Prepping for goslings to hatch

I never thought we would get this far since Pilgrim goose eggs are notoriously difficult to incubate, but right now I have five eggs that are five days out from hatching and all are showing signs of life! So, it’s time to set things up for hatchlings…

Some folks brood their baby poultry right in the house, but we prefer to keep them out in the garage. We have a set of metal shelves set up with plastic totes that Phil has modified by cutting out the top, making a wood frame around the opening, and attaching hardware cloth to protect the babies from any chipmunks or mice that might get into the garage and to protect them from the possibility of a brooder heat lamp falling onto them and burning them.

The shelves in this unit are made of heavy duty wire from which we can hang the brooder heat lamps. The shelves can be moved up and down if we need the lamps closer or further away than the cord will allow.

Last spring we brooded purchased ducks and goslings and found that large wood shavings were the best bedding in the brooder boxes.

However, for the first couple of days post-hatch, when goslings are still figuring out what food is, you don’t want them to have access to the wood shavings because they will eat them and develop an impacted crop. For that reason, I have covered the wood shavings with puppy pads which I will remove once the goslings are eating well.

I have purchased unmedicated starter crumbles for them.  It is imperative not to feed crumbles that have been medicated with amprolium to waterfowl. They consume a great deal more feed then chicks do and will receive too high a dose of amprolium. Besides that, they aren’t especially prone to coccidiosis, so there really is no need for medicated feed.

Commercially prepared feed is insufficient in niacin for waterfowl. Their legs will not develop correctly without supplementing with brewers yeast. Additionally, I have purchased some small packets of electrolytes and probiotics to get them off to a good start. After a few days, I will put out a little dish of chick grit for them and begin feeding them small amounts of chopped fresh herbs and grass.  I started various herb seeds in window boxes next to my catalpa tree seedlings:

There are differing strains of thought on the protein level that is best for goslings; we follow Metzer’s recommendation and keep the protein between 20-24%.

Finally, I washed up some little feeders and waterers and placed them on a small wire rack to elevate them slightly so that the goslings don’t kick their soiled bedding into their feed and water.

Today is Day 25 of 30, and we are all ready and waiting with bated breath to see if any babies will hatch on Wednesday next week!

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