Information

Why can't geese regurgitate food?


I saw this harrowing video on how barnacle goslings have to jump off very high cliffs because the parent's can't feed them. The death rate seems high. Why did natural selection come to favor jumping rather than the parents bringing food to the nest like most bird species?

From Wikipedia:

Like all geese, the goslings are not fed by the adults. Instead of bringing food to the newly hatched goslings, the goslings are brought to the ground. Unable to fly, the three-day-old goslings jump off the cliff and fall; their small size, feathery down, and very light weight helps to protect some of them from serious injury when they hit the rocks below, but many die from the impact.


8 Things to Consider Before Raising Geese

Rebekah started a small farm with her husband in 2016 in upstate New York, just north of the pristine Adirondack Mountains, where she grows vegetables and herbs and also raises sheep, chickens, and pigs. There’s nothing she loves more than helping others learn more especially about sustainable living as it pertains to health and homesteading. An avid cook, she works hard to grow and preserve enough food to support her family throughout the year.

It seems as though just about every homestead in the country has a few chickens – or perhaps more than just a few – running around.

Sure, chickens are great – but if you’re interested in trying out a new breed of poultry for your backyard farm, the goose is an option you might want to consider next.

Why? Because there are so many great reasons for keeping geese. They are great at foraging and exceptionally friendly (despite their bad rap for being a bit cranky!). Geese are productive and beneficial additions to a farm.

However, they do present their own challenges, so it’s important that you familiarize yourself with their unique requirements and characteristics before you jump right in.

Raising geese is not difficult – but there are some things you need to consider. Here’s what you should know about raising geese.


How to Stop a Goose Attack

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Geese are territorial birds and are known to chase or attack humans who disturb their territory. While geese may chase people, an actual physical attack is fairly rare. You can stop a goose's aggression by respectfully leaving its territory. Back away slowly, while remaining calm. Do not do anything that may escalate the situation, like yelling. In the event you are injured, seek medical attention to assess your injuries.


Why can't geese regurgitate food? - Biology

Rats can't vomit. They can't burp either, and they don't experience heartburn. Rats can't vomit for several related reasons: (1) Rats have a powerful barrier between the stomach and the esophagus. They don't have the esophageal muscle strength to overcome and open this barrier by force, which is necessary for vomiting. (2) Vomiting requires that the two muscles of the diaphragm contract independently, but rats give no evidence of being able to dissociate the activity of these two muscles. (3) Rats don't have the complex neural connections within the brain stem and between brain stem and viscera that coordinate the many muscles involved in vomiting.

One of the main functions of vomiting is to purge the body of toxic substances. Rats can't vomit, but they do have other strategies to defend themselves against toxins. One strategy is super-sensitive food-avoidance learning. When rats discover a new food, they taste a little of it, and if it makes them sick they scrupulously avoid that food in the future, using their acute senses of smell and taste. Another strategy is pica , the consumption of non-food materials (particularly clay), in response to nausea. Clay binds some toxins in the stomach, which helps dilute the toxin's effect on the rat's body.

Vomiting, or emesis, is the reflexive act of ejecting stomach contents forcefully through the mouth by coordinated muscular contractions.

One of the main functions of vomiting is to rid the body of toxic substances. The body has several hierarchical lines of defense against toxins (Davis et al. 1986):

  • First line of defense: Avoidance of certain foods due to smell or taste cues
  • Second line of defense: Detection of toxins in the gut followed by nausea (prevents further consumption) and vomiting (purges the body of already ingested toxin)
  • Third line of defense: Detection of toxins in the circulation by a sensor in the central nervous system, also followed by vomiting.

Mechanisms of human vomiting

Vomiting is a complex suite of coordinated muscular actions, controlled by a group of nuclei in the brainstem. In essence, great pressure is put on the stomach by surrounding muscles and the esophagus is opened. The result is that the stomach's contents are expelled forcefully from the mouth (Fig 1).

Figure 1. The emetic reflex in humans. (a) digestive system at rest, and (b) digestive system during the emetic reflex. The diaphragm puts pressure on the stomach, the esophagus opens, and the stomach contents are expelled forcefully into the esophagus and out of the mouth.

