Updated April 10, 2020
When a new goose arrives, there are a number of critical steps that must be taken to ensure safety for the incoming resident, your existing residents, and yourself!
First, Evaluate Your Arrival(s)
Depending on the incoming goose’s breed, their previous living situation, and the number of ducks you’re bringing in, there will be different care elements to consider:
- If you’re taking in goslings or younger geese, you will have to learn how to properly care for them in terms of heat, food, and shelter
- If you’re taking in a whole flock that was living together previously, you can probably quarantine them together since it’s likely that any diseases they have will be already spread throughout the flock. If an individual goose seems very ill or behaving oddly, they should be isolated from the others until a veterinarian determines exactly what’s wrong. Monitor this flock to ensure that any pecking order disputes don’t become dangerous for any one individual and separate bullies from the flock if necessary
- If the new goose is very under or overweight, you must slowly taper the amount of food given to them; a quick change in diet can lead to dangerous health repercussions in birds
- If you are taking in geese that look very similar, you must have a system of identifying and documenting individuals, such as loose but secure leg bands that will not cause injury to them
Quarantine Is Critical
The goose (or new flock) must be isolated in a strict quarantine area on your premises away from all other birds (not even beak to beak contact) and other animals, even if you know exactly where the geese came from! Quarantine is absolutely crucial to protect everyone from possible infectious diseases that may not be producing visible symptoms in a healthy-looking arrival; an entire flock could be easily infected, and possibly killed by certain diseases. Even if the bird was previously healthy, a new environment can produce stress that might cause an illness flare-up. It’s highly recommended that anyone coming into contact with the goose (especially if the bird is shedding parasites or has unexplained discharge) wears full body covering or immersion suits and, boot covers, and foot baths. Ensure that these isolation procedures are followed throughout a thorough health checkup. They must remain in isolation for a minimum of 30 days, and until all blood work and fecal exams come back with a clean bill of health.
Quarantine for geese requires its own water source such as an artificial pond with regularly cleaned water. Even in isolation, geese cannot be deprived of the ability to access water for cleaning and preening!
Prioritize Conducting An Intake Examination
Whenever you bring in one or more new residents, it’s important to conduct an intake examination as soon as feasible. This includes documenting their status thoroughly, evaluating for immediate healthcare needs, and taking note of their behavior. To learn more about the intake examination process, check out our resource here!
Evaluate The Goose For Health Concerns
If the incoming bird is in poor health, isolate the straw used in your quarantine area and do not spread it on other pastures; keep them separated until you’ve completed all health testing on them. If they have sores, discharge, or respiratory diseases, it’s critical that you use rubber gloves when handling anything the bird comes into contact with. If sick, the goose should be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian as quickly as possible after arrival. During this period, ensure that you clean any tools thoroughly before using in areas around other residents. Certain disease confirmations may require an official report to your local government.
If the incoming goose seems to be in good health, conduct a full body examination and complete a fecal sample. Ask your veterinarian about treating all incoming geese with injectable Ivomec and lice treatments. Other health issues to look out for include mites, injured or sore feet, and blocked nostrils. Geese must also be tested for gizzard worms, which are very dangerous and can spread across a flock of birds very quickly.
If the new goose is much less mature than the existing flock, you may want to let them grow up a little bit (up to 4-5 weeks of age) before introducing them to the rest of the flock, not just because of size difference bullying concerns (which is typically less problematic in geese than chickens), but to ensure that they have built up enough immune system strength to handle anything that might be lurking in the flock.
Joining The Flock
Once you’ve ensured that the new goose is healthy enough to join the pre-existing flock, it’s important that you give the geese time to adjust to the arrival. Consider letting them live in the same living space without having physical access to one another. This will give them an opportunity to meet without a dramatic showdown. You might want to give the birds up to two weeks of this transition period before letting them meet.
When you’re ready to introduce the goose to other birds, make sure to stick around in case you need to intervene! goose flocks are typically much less dramatic when it comes to pecking order than chickens, but you should exercise caution at first, especially for alpha geese who can be a bit more territorial. Positive signs include the geese approaching each other (without nipping). It might take a few days for them to become comfortable with each other and figure out who’s in charge. The first introduction should be in a free-run area with many hiding spots and food sources so nobody feels trapped.
The biggest consideration in introducing new geese depends on the makeup of the existing flock and the new goose. A goose hen will likely join an existing flock without much drama from anyone. A gander (male goose) will join a flock of hens without much drama either. If you are introducing multiple ganders, they might be more prone to fighting. If you can, try to introduce new ganders to one another in the fall or winter, as they are not mating seasons and the ganders are less likely to be confrontational; you might even need to keep ganders in separate living spaces with visual access to one another until this season concludes if introductions have been too dangerous. If you are rescuing a goose to add in with a flock of a different species such as chickens, turkeys, or ducks, they shouldn’t have any particular trouble with one another, unless individual personalities are more confrontational. If you are introducing geese with much smaller birds, you might need to create an area where the smaller birds can easily avoid the geese if they don’t get along as swimmingly as you might have hoped.
Battle Of The Bills?
If the goose’s introduction isn’t going well, you can use similar distracting techniques as you might with chickens. You can offer the flock treats like safe fruits and veggies, new loose foliage to peck through, and ensuring plenty of space in their home and where they eat and drink. If the birds are having trouble with each other, it tends to resolve after around a week or two, so don’t give up hope! There’s no shame in letting the new goose sleep by itself for the first few evenings in their old pen if they aren’t having a good time. It may take a few introductions before they all get along. If one of the existing geese is being particularly mean, one tip is to put them into the new goose’s isolation area (assuming it’s not cramped) after setting the new goose in the same area. By putting the existing goose into an environment that they can’t lay claim to, it tends to put them on an even playing field.
It may seem like a lot of extra steps than simply setting a new goose into the flock, but if you follow the above guidelines, your new friend will have a much greater chance at a happy, healthy life with you and the flock!
How Do I Introduce New Geese Into My Flock? | My Pet Chicken (Non-Compassionate Source)
Introducing New Geese To The Flock | Poultry Keeper (Non-Compassionate Source)