When it comes to keeping poultry, you’ll find that different species of birds can live together in the same flock; like geese and chickens. They both have their place in a farmyard, and they can be a fun source of entertainment for casual flock keepers.
So chickens and geese can certainly be kept together, but when you’re keeping a mixed-species flock living in the same coop; it’s crucial to do everything you can to make sure the different birds get along harmoniously.
With a flock that consists only of a single species, the established pecking order will be changed when the environment itself changes. For example, when you move the members of the flock to a new living space, when a new bird comes along; or, more naturally, when one of the young cockerels develops into a rooster.
When you attempt to keep multiple species in the flock, the effect of such variations becomes more complex. So, if you want to keep a harmonious flock with chickens and geese – learning how to establish a peaceful environment is important.
Within any sort of flock, one of the most common causes of general unhappiness is the gender ratio. It’s very important not to have too many males to a single female.
So, when you start working on the harmony of your mixed flock, taking care of the gender ratio is one of the first things you need to do. Okay, so what are the recommended male to female ratios?
You’ll find that these differ from species to species. Meaning that hens require one rooster for eight hens; but geese are different. The latter species needs one male to every three females in order for the flock to be peaceful.
Making sure these different ratios are respected for each species in the flock is essential. Otherwise, you’ll have over-mating among the females, and/or constant infighting among the males.
Having Enough Space
In well-kept mixed bird flocks, each species needs to have enough space for their daily activities. They mustn’t feel cooped up (pun very much intended) or cramped in their surroundings. All types of poultry, geese and chickens included, need space for rest, foraging, feeding and so forth.
Let’s face it – all poultry like to have enough opportunities and space for foraging. But requirements in terms of space will largely depend on the species itself. Naturally, all types of poultry like having an excess of space than not enough of it. After all, this gives them the chance to wander around as much as they want. And importantly, it lets them get away from a particularly aggressive member of the flock should they need to.
That’s another reason why tiny outdoor areas for chickens and geese can be problematic. In general, birds that can free-range are far better adjusted to living with another species. So, we recommend allowing for around 10 square feet of space for pasture for each bird. That way, they’ll still be enclosed; but they’ll be able to roam around more.
When it comes to sleeping, different types of poultry tend to diverge in their habits even more. Some, like chickens, like roosting overnight, while waterfowl like geese simply do not. The former have a natural instinct of fleeing danger during the darker hours, so for them, being on a stable roost that has enough space for each hen is crucial for them to be content at night.
Geese on the other hand, don’t require a roost. But they do need shelter during the night that allows them to get away from the full force of the elements. You need to make sure the geese have enough space between each other; allowing them to rest without being too crowded.
So in summary, a spacious ground area is required for geese, and a large roost is needed for chickens.
Safe Area For Smaller Birds
Speaking of comfort and safety; natural elements and predators aren’t the only things that can threaten a flock of geese and chickens. More than anything else – they can prove to be a danger to each other.
Sure, most geese are amicable birds, but even so; certain individuals may prove to be aggressive and dangerous, and the same goes for chickens. If you want to keep the two species together – taking certain precautions is important. For example, you need to give the smaller members of the flock the option to get away from larger birds.
For example, you can separate their shelters and runs such that the birds won’t step on each other’s ‘toes’ as much. Though, keep in mind, this is a more expensive solution, since you’re basically building a separate infrastructure for both species. In a small yard or a tiny farm, this may not prove to be practical in the long term, especially if you intend to introduce other species like ducks. Your yard could quickly become littered with coops and enclosures!
Careful Introduction of New Members
Speaking of introducing new members to the flock; even among the already established species, you should definitely take great care when introducing new birds. Big upsets in flock membership can provide quite a lot of drama in your coop, for the first few days at least.
Considering Age Gaps
Before you introduce small chicks into an adult flock, they need to grow to close to adult proportions. On average, you should make sure the chicks have at least two months on them before letting them roam alongside the adults. And even then, take care to monitor their progress for some time.
When it comes to geese, you can usually get away with introducing little ones when they’re somewhat younger. Still, you need to observe them while they get in touch with the established pecking order.
It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about new adult birds or chicks, there’s one proven way to introduce them to the old flock, and that’s providing them with a separate, temporarily partitioned area inside the coop. In such a barricaded and protected environment, they can easily get used to their new surroundings without experiencing any undue stress.
Naturally, first you should eliminate the risk of new birds being attacked by older members of the flock, and then, as they become more accustomed to each other, you can gradually allow them to mingle more. Start conservatively; just a couple of hours a day at first, leading up to finally removing the partition altogether.
Establishing Proper Pecking Orders
If you’ve only got one kind of poultry in your backyard or small holding, it’s not particularly difficult to raise a harmonious flock. But if you intend on keeping chickens and geese together, maintaining social cohesion in the group is a little more of a delicate task.
For example, the aforementioned age gap isn’t just important when you’re introducing new members. It’s also crucial from the very moment you start forming your flock. When you’re just starting out, you’ll want to begin with birds that are approximately the same age. They’ll establish a pecking order more easily, and a peaceful flock structure.
Once you’ve got a healthy basis upon which you can expand, bringing other birds into the coop will prove to be far easier. It’s crucial however, for those very first members to quickly establish cordial relations if any further additions are even to be feasible at all.
Using Geese As Protection
While you may decide to keep geese with chickens for a multitude of reasons; you’d be surprised at just how practical this particular type of waterfowl is on farms.
For one thing, many people use geese as protection for the rest of the coop. Sure, geese can’t handle bigger predators like larger cats or coyotes; but they’re pretty effective when coupled with strong fencing.
On the other hand, geese will have no problem handling smaller animals like rodents, skunks and weasels. And that’s no small thing, when you consider that these pesky animals can be a major threat to your coop; constantly attacking your chickens, and even stealing eggs. And even when a goose can’t defend the rest of the flock physically, you can be sure it’ll make more than enough noise to alert you to the threat.
Geese will also always react alarmingly to flying predators, which is important because those require your quickest response time. Geese will notice a bird of prey such as a hawk or an eagle right away; much quicker than a human will likely see them flying in the sky.
The alarm that the geese will raise will get your chickens into a panicked frenzy; but that’s a good thing, as they’ll run for cover from the flying menace.