Goose pen set-up:
Allow an average of 50 m2 of grass per goose. Our experience is that a couple of geese will be fine on about 80 to 100 m2 but if it is possible to give them more space we would always recommend it. The geese like to walk and run around. About 80 to 100m2 is fine, they then also have grass to eat in the winter without it turning into a quagmire. You should mow this area regularly in the summer as they cannot eat all this grass and, moreover, geese prefer shorter grass. Normal meadow grass is the best. It is also wise to clear the droppings up from 80 -100 m2 of land. This is not only better for the grass and the health of your geese but a large quantity of droppings can smell in the summer.
This depends on what you like and what you can afford. There are different sorts of fencing material on the market made of plastic netting, chestnut wood fences and so on. The fence around the goose pen should be about one meter high. We only use plastic netting in case of emergency as we once had a female goose who wanted to be with another group and all she did was spread her wings, put her foot in the netting and jumped over.
Night time accommodation:
Our geese go into their own house each night with the door locked. There have been no reports of foxes in the immediate area but they have been seen a few kilometers away. It is also nice for our neighbours if the geese only honk if there is something wrong and not every time they hear a noise. So that is why our geese are locked away at night. As they are used to this since they were small they know that they must go inside once it gets dark. The geese will take themselves inside if we are ever a bit late. What sort of goose house and how big? Ensure that it is easy to clean, that you do this often and that you can stand easily inside. 1.5 to 2 m2 surface area is reasonable for two geese. Ensure that there is good ventilation in the house but make sure that it does not get damp. You can buy everything but with a bit of imagination and two hands you can build yourself a goose house.
Opportunities for bathing:
Not essential but you will give them a lot of pleasure! A small bath or pond is more than sufficient; it does not have to be that big and certainly not that deep. A shallow container is preferable so that they can always get out if they have splashed too much water out. Alternatively build a step with stones but these often collect sand and other mess. We find it most important to be able to clean the bath/pond well and empty it easily. There is nothing worse than having to empty the bath with buckets every day in the summer. Ensure that there is good drainage into a ditch or somewhere similar. If you do not have a drain or a ditch in the surrounding area then a simple pump is good for emptying the bath/pond. We put fresh water in the bath everyday, particularly in the summer. The bath/pond is filled with water that we pump up from underground. We disinfect the bath/pond twice a year. A bath/pond is moreover ideal for a goose to wash itself thoroughly and easily. It is very important for geese to be able to wash and clean themselves regularly to keep their feathers in good condition. By doing this they spread the fat from their oil gland over their feathers to ensure that every feather is in the correct place and is in optimal condition to protect them against extreme cold and heat.
Food and Drink Containers:
Eating containers that we have found to be great are stone dog bowls for the goslings and the round plastic calf bowls that you can hang from a metal ring on the wall for the adults. The stone bowls are too heavy for the goslings to be able to throw or kick them, the round plastic calf bowls hang on the wall so that less dirt can get into the bowl and particularly so that they can’t be tipped over.
Outside in the pen we mostly use normal black builder’s buckets as water containers. They can also use these buckets to wash their heads. For the goslings we use water towers that can grow with the goslings or shallow dishes in which they can wash themselves without drowning. We hang plastic calf bowls in the goose house for water as they can tip a bucket over.
The most important thing here as well is that the food and water containers must be cleaned and disinfected regularly, at least once a week. We change the drinking water daily, several times on very hot days. Good hygiene is very important and we want to emphasize it again here.
Provide areas with shade! Geese do not like extremely hot temperatures. Some shrubs or trees providing shade in their area is essential. We have actually put a parasol in the goose pen when our newly-planted trees gave insufficient shade. They loved it!
Plants and Shrubs:
Do not plant poisonous shrubs in their pen or as hedging. Geese tend to know what is poisonous and what is not but we do not like to take the risk. They might get bored and eat it anyway. It is advisable to protect the trunks of trees with netting as they do like to nibble at the bark. They can sometimes be very destructive! All the shrubs here have no branches and/or leaves below a meter high, even the beech-wood hedge.
Be careful of loose things like a piece of string, glass or coins. Even though they know what plants and shrubs are poisonous, they are very attracted to human's things. A piece of string or a coin is very attractive and they will pick it up immediately with their beak to play with it. It can be dangerous for them if they swallow it! The buttons on our jackets are very attractive and it has happened to us that a goose ripped a button off and swallowed it. Luckily it came straight out again but it could easily have got trapped in the digestive system.
Geese can normally stand cold weather well but it is advisable to provide a sheltered place where they can sit and/or stand when there is a cold easterly wind and frost. Some stacked bales of straw can provide a good shelter.
Be careful where you house your geese and think about it carefully first. Consider not only your own convenience but also that of your geese. It is also beneficial and nice if you can see them from your house.
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