How to Hatch Goslings
Broody geese can be a bit more picky than broody chickens, and there are a few things that make raising a flock from the nesting box more complicated with geese. Fortunately, there are options for would-be goose breeders.
Certain breeds of geese are known for their low fertility. Sebastopols and Dewlap Toulouse are some of the more difficult to breed, while varieties like the African or Pilgrim geese are easy to get to reproduce. Unlike chickens, a female goose generally doesn't lay unless there is a male goose around. The male goose's attentions will stimulate the females hormones to start producing eggs. However, if you have only female geese, one will often behave as the male for the flock, and you can still get eggs that are not fertilized.
If you've got a flock of male and female geese and you're getting eggs regularly, and see the males and females breeding, you can start to think about hatching out some goslings on your farm.
If you have fertile goose eggs and a broody chicken or duck, one of the easiest ways to hatch goslings is to put those eggs under a surrogate parent. After leaving the eggs to incubate under a hen or duck, you can candle them at 3-7 days to ensure it is viable. Female chickens and ducks aren't picky, and if the egg hatches out on day 28-29, they will care for the big, web-footed baby as if it was their own.
You can also hatch goslings under a broody female goose. To encourage a goose to brood, leave a few eggs in the nest at the end of the day. It is important to have a nest area for your goose that is quiet, private, and where she won't be knocked off by the other geese laying their eggs. She will only consider brooding if she feels the spot is a good area to raise her young in. While you can't force a goose to go broody, you can give her the best situation possible and hope she will want to raise some goslings.
When a female goose starts to go broody she will build up her nest by arranging the straw or other bedding around her and using her downy feathers to line the nest. If you try to move your broody goose to a new location this will break her brood and she will not continue nesting.
Ensure that your goose's area is private and safe from predators or from being picked on by the rest of the flock. She will need food and water within easy reach but she will not leave her nest very often. She will get up at least once a day to stretch her legs and get a drink.
While your goose is broody she will be very protective of her nest, and hiss at anyone who approachs. Her mate, the gander, will also stand guard near the nest and make a big show of protecting his lady. Your female goose can sit on up to ten eggs and it will take 28 days for them to hatch.
After 28 days you should start to hear the peeps of newly hatched goslings, and see pips in the egg shells. The female goose will often stay on the nest for a few days before taking her goslings out to introduce them to the flock. You can take the goslings from the female goose if she is weak after her ordeal, or if having them imprint on you is important to you.
Hatching geese on your farm is a fun and touching way to add new goslings to the farm, and with a broody goose it should not be difficult to raise your own.