chickens, ducks, geese, and guinneas : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Hi group: We're in the process of getting geared up for fowl, namely those mentioned in the thread title. For chickens we want a dual purpose bird that grows large cause there's hawks aplenty here and I've read a hawk won't take a large hen. The hens need to be decent layers, hardy, active foragers and mellow temperment. I'm thinking along the line of Buff Orpingtons or Rhode Island Reds but I'm open to suggestions. I'll be putting them to work in chicken tractors making greenhouse and garden beds. I'm figuring about 4sq. ft/adult hen in the greenhouse which gives me room for about 50 hens.

Next I'm wondering about ducks vs. geese. Primary duty-weeding. I recall a recent thread with a number of responses saying the geese are slobs in the garden. What breed of duck and/or geese would you recommend? I'm thinking along the lines of 6 ducks and a couple geese. Chris wants chineese geese cause they look like miniature swans. Are they cranky? Will they be mellow if raised gently? Would they be ok in the orchard? I think I'd prefer breeds of each which will do well without necessarily having to swim cause at least in the orchard area which will be fenced in, I plan on setting up duck/goose camp right there where they will remain for the summer.

We're toying with the idea of getting all the birds at once so they'll be raised together and acclimated to each other and might include a pair of peafowl and some guinneas. Is this practical? Thanks for all your help everyone!

-- john leake (, May 16, 2000


We've always have had great luck with Rhode Island Reds. They are great layers have a good size and temperment. Also the giant Whites and Blacks have done well for us but I still prefer the Reds bacause they seem to be a calmer bird that tolerates us being around them better. As far as the ducks and the geese I'll defer that advice to someone with more experience than myself.

-- Jim Tanner (, May 16, 2000.

John, the Buffs are much bigger and generally more placid than the RI Reds. I'm partial to Buffs, but the Reds aren't bad birds. Can't help you on the space requirements, I've always gone free-range.

I've had ducks and still have geese (foxes' choice, not mine). I've always kept them out of the garden, either sort will do damage. There are those who claim geese are good weeders, so try it, just have somewhere else to put them if it doesn't work. Neither ducks nor geese will hurt the orchard except for the occasional isolated root-digging expedition. But they do at least need enough water to wash their faces and will be happier (as happy as geese ever get anyway) if they can have enough water to get into. I use rubber hog pans and they are in them a lot. I've got one old gander who very carefully gets up so he's standing on one edge of the pan, then he reaches across and grabs the other side. He rocks back and forth until the water sloshes all over him and the pan is empty. Makes him as happy as a goose ever gets.

Don't know how peafowl will get along with the others, but what ever order you get them in, they'll work it out. For the most part the geese will ignore the ducks, the ducks will ignore the chickens, etc. Just watch that individual birds or a group of birds aren't bullied out of food, water, or shelter. The ducks might decide the shelter is theirs and gang up on the geese or something. Guinneas won't be concerned with anything. They'll live their own lives, as I believe the peafowl will.

Ducks don't usually get too aggresive, geese can be mean. Depends. Generally when you've got more than one of any type of bird, they prefer their own company to yours. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (, May 16, 2000.

Our peafowl and guineas get along fine with our chickens. The peas generally keep to themselves. Get your guineas very young and keep them caged or they will run away from home. We only have one left and he thinks he's a chicken now. All our birds are free range. We like a variety of chickens, but haven't been troubled by the hawks even though they are around. The reds are probably our favorites. Good luck!

-- Jean (, May 16, 2000.

When I ordered a different breed last year, an ad-lib from the Murray McMurray representative caused me to take note: she considered the Black Austalorp to be the best all-around breed they sell.

I am not sure how they compare size-wise to the other breeds being considered, but they are big birds.

My friend ordered a hen and rooster amidst her order last year. She kept only the Australorp rooster because it behaved better than the rowdy roosters she butchered.

-- Mike O (, May 16, 2000.

I can't help you with ducks, geese or guineas but for a good dual purpose chicken breed I don't think you could beat Plymouth Barred Rocks. Before the advent of the specialized laying and meat chicken varieties the Barred Rock was the most popular yard bird in the U.S. because the make a pretty fair size for butchering, lay large brown eggs and a goodly number of them per year and they're very even tempered. We have hawks and other raptors aplenty here in Florida but I've never lost a Barred Rock to a predatory bird. I don't know whether it's actually true or not but I'm told the black/white speckled pattern of the Barred Rock makes it difficult for a hawk to see them from a distance.

My personal opinion is that guineas and peafowl together are a recipe for madness. Of course, I hate peacocks so I might be biased. Guineas do make good watchbirds, they'll scream at anything including nothing at all.


The Prudent Food Storage FAQ, v3.5

-- A.T. Hagan (, May 16, 2000.

