Raising Ducklings and Goslings

Embden Geese

New Goose Breeder Pen Construction

We have always had our goose pens outside, separated by 46" fencing. There were several problems with this approach, however:

    1) Though we are not in a major flyway, we would occasionally have wild Mallards or geese visit us and we were always concerned with the introduction of disease. Many types of Avian Influenza do not harm waterfowl but if it shows up in the blood testing we do every six months, there is the possibility all our birds would have to be put down.

    2) Though we are surrounded by vegetable farms, there are plenty of red fox (introduced many years ago for hunting purposes) and the occasional coyote, bobcat and owl. The fences we had were not much of a deterrent.

    3) Open pens and open feeders means a 24 hour smorgasbord for the wild birds in the area. I didn't like feeding them and the neighboring farmers did not like the birds snacking on their emerging lettuce.

    4) Open pens also means all those molting feathers can blow on to neighbors' land. This has not been a problem but we don't want to push our luck.

    5) We had very little shade for the geese.

We had two options, build a lot of buildings or put in netted pens. Due to the expense and time involved in buildings, and our rolling land we chose netted pens. Below is a sequence of pictures taken during construction. We built two pens, the South Pen and the North Pen with the South Pen being done first - where the vast majority of these pictures were taken. As we did it during the fall when there was no egg production, we moved the geese into the north area during construction of the South Pen, and vice versa. The total area covered was a little over three acres. Construction took about three months.

If you want to enlarge a picture for a more detailed look, just click on the picture.

