Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Geese and Goslings

This year, at least two of my hens went broody.  Since I didn't have any roosters for a while (long story, that), I decided that since I lost my best geese to disease and predators, I had a choice of either paying $20 per gosling or hatching my own.  I had one Emden gander and one Chinese goose left.  So, I rolled the dice and stuck eggs beneath the two chickens.
Louise and Eeequa

Christmas and Goose Whisperers

Naturally the most annoying gander survived.  Christmas (you can guess what's going to become of him) is an aggressive bird who is mostly bluster, but neither Larry or I really like him much.  Part of it had to do with the fact we didn't raise him like we raised Louise and Eeequa, our first geese. I had gotten the Emden and Chinese from a family who were giving them away.  I suspect that they didn't realize how aggressive geese can be when they're left to their own devices.  And, quite frankly, they're noisy, messy, and can be a pain in the butt.  The woman had children, and when I went and caught the gander with little problems, it caused one child to ask if I was a "goose whisperer."

The mom explained that he was fascinated with "animal whisperers" on TV.  So, there you have it, folks.  I am a "goose whisperer."

Back to the Geese Eggs

So, I really didn't expect much when it came to hatching the geese eggs.  I candled them on a daily basis and started seeing development.  To my surprise, it appeared that three eggs had taken off out of four.  I then gathered a bunch of eggs and stuck them under another hen.  Two appeared to develop as well.

I didn't expect to get anything, so one day when I was checking eggs, I found a pip.  A "pip," for those who aren't familiar with the terminology, is where the chick cracks the egg and may have a little hole for breathing.  After a chick "pips" it takes a while for it to absorb its egg sack so it has food for the next few days while it gains strength and figures the world out.  I left the eggs alone for a while, waiting for the "zip" -- a crack going down the egg -- and kept an eye on them.  The problem with waiting is that anything could come along and kill the chicks.  The problem with not waiting is that you can open them too soon and cause the chick to bleed to death.  Not what you want.
Brinsea Brooder

Opening the Eggs Carefully

It was somewhere around 1 am when I took the initiative and starting opening the egg.  To my delight, I hatched out a lovely gosling with yellow and gray fluff.  I put him under my Brinsea brooder, nestled hay around, and didn't expect him to live.

The next day I was greeted by a live chick and another pip.  I did the same thing again and again, and ended up with three live goslings under the brooder.  Three weeks later I had moved the three goslings who had gotten too big for the brooder and the crate they were in to a different crate, when I had the one egg pip from the second batch.  I did the same thing as the first hatches. The next day, I had a second egg pip.  When I opened up the egg, I saw I had opened it too soon.  There was a lot of blood and the chick hadn't absorbed the yolk.  But I put him under the brooder and kept the hay around him.

To my surprise, he survived, too.  He absorbed his egg and seemed fine for a little critter who had lost a lot of blood.  Which just goes to show you, sometimes you just get lucky.

Five Goslings?

I really didn't expect to have five goslings. With in time, they outgrew both the crates and then eventually figured out a way out of a cage that had been nicknamed "the bunny prison."  (It has a label saying "bunny prison" on the front. We got it from a recycled lumber store.)  So, they were loose with the chicken population.  When they were close to full size, we moved them to the geese pen that we had used to raise the baby goats. (The adult geese moved out with the adult goats.)

So, now I have five Chinese/Emden cross geese along with their obnoxious father and their calm mother.  They look at Larry and me as their parents and are very social.  And loud.  Very loud.


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