5 Week Old Toulouse Geese Graduate to Mini Paddocks out of the Tractor — 35 Comments

  1. Thanks alot for this post. Great observations and I’ve been thinking very very heavily about my first animals and your observations I’m taking quite into consideration.

    While I want some chickens, I’m not really too head over heels with some of the stuff about chickens. I also don’t really need the eggs (I get them from a friend who has probably the best chicken eggs ever seen). In fact I only want chickens to eat this damn carpet of weeds (otherwise known as grass) and eventually for the meat (very hard to get around here).

    Now geese…… that is something that seems quite interesting. Particularly from the self protection. (still don’t have a great pyranese and even when i get one will take at least a year to get him up to speed).

    • Would you mind commenting a bit more about heat? Did the geese have like an overhead roof while in the tractor? One of the biggest problems I’m seeing with doing tractor for chickens in particular here is the heat. I’m assuming at this point you haven’t seen a whole lot of issues with the geese and i’m sure the little water ponds really help!

      • I always provided shade in the tractor, one side a white board that I wasn’t using for full shade and at times the other a pallet. I put up that tarp for shade yesterday and it was 100 degrees, they never seemed to care, they actually seemed to love sitting in the sun.

        I do plan to build something to hang food and a water bucket from with wheels that will stay with them and provide some hard cover and shade but they don’t seem to need it much.

        I am going to try to get them to some of the pasture with more trees soon as that area needs them and it will give them options. When hot though they just seem to take a dip.

        Again in the long term they will pretty much free range on 3 acres but I can use this when I need them somewhere. And when I am gone next weekend for two days it is enough space for that time frame and Dorothy won’t have to worry about moving them now.

        • Very cool! That is a lot of really good selling points that I think us southern types should know about. I can certainly not say the same heat durability as my damn cucumbers. (Although i’m starting to think it may be a root issue rather than heat… =( )

          The issue of us continually having to leave the house is starting to irritate the hell out of me. (Its why i don’t have rabbits right this second or that darn dog. Everyone just seems to be getting married). You’re telling me I could leave for at least a weekend and not have to tend or move a bunch of birds around? (Provided they have plenty of grassy area, plenty of water and over hangs) Awesome….

  2. Geese are so perfect. I just love them. You get meat eggs feathers security manure pest control. Plus there is a good amount of $$ you can get for their eggs if you blow them out. Eat the egg sell the empty shells. Plus they don’t fly as much like turkeys or chickens. Which means no poop on the pigs or the barn roof. LOL another story .

    Free range is no more on our place. With free range you get poop EVERYWHERE! YUCK

    • Cool!
      Why are the shells worth money?

      Gotta have the wife start reading these posts…. so she can ease up on getting some animals (which I need some biological helpers REAL bad).

      I’ve got grass thats 6” to 2′ tall and I don’t have time to mow it by hand with a scythe! (I refuse to cut grass when I have alot better things to do with my time… )

  3. My experience is that ducks and geese do a much better job of eating grass and weeds. Chickens do a better job with bugs and worms. The hog panels are a great idea. We use them for every thing. They are so versatile. Also we recently adopted a 6 year old Great Pyrenees who had never been around other animals except other dogs and were totally amazed at how quickly he assimilated with the other animals. The sheep, chickens and ducks were all sleeping with him in the barn within 24 hours of his arrival. I still can’t believe it!

    • It makes me want to add one to the pack, every time I watch one with a heard of cattle I am just amazed at how much they seem to just want to guard them. They live for it the way my old Brittney lived to hunt or Max lives for his games of fetch.

      • We LOVE the livestock guardian dogs. Used to have a Pyrenees. He was our first. He was NOBLE and great with the animals. By the age of four he was also quite protective of us and the property.

        Our current dogs are primarily Anatolians with some Maremma, and one of them is 1/8 Pyre. They too are very very useful. The older has mastered guarding poultry against hawks!

        As of this year we are certain that there is a mountain lion frequenting our neighborhood, and wild hogs arrived in recent years. These dogs let me sleep at night, only having to “grab the gun and get out there” every now and then. The Pyre would actually access a situation and call for me when he determined that they needed backup!

