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Q: How do I introduce new geese into my flock?

A:

While geese generally get along well with one another, adding a new goose or gander to your gaggle can be a stressful time for them--and for you!--as they work out the new pecking order. Following the steps we outline here will help the transition go as smoothly as possible.

After quarantining the new birds for four weeks, it will be time to integrate them into the flock. Thankfully, Reginald Appleyard (originator of the Appleyard duck breed), an experienced flock-keeper from the past, shared some great advice for handling goose introductions in his book, Geese: Breeding, Rearing, and Management, which was originally published in 1950. Take a "gander" at his suggestions:

Introducing a new gander (male goose) to his new gaggle of females:

In most cases, it is not difficult to introduce a new gander to his geese, as long as he meets all the girls at the first introduction. Usually, there isn't any drama; they all get along fine, and he mates equally with all the females.



Introducing a new female to a new gander and his flock:

Sometimes, introducing a new female to a male and his mated "set" of females can be difficult, especially in the case where a female has recently died. Goose mating pairs bond strongly with one another, and may only accept new mates after a period of mourning. In that situation, here are some tips to try:

  1. Take the gander away from his geese and separate the original females into their own wire-enclosed area in a portion of their pen. This pen will need to be fairly small. Without the male and when more tightly enclosed, the females tend to acclimate to one another more quickly and with less fighting.
  2. Leave them in this area for 3-4 days, or until you see that everyone is getting along with one another and behaving as a flock.
  3. When you see that they are behaving peacefully, you can return them to their normal run or range area.
  4. Return the gander to the flock, preferably in the evening.

Introducing a female to a gaggle with no males:

If there is no male in the flock, introducing a new female is usually not a problem. It is advised to wait until summer or early winter to avoid breeding season when birds are less likely to be open to new members joining the flock. Most likely, you can just add the new bird at night and watch to see how things go. If there is too much drama, following steps 1, 2, and 3 above should solve the problem.

Introducing ganders to other males:

Usually, males will not fight one another unless females are present, so if you are introducing a new male to another group of males, there may be a little pecking at first, but should not be any prolonged tension.