A Few Notes About Keeping Geese
Keeping geese as pets can be both useful and rewarding, but generally only if one lives in a rural area, has a fairly large yard or garden, and does not live in an area where there are many predators such as larger dogs, coyotes, and members of the (wild) cat family about, unless the geese are to be kept in a protected area.
Watchdogs? – We often hear about geese being used as watchdogs, used to drive off trespassing animals or people, and there is some truth to this. As far as being good watchdogs is concerned, geese will indeed raise a ruckus if someone unfamiliar approaches. They will usually do exactly the same thing when someone familiar, including their owner, approaches. You know someone is coming but it could be friend or foe and the geese won’t tell you which. It’s not just people or animals that can set geese to honking; it can just as easily be something waving in the wind.
Keeping geese as pets can be somewhat of a mixed bag. There is truth to the story about how easily geese imprint, and will follow a large animal or person around, as if that larger being was their mother. Some geese will follow you around like a little shadow, but won’t let you touch them or pick them up. Pet ducks are often that way. Other geese can become great “lap geese” and relish being held or petted. Depending upon the goose, when you pick up a pet goose you may either be holding one who likes being held, or get a painful peck instead.
Food, Slugs, And Goose Poop – When considering keeping geese one naturally will wonder what to feed them. Geese primarily eat grasses and other greens, and if you have an open area such as a small pasture that may be all they need. Most owners of geese will supplement their natural food with commercial waterfowl feed or grain. One very positive thing about keeping geese is if you are having a problem with slugs you won’t be for long. Geese like ducks consider slugs to be an absolute delicacy and will dispatch of them in short order. The downside is, instead of having slugs about, and in addition to keeping the grass mowed, which geese can do fairly well, you’ll find an abundance of goose poop lying around. Waterfowl in general tend to be quite messy in that regard, and a large goose even more so. Be forewarned!
Water And Weather – Geese need a supply of water, so if a pond isn’t available, several containers or water need to be kept handy. If a pond is available so much the better, although if the pond contains aquatic plants the geese are apt to feast on them, which could be a good thing or a bad thing. As far as temperatures are concerned, geese are predominately cool weather birds and take to cold weather much more easily than to hot weather. They should have shelter available during bitterly cold weather, but otherwise usually do quite fine on a brisk winter’s day. As far as rain is concerned, they are as much at home in a driving rainstorm as is a duck.
Geese, Dogs, And Children – Geese and dogs usually do not make good companions and if you have both you may find yourself looking out for the safety of one or the other, depending largely on the size and temperament of the dog. A pack of dogs can make short order of a goose, even a large one, and a small flock of geese can make life miserable for a solitary dog. Small children and geese usually don’t make a very good mix either, with either the children frightening the geese, or more likely the geese frightening, and even pecking at the children.