    • Can they be tractored rotated/mobbed together? Seems like a good combination.

      • Personally I would put geese ahead of chickens in the rotation. Let the geese eat the grass down, chickens come behind and disturb soil, hit more of the broad leaf weeds and take out the bugs all while scratching the goose poop deeper. Then seed behind that.

        My permanent flock of chickens are not going to be tractored or paddocked. Though the 6 Egyptian cockerels are likely to end up fried before 4th of July they are becoming a nuisance to the flock.

        But in the end of summer I plan to get 25 red ranger chickens and tractor them, I will likely run them behind the geese and see how it works out. To me this will be like hogs behind cattle in miniature.

        • So how do you have your chickens now? Doing like a coop and run type of setup?

          I can definitely see the benefit of doing that at occasional times of the year for the concentrated wood shavings (what would be in my case) and manure.

          One technique I was thinking about building into my larger system is a mollison like Chicken house connected to a “free range (for chickens)” type of system that is fenced off. They can come and go as they please and do what they will. I know they tend to destroy small trees so I’m not so sure how well that would work doubling as an orchard until they’re much taller and established. (I guess a Lawton style food forest eh?)

        • They have a coop and a VERY large run, on the neighborhood of 1/20th of an acre. Inside I have begun experimenting with about 6 foot circles of chicken wire that are planted to stuff like buckwheat and amaranth and millet and other stuff with cheap seed that grows very fast. I just found amaranth for about 3 bucks a pound at a local organic store, do you know how many seeds there are to a pound of that stuff, I don’t know but shitload is the only fitting adjective. Rather then cross fence the run which MIGHT just go away when Geoff gets here I figure I can make up a ton of these circles and plant them about two weeks apart per pair. It only takes about 4 weeks to really green up, then remove one, move over, seed, repeat. Starting in about 3 weeks they should get two circles a week of new greens.

          Additionally the run is on a full acre of pasture which they get to free range on at times. Most days just from say 4PM on, some days all day long. There is another smaller run. I tilled it and am about to, as in as soon as I stop typing going to plant it to a mix of people and bird crops. I have enticed them into it with scratch for about a week since tilling. The plan now is to plant it with black eyed peas, some corn and sorghum and sunflower and some other stuff, again millet, amaranth, etc. When I let them in they will take out all the low stuff and leave the high stuff corn, sorghum, etc alone. Right now a dozen or so sunflower volunteers are in their main run. They love seed but will not touch the sunflower plants. Oh that reminds me I plant about 4 giant sunflowers in each of those previously mentioned green circles.

          The smaller run (really and old goat pen designed to rest the larger pen the chicks have for daily use) is easily watered with one conventional sprinkler so I am just going to plant the shit out of it and see what happens. If nothing else it will be good forage for the birds by summers end.

          I have a conventional sprinkler the side to side kind that got all hosed up with the hard water. I drilled out all the jets with a small drill bit, not it waters a LOT over a very small area, you put it between two of the circles and it perfectly waters them. So I can do say 6 circles with not much daily effort and they don’t need much water with the chickens keeping the ground so nice. I will try to video all of this today. Right now I only have two circles, I need some more fencing and stuff I will pick up this weekend but the two are greening nicely.

          I am really feeling like sprouting amaranth in ground this way using bulk grain is a great idea, it gets up so damn fast if I go to just amaranth and millet it might be a two week cycle. I can switch to other stuff in the fall and winter.

        • @ Jack

          Interesting ideas. For some reason I have been having the hardest damn time getting some things to grow like sunflower. I probably need to over seed the hell out of it. But that’s quite an expensive endevour if you’re buying small packs of seeds from victory for 3 dollars a pack (like I did). Not one seed germinated. Sounds like you got your sunflowers from a nursery?

          How densely are you planting those groups? Just the typical put a bunch in a container and handful throw them out? Are you planning on using the amaranth for something other than feed? I have been wanting to get some seed of it and try it out but I’m not really sure of its function other than being for what all other grains are used for (breads and what not). I probably should get on doing some setups like yourself in order to build up some supplies of feed for animals. I’m pretty sure all of the types you’re growing right now can be used with rabbits, which hopefully after the 13th of July (yet another wedding I’m going to in New Jersey….) I’ll be getting some.

