It was a cold snowy day in April 2014 when two small Toulouse goslings entered my life. I had been prepping for their arrival and was excited to finally get to meet them. With a safe brooder to rest in and a heat lamp to keep them warm, I was ready for my newly hatched babies to begin a happy life at home.
About The Toulouse Breed
A Toulouse goose is a domesticated breed from Toulouse, France. Fully grown, they are a mix of light and dark grey with a white underbelly. Females can weigh up to 12 to 13 pounds while males weigh 18 to 20 pounds. The female geese make excellent egg layers laying up to 40+ a year. A common myth is that all geese are aggressive and temperamental. This breed is very docile and friendly, especially the females. They enjoy spending time with other waterfowl and chickens.
Goslings First Week
I received my goslings from the online farm supplier Murray McMurray Hatchery. Phoebe and Finn came to New England all the way from California. After the long journey, I got them settled into their new home and let them rest. Only a few days old, they were very wobbly on their feet. Phoebe and Finn would take a few steps, then plop down and end up napping after eating some grain and drinking some water. As the days past by, they became sturdier on their feet and their small weak chirps became strong.
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Thinking Of Raising Goslings?
Here is a list of the supplies you need
Heat Lamp ✓
Water Bowl ✓
Food Bowl ✓
When raising goslings, there are many types of brooders you can use. A common one is a cardboard box, but I used a large plastic container that was clear so I could keep an eye on them from afar. Another thing you will need is a heat lamp. There are many different ways to hang them, but I prefer to use a clamp for the first week. I found the clamp sturdy and easy to use. I chose a red (250 watt) bulb over a white bulb for my heat lamp. The red light can be more soothing and prevents them from picking. I also kept my brooder near a window so the goslings could enjoy natural light all day. It is very important to keep a thermometer located in your brooder near your heat lamp so you can easily make sure it is not too hot or cold . During the first week, choose a water bowl that is very shallow or put marbles in deeper bowls. I also used a shallow food bowl to make for easy cleanings. I used non-medicated chick starter feed for them to nibble, and I used pine shaving for bedding. Make sure to clean the water bowl and food bowl frequently so that both will not begin to breed harmful bacteria. I also introduced them to some hay after a week to give them something new to munch.
There are many amazing firsts when raising geese. My top three have to be first bath, first adventure outdoors and first treat (a slice of watermelon). As time went on, they definitely developed their own personalities and a tight bond with each other. They also developed a strong attachment to me. I was so excited when it was finally warm enough for them to enjoy the outdoors safely. When I would take them out, they would follow me wherever I went with their little legs moving feverishly to catch up. Any time I had some outdoor chores they would be right by my side nibbling on some grass as I worked. When it was finally time for them to join the other animals and make their big move to the farm, they transitioned very well. They had a safe place to sleep in the barn just for them and a pen to play in during the day. I was so excited to see them start to get along with the other animals and begin to go off on their own. I wanted to make sure I separated myself from them a bit just so they wouldn't become too attached and would eventually become independent geese.
Life On The Farm
The summer was their time to explore and learn. As Phoebe and Finn adapted to life on the farm, they got to meet and bond with all the animals. From the horses to the goats, they were curious about everything. I was so excited when their feathers finally started to come in and the baby fuzz slowly started to disappear. It is dangerous for small geese to swim until they grow their feathers. They loved swimming right away. Diving their heads deep under the water, they turn into small feathered torpedoes.
Meet Phoebe and Finn
Phoebe is very sweet, loving and shy. She prefers to stay close to home rather than wander off into the fields. I was so proud when she laid her very first egg this year. One of her favorite activities is to make nests for the newly laid eggs. She is very serious about her nests, and does not like to be bothered while working. She is very vocal and enjoys starting conversations with small peeps as well as loud squawks when excited. Both Phoebe and Finn know and recognize their name and will come running when called. She enjoys lying out in the sun and snuggling in the grass during the day after taking a long swim in the pond. She will happily graze and eat grass all day! At night, they are both very well trained and will venture back to the barn to be put into the sleeping den. Phoebe's nurturing, loyal and doting ways make her irresistible to be around. Give her love back and she will never leave your side.♥
Finn is curious, boisterous and rambunctious. He loves to follow the ducks to the stream that is way out in the field. He then swims and socializes with the wild mallards and the Canadian geese. During the late summer, he started to learn how to fly. When Toulouse geese fly, they briefly take flight for a short distance then land back on the ground. He even started teaching Phoebe how to do this. Unlike Phoebe, he isn’t shy at all and will come right up to new people and begin his investigation. He loves tummy touches and enjoys his belly being rubbed. He also loves to climb on top of everything from water bowls to people. His favorite activities include nibbling on grass, bugs and pretty much anything he can fit in his beak. He is very protective and never afraid to hiss at a dangerous intruder. With his watch dog like abilities, he is not one to turn down attention or affection. Offer him a slice of watermelon and you will immediately win his trust and his heart for life.♥