STEEPLE DUCKS

Pilgrim geese

I keep and breed Pilgrim geese. Pilgrims are an auto sexing farmyard goose. The sex of goslings and adults can be identified by colour. Males are white and females are grey. 

 

Considered to be the original farmyard goose before the introduction of Embdens and Toulouse they are now critically rare.

 

Their nature is charming. They thrive on free range, needing grass and water. They will eat a little layers pellets and wheat, and sand for digestion is appreciated plus a few dandelion leaves and some apple but grass is their preferred diet.

 

For further information about the breed see the following page, there is then a link to the breed standards:

 

I am a contact point for several small scale local breeders so if you are considering them and would like more information please get in touch. Some photos of our birds are shown on this page. Also a photo that Ashton Waterfowl have allowed me to use showing a delightful family of geese that provided us with some unrelated 2010 hatch birds thanks to ashtonwaterfowl.net/pilgrim_geese.htm  

Just hatched females are olive-grey with dark bills, males are silver-grey and yellow with orange bills. If indistinct at this stage, at 4 weeks they will be clear, as the new down and developing feathers are white in males and grey in females. 

These 3 goslings have been hatched and hand reared to improve their chances of success. Here they are being introduced back to the parent pair. The pair accepted them and made good first time parents but a late hatch that was left for the goose to try was not successful.

 

Goslings that are initially hand reared make birds that are confident and confiding with humans. If they are then introduced to the geese to rear on, once they are big enough, they will remain confident with people but will live happily as geese.

Broody hens will happily hatch and rear goslings, ducklings and chicks, or a mix of them, however chicks take three weeks to incubate and ducklings and goslings take four weeks so the chick eggs must be set a week later.

 

The chicks have above have worked out that the chick crumbs are food. The goslings have not and are trying the broodies comb.

Pilgrim goslings need good quality short grass to graze on as soon as they begin to eat at a few days old. It is not necessarily for nutrition as this can be supplied by chick crumbs or pellets. Because they are grazers it is their instinct to do so, if they don't have grass they will start to graze on each other. This gosling is showing the problem is starting as she has a soggy patch of fluff on her back - she is being chewed by the others. 

 

If they cannot be put out on grass it can be managed in the short term by providing them with turves of grass to divert their attention. As they grow they will eat large quantities of grass. If not overstocked geese leave grass in excellent condition. 

With a broody hen they can be put out in a covered grass run to graze. Once big enough they can be allowed out for short periods under supervision to explore, then to free range. 

This female is approximately 5 weeks and her primary feathers are growing well.

 

At 4 to 5 weeks it is best to allow the goslings access to plenty of good grass but restrict growers pellets to avoid problems with "angel wing" where the weight of too rapidly growing feathers causes them to drop and grow at the wrong angle.

The feathers on their flanks above the legs develope before the wings so they provide some support for the growing wings but they are too soft and fluffy to take the full weight. Here she is going to have to hitch them back up into their correct position.

Pilgrims are delightful, friendly and sociable and make very rewarding pet-like birds but the gander does have to be respected during the breeding season.

A male showing the silver-grey usually found on the flanks or under the wings or as here on on the wings.

A nice young female showing the typical spectacle-like white markings on the head. The white colour tends to extend after each moult as on the older  goose below.

 

Ganders have blue eyes and geese have brown.

The Reynold's original breeding pair. Geese cope better with cold rather than hot weather but need access to fresh water. Note the electric fencing, geese are not fox proof and are taken during the day.

Tony's original geese

A group of Pilgrim geese that provided some unrelated breeding stock in 2011 thanks to ashtonwaterfowl.net/pilgrim_geese.htm

A pair of Pilgrim goslings at approximately 5 weeks.

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Growing goslings chew.

Charlotte's geese on flooded water meadow