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Geese to guard chickens?

 
pollinator
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I am going to get chickens again this year. Last time I had chickens I had cornish cross, and kept them in tractors. This spring I will get layers. I want them to do more foraging than they would be able to in tractors.

I frequently have foxes and coyotes in the yard so to free range them I will need some sort of guard. I am thinking of getting a few geese with them. I know some people here have both chickens and geese so I would like input on a few things.

Protective ability: I know geese are supposed to defend their territory. The coyotes in my area hunt by themselves mostly and there are always lots of prey in the fields. Would an agressive acting goose be able to chase it away or just look like prey?

Diet: does anyone feed their geese chicken feed? I know geese need less protein than chickens, will they eat too much chicken feed if it is freely available? They would have unlimited access to grass in summer and probably hay in winter. Tell me about any issues with this you have had.

Breed selection: are there breeds of geese that will be more agressive about driving off predators?

Are there any other potential issues I have not thought of?

 
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i have geese and chickens, i'm not sure if i have the African or the Chinese, but their big. unfortunately they only produce a verbal warning when there are predators about. they run away as fast as the chickens do.  
 
Leora Laforge
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Phil Grady wrote:i have geese and chickens, i'm not sure if i have the African or the Chinese, but their big. unfortunately they only produce a verbal warning when there are predators about. they run away as fast as the chickens do.  



Good to know, some geese might run away.
 
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Leora Laforge wrote:I am going to get chickens again this year. Last time I had chickens I had cornish cross, and kept them in tractors. This spring I will get layers. I want them to do more foraging than they would be able to in tractors.

I frequently have foxes and coyotes in the yard so to free range them I will need some sort of guard. I am thinking of getting a few geese with them. I know some people here have both chickens and geese so I would like input on a few things.

Protective ability: I know geese are supposed to defend their territory. The coyotes in my area hunt by themselves mostly and there are always lots of prey in the fields. Would an agressive acting goose be able to chase it away or just look like prey?

Diet: does anyone feed their geese chicken feed? I know geese need less protein than chickens, will they eat too much chicken feed if it is freely available? They would have unlimited access to grass in summer and probably hay in winter. Tell me about any issues with this you have had.

Breed selection: are there breeds of geese that will be more agressive about driving off predators?

Are there any other potential issues I have not thought of?



Geese are very good at alarming and some seem to have even better sensors then the best dogs. But though some are aggressive, it depends just on the intelligence of the predators and they are gone.

Also it is not unlikely they do not like rooster and will quickly make them clear who is the boss! As for protecting your flock a dog who is thought to protect animals would do much better.
 
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I tried raising geese and ducks together but the geese attacked the ducks. I imagine they might do the same with chickens in an enclosed area. If they have space to roam they'll probably peel off and do their own thing
 
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I have a single Embden female to guard my ducks. I don't expect her to be able to fight anything off (and she wouldn't), but she's a great alarm, and her large size does seem to deter the hawks that were problematic previously. Just a tip though: I would get at least two. I'm in the situation where my drake keeps her at bay, and she seems pretty lonely. I'm on the hunt to get another very soon, to rectify the problem.
 
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I don't really understand how a bird, however large and aggressive, could protect chickens from a real predator.  I have heard people make the statement that a goose is better protection than a dog.  I can only tell you that against fox,wolves, coyotes, even bears, live stock guard dogs have been protecting animals for hundreds, if not thousands of years.  A good dog would make short work of a goose, so it would be no surprise to me that a coyote or wolf could do the same.  In my mind, the only thing that goose might do is fill the predator up so he was too full to eat the chickens.
 
James Landreth
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I read of a woman out in the country who woke up one night to a sound coming from her barnyard. She came outside and her flock of geese had pinned a red fox to the ground and were ripping out chunks of its fur. If I remember correctly, she found a bloody patch of skin the next day. Her geese had only minor scratches and the fox didn't come back. Having had geese, I believe this. My housemate has a pitbull mix dog (with a strong, generally brave personality) that was afraid to go to that entire quadrant of the farm because its where the geese were. But you are correct in that I doubt a single goose could do much. They've been known to break human arms with the force of their wings alone, though I've been unable to verify any of these accounts. I've heard the same of swans too
 
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My geese got eaten by a fox
 
Trace Oswald
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I would expect that Sam's is the most likely outcome.  It may be possible for a flock of geese to chase a fox off. As far as the geese doing damage to the fox,  Im not sure how they could catch it to hurt it in the first place.  Maybe if the fox somehow trapped itself in a corner,  but since foxes often elude dogs,  it doesn't seem likely.  Personally, I think the goose breaking a man's arm story is probably a myth.  

I'm not really against the idea of trying geese as guard animals, I just dislike the idea that they may get killed as well as losing more chickens to predators.
 
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From what I've heard, geese are smarter than ducks (and chickens?) and act as good guardians by just getting the whole flock to run and hide. My ducks are STUPID. They'll see a bobcat and just stand there or walk toward it and the water, rather than running and hiding in their yard. They also keep swimming around when there's an eagle over head, rather than hiding or being still. From what I've read, the goose will start hiding and the ducks will follow.
 
Mike Homest
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Nicole Alderman wrote:From what I've heard, geese are smarter than ducks (and chickens?) and act as good guardians by just getting the whole flock to run and hide. My ducks are STUPID. They'll see a bobcat and just stand there or walk toward it and the water, rather than running and hiding in their yard. They also keep swimming around when there's an eagle over head, rather than hiding or being still. From what I've read, the goose will start hiding and the ducks will follow.



"Reading" might be the problem. There is so much crap written or/and things worked out somehow different for other people. We had already geese and despite their astonishing capability of sensing whatever danger from great distance, they do not really protect chickens. A good rooster should also alarm his hens, but this is the theory. In reality most roosters will just run for their own lives. YMMV

Anyway, with bobcats only real livestock guardian dogs will make a difference, though they need to be put together as "child" with whatever animals they should protect in order to coin them. That is all one needs to do.
 
pollinator
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We’ve had our geese for almost 10 years.

One of them is a big Embden gander, others are Roman Tufted or the mixed result of the two.

We kept them both in a suburban yard, and on the farm. Always needed as much protection from ground predators as the chickens or ducks. We have coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions. Well, I should say we would have but the dogs - Anatolian shepherds, keep everyone safe, and all the predators at bay.

In our case, when they’re in the mating season, the geese could and have killed chickens and a duck.

 
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Guinea fowl provide good alarms for predators.
 
pollinator
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Jondo Almondo wrote:Guinea fowl provide good alarms for predators.



Alas, in my experience guineas were noisy during the day, yes, sounding off loudly about every perceived potential threat. I don’t recall any of the other poultry paying these frequent alarms much heed, so I don’t think they “protected” any other birds with these alarms. But they absolutely refused to go into the barn at night (or at any other time) and without a roofed run to keep them in, they were essentially feral poultry on our property, nesting along a hedgerow, roosting in shrubs. The old saying about the vulnerability of sitting ducks applies equally to guineas. Those that weren’t devoured by coyotes and other nighttime predators ended up as road pizzas.
 
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