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Feathers and Poop: Territorial

Who would have thought there could be so much fighting over a small rubber tub of water?

Everyday clean water for geese to waterproof feathers and clean muddy feet. Geese relish a good splash about. Orange pond for paddling and a temporary small tub for floating in. Plenty of time to share?

No. Bonnie hogs the tub. Poor little Barley makes do with quiet foot puddling. She never rocks the boat. Bumble starts by nibbling Barley’s toes to make her move. Now towards the tub, Bumble pretends she is puddling too. BUT then a quick step and she is in the tub!

Oh dear! Every day the same quarrel. Sometimes I have to intervene, sometimes geese territorial genes get just a little too heated.

Enjoy the squabbling.

Yesterday it all got a bit too heated. Lots of biting and pulling feathers. Geese have serrated teath along their beaks and if there hadn’t been an incident a while back where Poppy, one of our chickens, was quite viciously mauled after escaping, I wouldn’t worry too much. Poppy was badly chewed. All her back feathers had been pulled out and one wing literally bitten in half. Blood everywhere. We had been away and I found her stumbling about in a sorry state.

Quarantine, vitamins and a spray medication grew back the feathers and Poppy doesn’t show any signs of being scared of the geese. Probably an innocent incident of wrong place at the wrong time, but we keep a vigilant eye on boisterous geese, especially at feeding time.

But when the honks get louder and Barley starts to agitate, I know Bonnie and Bumble are going to be silly and its time to wade in, grab heads and heave a goose out. Time to get another tub I think.

Geese have a bad reputation for being aggressive. All that hissing, honking and head down, outstretched attack stance. An angry goose, an egg protecting mother goose or fatherly gander will attack you. With far reaching ultra-violet eyesight they perceive danger long before we humans can. Since Roman times geese have acted as sentinels and alarm systems. They defend their territory. You can drug a dog to enter a premises, but a goose won’t be tempted by any food you throw.

At night goose eyesight is not good. They band together and can still chase off an intruder. Hence why at night your livestock should be securely locked up ad the geese won’t be so vocal. Ours protect our chickens and ensure the girls are all in the coop at night. Stragglers are pecked and unceremoniously chased to bed.

To have a very strong chicken protector, only one goose should permanently reside with the chickens. Ideally from its time as a gosling, it will imprint with the chickens, believing it is actually one of the flock. Raised separate, as ours, there are the occasional squabbles and a chicken gets pecked.

But that guard reputation is only one side of a goose personality. Geese always welcome you open winged. They never bore of your company and happy waddle around after you all day. If you have them as goslings, and ideally hatched by you, they will imprint on you as mother goose…a lifelong bond of goosey affection. With geese living on average 25 years and longer, you need commitment to these big birds. On a day to day basis they need little but grass, a water place to splash and soak feet and pellet food in winter with a draft-free goose house. Roots and many weeds will also be favoured by geese, who let loose in the autumn allotment or orchard, will do a great clearance job for you.

I can highly recommend having geese. Funny companions, always happy to see us and full of energy. Great grass mowers and the poop is good for the garden. Honk, honk! I am all for that.

4 thoughts on “Feathers and Poop: Territorial

  1. Ah yes, our Cocoa (khaki Campbell duck) is definitely queen of the tub so when we moved to the farm this summer we upgraded their bucket to a kiddie pool which helped a bit with sharing. That being said we don’t have to worry about violence, just watching how they have their little dominance games (some a bit too much like sexy time than we want to witness… thankfully no drakes to knock ’em up!).

    1. We got back just in time. She must have been attacked the day before and had no shelter as she had escaped. Tony built her a mini coop and we put in Gertie with her for company till she had recovered. All back together now.

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