Goose Shelter Options
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Many homesteaders and farmers employ geese on the homestead for their natural watchdog abilities. Their size and boisterous displays intimidate smaller predators such as skunks, rats, raccoons, hawks, and snakes. So why would these patrollers require a safe shelter? Geese are not physically capable of deterring larger hunters like coyote and fox — they are only able to sound their call as an alert to the farmer of an intruder. It is from these large threats that geese need the ability to seek shelter as needed; most commonly by night.
Geese are very hardy birds and they can weather nature’s elements well. Though it would be ideal to create a home where they can seek respite from wind and rain if they so choose, the real priority is to keep the birds safe from falling prey to predatory animals. In addition to providing a safe haven, a goose shelter can serve as a dedicated space for the broody goose to lay her eggs or to nest. Geese that tend to be strongly territorial or who don’t intermingle well with smaller flock members may require their own separate space away from other birds.
Homes for geese can range from a simple lean-to with natural earth for bedding to elaborate coops that are decorated with wallpaper and strung with chandeliers. Geese sleep on the ground so roosts are not necessary. Access to water and food is essential and shavings, grass, or some sort of bedding is appreciated for spring nest-making. Let’s discuss some of the most common goose housing structures.
When we first brought geese to the homestead, I researched A-frame houses or “nest boxes.” These triangular houses are nothing more than two sections of wood or material joined together at the top to create a seam. This A-shape provides protection from wind and rain and the goose can build their nest within. This structure would be most appropriate in an area where no large predators are present. If fox and coyote do reside nearby, an electric or poultry wire fence surrounding a dedicated yard space can deter them.
The easiest and most economical way to construct an A-frame home for a goose is to cut two sections from plywood that measure 36×36”. Simply affix a pair of hinges to one end of one piece of plywood — one hinge should be placed about five inches from the right corner and the other about five inches from the left. Once screwed in place affix the second piece of plywood to the other side of the hinges to form a corner joint. Once the hinges are attached to both pieces of plywood, set the seam side pointing up and the open side on the ground. Some goose keepers choose to attach the bottom of the A-frame house to a wooden frame on the ground constructed of 2×4” lumber for optimal support. I personally set my A-frame directly on the dirt and filled with bedding.
Our geese have come to view our flock of ducks as their own flock mates so they are fully integrated with one another at night. We’ve converted a portion of our barn into a large coop with an attached outdoor run. Multiple water buckets and feed troughs are inside to eliminate competition. During breeding season, we have had to separate the geese from the ducks as they can become aggressively territorial. But throughout the remainder of the year, they all reside together.
In wide, open spaces with straight-line winds, a deep three-sided shelter might be the best option for housing geese. Three side panels and a roof of some sort are all that’s needed to create a sanctuary from blizzard and hazardous wind conditions. In circumstances where a fence or barrier can’t be fabricated to keep large predators out by night, a door with a lock is essential for the safety of a goose. Predator-proof latch systems are available at most agricultural stores.
A three-sided shelter can be constructed of any material lying around the farm or from newly purchased items. For example, three pallets stuffed with straw can stand upright and be fastened together with hinges or corner braces for support. A wooden panel of plywood or even a tarp pulled tightly across the pallet frame can serve as a roof.
A more formal construction, which we utilize here at our farm, is created from one “floor frame” measuring 36×48”, lying horizontally on the ground to serve as a base for our side and back panels. The two side panels and a back panel are joined at the top with a roof. Each side panel started with a rectangular wooden frame which measures 36” wide by 30” tall, all 2×4” boards joined with screws. The back panel was formed by building a frame with 2×4” boards, joined and ultimately measuring 48” wide x 30” tall. These three frames were then fastened to the floor frame and then together at the corners with screws. The finished framework was sided with reclaimed wooden planks. Once fully outfitted all the way around with wooden siding, more repurposed boards were then laid across the top of the entire structure and screwed in place for a roof. After assembly, the shelter was filled with shavings or straw bedding.
A home for a goose can be constructed from just about any materials so long as it provides some privacy and protection from wind, rain, sleet and large hunters. How do you house your geese?
Originally published in the October/November 2019 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.