More specifically, during vomiting the muscles of the abdomen and chest contract and the diaphragm spasms downward and inward, which all put pressure on the stomach. In the next phase, the part of the diaphragm that surrounds the esophagus relaxes, thus helping to open the esophagus. The longitudinal muscle of the esophagus contracts, further opening the junction between the stomach and esophagus. The pressure forces the contents of the stomach up into the esophagus and out of the mouth (for reviews with much more detail, see Brizzee 1990, Lang and Sarna 1989, Miller 1999).

Rats are considered a non-vomiting species (also called nonemetic ) (Hatcher 1924). Rats do not vomit in response to cues that cause vomiting in other animals, like emetic drugs, poison, motion-sickness, and radiation (e.g. Takeda et al. 1993). Rats also don't belch and experience hardly any reflux (heartburn).

Regurgitation vs. vomiting

Rats cannot vomit, but they do regurgitate occasionally. Regurgitation is different from vomiting. Vomiting is the forceful expulsion of stomach contents from the mouth. Vomiting is an active process: it is a complex, powerful reflex requiring the coordination of many muscles. In contrast, regurgitation is the passive, effortless flow of undigested stomach contents back into the esophagus. Regurgitation happens without any forceful abdominal contractions.

There is at least one report of rats choking on regurgitated stomach contents (Will et al. 1979). Upon necropsy, the regurgitated stomach contents ( regurgitant ) were found to be thick and pasty. They were packed into the rats' pharynx, larynx and esophagus. The action of the tongue had packed the regurgitant into a plug, causing choking. The rats' tongues were also lacerated or bruised from attempts to remove the material by chewing or clawing. Regurgitation was more common in rats fed bulky diets than those fed on standard diets, and more common in females than in males.

Other actions that may resemble vomiting, but are not

Difficulty swallowing, choking : Rats may have trouble swallowing a food item. A rat who has trouble swallowing a food item may strain intently, pull his chin down toward his throat and flatten his ears. He may drool saliva, paw at his mouth, and rub his mouth on nearby surfaces. Most rats are still able to breathe through this (true choking is rare in rats), and work the food out themselves in time, but serious cases may require veterinary asssitance.

Difficulty swallowing may superficially resemble vomiting because partly processed food may come back out of the mouth, but it is not vomiting, which is the forceful, rapid, coordinated, reflexive explusion of stomach contents.

Respiratory distress : rats may be found choking, gagging on, or struggling to breath through a cream or tan colored foamy substance. This foam is not made of stomach contents, but of mucus brought up from the lungs that has been whipped up into a froth. This foam is a symptom of a respiratory problem, not regurgitation or vomiting (pers comm B. Mell D.V.M., 2004).

Figure 2. Diagram of the rat's stomach. Adapted from Moore 2000.

The rat's stomach has two parts (Robert 1971):

  • Forestomach : thin-walled, non-glandular section that receives the esophagus and serves as a holding chamber for food. Its walls are similar to those of the esophagus.
  • Corpus : thick-walled, glandular section. Its walls have secretory glands that produce digestive enzymes and mucus. Digestion begins in the corpus. The pyloric sphincter controls the movement of food from the corpus to the intestines (specifically, the duodenum).

Figure 3. Diagram of a rat stomach opened along the greater curvature of the stomach. Adapted from Robert 1971.

The forestomach and the corpus are separated by a low fold of tissue called the limiting ridge ( margo plicatus ). The limiting ridge extends circumferentially from the large curvature of the stomach to the small curvature, just below the esophagus. At the esophagus, the course of the limiting ridge bends into a U-shape and almost surrounds the esophageal opening (Luciano and Reale 1991, Robert 1971, Botha 1958) (Fig 3).

Figure 4. Diagram of the crural sling and the muscle bundles of the esophageal sphincter, which make up the gastroesophageal barrier and are responsible for closing the esophagus. Adapted from Montedonico et al. 1999a .

The rat's esophagus has two layers of striated muscle (outer longitudinal and inner circular), which become smooth near the attachment point with the stomach. The esophagus is closed off from the stomach by the gastroesophageal barrier , which consists of the crural sling , the lower esophageal sphincter , and the several centimeters of intraabdominal esophagus that lie between them (Soto et al. 1997 Fig 4). Humans also have a crural sling and an esophageal sphincter, but ours are placed right on top of one another (Mittal 1993). In rats, they are separated by several centimeters of intraabdominal esophagus (Soto et al. 1997.)

