Incubate, Buy, or Brood Geese?
Hatching goslings under a mother goose has its pros and cons. There are advantages to a mother goose that getting goslings or hatching yourself don't offer, and one of them certainly is the bond between gosling and goose.
You can buy day old goslings from a hatchery or at a feed store for a fairly reasonable price and raise them yourself. The benefits of this method are that your geese will bond with you (called imprinting) and become attached to you as they grow. If you handle them regularly they should never become aggressive, and they will follow you around like puppy dogs well into adulthood. If you only get one goose, this imprint means they will assume they are people too. If you get a pair or more, they'll bond with each other as well but still consider you their parent figure.
Sometimes, if you don't have the time for regular handling, day old goslings won't imprint. This isn't a big deal. They may be more aggressive as adults and you may not be able to pick them up as easily as imprinted geese, but they still make great farmyard animals and may be more effective as guard geese than imprinted goslings.
You can also hatch geese under a duck or chicken. They'll look pretty silly as goslings, standing next to their "mother" already nearly as big as her. This is a very convenient way to hatch goose eggs if you don't have a broody goose, because the process of using an incubator may require more attention than you can give. Geese raised under a chicken generally don't imprint on people, but because chickens are more friendly than grown geese, it is easy to get them used to being handled so they will be friendly adults. They should bond with their mother hen, and this will make them great protectors of a flock of chickens when grown.
Hatching in an incubator is a wonderful way to raise imprinted goslings. Like day old goslings, with regular handling they will bond with you and grow up to be dedicated friends. The only disadvantage to incubating goose eggs is the amount of time spent with your incubator. While it is not a huge investment, it is still more than some can put into raising geese. They require regular turning, as well as sprinkling with warm water to keep them humid enough.
Goose eggs incubate for approximately 28 days. Because of their high humidity requirements, some breeders recommend submerging the eggs for one minute daily after the fifteenth day of incubation. They also will need to be turned a full 180 degrees four times daily. Depending on your breed of goose your fertility rate will vary, but it is rarely above 80%. Incubating eggs instead of hatching naturally can reduce fertility rates, as does trying to be reproduce certain breeds such as the Dewlap Toulouse and Sebastopol.
Because of all these requirements, hatching under a mother goose is often a simple and easy way to go. Once you've got a broody goose, make sure the area she has chosen for her nest is kept dark and private. She is likely to go off the nest if she is disturbed regularly, so only bother her to change her feed and water. Do not try to move a goose to a new nest site as she will almost definitely go off the nest when moved.
Twenty-eight days later you should hear peeping under you mother goose (if your eggs were fertile). It may take up to three days for goslings to complete hatching and fluff out.
The disadvantage to goose-raised goslings is they are not going to imprint on you. The mother goose will protect them with fierce hissing every time to you approach to feed or cuddle them. Your gander will dedicate his time to keeping you and any other potential "threat" away from the nest. However, besides feeding and watering, you don't need to invest too much time into raising these goslings. Mother goose will make sure they are well cared for.
While not being able to bond with your new goslings is unfortunate, it is often worth it for the sight of a mother goose and gander showing their new babies the ways of the world. Both parents will swell with pride walking their babies around, and you know your new goslings will learn all the ways of being a goose.
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