With warm weather, the Pilgrim goslings have been able to go outside. It’s a win/win situation because the goslings can crop the grass down and their poop fertilizes the pasture!
The first group of goslings has grown incredibly quickly. I didn’t realize just how quickly until the second group hatched about 8 days later and the contrast became clear: the first hatch was nearly twice the size of the newly-hatched! It’s jaw-dropping. No wonder it feels like they’ve outgrown their brooder.
Fortunately, the warm days mean we’re able to put the older goslings out on pasture in the morning and only bring them in at night (because the temperatures can drop precipitously and because they’re still just babies). I’m looking forward to the day when they can stay in the grow-out tractors overnight, too – those littles generate a lot of poop!
The second group of goslings are doing great, too. They were able to go out in their own tractor on grass yesterday and though they initially seemed terrified, they acclimated pretty quickly and seemed to really enjoy the sunshine and fresh air (it was a particularly breezy day, but they had a sheltered corner where they could get out of the wind).
Now is really the optimal time to raise goslings because they can gain much of their nutrition from pasture greens. Though we offer a high-protein supplemental feed throughout their lives, we introduce them to grass early on – within a couple of days of hatch. We just pull some tender young (untreated) grass/clover/dandelion greens and chop them into tiny pieces with scissors. We then sprinkle the chopped grass atop their crumbles, and add some chick grit so they can properly digest the roughage.
The first couple of trips out on pasture, the young goslings mostly “noodle” the greens, as though they’re not quite sure how to eat it. Soon after, though, they tuck into it voraciously. They eat not only grass, but also delight in chowing down on what are typically considered “weeds”, like chicory, chickweed, and dandelions. Plenty of those around here!
Having geese graze our pastures is economical and enjoyable; after all, who wants to mow lush pasture for hours on a swelteringly hot summer day? No, thanks – we’ll let the geese mow for us!