The crural sling is part of the diaphragm (its outer contour is continuous with the diaphragm). It is a U-shaped bundle of fibers that wraps around the esophagus and attaches to the vertebrae. When the crural sling contracts it pinches the esophagus closed.

The esophageal sphincter is a circular muscle that surrounds the base of the esophagus. At its lower edge, it has muscle fibers that insert into the limiting ridge (Fig 4). So when the sphincter contracts, it not only constricts the walls of the esophagus, it also pulls the sides of the limiting ridge's "U" together, thus hiding and tightly closing the esophageal opening (Montedonico et al. 1999b, McKirdy and Marshall 2001, Botha 1958) (Fig 5).

Figure 5. Diagram of the limiting ridge and the esophageal opening in the rat's stomach when the esophageal spincter is (a) open and (b) closed. Adapted from Montedonico et al. (1999b).

Anatomical textbooks on rats usually mention in passing that rats can't vomit. They tend to implicate the limiting ridge or the lack of striated muscle in the rat's esophagus, and sometimes both (Fox et al. 2002, Haschek and Rosseaux 1998, Moore 2000, Rice and Fish 1994, Turton et al. 1998), but these textbooks do not go into more detail about exactly how these features of a rat's anatomy prevent a rat from vomiting, or if there are any other features involved.

Looking deeper into the scientific literature, I found a complex story about why a rat is unable to vomit:

Rats have a powerful and effective gastroesophageal barrier , consisting of the crural sling, the esophageal sphincter, and the centimeters of intraabdominal esophagus (see above). The pressure at the two ends of this barrier is much higher than the pressure found in the thorax or abdomen during any phase of the the breathing cycle (Montedonico et al. 1999b). The strength and pressure of this barrier make reflux in rats nearly impossible under normal conditions (Montedonico et al. 1999a), though Will et al. (1979) records low rates of regurgitation.

In order to vomit, the rat would have to overcome this powerful barrier. Evidence suggests that rats cannot do this, because (1) they can't open the crural sling at the right time, and (2) they can't wrench open the esophageal sphincter. In addition, (3) rats lack the necessary neural connections to coordinate the muscles involved in vomiting.

(1) Rats can't relax the crural sling while contracting the rest of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is has two muscles: the crural (muscle fibers attached to the vertebrae, called the crural sling) and the costal (muscle fibers attached to the rib cage). The esophagus passes through the crural sling, so when the crural diaphragm contracts the esophagus is pinched closed.

During the expulsive phase of vomiting in humans, the activity of these two diaphragm muscles diverges. The costal section contracts, putting pressure on the stomach, while the crural section relaxes, allowing stomach contents to pass through the esophagus (reviewed in Pickering and Jones 2002). Rats, however, do not dissociate the activity of these two parts of their diaphragm: they do not relax the crural section while contracting the costal section. Instead, both muscles contract or relax together (Pollard et al. 1985). The rat's inability to separately and selectively control its two diaphragmatic muscles therefore plays an important role in its inability to vomit: the rat can't put the necessary pressure on the stomach and open the crural sling to allow the contents to escape at the same time.

(2) Rats can't wrench open their esophageal sphincter . In humans, the esophageal sphincter is opened during vomiting with the help of the longitudinal muscle of the esophagus (Lang and Sarna 1989). This allows the expulsion of stomach contents during vomiting. Rats, however, have only a thin, weak longitudinal muscle which is unstriated where it joins the stomach. It is too weak to wrench open the sphincter and permit the evacuation of stomach contents (Steinnon 1997).

(3) Rats lack the necessary neural connections within the brain and between brain and viscera. Animal species that vomit have a "vomiting center" in the brainstem, consisting of several interconnected nuclei that coordinate all the many muscles involved in vomiting (see Borison and Wang 1953). Animals that don't vomit, like rats and rabbits, have the brainstem nuclei and the muscle systems used in vomiting, but they don't have the complex connections between the nuclei or between the brainstem and the viscera that are required for such a coordinated behavior (King 1990).

Why rats can't vomit, and what they do instead

Is it beneficial for rats to be unable to vomit?

