Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gosling suicide attempt

Well, we've added to the menagerie, again. Last night I picked up 3 baby geese, one African and two Toulouse. All females, according to their leg bands, and we'll see how accurate those bands are. We prepped the gosling brooder, and layered the bottom with shavings. Here's where the gosling suicide attempt came into play. The African promptly snapped up a bit of bedding and swallowed it, sort of. Actually, got that little bit of shaving stuck in her throat. She was shaking her head, falling over, and got all fuzzy like little critters do when they're not feeling good. She was peeping, but her peeps were wheezy. Great. Just great. I really wasn't up for another animal emergency. We pried her mouth open, and I could see a tiny corner of shaving down her throat. Nothing we could reach. Baby was getting weak, and looked to be giving up the fight. No way! No more dead fluffy babies! LJ held her still while I rubbed her throat. That got her fighting back. We set her down, and after a couple more throat rubs, she horked up some gunk. Seeming to be screeching more clearly, we got her back in the brooder (this time on paper towels), and she promptly drank a bunch of water. An hour later, she was just as feisty and vocal as her two companions. Disaster averted! Woohoo!

Other than the African's idiocy, the goslings are very sweet. They are huge, even though they are only a couple days old. They seem to enjoy being held, unlike the chicks who struggle and stretch their baby wings when you pick them up. The goslings snuggle down in your lap and tolerate scratches and pets. They screech when we put them back in the tub, and when they hear us come in the room. I never realized how dense their baby fluff was, so unlike the feathery fluff on chicks. The goslings are more furry than feathery. Odd texture. In any case, they are going to be getting lots and lots of attention, though I might need to start holding them on a towel. They let loose a stream of yuck down LJ's shirt last night. I laughed my butt off til they did the same to me. Definitely need a goose towel! :)

The coop is almost finished, as well as the run that the girls will be in until we can get the chicken yard fenced. We have decided to wait for a month or so before painting. The weather is so weird this time of year, and it won't hurt it to go unpainted for a bit. Hoping to get the run finished and get the Golden Girls out there tonight. Fingers crossed! The younger batch of chicks need to be moved to the bigger brooder, and I'm thinking about wrapping our Great Dane sized dog crate in cardboard and brooding the geese in there. Doggy secure, plastic tray bottom, and big enough for the three of them. It's an idea. Don't know if it is a good one, but definitely an idea. Gotta love it!

*** According to a message LJ just sent me, the little African girl is squawking to beat all this morning, and running around like a maniac. Woohoo!

5/10/11*+*+*+*+ I'm adding something extra to this blog post, because people seem to be accessing it by searching for info on what to put in their gosling brooder. Even knowing where their food was, our goslings persisted in nibbling on shavings. We ended up using the shavings for the chicks only. (Not absorbent enough for goose poop anyway, in my opinion.) We had the best success with pine pellet bedding. It's basically compressed sawdust pellets. Smells clean, and you can get extra time out of a round of bedding by stirring it up. The best part about the stuff is that if they did somehow eat a bit, I'd hope it would break down into passable particles, unlike wood shavings. I don't know if ours ever ate any, but I do know that it was more absorbent and smelled better. Whatever bedding you choose, make sure that your goslings have firm footing. Apparently, they can hurt their hips and legs pretty badly if they go spraddle-legged on a slippery surface (newspaper, for instance, would be a bad idea). It can be difficult to find goose info out there, as opposed to chicken or even duck info. A good site I've found is In the community forum, there is a section just for geese. I've found a lot of useful info there.


Paula said...

I've seen hacked dog crates used for housing chickens, and Novella Carpenter keeps her pygmy goats in dog crates, so I don't know why you couldn't brood the geese in one. And I'm thinking you should probably get away with wrapping it in an old blanket or something; cardboard sounds like it would be difficult. But you'll know best of course. Congratulations on saving the gosling!

I don't know how far your fencing has come along but I've read to proof it again burrowing varmints, you're supposed to bury about a foot of fencing underground and sloped away from the fence on the outside of the pen/run whatever. Supposedly it really discourages burrowing.

Really good job saving the baby! (and tell me if I'm being a meddling know-it-all)

Rae said...

Not at all Paula! Always happy to get more info.

I was figuring on cardboard, as we have a lot of it, and the way these little buggers bite everything, they'd probably pull a blanket right through the crate bars. :)

I think LJ is planning on burying some fencing, but we're also planning on hot-wiring the outside of the pen low and high to discourage critters (and naughty Henry). The good thing is that most of the burrowing critters are active at night, and the girls will be locked in the coop at night and let out into the run or pen during the day. Inconvenient, but should help quite a bit.

The suicidal gosling just about gave me heart failure when it went "fuzzy". Never a good sign, and I thought we were going to lose her. So very glad that Stupid survived! And named herself for me. Lol.

Paula said...

LOL over name Stupid.

Hey- one of the things I picked up from the Mini-Farming book was the use of a 'baited' electric fence, which is suposed to work equally well on deer and raccoons. Evidently deer adore peanut butter, so you wrap some in aluminum foil and attach it to a hot wire; the deer put their mouths around the package and get zapped. The wire for raccoons should be at eighteen inches. I would love, LOVE to try this with a car battery and wire for my eventual chicken coop, as I really can't chase raccoons anymore. Somewhere between my mitral valve prolapse and the adrenaline response I experience fighting with a tenacious raccoon with my spading fork, I'm really debilitated wind-wise once I get the asshole off the fence. But seriously zapping a raccoon would give me the most perverse pleasure. Do you have any experience with electric fencing? can I do it with a car battery? Steve won't let me make a big investment with an electric fence for the yard....

Rae said...

I've never done a fence with a battery, but you should be able to find out online whether it is possible. We use electric fence chargers. They aren't that expensive, and they send pulses down the wire. Some of the big chargers are strong enough to knock you on your butt.

I'm pretty sure they sell small garden/pet chargers, and you could probably get one for less than $40. Add a bit more for wire and insulators. Again, check it out online. May not be as expensive as you think, especially if it can free you from the stupid neighbor's raccoons.

City Sister said...

I've always heard that geese are much like dogs...A kid I used to babysit had a bunch of them and they would follow her around (they were bigger than her) and honk.

Rae said...

City Sister- that can definitely happen, especially if they imprint at a young age. My dad had a pet goose when he was little that would follow him around and protect him from dogs and strangers. :) Ours are already trying to follow us.

Robin said...

I really wanted to get a couple Toulouse geese but I didn't want to order a huge batch from a hatchery. I struck out at both farm stores I went to as they didn't carry them. Grrr. And I love Stupid's name. How cute. :)

Rae said...

Robin, have you tried craigslist? We've seen a few different breeds on craigslist up here in the Portland area. Ended up getting ours at Wilco.

They'd really are a blast, and I think they've doubled in size in the last week. Stupid seems to have decided to forgive us for saving her life and is now quite sweet. Perhaps she'll earn a name upgrade. :)