Brooding and rearing goslings


If only small numbers of goslings are to be raised, they are usually hatched out by Muscovy ducks or a broody hen. It is preferable to leave the goslings in the care of the bird that hatched them out. This avoids the need to use artificial heat. A hen can care for up to six goslings. The hen or duck should be confined to a coop within a well-grassed yard for 10 days. Goslings should be kept warm and well fed, and should not be overcrowded.

Using a brooder

Goslings can be reared satisfactorily under all types of brooders. Initially they need less heat than chickens, and they can be weaned earlier. The same principles for brooding chickens apply to brooding goslings. In the first week, set the temperature of the brooder at about 30°C, then reduce it gradually by 3–4°C per week over the next 2–3 weeks. The temperature reduction and the brooding period will be determined by prevailing conditions. Best results are obtained if goslings are brooded in lots of no more than 100.

The number of goslings that can be brooded under a brooder is about one-third of the stated chicken capacity of the brooder.

The brooder house

Brooder houses must be clean and dry. If using coops, move them daily to fresh ground.  Table 1 is a guide to stocking density for goslings housed intensively:

Table 1. Stocking guide for intensive housing
Age Number of goslings per square metre of floor space
1–2 weeks 10.0
3–4 weeks 5.0
5–6 weeks 2.5
Adult birds 1.0

Encourage grazing

Encourage goslings to graze after they are 3 days old. A well-grassed area of 40 m2 is sufficient for 100 goslings during the brooding period. Plenty of shade and an adequate supply of good, clean, drinking water is essential in the brooding period.

Wet conditions

As goslings cannot tolerate wet conditions until they are partly feathered, do not give them access to swimming facilities until they are at least 2 weeks old.

Feeding goslings

See Feeding goslings on the Feeding geese page.