As of yet, no empirical research has been done on whether the inability to vomit benefits the rat in some way. Davis et al. (1986) provides some interesting speculation on this topic, however. Remember that Davis et al. suggested that there are hierarchical lines of defense against toxins (first food avoidance, then detection of toxins in gut, and lastly detection of toxins in circulation, followed by vomiting). Davis et al. notes that rats have extremely sensitive senses of smell and taste (Roper 1984). The rat uses its senses of smell and taste to avoid foods that made it feel ill in the past (Garcia et al. 1966, Rozin and Kalat 1971). In fact, rats avoid foods in response to cues that cause vomiting in other species (Coil and Norgren 1981). So the rat who avoids foods that made it feel ill should not ingest lethal amounts of that food in the future.

Davis et al. speculates that because rats have such an extraordinarily well-developed first line of defense against toxins (conditioned food avoidance), the rats' later lines of defense (vomiting in response to gastric or circulatory cues) have become redundant and were therefore lost over time. Rats can, in fact, detect toxins in the stomach (Clarke and Davison 1978), and in the circulation (Coil and Norgren 1981) but they don't respond by vomiting, instead they avoid that food in the future. So, the theory goes, rats have lost the ability to vomit because they no longer need it: rats never eat lethal amounts of toxic foods in the first place.

However, an alternative theory is that rats developed their hyper-sensitive food avoidance to compensate for the inability to vomit. It makes sense for a rat to scrupulously avoid ingesting toxic food if it can't get rid of it later. So, it might indeed benefit the rat to be able to vomit, but as vomiting isn't an anatomical option, the rat has developed other methods of protecting itself, including food avoidance.

Also, rats do still need a strategy to cope with ingested toxins. Rat food avoidance isn't foolproof. Rats do experience nausea and have evolved an alternative to vomiting : pica , the consumption of non-nutritive substances. When rats feel nauseous they eat things like clay, kaolin (a type of clay), dirt and even hardwood bedding (eating clay and dirt is a type of pica called geophagia ). Their consumption isn't random, though: rats offered a mixture of pebbles, soil and clay after being given poison prefer to eat the clay (Mitchell 1976).

Rats engage in pica in response to motion-sickness (Mitchell et al. 1977a, b, Morita et al. 1988b), nausea-inducing drugs (Mitchell et al. 1977c, Clark et al. 1997), radiation (Yamamoto et al . 2002b), and after consuming poisons (Mitchell 1976), or emetic drugs (Takeda et al. 1993). The incidence of pica decreases in response to anti-emetics (Takeda et al. 1993) and anti-motion sickness drugs (Morita et al. 1988a). Pica in rats is therefore analogous to vomiting in other species.

The consumption of non-nutritive substances may be an adaptive response to nausea. Nausea is frequently caused by a toxin, and non-nutritive substances may help dilute the toxin's effect on the body. Clay in particular binds and inactivates many types of chemicals and is therefore good at deactivating toxins (e.g. Philips et al. 1995, Philips 1999, Sarr et al. 1995). Pica may therefore be part of the rat's second line of defense against toxins.

The evolution of behavior is studied by examining and comparing the behavior of living species (see Martins 1996 for more). The behavior is then mapped onto the phylogeny, or evolutionary "family tree" of those species, and deductions can then be made about when a particular behavioral trait appeared in the past. For example, if a group of related species exhibit the same behavior, then their common ancestor probably did, too. If just one species in a group has a particular behavior, then that behavior probably wasn't present in the common ancestor, but evolved later just in that species.

Such broad comparative studies involving dozens of species have not yet been done for vomiting. In fact, it is a bit difficult to determine how common vomiting is in the animal kingdom: Hatcher (1924) says that the ability to vomit is a primitive, common trait and many species do it. Harding (1990), however, states that very few species are capable of vomiting. Until a survey of many different species is done, we won't know the answer for sure.

A survey of the literature shows that information on vomiting does exist for a few species (Table 1).


Gulls can sense your fear

Working in large gull colonies can be a messy business. Gulls aren't fond of intruders, and avidly show distaste to those walking through the colony.

"They just want to nuke whatever threat is there, and they will use all the ammo they have," said Flores. "Whether it's their mouth, their rear-end, or screaming, or dive-bombing, they'll do what they can to make sure it's extremely unpleasant for you to be in their colony."

But, as Flores advises new interns, instead of cowering it's best to stand tall and assert dominance gulls can tell when their intimidation tactics aren't working.

