There is nothing more satisfying than raising your own stock though there are potentially lots of problems that need to be overcome from choosing your eggs to the type of incubator - feathered or mechanical variety - that you decide to use.
Goose Eggs are very much larger than hen eggs and are usually laid between February 14th and the end of June. Unless your geese have access to water to mate in you will find that very few of these eggs are fertile.
Although the eggs are edible - and believe me when I say you don't need many to make an omlette - the taste is different. Not many goose eggs see the inside of a pan as - if they are believed to be fertile - they can cost around 75p to £1.50 each at auction depending on the demand or are turned into faberge egg style decorations.
The young are also more expensive to buy than chicks. A gosling can bring between £7 and £10 each at auction while a chick can cost anything from 50p to £3 each depending on demand and breed.
One thing to remember though. If your geese lay eggs do not try to remove them while the goose is still sitting - that is if you value your life. Geese can be very protective of their young and will attack should they feel that their potential offspring are threatened.
Although geese often get broody - between February and June - when they are part of a flock who use a communal nest they rarely manage to hatch their own young as the part-incubated eggs are quickly moved further down the pile as new eggs are layed. This is where an automated incubator comes in very handy as - because all of the eggs get turned regularly and are kept at a constant heat - the results are much better. Below is a picture of four 12 hour old Edben and Ebden X goslings that were incubated for four weeks using a Brinsea incubator and hatched out on 12th of April 2007.
Sometimes the desire to hatch a brood of chicks is so great that a hen will sit on and try to hatch any eggs that she finds. Even if they do seem far larger than normal.
This brown hen has hatched three goslings ... though she can't seem to understand why the last egg is taking so long to hatch. Once again she moves it back under her warm feathers in an attempt to hatch it. Eventually she gives up and the haddled egg is disgarded which now leaves one little problem. How does she explain to her large offspring that they are goslings.
Purchasing Eggs or Stock
There is nothing nicer than watching eggs hatch out however finding fertile eggs may prove a bit of a problem.
The eggs that you buy in a shop or supermarket are infertile so cannot be used for incubation.
Fertile eggs can usually be obtained from hatcheries or poultry breeding farms - which can be found in the yellow pages or on Yell.com or if you live close to a community farm they may be able to advise you.
If possible, pick up the eggs yourself rather than have them posted to you. It is difficult for hatcheries, post offices, and transportation companies to handle small orders of eggs properly.
Incubating and Hatching Eggs
Hatching eggs to increase the size of your flock is easier if you have a broody hen who can hatch up to 10 eggs for you.
A broody hen is one that consistantly stays sitting on the eggs and ruffles her feathers when you try to put your hand under her to check for eggs.
A good hen will take care of the eggs, turning them on a regular basis, and even converse with the youngsters just before and during hatching. With a hen, there is no need for a heating lamp and she will even protect them from other hens and if possible some predators.
Desperately broody hens however can become a little confused leading to them stealing other birds eggs as happened to this hen.
It can be a little confusing for onlookers to see a hen walking around with her brood of goslings, however these foster mothers will continue to take care of their young charges even when they grow far larger than them.
The main problem however might be if the real parents recognise their stolen off-spring. They are likely to attack the hen and try to bond with the youngers themselves.
Artificial incubators are a much more reliable method providing that you choose your eggs wisely and your temperatures and humidity are at Photograph of a variety of chicken eggs of different sizes and coloursthe correct settings. Eggs that are to be used for incubation should not really be more than 7 to 10 days old as beyond that point the success rate declines. If you cannot place them straight into the incubator - and it is wise to wait until you have enough eggs to fill it for cost effectiveness - they need to be turned daily and stored in a room where the temperature is around 50F (10C).
The location of the incubator is also very important. The room should be warm, free from drafts and the incubator should not be exposed to the sun - which would cause dramatic fluctuations in the temperature inside and could destroy the embryos.
There are lots of good incubators on the market but try to get one that has an automatic egg turning device included as turning every egg every day can become very time consuming. Our Brinsea incubator has this facility; it also has an inbuilt thermometer and even has two reservoirs of water so that the humidity can be controlled which increases the changes of a successful hatch.
It is natural for the eggs to dry out to some extent during incubation however this should not be more than around 10-11 percent - the water prevents this from happening. The temperature inside the incubator should remain steady between 99 and 103F (37-39C) depending on the type of eggs that you are hatching.
After around 7 to 14 days of incubation the eggs can be candled - which means that a light is placed at the base of the egg and shone though to check whether the egg is fertile or to ensure that they are developing at the correct rate. An Egg-Lume candling lamp will cost you around £25-£30 but it is a fun and financially worthwhile investment as there is nothing nicer than seeing an embryo moving around within its shell and enables you to remove infertile eggs from the incubator at an early stage.
A short movie clip of goose eggs being candled can be seen here.
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015