Raise a Goose to Guard Your Flock

Large and loud, geese will keep many chicken predators at bay and alert you to other trouble.

by Kirsten Lie-Nielsen
PHOTO: Kirsten Lie-Nielsen

Geese can make excellent guardians for a flock of smaller birds, where their temperamental reputation comes in handy. Naturally territorial, geese fit easily into the role of watchdog and don’t need any training in how to protect.

Predator Protection

Geese are not big enough to fend off the larger predators, such as coyotes or big cats, so they’re most effective when used in combination with good fencing. Geese can certainly fend off weasels, skunks and other rodents, though, which will often prey on chickens or try sneaking eggs from your birds’ nests. What a goose cannot defend your flock from they will still make plenty of noise about, allowing the alert farmer to investigate and protect their livestock.

While not always able to protect against them, geese are remarkable alarms when they see flying predators. An eagle or a hawk will immediately be noticed by a goose, long before human eyes would detect them against the sky. The resulting alarm will send chickens scurrying for safe cover.

Using a Single Guard Goose

African goose
Kirsten Lie-Nielsen

Surprisingly, a single goose can often provide the best protection for a flock of chickens. If you raise multiple geese, they will bond with one another, and while they may deter potential predators, they will not actively work to protect your hens. A single goose, especially if it’s raised with your chickens, will imprint on them and take their role as defender seriously.

One goose is also an inexpensive option to protect a flock of chickens because they are such easy keepers. A goose kept on healthy green grass needs only a little bit of supplemental feed. Its main need is plenty of fresh drinking water in a deep trough so that it can keep its beak clean. If you’re protecting a flock of meat birds, a goose can be a nice addition to your freezer for a holiday meal, or it can continue to be a pet after the chickens have gone.

Which Breed to Use?

Most breeds of geese have the attitude for guarding, but if you’re getting a dedicated guard goose look no further than a Chinese or African goose. The loudest geese breeds, Chinese and Africans are also larger than a lot of other varieties, which makes them extra intimidating. Also an effective guardian is the Roman Tufted, a loud but small breed, and plenty of mixed breeds will make good watchdogs, as well.

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Using a Flock of Geese

flock of geese
Kirsten Lie-Nielsen

A flock of geese will not be as attached to your chickens as a single goose would be. In fact, they usually could care less about the welfare of your hens, though this doesn’t make them as ineffective as guardians as you might think. If you keep a full flock of geese on your farm, many predators will think twice before approaching. A gaggle of geese is an intimidating foe, even if they aren’t paying that much attention to guarding.

Perhaps the most effective use of geese as guardians is in protection against humans. Many people have vivid memories of geese from their childhood or just a strong association between geese and aggression. Even if you keep friendly pet geese, a few honks are enough to scare a potential burglar.

A guard goose can supplement your egg or meat supply in addition to providing protection, and it’s hard to find a more entertaining watchdog. For the farmer looking to find a useful, natural way to keep their chickens safe, look no further than a guardian goose.

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