Backyard Poultry, Part 1: Growing Goslings to 4 Weeks

Reader Contribution by Marissa Buchanan and Buchanan's Barnyard
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I got my Chinese Geese the Summer of 2017 as teenagers. Now they are in full swing of breeding season and I am getting an egg a day. I own three white Chinese and a Brown Chinese. I didn’t let them have babies their first year because they weren’t really focused on breeding but on how much attention that you would give them. Some people will tell you that geese are mean, but my geese are like little puppies that just honk really loud and shed feathers! They will follow me around while begging for pets. 

What are Chinese Geese?

Chinese geese are also known as swan geese that hail from (you guessed it) China! They are also one of the breeds referred to as weeder geese and were imported by farmers for this specific purpose to help in the fields. They are low maintenance and a kiddie pool full of water will suffice their breeding and bathing habits. It does need to be cleaned out daily and they need access to fresh grass clipping or a field for foraging. 

On to the Eggs!

Geese eggs are fairly big and are not easy to find at all. They hide their eggs. I have a communal nest box for my two ladies with lots of hay to keep them laying there but I have had my Brown Chinese-Mink, make a nest in mulch also. Any loose debris is what suits my girls best. It is also adorable to watch them carry hay around on their backs to bury their eggs with. So after a long wait and a long egg hunt, I finally found eggs! 

Incubation is not for the patient. 

I was so excited that I put every egg that I found into my Incubator and everyone had a form of life! My mistake was not saving and putting them in at the same time. So instead of one large hatch, I had a bunch of mismatched in age Goslings. My very first Gosling- Pip was the very first Gosling born on our farm and he will live here for his entire life. Pip is 4 weeks old at this point in time but he had two siblings born a week later and another sibling born a week after that! Remember I was excited! 

The Learning curve. 

Now with Goslings they have to have some type of vegetation within a few days of hatch. Pip and his siblings would come out with me everyday. Soon enough they will imprint on you and truly believe that you are mom. They will follow you everywhere also. I let them run around the yard in the evening with me. They also start bathing at about 1 week old. They’ll need a dish that’s deep but not toodeep (about 2 inches) so that they can drink and bathe but be prepared. They poop ALOT. I have to clean their brooder out everyday because it gets so icky.

Week by Week development

Week 1

When Pip hatched, he was already a lot larger than chicks and ducklings but was so adorable. He was this little yellow foofball that chirped alot and followed me around. 

Week 2

Pip did well being introduced to his two other siblings and they all groom each other. They huddle together while we are outside and talk to one another. They are all doing great with staying close to me and getting enough food to eat. Pip has doubled his size and towers over his two siblings. He has some white feathers coming in under his yellow fluff. 

Week 3

Another Gosling sibling joined Pip, Chip, and Bip this week. They all get along just fine and have now moved to a bigger water dish. Pip has once again doubled, if not tripled, his size and has lost almost all of his yellow fluff. Chip and Bip are mirroring Pip’s 2nd week.

Week 4

Pip has not lost almost all of his yellow fluff and is working on water proofing feathers. The younger three are following his lead and copying. Everyone goes out to free-range every evening and is putting on weight how they should be. One huge change this week is that Pip no longer chirps! He has a raspy honk coming through now. Now when he swims, he dives and blows bubbles. His head also is not waterproof and he looks like a water monster so we may change his name to Nessie! 

I love having Goslings and will have more updates soon on Pip! You can see him and his siblings on #theadventuresofpip

Read Backyard Poultry, Part 2: Growing Goslings Weeks 5 to 9

Marissa Buchananis the owner of Buchanan’s Barnyard, a mini-pig rescue and poultry conservation farm. Connect with heronFacebook, Twitter, andInstagram. Read all of Marissa’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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