Growing Goslings: Real Feathers and Big Feet

The older two goslings are now 7 weeks old, and the younger group of four is 5 weeks old. The older goslings have replaced most of their yellow baby down with snow-white feathers, including wing feathers! The younger ones still look downy, but their wings are longer and less “stub”-like, and their legs have elongated to the point that they look a bit gawky…especially when they run.

The goslings love their greens, eagerly ripping up clover, broadleaf plants, grass, and dandelions. It’s fascinating to watch them chow down on greens like the grazing animals that they are. They have no interest in bugs (unlike the ducks), just happily eating their chemical-free salad and a bit of fermented feed on the side.

We walk the goslings around in the pastures to let them graze new areas and, honestly, to help tire them out. When they return to their tractor, they’re worn out from the adventure and ready for naps. Well, maybe a bath first, then a nap.

The goslings have so much personality – they’re smart, sweet, and curious. The oldest gander keeps careful watch for predators while the rest of the gaggle is completely engrossed in munching on greens. He’s a gentle boy, stretching his long neck out to us in greeting, and talking excitedly to us. I introduced a chick to the gaggle today, and they ran from her when she started pecking their big feet – they may be starting to look like grown geese, but they’re really still babies!

We acquired our first geese as adults; clearly, we missed out on the amazing experience of hatching and raising them. While they’re messy in the way that waterfowl – including ducks – are, the water mess can be managed. They’re easily trained to go into a coop, pen, or tractor for safe housing at night, too: because they imprinted on us, they still follow us around, but have become more independent (or distracted by especially tasty forage) and sometimes need to be gently “herded” back to our destination. They’ve graduated to staying in a secure hoop tractor overnight, so they can graze and bathe or drink in there, too…and no bedding changes needed, just moving to fresh ground a couple of times a day. Win-win!

Are you considering adding or have you already added geese to your homestead? Tell us about it in the comments!