Raising geese starts with baby goslings. Learn how to set up a brooder and get your geese off to a healthy start—for beginners. Geese are an easy way to add variety to your meat sources along with diversity to your pasture and homestead terrain.
Picking up chicks at the post office is fun and we’ve done it often. Now we were there for something new—goslings. They were so cute, but as homesteaders know they require a lot of work. Here is what you need to get your new baby geese settled in and at home.
This is the shortened list of what you’ll need to provide for them:
This is the shortened version. Now we will go over every one of those in detail. (At the end you’ll find a more detailed list.)
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Our gosling brooder set-up.
For the brooder you can build one outside, get a large rubber or plastic tub, or make your own out of cardboard. In my case I chose the latter.
When we were out getting the goslings we were able to pick up three cardboard boxes. They were smaller than what I needed so I took them apart and used some handy packing tape to make a larger area.
The initial size of the boxes I used was: 14" tall, 20" long, 16" wide
I used two of the boxes to form the outside of the “circle” and used the extra box for the bottom (secured with tape all around so none of the bedding comes out. I also taped the flaps up, to give it more height.
This is just one option though. If you think you may have little chicks often you may want to invest in a plastic or rubber container or feed tough of some kind.
As always with animal bedding, keep it as clean and dry as possible.
I’ve used many different things as bedding and have found that some work better than others. Here are some of your options:
While all will work wood shavings are the best. Since we have these goslings in the house (because we don’t have a garage and we have meat chickens is the brooder outside) we opted for the wood shavings this time. The shavings are more absorbent which means they should smell as much, as soon.
When raising geese, whatever kind of bedding you choose, you’ll need to keep up on it. When it starts to get dirty or smell add some fresh bedding on top. Do this as often as you need to until you move them out of the brooder (I find every day is best). If you need to completely dump their bedding and start over take the little geese far away so they are not inhaling all of the dust and musty air you stir up.
Your baby geese will need fresh water ASPA. After getting home from the post office before setting them down in the brooder dip their little beaks in the water so they learn where it is and how to get it. If you have several or more you only need to do this to a few as the others will see what they are doing and copy them. :-)
When raising geese, instead of plain water I fed them my electrolyte recipe. This is a great way to get them off to a good vibrant start and just give them an extra health boost. I use and love this recipe for my baby chicks to—both the broilers and layers.
Keeping the bedding clean and dry is a priority and putting something under the waterer to catch the drips and spills can help you do just that. I’ve seen the contraptions with the mesh screen over the feed pan that is partly buried in the bedding, but when they are young a simple 5-gallon bucket lid works nicely.
Note about swimming: If you purchase your goslings from a hatchery they won’t have the oil on their feathers that goslings in the wild get from their mother. This means they can get waterlogged or chilled and ultimately if left alone for too long they could die.
All that’s needed it caution. After one week you can supervise them in shallow warm water. Make sure they can get in and out and go to the heat lamp if they need it. Keep a close eye on them though. Doing this speeds the development of their oil glands and they should be fine swimming on their own in 5-6 weeks.
Feeders & Waterers
These two pictures show our feeders and waterers for our goslings. Cut two holes one on either side of the container for them to stick their head through and eat the food and/or water. Make sure that the holes are small enough that they can't crawl in and drown.
Water container: an old plastic vinegar bottle.
Fermented feed container: a yogurt container.
The basic feed you will need for raising geese is either waterfowl starter feed or chick starter that is 21% protein (although I could only find 20% and that has worked fine for me). You can feed this dry in you standard chicken feeders or you can ferment it.
Some of the reasons to ferment it include:
- It will save you on feed because they will eat less total feed if it’s fermented.
- It will be really healthy for them and give them a good start.
- It’s a win-win. It costs nothing extra and to ferment a small amount while they are young is really easy.
Learn how to ferment feed here.
After it’s fermented it is often easy to feed on the 5-gallon bucket lids. I have found they work well.
Tip: Only put out as much as you think they will eat in a fairly short time, but not too little that they run out before you can refill. Increase that amount as their appetite increases.
Introduce grass to your goslings from day one. They will be their primary food source when they are roaming around your pastures and it’s good to get them started while they are young.
Collect your grass from a safe place that has not been sprayed and tear or cut it up so it’s easier for the little ones to eat.
If your feed is dry and you are using a standard chicken feeder I recommend getting it off of the bedding. You can put the feeder on a 5-gallon bucket lid or make a contraption with a mesh screen over a shallow feed pan that you burry part-way in the bedding.
Same principle here as with the grass clippings. You want your geese to eat fresh veggies you offer them in the future so start soon so they learn to love them at a young age.
Offer your goslings fresh vegetables from day one as well. Cutting them again would be helpful until they get a little bit older.
Raising geese, like the chickens require grit (small rocks or sand) for their gizzards to work properly. Offer them some on a tray or again the 5-gallon bucket lid is handy.
These four things are all part of a good healthy diet you can start your flock on.
Heat lamps are the most common source of warmth that you can provide your new goslings. You need one heat lamp for ever 20 goslings.
A simple good rule of thumb is:
- If your goslings are all huddled together—they are cold and need more heat.
- If they are all spread out and staying as far away from the heat as they can—they are too hot. Move the heat lamp farther away, or if you need to take it away altogether.
That being said some temperature measurement you can use as a guideline are:
- 99 degrees for the first 3 hours
- 95 degrees for the first week
- Reduce by 5 degrees a week until they are about 6 week old and your temperature is about 70.
Then you can put the heat lamps away until your start raising geese or chicks or ducks again.
Download Your Checklist for Raising Geese!
Have fun raising geese! :-)