Flores explained that once the gulls got used to her voice, they stopped attacking and even let her near the nests.


Do Waterfowl Limits Matter?

Does hunting mortality have significant long-term influence on waterfowl populations? This debate continues within both the hunting and biological research communities, but the answer isn’t as simple as some hunters might like.

Some biologists believe hunting to be additive. That is, birds killed by shotgun are additional to other types of mortality, including predation, disease and accidents. According to this model, as harvest increases, populations decrease. Others believe hunting to be compensatory. Under this model, certain percentage of duck populations will die each year no matter the cause, and those killed by hunters are simply part of that total.

Biologists with the USFWS have, for the most part, considered previous hunting mortality when setting limits and lengths for upcoming seasons. Based on the number of ducks flying south each fall for the past 20 years or so, those scientists in the �itive” camp appear to have been right. Duck numbers have been booming for nearly two decades. As a result, hunting seasons have been governed by a liberal framework, the most generous of the Service’s three frameworks.

But not all species of ducks are thriving. Those same biologists have been tinkering with daily bag limits on some species ਏor years. Pintails, for instance, have been ping-ponging between one, two and three birds per day since the late 1980s. In the 1970s, hunters were allowed as many as seven pintails in a day.

Why? Despite generally banner duck recruitments, Pintails continue to struggle. According to the USFWS, the breeding population was about 2.4 million in 2018, down from around 7 million in 1970. As their numbers started falling, biologists with the USFWS reduced bag limits, and in some years, season lengths, on pintails, assuming hunting to be additive. Their goal was to boost populations by reducing hunting mortality.

Recent research, however, seems to suggest that hunting mortality has little impact on pintails and at least two other species of ducks: redheads and scaup. Reductions in bag limits haven’t correlated with increased populations for any of those species. University of Nevada-Reno research scientist Dr. Ben Sedinger examined data in three published papers and concluded that hunting mortality has little, if any, impact on populations of those three species.

�spite daily bag limits that range from 1 to 10 pintail per day over the last 40 years, peer-reviewed studies have shown no corresponding change in pintail annual survival rates. That is, drastic differences in daily bag limit for pintail have had zero effect on annual survival,” Sedinger wrote in a 2016 California Waterfowl article.

As it turned out, nesting conditions in the Prairie Pothole Region appear to have a far more significant impact on how many birds make their way south each fall than the number killed by hunters the previous winter. Nesting conditions have been generally favorable for nearly two decades and, in correlation, hunters have enjoyed excellent waterfowl hunting. So why are pintails struggling?

According to Sedinger, “The current decline in pintail populations corresponds with a shift in agricultural practices: Farmers started leaving harvested fields in stubble to avoid erosion. Those stubble fields look similar to the shortgrass prairies that pintails evolved to nest in and farmers typically start disking these stubble fields about two weeks after pintails initiate their nests. This has resulted in an ecological trap for pintail that caused the population to decline.”

Another study Sedinger cited found that restrictions have not benefited redheads, either. A third study that examined lesser scaup also didn’t find a correlation between population trends and daily bag limits. Although they don’t follow the same nesting habits as pintails, redheads and bluebills have also faced significant habitat-related challenges.

In the same article, Sedinger addresses the additive-compensatory debate, suggesting that while hunting tends to be additive, duck numbers self-regulate based on environmental conditions.

𠇎very summer duck populations double or more in size as newly hatched ducklings get their first view of the world. This often results in more ducks than the environment can support, especially in late winter when food starts to become more scarce. If ducks are culled by hunters, then there are more resources for the ducks that were not shot and the remaining ducks may be able to be even more productive.”

Even if hunting does impact population, harvest tends to follow populations. That is, when lots of ducks fly south each fall, more are killed by hunters. That may seem like an obvious correlation, but points to another potential factor. When duck numbers are high, more hunters take to the marshes. When duck numbers are low, passive waterfowl hunters tend to stay home and never toss out a decoy spread. In some ways, hunting-related mortality may self-regulate, at least to some extent.

That’s true with other game species, too, particularly upland game birds. Far fewer hunters visit such traditional pheasant states as Nebraska, Kansas and South Dakota when bird numbers are down. Those states typically don’t alter daily bag limits, even during years of drought, which can result in poor chick recruitment, or after significant winter mortality. Such events occur regularly in the Plains, and pheasant numbers ebb and flow with environmental conditions. When those conditions are prime and habitat is abundant, populations boom.

