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Keeping Urban Geese Happy

Care for your geese properly with minimum neighborhood disruption so you’ll have both a happy flock and happy neighbors.

| January 2018

  • Geese seem to love open roads.
    Photo courtesy of New Society
  • Geese love to wander if they are not kept in a pasture space.
    Photo courtesy of New Society
  • Geese need room to spread their wings.
    Photo courtesy of New Society
  • A flock of healthy geese have bright eyes and active characters.
    Photo courtesy of New Society
  • “The Modern Homesteader’s Guide to Keeping Geese,” by Kirsten Lie-Nielsen gives extensive details and tips for raising and caring for geese.
    Cover courtesy of New Society

The Modern Homesteader's Guide to Keeping Geese (New Society Publishers, 2017), by Kirsten Lie-Nielsen expert geese wrangler, tells everything there is to know about raising geese on a farm. From the history of guardian geese to their health and dietary needs, anyone looking to add some farm heroes to their lives will learn everything necessary to raise and care for their own flock. The following excerpt is from chapter 6, “Keeping the Neighbors Happy”, which exposes the secret on how to live with happy geese and happy neighbors.

Keeping geese in an urban environment can be a challenge. They are large birds, with wingspans that measure five feet or more, and as such they need space to stretch those wings. The proper pasture with plenty of room, amusements, and food will help to keep your geese happy even when your neighbors are close by.

Fortunately most breeds of geese are incapable of flying to the neighbor’s or further afield. The majority of domestic geese have bodies heavy enough that even their vast wingspans cannot get them more than one or two feet off the ground. Even totally flightless birds do like to make a show of running, wings outspread, when they find a wide open space. If you keep your geese in a run, the most you should see of this behavior is a daily display of wingspan by beating them and, frequently, calling a celebration of his or her beauty.

Space Requirements

Whether you’re in town or the countryside, outdoor space requirements for geese is an important consideration. Adult geese require pasture that allows about 10 square feet per bird. In a backyard urban area, you might be tempted to scrimp on giving up so much real estate to your birds, and while 10 feet per goose might seem to overreach what you have to offer, keep in mind that providing adequate space means that your geese will not only be more content, but they will stand a better chance of maintaining good health. Crowded animals are more prone to being aggressive to the other animals they find themselves confined with. The tighter their space, the higher the possibility of injury inflicted on one of the birds, especially one at the bottom of the pecking order. Birds injured in such situations suffer from wounds that might easily become life-threatening.

Another small-space issue with geese is that when kept in compact quarters, they will quickly eat their vegetation down to the bare ground; however, that isn’t as much of a problem if you keep them happy and amused with a dependable supply of treats. On the in-town backyard farm, the best way to keep geese is often a combination of a smaller fenced area with a gate opening into a yard where they can wander when supervised. Geese do have a tendency to wander, so when you can’t be there to keep at least one eye on them, then it is probably best to hold them in their primary pasture, not only for their own protection, but in case they get curious about what’s next door, or across the street. Besides the dangers of cars in the road, the neighbors might have a dog that would enjoy chasing and catching a stray bird. Don’t let it be yours.

Wandering and Exercise

Never forget that geese are naturally curious creatures. It is possible that a flock of geese will stay close to home, hanging out right around their own yard all day and show no interest in walking off. But if they hear some activity a couple of houses away, or the sound of neighbors talking across the road, they will more than likely want to investigate. This is part of what makes them good watchdogs, but it can also be a challenge in an urban setting, and that is why I recommend keeping your geese in a fenced pasture. If and when you are concerned about them not getting the chance to stretch their legs enough, then letting them wander on the yard when you are home and able to watch them is a good option. Chances are, they will prefer staying close to you and your activities and often are like shadows following just behind you all day.



July 17-18, 2020
Polyface Farm, Swoope, Virginia

Join us for this one-of-a-kind event where attendees can see and learn live in person the operations of America’s most famous farm!


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