Considering getting a few geese? What will they need from you and are they hard to raise?
Geese are hardy and easy to raise. Goslings require care until they are fully feathered. Once mature, geese only need grass, water and shelter.
We have a flock of geese that roam about the farm. They come and go during the day as they please and only need additional feed in the coldest part of the year. Most of the time, they are eating grass.
You certainly don’t need a farm to raise geese, but you do need some space and grass.
If you are interested in the costs that go with raising geese, read Is Raising Geese Worth It? The focus is on raising geese for meat. Since geese will cost the same to raise, for pets or meat, it will help you with your budget, either way.
Geese are easy to raise
Geese are easy to raise and more self sufficient than ducks or chickens.
Our geese zoom about, mostly taking care of themselves, as long as their is grass to eat. We don’t do anything for them the vast majority of the year.
In the winter, when the grass is covered with snow, the geese need some sort of feed, but will ignore the feed (unlike ducks and chickens) when there is plenty of grass.
Geese do not need a pond, but do need plenty of water
We don’t have a pond and our geese do fine. They can go down to the creek or drink out of one of the low sided water troughs up closer to the barn.
If you have a kiddie or dog pool, this will be perfect for adult geese. (No swimming for goslings!)
If you would prefer your geese to have a bit less water to make a mess with, give them water in a pan that is deep enough they can get their whole beak in to swish around and clear their nostrils.
More water than this is fun for them but not necessary.
Geese are hardy
Geese are hardy. They seem to not be bothered by cold and handle heat as well as any. I’m sure they don’t care for the heat, but as long as they have water and shade they just hang out until it cools off a bit and they can go out and graze.
Goslings need care, just like other baby poultry
As far as brooding geese, I find both geese to be easier than chicks. They seem to have more resilience.
Once caution that you may not be aware of, until the goslings are fully feathered they can get wet and chill. This is super stressful to them, usually resulting in death.
Once the goslings look like adults, they are too easy to care for. As long as they look like fuzzy babies, they need some care and protection.
I think goslings are hardy compared to other baby poultry, but all baby poultry need need care until they are fully feathered.
Adult goose loses are usually predators
We have had a few geese die over the years, but that is mostly due to predators getting one that stays out in the pasture rather than coming back to the buildings at night.
If the geese come back to the barn at night, the predator losses are near zero. Occasionally, an adult goose will die, but that is uncommon.
Geese need grass, shelter and water
Your adult geese really just need grass, water and shelter. They will take care of themselves most days, as long as you give them the space to do so.
As I mentioned above, geese will need some supplemental feed when they are not able to find grass and will need to have a source of plentiful, fresh water, but other than that your job is to enjoy watching them graze your yard.
Here’s a great table from Metzer Farms, showing the feed requirements for geese, by age.
|Age of geese||Percent protein feed needed|
|Up to 2 weeks||22-22.5%|
|3 weeks to first egg||17.5-19%|
|Fast gainers (market geese)||16%|
This feeding chart is for geese that do not have any grazing, they are having all of their feed brought to them in a covered pen.
If you have plenty of grazing for your geese, you don’t need to worry about feeding them until the grass is unavailable.
If you are concerned that your geese may need some feed, even on grass, offer them some. If they eat it, they need it. If not, they don’t.
As mentioned above, we don’t feed our geese in the grazing season, they don’t eat it. If you are short on space or don’t have much grass for your geese, plan to supplement their diet with feed.
Geese need 8 sq. ft. each in a shelter plus yard space
Geese need 8 sq. ft. each in a shelter and up to 5,554 sq. ft. each (1/8 acre each or 1/4 acre for a pair) of yard for grazing. Your geese need both sheltered space and room to exercise space.
The 1/8 acre is for geese eating the majority of their diet from grass. If you don’t have that much grass, you can still have geese.
If you are willing to feed them throughout the year, they do not need such a big outside space, since you are bringing the food to them, but they will still need some outside space!
For more details, read How Much Space To Raise Geese?
If you have a decent yard that is a quarter acre or so, one pair of geese will happily graze that down for you.
Geese eat grass
It’s really that easy, geese eat grass. The goslings that you get from the hatchery will need feed until they are old enough to go outside and not need the supplemental heat anymore, but once they are grown geese eat grass.
The goslings love to eat grass as well, but until they grow a bit they need the feed as well in order to get them enough energy to keep up with their calorie needs for rapid growth.
Geese are not really friendly
Our geese are not overly friendly. I’m not saying they are mean, they just don’t want interaction like a dog would.
When geese are nesting and especially when they have hatched out their goslings, they are not friendly at all! When a pair of geese has babies, you need to give them space or they will make it know to you that you are too close.
Geese need shelter
Your geese need a shelter of some sort, but it does not need to be elaborate. Any sort of shelter will do, as long as the geese can easily walk up into it and the bedded area inside stays dry.
Ours go into the barn and find a spot in the straw for the night. If we didn’t already have the barn, I would be making them something small and portable, instead.
Geese would be happy with a chicken coop type shed or a homemade hoop house made from a cattle panel and a tarp.
If you are hoping for low cost, you can put together a shelter out of free wooden pallets.
The geese need a dry place to sleep and nest so raise the shelter up a bit to counteract any settling that happens when the ground is wet. Or have a portable shelter that you can move, as needed.
Geese take 12-14 weeks to raise
Your goslings will be nearly full size at 12-14 weeks of age. That’s only 3 months!
If you are raising your geese for meat, you would want to plan to have their processing appointment set up for this 12-14 week range.
You can butcher your own geese at home, we do. It’s really not hard and only takes basic stuff, like a knife and hot water, if you are willing to pluck by hand.
Don’t be scared of plucking, it’s all about the scald. Seriously, we hand pluck any time we are butchering one or two birds, more than that we work on hooking up the plucker, but just a few birds get plucked by hand.
Here’s an explanation on How To Hand Pluck A Chicken, everything in here applies to geese as well. The only adaptations you would need for geese are a bigger scalding container and there will be more total feathers.
Geese are backyard friendly
One of the best things about poultry becoming more popular is that people are realizing that you can easily have all kinds of birds in your backyard.
True, most folks are thinking chickens, but for those of us with a bit of a different outlook, geese are the ticket.
1/4 acre yard is the standard amount of space needed for a pair of geese, but you could raise more than that.
Especially if you are raising the geese for meat or to sell them, you’ll only need the amount of yard that will support the geese for 3-4 months, not the whole year.
If you put the geese in a chicken tractor (moveable grazing pen) these geese could be rotated through your yard and kept in a pen at the same time.
You could also put up a section of fence that gives your geese part of your yard, then when they have eaten the grass in that section, move them to a different section.
This will let the first grazing section regrow, giving you more total grass. This idea is called rotational grazing, which is usually applied to larger animals like cattle and sheep, but the idea is the same no matter the grass area or eater.
Geese can be raised in bigger groups
You can raise a few geese and be happy with them. If you are looking into the possibilities of larger flocks as more of a business, here are some numbers.
Market geese, geese being raised for meat, are raised at 60 geese per acre. Remember, this is because they are growing quickly and will be sold, rather than kept for the winter.
If you were to raise your geese for meat, 1/4 acre of grazing could support up to 15 market geese (These figures are for taller plant growth, hay field style. If you are going more normal lawn height, have less geese.)
If you are thinking more about keeping breeding pairs around, the geese per acre for adults is 40 per acre on good grazing and 20 per acre on poor grazing.