Chickens are usually the first kind of bird families raise. They’re great because they tend to be docile, don’t need a whole bunch of room to roam, and are affordable. Of course, chickens also lay lovely eggs that are great for breakfast, baking, and a ton of other recipes.
Chickens are also easy to get. People can order chicks in the mail, and it’s easy to buy the supplies to get young chicks through the first few months of life. You’ve got to keep them warm, feed them the right food, and make sure they don’t injure themselves.
Once people have some experience raising chickens, they start looking for other fowl to add into the mix. Geese are a great choice because they’re beautiful birds that don’t need a lot of upkeep. But can geese and chickens live together?
Chicken and geese can live together well, generally, as long as you take some steps to ensure everyone stays safe and happy. Creating an environment where the chickens and geese will get along is crucial to successful poultry ownership.
Here are some tips you can follow to get the conditions right.
Make Sure You’ve Got Enough Space
Space is one of the most important factors in raising geese and chickens together. They each have different space needs, so you can’t fool yourself into thinking they’ll all simply get along in the backyard.
During the day, both chicken and geese need space to roam around. If they’re in a cramped space, you’re asking for trouble. They’ll get cranky with each other and then you’ll start seeing some conflicts erupt.
A good guideline is to have at least 10 sq feet for each bird. It gives the dominant birds space to claim as their own and room for the other birds to get out of their way.
At night, your chickens are going to want to roost, while geese can sleep anywhere on the ground. A good coop with space to roost is vital for chickens.
They want to feel secure from any real or perceived threats. Geese, on the other hand, will prefer somewhere they can move in and out of during the night.
If your coop is large enough, your geese can sleep on the floor. If you can close off the upper layers of the coop, your chickens will feel more comfortable.
Integrate Geese Into the Mix Slowly
Imagine if you were a chicken living in your backyard. You’re enjoying a simple, comfortable life when, all of a sudden, an entire flock of geese is suddenly sharing your entire space.
They’re bigger and often more aggressive when it comes to competing for food, sunlight, and space.
If you introduce too many geese into your family of chickens too quickly, it can be stressful for your birds. Instead, introduce one or two geese in the beginning and see how everyone reacts.
If you want to protect your birds even further, you can build a small cordoned-off area in your yard where your birds can see and smell each other without coming in close contact. This will give them time to get used to the idea of living together.
The Gender Mix Is Important
If you’re going to keep male birds, then you need enough females to keep them happy.
A lot of poultry owners keep their flocks to just females to avoid the noise and still get the benefits of raising birds and gathering their eggs. If you’re a breeder, though, you need to pay attention to the male-female ratio.
On average, you should expect to keep about eight hens for each rooster you own.
With geese, a single drake will do well with two or three females. When the ratio is off, you’ll get unhappy birds who can become more confrontational and destructive.
The Benefits of Keeping Geese and Chickens Together
You can eat geese, and they do lay eggs, but that’s not why most people keep them around their chickens.
One of the best things about geese is that they can be fiercely protective of their own, including the chickens they live with. They’ll make a lot of noise if anything comes around the coop looking to steal eggs or attack the chickens.
A goose doesn’t stand a chance against a fox or a coyote, but they’ll stop rats, other rodents, weasels, and skunks from harassing your chickens.
They also serve as a good warning system against hawks and other birds of prey looking to take a bite out of your chickens. They’ll start making a lot of noise and get your chickens properly spooked so they’ll run for cover and stay safe.