The ducks do need at least enough water to submerge their entire head,it might work well to have a hose running slowly at all times,with a pan underneath it to catch enough water for them to drink out of and dunk their heads. The excess water would be watering the trees,and the dish would always have fresh water even if the ducks or geese sat in it.I would put the hose a foot or two above the pan, so the birds could get underneath it and get wet when they wanted to.Might want to put a bit of gravel in the area if mud would bother you,they need some gravel to eat,anyway. We have four kinds of ducks-welsh harlequins,indian runners,khaki campbells,and rouens. My favorites by far are the runners.They come in all colors(we got the color ssortment from Holderread's,HIGHLY recommend their stock,they carry geese too)and they are very active foragers.They are quick, and can run instead of waddling,lay about as many eggs as the khaki campbells, and they are just plain cuter and funnier.We enjoy them a lot,and people are always asking about them.The rouens are a meat breed,hogs at the feedpan,very heavily built.Khaki's are OK,but the runners lay just as well, and are more fun and colorful.The harlequins we bought are beautiful, but they are a rare breed, and I think that the gene pool must be small, because ours were noticeably less vigorous than the other breeds and we lost a few for no apparent reason as ducklings.The ones that made it seem to be doing alright,but they are also more skittish of people,whereas the runners come eagerly when they think you have food. I don't know a lot about geese,but I have both heard and read that the chinese are one of the more aggressive breeds,also louder,and that they are good weeders.Sebastopols and Roman tufted are supposed to be gentler,the romans are not much bigger than a duck!

-- Rebekah (, May 16, 2000.

We have American Toulouse geese, Khaki-Campbell/Mallard cross ducks, and about 8 different kinds of chickens (I think we have about 2 dozen hens). They all get along fine except when the geese want the small pond here to themselves. Then there are no real scuffles, but plenty of noise. When the pond dries up, they hop in the water trough, which I don't recommend! A wash tub works ok as a substitute.

I would recommend any heavy brown egg layer, but prefer any Orp-types (Australorps, Buff Orpingtons, etc.)When tossing out cracked corn, the ducks chase the chickens away, and the geese chase the ducks away. I would say size indicates the pecking order.

I toy with the idea of getting a gander or two for these two spinster geese, but not sure if I want any more male critters around here. Still the idea of goslings is cute, for about 5 minutes. BTW, I am going to try the weeder concept if I put in corn this summer (after it gets at least knee high, I'll let the geese in).

No help on the guineas or peafowl, although they seem pretty noisy to me. Best of luck.

-- sheepish (, May 16, 2000.

i have an african goose and gander. my african(if you've read my sore foot thread) is a sweetheart, but i have always handled her. can pick up the gander and he will behave, but does get testy and latches onto my jeans sometimes and i have to pull him off. have a chinese goose and she's a pain in the butt. but she's the one that's laying and the one the gander mates with. she is squacks alot and continuously, while the other two talk to you and it's more of a responce to your voice. i love my geese, these are the first ones i've ever had, raised them from day olds last year. they have scared away owls and hawks from eyeing the chickens and you always know when the slightest thing is wrong or out of place. before the fencing was fixed, they would tattle on the goats whenever they got out. also they always let me know when someone is here. laura

-- laura cavallari (, May 16, 2000.

Im with Mike O on this one. Australorps get almost as big as a Jersey Giant if you let them and hold the record for laying. Im wondering though if that is really what you want. If you have 50 hens of a decent laying breed are you really going to want 3+ dozen eggs per day? Thats just the chickens. Dont forget to factor in your ducks. Laying breeds of ducks like black cayuga will outlay chickens. Now you have 5+ dozen eggs a day. Some breeds of chinese geese are "laying" geese so add in a couple giant goose eggs every other day. I hope you have some pigs handy. Even with 2 St Bernards helping me eat, I had a hard time keeping up with 2 dozen a day.

Ive always raised various large breeds and I guess that is why I never had a problem with hawks but that doesnt stop predation. A wheel of big black vultures have stopped by and dined on LIVE poultry. They all gang up on one so hadnt caused too much of a loss, now the dogs keep them away when they try to land. Racoons are always a problem and there is no such thing as poultry "too big" for them. Then there were my legendary battles with the Giant Yeti 'Possum of Scrays Hill, thats a story for another time. The reason I bring that stuff up is because "nice" geese may not be a real good idea either. The ducks will just try to stay away from mean geese and when a smaller predator stops by the larger "meaner" geese will honk loud enough for you to know that something is afoot and be able to get a good tweak or two in until you arrive to help. Good geese are too expensive to lose. If you are looking for "quiet & nice" geese, if such a thing exists, I would lean toward European and American breeds and stay away from Chinese/African geese. Giant Dewlap Toulouse and Legarth Embdens have measured up just right for me. I know a flock of American Buffs that would fall into the smaller, nicer, quieter catagory and the owner is very happy with those.