That said, we also know that harvest rates can influence populations of some game animals.

�nada geese are a prime example,” Delta Waterfowl senior vice-president John Devney said.

That became clear in the 1990s when the Atlantic Flyway population of Canada geese crashed. The USFWS actually closed the season for six years after a string of poor nesting seasons. At the same time, hunters were shooting an estimated 30 to 40% of the flyway’s wintering population. Heavy harvest and poor recruitment was a one-two punch that led to significant population declines.

Geese have different nesting and breeding biology than most duck species, though. Canadas don’t reach sexual maturity until they are at least 2-years-old, their broods tend to be smaller than most puddle duck species and they won’t renest if their first nest fails. The upcoming Canada goose season is again being restricted for the same reasons it was closed in the 90s: The past few nesting seasons have been poor.

“Limits and seasons need to be adjusted for some species,” adds Devney. “Sea ducks also seem to respond to hunting mortality more so than dabbling ducks.”

All this seems to suggest that  our initial question𠅍oes hunting mortality have significant long-term impact on populations�n’t be answered with a simple yes or no. The answer to that question is likely seasonal, situational and species dependent. And even in good years when certain populations are booming, we should abandon daily bag limits entirely. History has shown us what can happen when we completely disregard the impacts of hunting on our game animals.


Why are Geese still flying south in the middle of winter?

I was outside a couple of days ago and there were hundreds of geese flying over Calgary Alberta. It's quite cold here so why are they flying en masse at this time of year?

Edit: I know they're flying south because it's warmer. I want to know why there's so many flying south now when it has been cold for months already.

Their breeding range is in the high Arctic of North America, reaching as far as the northern tip of Ellesmere Island. Some populations don’t take the journey to the arctic and stay in the prairie regions.

Typical wintering seasons are December to February, but February is typically where they're populations are furthest South as it takes a few months to migrate. Their wintering locations vary from southern regions in Canada all the way to Mexico. The "early migrators" you saw may have done their summer breeding in the prairies and wintering in Mexico while the "late migrators" may have done their summer breeding in the high arctic (few predators) and wintering in southern Canada/ northern US.

Source: Lab Report I made for a biogeography course a couple years ago using bird sighting maps by month using eBird.

This is mostly accurate, but doesnt answer OP's question.

Geese are no longer in migration mode in January. They're looking for food to survive the winter. They're still in flocks, and we can talk about the myriad reasons whys flocks are better for geese to be a part of.

What you likely saw was a flock of geese moving from one foraging patch to another. In the winter they have two choices: find open water (which Calgary has) or find unharvested agricultural fields to forage on wheat, or barley, or hay.

These birds aren't "migrating south" they're just looking for food.

Question for you, since you seem to know your stuff.

A few weeks ago I was watching groups of geese pass by. There's a spot where the river stops running east and turns north, and the groups would all follow the river to this point and turn south. What was interesting was one small group that turned the same way, but a couple birds turned around and started flying west. A couple of minutes later the larger group by far appeared, but instead of following the river to the bend they started turning much early to cut the corner. Afterwards five or six birds turned around again and fanned out, headed southwest to northwest, where I could watch them meet up with other groups that also cut the corner and started turning much early.

It got me wondering, do flocks like this use scouts of some kind? Or was it pure coincidence? It really seemed like they were communicating between groups.


Why can't geese regurgitate food? - Biology

In this chapter the most common goose diseases are listed, described, and the appropriate treatments proposed. A well-managed production system which includes cleanliness, know-how, and disease prophylactic practices can greatly reduce the incidence of many diseases. A list of 16 recommendations to contribute to the control and prevention of disease is provided.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE CONTROL AND PREVENTION OF DISEASE

examine the geese before buying them. Buy geese only from a reliable breeder

before the arrival of new geese, make sure that there is adequate good quality feed and water

keep feed troughs and drinkers clean

provide a stress-free environment for the geese (away from noise and other disturbing elements)

do not add birds from an outside source to your own flock if you must have additional geese, it is better to establish a second flock

keep breeders away from growing geese

the younger the geese, the more susceptible they are to diseases so never mix geese of different ages