          I’ve also been meaning to get comfry going. I couldn’t get it to germinate (and/or stay alive) long enough by seed (started it late summer) so I think i might just do transplants of it and see how it does. I’d love to get some because I sure as hell need to get green mulches going. Definitely next spring I’ll be buying black locust trees. Hopefully a ton of them.

          I’ve had OK success with buckwheat, but i”m finding its not ever getting very tall. I’ve been wondering if i’ve been OVER seeding it. Or if the ground just doesn’t have what it needs (heavy nitrogen or something else). I do find them all over the place in my beds (maybe birds picked up the seeds and dropped them) and they seem to do REALLY well inside my vegi beds….

        • I am going to guess your buckwheat that doesn’t get tall is on hard packed soils. Buckwheat is a hair root plant with shallow roots, it just can’t do well unless the soil is pretty loosened up. That is why it does good in your garden. You are likely finding it everywhere because it is big seed and will blow and be moved by rain an irrigation, we find it in many places we didn’t put it. I don’t grow it in pasture only in beds for mulch/organic matter. Likely you can’t plant it too dense the healthy just out compete the weak.

          Comfrey I have only one time done successfully from seed. I started about 2 dozen and got 2 total. It did work though and was easy to divide after that. The guy named Nick that came to my event brought me some roots that I am working with now. That is the best way to go, buy some or find some and start with that, once established only a very long drought can stop it. He also gave me a great way to spread it.

          Get a large pot, put your comfrey roots in it and before you do drill some large holes in the bottom. Set the pot where you want comfrey, water well for about 3-4 weeks, then twist the pot and break off the roots that made it into the ground, move to the next spot and repeat. He called it a comfrey tractor. I have the two roots he gave me in a small pot, soon as they are a bit stronger I am going to move them to a big pot and do a video on how this works. It is brilliant and like most such things Nick found this by accident. He just left a pot somewhere too long and then realized what had occurred.

          Sunflower, you can’t get to germinate, really? Not sure where to go on that one, I have never had an issue. Now I do put three seeds to a hole and thin if need be. Think of it this way if you buy heirlooms in one year you will have more seed then you can shake a stick at so don’t sweat the cost this year.

          Whenever I can’t get something to grow in ground I do plants but sunflower has a unique challenge with that. You need to use a pretty big starter pot because it wants to put out a LOT of roots very fast and if it can’t it will stunt (just like your buckwheat on hard ground) and you need to put the plants into the ground asap after the first true leaves show up and you need a bigger pot then you think, I would say 4 inch absolute minimum.

          Amaranth does this too, in an effort to increase successful germination I have tried starting it, also to get an early start. It isn’t worth it usually, it stunts in a pot, by the time you plant it and seed the seed will outgrow the plant. But this DOES work with sunflowers if you transplant early and use a big pot.

          You are going to be pissed when you see how many volunteer black oil sunflowers (big plants, small flowers) are growing in our chicken run. The chickens planted them I guess, either that or the prior residents goats.

        • “more seed then you can shake a stick at” thats exactly what I want.

          Thanks for the tips on buckwheat. Definitely seems to have that very tiny root systems, which make it a dream for pulling up. We definitely are in a clay rich soil which after you get down about 3 -8 inches becomes kind of a pain in the ass. I never use a shovel anymore, just the rogue hoe.

          Either I remember you posting about comfry tractors, or I read it on permies but I definitely thought about that. What a pain in the ass to start, but I like the idea its rugged. More and more I’m looking for ways to provide shade and get heat tolerant plants. Well they dont’ mind the heat, just not the direct sun. Hell even the top of my tomatos are taking a beating all to hell (the fruits) from too much sun.

          Thanks for the posts, they’re definitely going to save me a ton of time, and wasted resources. I’ve already wasted probably 5 pounds of buckwheat seed over the clay, compacted soil issue. All the more reason I need comfrys and other deep rooted plants. I guess I could always re “till” up some of those patches of grass I have (that I already did once for a 30 x 30 patch of buckwheat) and throw out radish seeds everywhere….

