Weeder Geese

Geese used to be used for weeding in the Cotton Fields. Geese like certain weeds, they do not like cotton plants. From this, we know that geese can be successfully used in crop settings, to remove weeds. And from this, many people assume that geese can be used in any crop situation - which is unfortunately not true. But they can be very useful in the right setting.

Geese love grass especially, and small weed sprouts. They aren't necessarily crazy about everything that you consider to be a weed, and especially not at all stages of growth. Geese also can't tell the difference between pigweed sprouts, and lettuce sprouts. They'll eat vegetable sprouts with the same gusto with which they devour crabgrass. They'll also eat many mature vegetables and fruits, so you have to be selective about where you turn them loose.

Geese can feed up about three feet high, depending on the breed of geese. So some people build their gardens in 2 ft high raised beds, and then put a short fence around each, and then turn the geese loose to clean up in between the rows. Other people just turn them loose in the taller crops.

To use weeder geese, your garden area has to be fenced. Geese aren't escape artists, so they can use a fairly lightweight fence, and it usually does not need to be more than a few feet tall. Where we live, you have to fence your garden to keep deer out, which will also keep geese in.

Geese are good among the sunflowers and other tall crops. They may eat some lower leaves, but won't go after the stalks unless you starve them. Experts do recommend that you keep the geese hungry enough to eat the weeds, but not so hungry that they start experimenting with the plants in the garden. You do need to watch them and pay attention to their behavior - they'll kind of tell you what they need.

Ducks will also be effective weeders, and it is often a good idea to run some ducks with your geese, because the ducks will eat bugs and slugs, and the geese do not. The same rules apply though - run them in tall crops, or among crops they do not particularly care to eat.

Some experts suggest that you feed the goslings the kinds of weeds you want them to eat - that doing so makes them more effective as they can develop a taste for weeds they otherwise would not eat. That is only possible if you have those weeds available when you have goslings!

Production Toulouse (almost no dewlap), Chinese, Embden, and Cotton Patch Geese are all excellent weeder geese.

 

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