give timely vaccines and medications. Always use the correct vaccine or medication at the recommended dose

when inspecting the geese, always go from the youngest to the oldest

isolate any sick geese immediately. Removing sick geese from a flock reduces the number of infectious organisms available to pen mates

safely destroy dead geese immediately by either incinerating or burying them. Get an early diagnostic report by sending sample carcasses to a veterinary laboratory for a diagnosis of the cause of death

discourage visitors to the farm and do not allow visitors without protective clothing onto the farm. Make sure that they have not been near other geese for at least 14 days prior to their visit

when selling geese, do not allow a buyer to bring unclean crates and/or boxes onto the farm for transporting the geese

thoroughly clean and disinfect the building and equipment between flocks of geese. This may not render the building sterile but it can reduce the number of infectious organisms to such a low level that they cannot initiate a flock infection

as much as possible, keep wild birds out of your pens

maintain complete records at all times.

In the following pages a list of goose diseases classified alphabetically is provided. An alternative classification could be according to infectious agent i.e. bacteria, fungi, protozoa or viruses.

Aspergillosis is defined as any disease condition caused by a member of the fungal genus Aspergillus . In the goose, as in most other classes of poultry, the organs most affected are the lungs, hence the term Pulmonary Aspergillosis. The disease can be quite severe in young goslings as they may become infected during hatching and even embryos may become infected. The source of infection can be either dirty incubator equipment and/or dirty eggs. Dirty eggs can contaminate both the setter and hatcher. In addition, it is possible for Aspergillus to penetrate the egg which is how embryos can become infected. Young growing goslings are also susceptible to Aspergillosis but usually not as severely although they can be infected from contaminated litter.

Symptoms. The symptoms are difficult and accelerated breathing (gasping) with rattling or gurgling noises. The birds might be very depressed and mortality can be high. Nervous symptoms may appear in a small percentage of the birds and can be accompanied by increased thirst and diarrhoea.

Treatment. The first step is to clean the hatching facilities, organize a good sanitation programme and ensure that all hatching eggs are cleaned and fumigated as soon as possible after laying. Mouldy feed and litter must be removed and destroyed and the building cleaned and disinfected with 1:2000 copper sulphate. The treatment of Aspergillosis is not always effective. Nystatin and Amphoteciricine-B have proven to be the most effective medications for geese. If these are not available, a recommended low cost treatment consists of 5 percent potassium iodine in the drinking water for three days, followed by two days of no treatment and then a second treatment for three days.

The Avian Adenovirus Group 1 has been isolated from geese but the role of these pathogens is not clear. The disease is not a problem in geese, and no vaccine is available.

Chlamydiosis is a general term which refers to infections caused by a bacterium of the genus Chlamydophila . In birds, the disease is caused by Chlamydophila psittaci and, although reported in geese, is very rare. It is however a disease of public health significance in that it is transmissible to other animals as well as to humans.

Symptoms. The disease has been reported to affect a wide range of organs with symptoms including mild respiratory difficulties, conjunctivitis, inflammation of the sinuses, rhinitis, diarrhoea and atrophy of the breast muscle.

Treatment. The antibiotics of choice to treat this disease are the tetracyclines. In some cases salmonellosis may be a complicating factor and it may be necessary to use a combination of antibiotics.

Geese can get two distinct types of coccidiosis. The most prevalent form is renal coccidiosis caused by Eimeria truncata. While intestinal coccidiosis is less prevalent, it is caused primarily by Eimeria anseris . At least five additional species of Eimeria have been isolated from the intestine of the goose. The level of infection and degree of economic loss associated with coccidiosis in the goose is generally low and it is not regarded as a major problem.

Symptoms. Renal coccidiosis can affect geese from 3-12 weeks of age, although the younger birds are much more susceptible. In an exceptional acute form, renal coccidiosis can result in mortality as high as 80 percent. Other indicators of the disease include depression, weakness, diarrhoea, whiteish faeces, anorexia, dull, sunken eyes and drooped wings. Diagnosis of renal coccidiosis can be confirmed by locating the distinctive oocysts in the kidneys and in the cloaca near the urethras. Birds quickly develop immunity to re-infection by Eimeria truncata .

