Our goose rearing in 2012 started when we collected 9 eggs from a farm in a town nearby. The farmer was a friendly chappy who lived on an apple farm. He produced apple juice and shared a bottle of his own freshly pressed juice with us. It was truly delicious.
On returning home, the large eggs fitted snugly in the incubator and all seemed well …. until we received a letter from the local electricity company a few days later … informing us they were turning the power off for most of one day while they connected up some new cables.
We had plenty of time to arrange a system of keeping the eggs warm in that period. An old, small chest freezer – Adrian uses for keeping fermenting beer at a constant temperature – was filled with large flagons of hot water and when the time came the incubator was placed in the freezer. We checked the temperature every half an hour or so to make sure it didn’t fluctuate too much. So far so good …
Seven days after being in the incubator and we candled all 9 eggs.
7 look ok with one being a maybe and one being a dud. So 7 goslings on their way – this could be fun !
Hatching day arrives – 4 pop out with no problems. The fifth takes a little more time but is duly plonked under the heater just after hatching and just before we nip out for coffee at friends – mistake number 1.
We return back after about and hour only to find the poor bird had died – it had got too hot under the lamp and wasn’t quite able to move away. We should have left him in the incubator – oh well – that’s something we will remember next time.
We discovered that one chick died in the shell after about 25 days.
Egg number six had pipped but seemed to be taking ages to hatch. We normally don’t interfere but I felt it had been taking far too long and the bird was getting weaker and weaker in the shell. I made the decision to try to help him along – mistake number 2.
I took off too much shell and left the membrane attached – which duly shrank and hardened around the chick in the shell. After much damping down and fingers crossed the poor little bird was free of the shell. We left it in the incubator to dry out and after 24 hours it started to look OK. It was put into the box with the others and slowly picked up.
We had decided to keep the geese in a large cardboard box, lined with paper and a heated lamp hung across the top. This seemed to work fine until we noticed that two of the goslings legs were splayed apart and they couldn’t stand up properly – mistake number 3.
The paper was too slippy for the goslings and their muscles too weak to hold them up properly. If this wasn’t fixed quickly they would never be able to walk properly. So we improvised and made hobbles with a couple of hair bands.
It seems harsh but the soft cotton protected their tender legs and allowed them to walk and develop enough muscle strength to look after themselves. The hobbles were removed after about 4 days and we couldn’t recognise which had been hobbled and which hadn’t.
As soon as the weather turned brighter we let them out in the garden during the day – bringing them back under the lamp of a night time. Here’s a little video of them all enjoying the garden.
The goslings were growing at a heck of a rate – except gosling number 6 who was still quite small. With no major signs of anything really wrong we found the little gosling dead one morning. Poor thing – oh well.
So we now have 4 healthy goslings – twice as many as last year !
One was camera shy.
Of course, drinking from your drinking bowl is so passé. All the cool kids swim in theirs!
And now …
Take a gaggle of geese. Add to small paddling pool. Stand back as the craziness unfolds!
It’s a wonderful experience to introduce a water bird to water for the first time. They have no idea what it is but they just know that unending joyous playtime awaits once they get past the terror of being surrounded by water.
We took this about a fortnight or so ago – no problems getting into or out of their splashpool now. They are now starting to get their true feathers and at the moment look a little scruffy.
We have put them in the courtyard rather than leaving them to have the run of the garden – you cannot imagine the amount of mess 4 birds make! They are enjoying the buttercups, vine and nut tree leaves in there.
Raising water birds is far more difficult than chickens but is more rewarding and fun !