Breeding Geese This is the way our goose pens have been for years. Unfortunately we had to cut down the few trees we had. Notice the vegetable farms in the background. The A framed huts are nest boxes for the geese. The boxes made from pallets in the front are for feeding of hay. The PVC pipes contain rodent poison.
Breeder Pens for Geese This is another view of the old South pen, taken from the South.
Goose Breeder Pens All the pens have been removed. Notice there is no road between the duck breeder building and the goose pens. This was put in later for better access by feed trucks.
Raising Geese Notice the road is now in and posts laid out for pounding. We had a backhoe come in to dig pits to be under the goose waterers. The pits were 5'x10' and 5' deep. For the South Pen we spread the dirt from the pits around each pit as a berm - no water was to leave those pits. For the North Pen we just spread the dirt throughout the pen. Time will tell which was better.
Pens for Breeding GeeseStockpile of materials. Netting is in the white and tan bags. The long rolls on the left are the shade cloth, the stacks of wire in the back are 1"chicken wire coated in PVC plastic to prevent rust and the boxes on the right are liners for the pits. These go at the top of the pit to keep the walls from caving in - they are made from 2"x12" preservative treated lumber.
Breeding GeesePounding the posts in is the only way to go. We used 3.5" used steel pipe from oil wells.
Goose BreedingTo prevent the post from being pulled through the soil, we installed these "spades" on each post. The top of the spade should be at ground level. For corner posts we had two spades - at 90 degrees to each other.
Goose Breeding PensWe drilled holes at the top of the posts for the wire to go through. To prevent the wire from wearing on the post, we inserted plastic wall anchors into each hole so there would be no metal on metal contact.
Constructing Goose Breeder PensWe dug a trench all around the perimeter of the pen 12" deep. We used 1" PVC plastic coated chicken wire for the lower part of the walls - 12" under ground and 60" above ground. We wanted to deter predators and geese will quickly nibble through netting as they play.
Raising GeeseTime to put in the wire. We used 12.5 gauge single strand wire. Make sure you use high tensile strength wire. And we should have bought a spinner to make unrolling the wire easier!
Breeding GeeseYou can use a specially made wire tensioner to pull the wire. It can be set for the specific tension you want.
Goose Breeder Pen ConstructionUse this wire vice on the end post through which you will be pulling the wire. It prevents the wire from loosening after it is pulled. Leave 6" of wire so you have something to grab to if you want to tighten it more in the future.
Goose BreedingThe top netting is all laid out and now we have to hog ring the pieces together.
Geese Breeding PensThe hog ringer is a great tool for connecting the netting or wire fencing.
Breeding GeeseThe netting is ready to go. You can see the top perimeter wire is stretched and the cross wires are in place under the netting.
Pens for Breeding GeeseMake sure you put a cap on each post so the netting does not wear and cut itself as the netting is stretched over the post.
Goose Breeder PensWe welded a gate for people to enter the pens for egg collection, feeding, etc.
Goose Breeding PensEach gate was made of 1" square tubing with the wire inside being the same wire we put on the goose pit floors, 1"x1" 14 gauge, PVC coated wire.
Construct Goose Breeding PensThe handle for each gate.
Building Goose Breeding PensThe netting was attached every 2" along the top wire. Enough was left to come down and meet the chicken wire walls.
Breeding GeeseUsing the hog ringer again!
Goose BreedingStretching the cross wires. It helps to hold up the cross wire with 2x4s while pulling.
Goose Breeding PensNow you need to pull the netting to the back and attach it on the top perimeter wire there. The last parts you attach are the two side walls. The shade cloth is lying on the ground.
Pens for Breeding GeeseWe are making progress!
Cover goose breeding pens with nettingNow you can cut off the excess netting on the back - making sure you leave enough to come down and meet the chicken wire.
Goose Breeder Pen ConstructionThis is the first pit we lined. It is not easy making a big square tarp fit inside a pit - you have to fold the ends like you are wrapping a birthday present. After this one we learned that the black is supposed to be on the outside and exposed to the sun!
Goose Breeding PensWe screwed in ½"x1" lumber strips around the edges to hold the tarp in place. Then the excess tarp was folded over this and hung inside the pit to protect the strips and screws from dropping manure. Make sure you leave plenty of folds in the tarp so when it fills with manure and water, it does not rip itself out at the top. The cross bracing is used to help support the floor and prevent the sides from caving in. Notice the flooring that is flipped upside down by the pit. We make it out of 2x4 treated lumber, covered with 12.5 or 14 gauge, PVC coated wire.
Build Goose Breeder PensA pit in use. There is no mess around the waterers, even during a rain. And no manure will soak into the ground from the pit to contaminate the groundwater.
Goose BreedingUnder all the gates, we put a rounded piece of treated lumber over 12" of chicken wire. A digging entry by predators will be difficult with this protection.
Breeding GeeseThe shade is ready to go up. We put the netting over the shade so there is less chance of the shade being caught by winds and ripping away.
Raising Geese, Breeding GeeseLooking over a perimeter fence, the shade is up. We used 85% shade so rain can easily pass through it and some wind can pass through it, too. We did notice that when it frosts, there is no frost on the ground under the shade
Constructing Goose Breeder PensAt every cross wire, we inserted a 2x4 post. The wires are held together by a U bolt. A ¾" hole is drilled in the end of the 2x4 for the U bolt to nest in. The two nails keep the 2x4 from shifting under the net. The wire attached to the 2x4 keeps it from falling over if the wind lifts the net off the 2x4.
Goose Breeding PensA closer view of the top of the 2x4...
Goose Breeder PensThings are coming along!
Goose Breeder Pen ConstructionA view from under the netting.
African Geese Breeding PenAfrican geese in their new pens. Notice the oat hay in the top, right corner that we feed year round for their roughage.
Goose Breeder PensOur smaller pens of breeders. Wood frames are for gates down the middle of the pens. In the front are Large Dewlap Toulouse, then Super African, then Tufted Buff, then Embden, then…
Goose Breeder Pen Construction Metzer FarmsThe crew that helped do it all: Erin (Metzer), Jay, Leo (hatchery supervisor), Guillermo (breeder supervisor), Juan, Irais, Miguel, Larry (mechanic), and Juan. They did a great job!


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