Ducks and geese dont need to swim. They certainly prefer it and stay healthier with it but can get by with only a kiddie pool of water to wash up in every couple of days.

My experience is that ducks and geese make very active and thorough "weeders," gladly working hard without taking a break once they were let in to the garden. The problem is that they dont seem to agree with me on which of the plants are weeds...

-- William in WI (, May 17, 2000.

Holderreads in Corvallis OR,, is I think the best place to get good quality waterfowl. Their German Saxony`s are big, but Very gentle, and very friendly, they lay eggs as big as some of the geese. Pilgram Geese, tend to be friendly and not too noisey. My Blue Swedish, are by far the best eggs layers I have ever had. Very good at eating all the slugs too. I did not like the Runner ducks,, way to nosiey for me, and they would pack hunt the girls. And yes,, at least mine did,, the male ducks liked to ,, humm.. pounce on the Roosters. Roosters did not like that very much. SO later the roosters returned the favor. It got to be such a pain,, ALL the boys were eaten!! Well, except the Swedish Male duck,, he never bothered anyone. Oh, Holderreads has some very rare, Shetland Island geese for sale. They are said to be very small and Very hardy,, and I guess, coming from the Shetalnd Islands you ahd to be! Good luck in what ever you choose!! :O)

-- Bergere (, May 17, 2000.

Bergere, do you mean that the runner drakes pack kunted the female ducks or human girls? Our runners have never shown any aggression to humans at all! We got ours from holderread's too. But we have noticed that anytime there is an excess of drakes of any breed, the drakes will gang rape the ducks and just about drown them. Best to have only 1 drake for every 4-5 ducks,they don't pair off like geese. Eat the extra drakes.The rouens were the worst about that- they are so big and heavy that they almost drowned the ducks several times, especially when there was a big crowd of them all taking turns on the same ducks, and if the duck was a light little runner,she was in for a real dunking! We ate all the rouen drakes,have two runner drakes and a harlequin drake, and that is enough,and they don't get oppressive anymore! The other thing (sorry this is long) is that if you have an established flock of ducks and raise up new ducklings,without a mother,the drakes will try to breed them when they are still way too small and not big enough to be sat on in the water.Of course, the drakes only breed the young ducks, so if this is allowed to go on, you are left with half as many ducklings-all drakes!

-- Rebekah (, May 17, 2000.

William in WI: I've considered the surplus egg question. If I buy the chicks as day olds they won't be laying until sometime this winter. I'm thinking 50 of them because thats how many are necessary for the proper stocking density to get beds built in the green house within a three month period according to Andy Lees "Chicken Tractor" book. That will bring me into early september before I can plant the greenhouse and still no eggs. Around here anyway there seems to be a lively market for farm fresh eggs at the bars. One bar I know of sells twenty doz/week and could sell twenty more if they had them. To save some money I've also considered straight run chickens which would get the beds built in time and the 20 or so roosters would be harvested for the table. I'd keep three roosters for the ladies.

-- john leake (, May 17, 2000.

We've had almost every type of chicken mentioned, and they were all good, but my personal favorite is the Buff Orpington, just because I like their looks!! Holderreads is an excellent source for waterfowl - - we got Pilgrim geese from them. Pilgrims are smaller than Toulouse and Embdens, but are naturally sexed by color, and the gander will mate with two or three geese, so you don't have to keep one gander for each goose. The Chinese geese are okay, too, though noisier. I don't think you can raise all the babies together because they require different types of starter feed. None of the waterfowl *have* to have swimming water, but they do need enough water to dip their heads in and clean their nostrils out -- they will splash water ALL OVER when they do this -- fine outdoors, but not so nice for the chickens if they are all indoors together.

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, May 18, 2000.

Don't know personally, but I've read that the larger geese need water to mate in, whereas smaller (I read Chinese) can manage without. Comments?

-- Don Armstrong (, May 19, 2000.

I'll have to put in a good word for the Black Australorps, I've had them for several years now. They are (mostly) calm in temperment, and with a little extra pampering, will lay year round. I also have 4 Toulouse geese in the pen with them. This seems to keep the local varmints at bay. George is fairly strict about who is allowed in 'his' pen, and actively patrols the fence keeping an eye on things. I don't know how well he would stand up to a determined invasion, but I would at least hear the racket if something tried. As far as extra eggs, we have a waiting list for ours, and I have to keep an eye on my husband to make sure that he leaves enough for my pasta making.

-- Connie (, May 23, 2000.

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