs in the fall.
Most of the people who raise geese in their backyards, raise them as pets and for their beauty.
Managing the Breeding Pairs
If you have several pairs of these geese you will need to think seriously about having several separate pens. You should have a separate breeding pen or pens, wintering pens and a large general holding pen. Having these pens will really make life easier as your flock grows. This is especially true during the breeding season. Most agree that separate breeding pens make for higher production. Records are easier kept, the ganders fight less, and servicing the pen can be systematized. Once the breeding pairs settle down and have their territory staked out things get quiet.
Several types of nesting sites can be used with wild geese. One is made by placing three bales of straw to form a triangle with a depression in the middle. About six inches of loose straw is placed in this depression for the geese to use. Another nesting site commonly used is the wooden structure. This is about four feet high and is three by three feet with some sort of windows near the top to let in light. The front is open with only the roof and the sides closed in.
One year old geese show little response to breeding. They will develop pair bonding if allowed to do so. However, the second year most geese will begin to think about breeding. Planned matings can sometimes work if the single gander and female are penned together but most of the success comes from one and two year old birds.
More young can be raised if the first clutch is taken away from the parents and they are allowed to have a second clutch. Production is more than doubled by using this method of management. It is reported that first year layers seldom lay a second clutch but after that most all will do so if conditions are right.
Gathering the eggs can be dangerous for the keeper. Geese are very large and will defend their nests with much vigor. They will attack intruders especially if they do not know them. Most advise that only one or two people work with the flock as the geese become accustomed to the keepers. When gathering eggs it is a good idea to have a helper to distract the defending pair while the other slips in a gathers the eggs. Eggs are gathered daily with the first two replaced with plastic or plaster dummy eggs. When the goose finishes her clutch she covers the nest with straw. She begins to incubate. When all of the eggs are gathered a piece of plywood should be placed over the nest to cover it for three or four days until the goose loses her urge to incubate. After that the plywood can be removed and she will commence to rebuild her nest and hopefully lay a second clutch. If a second clutch is desired it is best not to let the goose get too far along in her incubation cycle.
Eggs can be artificially incubated or the second clutch at least can be left for the parents to incubate. If they are good parents the goslings can be raised by them or they can be taken to artificially brood.
Raising the Goslings
The wonderful thing about geese is they are easy to brood and raise. You can use any type of brooder box that you like and still have success. The size of the box needs to be adjusted to fit the size of the birds. You can build your brooder box large enough to accommodate the entire clutch of goslings and raise them in a group with no trouble.
Raising goslings is not difficult if they are not given too much protein. If more protein is given than they can tolerate their legs go and they will not make it. One of the secrets to raising geese is to give them plenty of greens. They love grass and can grow rapidly and healthy on just a diet of good fresh grass. If you do not have any grass to give them they will appreciate getting lettuce of any other green food. Usually, when the goslings hatch out there is winter grass everywhere that can be pulled and fed to them. If your pens are so arranged to let the goslings out on a lawn so much the better. They will graze and be perfectly content.
Most geese breeders agree that the wintering period is very important as the birds need to come through the winter in good condition for the following breeding season.
Most geese are hardy and require less heat than most other game birds. In Northern latitudes shelters place to face the South can be made to keep the geese out of the deep snow and cold winds. These shelters can be made from any material that is available. The shelter area should have clean mold-free straw for the birds to bed down in. This can be cleaned out periodically. This wintering pen should have a source of fresh, open water available for all of the birds. Although open water is not necessary, it gives the geese a chance to bathe and keep their feathers in good condition to ward off the cold. Some sort of heating system will need to be used in cold climates to keep the water open during cold spells.
The watering system should be designed for easy draining and cleaning when the water becomes fowled. The size of the water pond and the number of birds will determine how often it needs to be cleaned. Some breeders design a drainage system which can easily be used to get the water out without disturbing the birds.
Good feed should be used during the winter. Whole grains such as corn, barley, wheat, oats and millet are satisfactory. Give extra portions of shelled corn during times of stress. It is advisable to supplement the diet with some type of green forage. Alfalfa can be used but care should be taken to get hay which is free from mold and is not steamy. Some sort of hay trough should be designed to keep the hay off of the ground . Sand and grit should be available at all times to help their digestion.