        • Oh and it is likely worth doing some with a screwdriver, poke a hole drop a seed repeat. It is a pain in the ass but it will get a lot more results. Daikon will go into that clay like a drill. Don’t buy tiny packets of that crap either, less then 5 bucks a pound in bulk. If you do the screw driver thing it will take a very long time to plant a pound. LOL

        • Comfrey tractor, I’m thinking that can be done with other plants too. I have some passion flowers I left in pots and forgot to move, nor did they flower that year. When I went to move the pots, they had rooted into the ground. This year I have plenty of passion flowers wondering around my back yard and happily blooming. I don’t believe they grow as fast as comfrey though.

        • I am thinking anything with aggressive roots that will propagate from a rhizome will do this quite well. I would be a great idea for us to come up with a list of plants that should work and everyone take 2-3 and try those and end up with an entire plant list that can be propagated this way. Hell that alone could be a book in and of itself.

  4. Hey, Jack. Sounds like geese would be great to introduce into the garden, but would I have to wait until after harvest is done in the fall (perhaps protecting an area of fall crops) like I do with my chickens? I’d like some pest control in the garden for potato bugs, horn worms, etc.), but have to fence out my chickens or they’ll scratch young plants out and eat others (greens, brussel sprouts, strawberries, etc.). Occasionally I’ll “pulse” a couple through for an hour or so if they happen to come by when I’m working in it so I can make sure they don’t do any damage. Would geese hit my plants pretty hard, or do they stick to grass? Also, have they shown any agression to you?

    • See my comments below they will leave alone MOST not all crops.

      They are pretty useless as predators though, I have watched grass hoppers drink from their pods while they swim.

  5. I have read that you can train ducks and geese to “weed” your garden by feeding them only weeds from birth. They then eat only the weeds and not your garden produce

    • No you don’t have to train them, they just don’t eat MOST veggies. They will eat lettuce, spinach, etc. Any young grass so you have to keep them away from corn and sorghum until about a foot high, etc. They are often used to weed crops they simply will not eat, like potatoes and strawberry are two classic ones.

      In fact the biggest reason they are not free to roam right now is I have a lot of cover crop in the garden like millet which is candy to them (it is a grass). This is all geese of course.

      Ducks are pretty useless as weeders but they don’t usually eat veggies, what they do eat are snails and slugs. Ben Falk told me though his ducks did after wiping out the slugs start to eat some veggies they really seemed to hit up the cabbage the most.

  6. Looking great Jack! I need to get my geese in a paddock shift like that so they stay off my Swales. Make sure you keep working with them and fairly tame, I just let my geese free range and now I can’t catch them to save my life on 7 acres…

  7. I’m so glad you published this. I am honored that you used my photograph at the top of the page. I was wondering how these little guys were doing and I’m surprised to hear that they are making about the same amount of sound now too.
    These are a great addition to the homestead and it’s also pretty cool to see all that green in the garden behind them.

  8. I’m also going to send Jack a photo I just snapped of my sunflowers. I had one in my garden last year and let it go to the point of drying out and letting the birds have their way with it. Once it was ready to fall on its own, I pulled it out and threw it in the compost pile.
    I since moved the compost pile but this is what happened this year in the old spot. The seed came from Baker Creek. These are all yellow but last years flowers were red, orange, yellow, and a mix of all three. I’d say these are about 12-14 feet tall.

  9. I wonder if you’ll get much cooking fat from pasture-raised geese (?). Of course, whatever you do get will have a great fatty-acid profile compared to commercially raised geese.

    • Funny thing is before we got all civilized almost all geese were pastured and some how goose fat was still highly valued. Anyway these guys have no worries about being rendered they are the breeder flock. No goose fat or roasted goose etc. in our home until next year.

  10. Wonder how geese would do in our pecan orchard. Do they actively eat pecans? If so would need to corral them into other areas when harvesting. Now if they could be trained to keep deer away….

    • No geese wouldn’t likely eat pecans specifically ones in the shell. Geese eat mostly grass.