Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sebastopol Geese Hatching and Raising Their Own Goslings


The following story was written by Susan Valdina and is about her pair of Sebastopol geese that successfully hatched and raised several sets of goslings.

No-Work Hatching in New England
“Shrek and Fiona arrived in the mail all the way from Metzer Farms in California to a small island in Maine. That was May of 2011. This has been my second winter raising goslings and learning how to sit on my hands and not help my adult Sebastopol geese.

This photo was taken after I allowed Fiona and Shrek to get in too much water.  Oh Dear!  Then we warmed them up.  Photo by Louis Segal

This year Fiona hatched her babies almost two weeks earlier than last year (March) and built her
nest in the old shed. Her incubator savvy is perfect. I would see her leave her nest at least twice a day (although it may have been more often and I didn't witness it. She would go to the water and dip her head and then put water on her breast feathers. Proper humidity you know.

Fiona on her nest.

I looked for an opportunity to peek at the nest and get an egg count and finally got it. Looking at the nest is quite amazing. They put goose down and straw or hay and other bits of "yard" to both build their nest and to make a thick blanket over the eggs, which appears to have an R-value of 50. I exaggerate - however, it is amazing how warm it is under that blanket. 

One new gosling peaking out.

She hatched nine out of ten eggs! 

More goslings!!
When her babies hatched in the deep cold, I resisted grabbing the whole family and bringing them in the house with me. I told myself over and over that they would be fine and to resist that urge. It was torture until I saw them all out one cold day walking around on their own!! They were only a day old then and seemed fine. Every few minutes they would all huddle under both Shrek and Fiona, then wander again.
Shrek with the goslings

I feed hay before the grass is up and game bird crumble. Shrek takes on as much of the watching as Fiona. They both warm cold ones and take them for walks. I'm learning too. I set out shallow water dishes for the goslings so they can't get too wet. I wonder how they manage around ponds in the wild?”


Supplying water to the goslings.
Until I received this letter from Susan I was not sure if Sebastopol would hatch their own eggs and make good parents. This answers that question - they can make excellent parents. Look what Fiona and Shrek did in Maine in March!  We have found that Sebastopol are very broody – meaning they want to make nests and sit on eggs. As we collect eggs every day, they will end up sitting on empty nests or nests with clods of dirt or chunks of wood as eggs. The problem with broodiness is they stop laying eggs while they are broody.

Hey!  Who is that?
Some of the unique characteristics of Sebastopol geese is they start laying earlier than all other breeds, peak in egg production earlier than all other breeds and then abruptly drop off in production much earlier than all other breeds of domestic geese (probably because so many go broody). So if you want Sebastopol goslings, it is best to order them to arrive early in the season. Usually our peak Sebastopol gosling production is in late March.

Thank you Susan for this wonderful story.  If you have a story about your ducks or geese and have pictures, send it all to us!  Maybe we can get yours published, too.




19 comments:

  1. Can you post the link to her blog? What a wonderful story, gorgeous photos too- is there ANYTHING cuter than a gosling? I don't think so!

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  2. awww those are so adorable, I have had geese for about 20 yrs. my old buff gander just passed away at christmas time. I really miss him. Time to think about a couple new babies to raise. maybe this will be a nice breed to try. Ive had chinese and american buff.

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  3. Wanting to start a duck family with my chickens. Will they get along. Are ducks loud or noisy. Do not want neighbors hearing them. THankyou!

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    1. Yes, they will get along as long as they have enough space to ignore each other. Female ducks can be loud if they are demanding attention or feed. Most of the time, however, they are very quiet. Males make very little noise.

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  4. My Sebastopols were born last March. Will they breed this year?!?

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    1. They should produce fertile eggs this year.

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    2. My first attempt raising them! Can you tell me when to start preparing for eggs... Now or in the spring? Thank you!

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    3. Sebastopol start laying earlier than other breeds. For us it is early February. So you don't have to do anything right now but I would suggest you have a nest for her within two weeks and start switching to a layer or breeder feed with higher calcium levels.

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  5. My Sebastopols were born last March. Will they breed this year?

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    1. Yes, they should produce fertile eggs this year.

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  6. Happy New Year! Thank you for your help - greatly appreciated

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  7. Can someone please tell me why my goose would lay her eggs where the shower drains out onto the ground and if these eggs would even be alright to hatch? I gather her egg which she seems to lay about every other day and tried many times to move her out of the water but she is very persistant and even bites me now cause she wants to go broody

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    1. I don't know why she selected that area but you will only break her of the habit if you fence that area off so she cannot access it. You can make a nest along the fence and then maybe she would use the nest. If you cannot do that, then I would try to collect the egg soon after laying and wash it off. It is not good but dirty eggs will often hatch.

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    2. Thank you. Ok so now my question in the wild I have noticed that many times the Canada goose will return to her same nesting spot for many years is this true with the domestic geese as well? They have grown quite fond of being free and would hate to pen them but if it helps her to pick a better spot next year I guess this is what I will do but only if I have to. One last question do you know if these geese pick their mate for life?

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    3. My guess is she would go back to the same nesting spot if she felt it was a good spot. They often become very attached to a mate (or mates) but will replace them if necessary. We have one male to three to four females in our goose breeding flocks.

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  8. Is it normal for the Sebastopol to lay a second round of eggs in the same season?

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    1. As we collect all their eggs, I cannot tell you if they will lay a second set of eggs after hatching their first set. I doubt it as their season is very short - but I don't have any direct experience.

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    2. Just a little info for reference. I gathered all her eggs and hatched them in the incubator since she wanted to lay them in a water hole. The whole time she sat on an empty nest, a couple days ago she started laying again and I now have 2 eggs, so maybe instinct told her to lay again, got no idea, just thought I would share this strange experience with you. Thank You

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  9. Why do some of my Sebastopol goslings have either a dark spot on the end of the beak or completely dark colored and some look normal?

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