And the goose and the goat shall lie down together…

On a recent wintry day, I went down to see how the animals were doing. The geese are pretty territorial, and have no problem standing up to goats. A few times I’ve found them defending the goat hoophouse from its rightful occupants, and on this day wanted to make sure the goats weren’t out in the sleet because of some stubborn birds.

Not to fear; all were happily bedded down together. This photo doesn’t quite do it justice becasue they all jumped up as soon as they heard me and I only had time for a quick photo from the doorway. Still, a very cute scene and a good sign for future interspecies relations.

3 thoughts on “And the goose and the goat shall lie down together…

  1. I would have never thought that geese would try to chase off goats. I actually didn’t even know they are territorial, but I am fairly new to learning about nature and its various interactions. I find, each day, it is amazing how little I know!I bet it was pretty cute to see them all snuggled together. And if the territorial geese can share their space with some cold goats, what is our excuse?

  2. Jennifer,Many small farms actually use geese as guard animals rather than dogs. They are generally willing to stand their ground, recognize predators, and can be quite noisy when alarmed. One of the reasons we started keeping them was to test their role here, as we’re not real big on dogs. If you’ve ever been attacked by a full-size goose, you’ll understand why they’re often effective against almost anything. They rush at you, beating with their wings (which are very strong and hurt like the dickens) and striking with their equally strong bill and neck. And though they don’t fly really well (at least some domestic breeds), they can get off the ground such that to a dog or coyote, they’re coming in from above or right at face level in a flurry of pain, and it’s pretty disconcerting. We haven’t had opportunity to observe ours against a predator yet, but I’ve been on the recieving end of agressive geese, and it takes a brave person to stand their ground.Domestic breeds vary in their agressiveness; these are one of the calmest, at least with regards to people, but they were quite willing to stand up to the goats. It’s pretty funny to watch a horned goat confront a goose. The goat deploys its natural reaction, which is to lower the head and thrust the horns forward, expecting to be butted. Except that the goose simply leans forward and starts pecking the head right between the horns, and the poor goat can’t figure out what’s going on. It just keeps lowering its head and trying to butt, and the goose just reaches right in there. Works every time.Overall they get along great; the only confrontations are occasionally over food or space. They’re used to each other and it works out real well. One of the biggest advantages to geese as guard animals (as for mules or llamas) is that they’re self-sustaining on the same pasture the livestock are; no lugging in expensive dog food constantly.

  3. My uncle, who installs satellite dishes for a living, had a goose come after him once. It bit him in the rear and he said it was like being shot with a .22. Not surprised they’re used as guards.