Recently I acquired 9 geese and they've been great. They're growing super fast while eating weeds and grass with very little feed. We plan to eat about half of them soon. I've also heard good things about their behaviors as guard animals for keeping away raccoons which are a big problem for poultry here along a river. Though I don't know how well they'd fare after dark. So, I've been housing them for now with my flock of laying hens and man are they making a mess of the place!
The chickens live upstairs (on the roosts) and they live downstairs so they can both exist reasonably well in the same raccoon-proof enclosure inside the barn. They do however need some sort of little roof to keep from getting pooed on. The biggest problem is the wet smelly floor, I'd need literally a ton or more of bedding and would have to clean out the area every week or two in order not to violate one of Paul Wheaton's rules of farming; "if it smells bad. you're doing it wrong". Before the geese (and a few ducks too, though not as bad) I only had to clean out the coop once or twice a year. The birds are only in it while it's dark out and maybe an hour after sunrise on some days.
My thanks goes out to anyone who has some wisdom they'd like to share on this subject. I've got a lot of ideas floating around in my head for better chicken housing that I'd like to try out but I've been observing them for a few years now, not so with the ducks and geese. It does seem that at least the ducks, and probably geese too, like to go into a bigger building for the night. When we got our first muscovy ducks last summer they abandoned their re-worked chicken tractor the first chance they got in favor of the barn. In case you're wondering they weren't confined in it at all times, it was just their overnight place.
S Haze wrote:The biggest problem is the wet smelly floor, I'd need literally a ton or more of bedding and would have to clean out the area every week or two in order not to violate one of Paul Wheaton's rules of farming; "if it smells bad. you're doing it wrong". Before the geese (and a few ducks too, though not as bad) I only had to clean out the coop once or twice a year.
Is there enough vertical space (ie, before the geese run out of room under their roof, or you can't get in without stooping over) to allow for a deep bed, rather than cleaning out regularly? Add some fresh litter to the top, get worms going in the litter, and let the chickens stir it to get at some of the worms... I can't swear that will work, but it seems worth a shot. May also need to allow for more (predator-proofed) ventilation to help dry it out.
Muddling towards a more permanent agriculture. Not after a guru or a religion, just a functional garden.
Here is a suggestion - that I may have to try myself. Since the geese supposedly put out about as much poo as a horse (or it seems like it), I'm thinking about treating thier stall like I did my horse stalls.
Used a base of red clay packed down hard. That is covered with shavings. I prefer not to use straw as nowdays it is usually contaminated with herbicide.
I banked the shavings high up on the wall and just picked out the wet spots daily. The banked shavings were pulled into the middle as needed.
It used to take me about 30 minutes to do 10 stalls (unless I had a messy horse) so one stall for geese shouldn't be too bad.
I prefer to clean every day rather than deep litter. I have found that breathing the air one foot off of the ground continuosly for 15 minutes in a deep litter bed is not fun. I know that sounds nutty but I just wanted to see how it was going to work for my horses. It doesn't usually smell if done properly - but there is ammonia buildup very near the ground level where they keep their noses a lot of the time.
Anyway, since I am going to have to go back to coops for my birds I am probably going to use this flooring method.
Would you be able to house them similar to chickens in a backyard "goose" tractor? if so any idea how much space per goose is needed?
It can be done!
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
posted 7 years ago
Max, I'm am going to guess that you could. I'm going to try mine at least part time like that since i know geese like to eat grass and weeds - It would have to be better than stuck inside all of the time.
I'd make a separate overnight goose shelter ASAP. Once the geese mature - and especially during egg-laying season - they become mean towards other birds/animals that get too close. Our geese cornered a young hen once and broke her leg in three places. Our geese don't currently have their own shelter other than our porch (the dogs do night duty protection, and it's warm most of the year here), but am thinking of making one of these pallet & t-post buildings for an overnight shelter: The Procrastinator's Goat Shed. Thinking that the pen would be half sheltered, half open, and completely fenced.
I tend to agree with d.a. vatalaro - they don't like to be disturbed when they're on the nest and they can lay at any time of day in season unlike the hens and ducks that have sort of regular 'egg time' slots.
Virtually the only reason geese need housing is for protection from Predators. Other than that, a windbreak is necessary in winter in cold northern climates. They have thick down and their feathers are waterproof. Their drinking water will freeze loans they will die of thirst before being much affected by cold. They should not be housed with chickens because the environment they create is unhealthy for chickens. Geese muck things up, chickens need dry space. A goose tractor would work excellent but necessary pace requirements vary base on length of time they spend in tractor.
We live in an urban center and we have about a quarter acre.
I have one male Embdem goose (we got him from an urban neighbor at about 1yr old, never 'hutched'). We built him a nice hutch that he never uses. He is now 7yrs old and has kept the raccoons at bay all by himself since we got him. However, when we hear him reacting to the raccoons, we often hear the hissing and the flap of wings, we'll go out and clap our hands or spray water at the raccoons. I'm hoping for chickens this fall and we'll see in the spring if he tries to kill them, hump them, or protect them. I'm guessing we'll have to keep him away from the chx during his spring romance time, but we hope he'll be protective otherwise.
It is extremely easy to build a goose shelter out of old lumber, pallets or even cattle panel hoops and tarp. They only need a three sided shelter all year round and prefer it to enclosed buildings. They just need more floor space than a typical chicken coop can provide and they get big...and loud...and sometimes mean. Best to provide them their own space to bed down and block them from the hen's quarters.
Because of their large and very wet feces, a three sided shed allows the correct ventilation to keep bedding and nesting areas drier and easier to clean out. Some people find it good to keep pallet floors and only keep bedding in low nest boxes. The droppings fall through the slats and have time to dry there below without being tracked into. The pallets are easily replaceable and can be dragged out(along with fecal load) and just as easily put back when emptied of their manure.
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Heat your home with the twigs that naturally fall of the trees in your yard