Saturday, April 20, 2013

How to brood goslings (or ducklings)

Many people have asked me how to successfully brood goslings.  For the first week after hatching, my goslings live in an under the bed box on the kitchen counter.  The bin is about 6 inches tall and 3 ft long and 18 inches wide.  I have a heat lamp with a 100 W light bulb in it for heat.  I just clamp it to the side of the bin.  I provide food and water in short tupperware containers.  I also pick fine grass from the yard and cut it up in 1/2 inch pieces with scissors and add to their water bowl.  This keeps the grass from drying out under the heat lamp.  You can also give them lettuce. I fill their food and change their water daily or more often, if needed.  I use old towels for flooring.  I change them daily and wash them in the washer.  Here is a picture of my set-up:

At one week old, they get moved to the garage brooder, they get too active and big and can jump out of the bin on the kitchen counter.  I have made this brooder out of a child play pen, similar to a dog x-pen.  I split it in half with some plastic hardware cloth.  Each pen is 3' x 6'. I usually have about 4 goslings in each pen.  I use straw bedding here, I have had goslings eat shavings before and get sick.  I use a large rubbermaid bin lid to put the food and water on and it helps keep the mess a little cleaner.  I use a larger water bowl, one they can get into to bathe.  They also get a few large handfuls of picked grass.  I keep them supplied with it at all times.  A gooses diet should be 1/2 to 3/4 grass! I have a 100 W heat lamp about 1 ft off the ground. I fill food and change water 2 x a day and spot clean bedding daily.

At 2 weeks old, they go outside during the day in a dog x-pen (it is 4' x4'), as long as the weather isn't windy, cold or rainy.  I will warn you that ducklings will not enjoy being picked up 2x or more a day. The x-pen is covered with shade cloth so that aerial predators cannot hurt them.  I move the pen daily to fresh, clean grass.  They get a small cat litter box for a water bowl.  Then they come back into the garage brooder (the side with no heat) at night.  Here they have food, water and a huge armload of picked grass.  While they are out during the day I clean their pen.

At 3 weeks old, they go into a larger outside pen with a larger food and water bowl and stay the night in my greenhouse with a 100 W heat lamp on at night.  They stay out here 24/7 now.
When they are 4-6 weeks old I start to introduce them to the older geese, usually on the other side of a fence at first.  Then supervised visits, then they will live with them, if I am keeping them.


  1. I like your set up ! I have to take into account house cats when I brood poultry inside, otherwise this set up would be perfect.

    I am raising my first Sebastopol geese and love them! They are in an outside shed now and I will be setting up a yard for them this week. Your posts are very informative and helpful

  2. Congrats on getting some sebbies! I am glad if my posts can be of help!

  3. What temperature is it safe to put them outside at? It is getting into the mid to upper 50's right now. I was worried that was too chilly. I am brooding khaki campbell ducklings right now. Boy are they messy. :-) LOL

  4. It depends on their age. How old are yours? Yes, waterfowl babies are very messy! I call them yucklings!