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New Goslings in the Brooder

There is little in this world as cute as a gosling. It never fails to amaze me how tiny these little balls of fluff are considering the huge birds they grow up to be. This week we were delighted to have four new goslings arrive via the Postal Service and settle into life at our farm.

While I look forward to hatching my own geese in the future, ordering them from a hatchery has been the easiest way to expand the different breeds we have here, and ensure more geese without having to worry about broodiness and fertility. We order from Metzer Farms, which has a great reputation for healthy, high quality waterfowl.

This year we wanted to increase our number of heritage breeds, which will hopefully allow us to breed our own in the future. We ordered a pair of American Buff geese, a breed we've never had before and look forward to seeing on the farm.

American Buffs are remarked upon because of their blondish, apricot coloring. The color is unique to this breed, hence their name. They are also known to be docile, friendly, and quiet. Originally bred as a table bird, they have solid bodies with no keel, arched necks, and significant abdomens. I am always looking for docile breeds to add to the flock and am excited to have these remarkably colored birds in the gaggle. We've named our pair of Buffs Arnold and Rhonda, a Hollywood take on the other interpretation of the breed's name.

We also added a new Sebastopol and Dewlap Toulouse. Dewlap Toulouse are very rare and have fertility issues, making them some of the more expensive geese you can buy. That's partially why our flock of these beauties is expanding slowly, one by one. We love our current Toulouse, a female named Petunia, because of her Mother Goose appearance and shy but friendly attitude. I am hoping the new gosling, Precious, grows up to be part of a larger group of these big birds that we will have some day.

Sebastopols are also rare breeds, listed as Threatened by the Livestock Conservancy. They do continue to gain popularity as exhibition birds because of their long, curling feathers and disheveled appearance. We have one male Sebastopol at the moment, named Rupert, who is head over heels in love with Petunia. Ruby, our new gosling, should help Rupert feel more comfortable as he won't be the only goose with spiraling feathers anymore.

Goslings do not get immediately integrated into the big goose flock. They will be living in their brooder for the next four weeks, as they grow bigger and start to develop feathers. This time is the opportunity for me to have the imprint, which will help to keep them becoming aggressive when they reach adulthood. Goslings also need to be kept warm, between 80-90 degrees, for their first few weeks and the brooder box holds those temperatures while the outside weather is cold and dreary.

Spring is the most exciting time of year on a farm, with baby animals hatching and being born and new plants starting to pop up. The arrival of our quad of goslings signals the start of springtime at Hostile Valley Farm, with many new adventures to come.


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