It has now been 7 weeks since my goslings hatched, and they are about half-way feathered out. The young ones are growing quickly and weight about 4 lbs each. It’s been cold and rainy since they hatched, but their parents have done excellent work keeping them protected–I’ve certainly given them no shelter.
For the past 5 weeks, I’ve had all goslings & parents together in one flock, and I’ve been moving them to new grass every day. Right after I finish my breakfast, I head outside and move their pen. This is a big efficiency improvement over visiting each adult pair in their own nesting pen. The babies are much bigger now and you can tell they love to eat! The wire fence I move around gives them about 300 square feet of space, and by the next day they have mown all of the tender grass down to an inch or two of the ground.
The part I love best is that all I give them is fresh grass, water, and a bit of grit. I do a bit of work to move the pen, and they harvest their own feed. The grass is truly lush this time of year, and it’s been exciting to see how much good it is for these birds–they are in beautiful condition! In previous years, I’ve given the goslings about half of their diet in grain because I was working out a grazing management routine that worked. The key so far, has been keeping them concentrated in small areas and giving them fresh grass every day.
Using step-in posts to support a lightweight wire fence has given me tremendous flexibility–I’ve used this flock on my lawn, and they do a great job. Yes, they leave behind the grass as tubular mulch, but manure is a grass farmer’s asset! It helps that there is so much rain here in Seattle that the manure washes down into the grass after about 3 days, plus the grass comes back twice as quickly because of the fertilization!
A problem I’ve experience several times before with grain feeding goslings, is related to how fast they put weight on. They grow so fast that their legs can’t keep up with their stomachs, and they have had trouble walking. Using only grass has probably slowed them down a little, but the trade off’s of improved health and zero feed costs are exchanges I’d make any day! This is no-input mob-grazing with geese.