Intestinal coccidiosis also mostly affects young birds but does not always result in mortality. Rather, the infection produces anorexia, a tottering gait, debility, diarrhoea and morbidity. The small intestine becomes enlarged and filled with reddish brown fluid. Lesions are primarily in the middle and lower portion of the small intestine.

Treatment. Various sulphonamide drugs and coccidiostats have been used in the treatment of renal and intestinal coccidiosis of geese. If the geese are to be fed rations which were formulated for other types of poultry, it should be noted that in spite of popular belief to the contrary, waterfowl can be fed rations containing most of the coccidiostats used for chickens. The Veterinary University of Hanover, Germany have specifically reported that the following coccidiostats found in chicken rations are tolerated by waterfowl: amprolium, amprolium-ethopabate, clopidol, clopidol-methylbenzoquate, DOT (zoalene), lasalocid monensin-sodium, narasin, nicarbazin, robenidin, salinomycin and sulfaquinoxaline. They also reported that neither halofuginone nor arprinocid are tolerated by waterfowl and that they could find no information on the effect of giving waterfowl feed containing either decoquinate or maduramicin ammonium.

This is a protozoan disease caused by parasites of the genus Cryptosporidium which infects both the lungs and intestine of geese.

It is found worldwide wherever commercial poultry are raised and, as poultry health specialists develop appropriate tools to identify it, it is expected that more cases will be reported. This probably explains why reports from the goose industry are that its incidence seems to be on the increase.

Symptoms. One form of Cryptosporidiosis infects the respiratory tract and the symptoms include depression, sneezing and respiratory distress with moderate mortality. The other form infects the digestive tract and the symptoms include diarrhoea and, if the geese are young, can result in a relatively high mortality rate. Because a number of diseases can produce the same symptoms, fluids obtained from respiratory tract and the faeces should be examined for oocysts.

Treatment. There are no effective drugs for the prevention or treatment of Cryptosporidium . There is evidence that once infected birds recover, they are immune, but to date no vaccine has been developed. Good sanitation is recommended as a preventative measure, together with steam cleaning of infected premises. The oocysts of Cryptosporidium are extremely hardy.

Derzy's disease is a viral disease also known as Parvovirus disease because of the causative agent. Other names include Goose Plague, Goose Hepatitis, Goose Enteritis, Goose Influenza, Infectious Myocarditis and Ascetic Hepatonephritis. It is a highly contagious disease that affects young geese. The disease has been reported to exist in any part of the world where geese or Muscovy ducks are raised since they are also susceptible to it and can transmit the disease to geese. In its acute form, the disease can result in up to 100 percent mortality rate or it can occur in a more chronic form. If birds are infected during the first week of age, very high losses can occur but if the goslings are 4-5 weeks old or older the mortality rate will be negligible.

Symptoms. For goslings under one week of age the clinical signs are morbidity (anorexia and prostration) and mortality, with deaths occurring in 2-5 days. Older birds, depending on their level of maternal immunity, will exhibit anorexia, polydipsia, weakness with a reluctance to move, nasal and ocular discharge, swollen and red uropygial glands and eyelids and a profuse white diarrhoea.

Treatment. There is no treatment for Derzy's infection. Adult breeding geese that have been naturally infected with the parvovirus become immune and transfer this passive immunity to their progeny. This passive immunity will persist in the newly hatched goslings for 2-3 weeks. It is the phenomena of passive immunity being transmitted to the offspring that has led to the development of a recommended vaccination programme. In its simplest form, all goslings should be vaccinated at about two weeks of age. This assumes that the goslings' parent flock had been vaccinated which would mean that the goslings' natural passive immunity would protect them until 2-3 weeks of age. For birds not designated to be breeders, this single vaccination is sufficient. Birds designated to be breeders should be vaccinated again three weeks before the beginning of lay and three weeks before the beginning of each subsequent lay. In addition, some practitioners recommend a booster vaccination at peak egg production.

If the parent flock had not been vaccinated which would mean that no passive immunity was passed on to the goslings, the recommendation would be to give serum to the goslings on day one and on day ten to give them passive immunity and to then vaccinate them on day 21.

Duck Virus Enteritis (DVE) is an acute, contagious disease caused by a herpes virus that can infect ducks, geese and swans although the incidence of the disease in geese is very low. DVE can be transmitted directly, by contact between infected and susceptible birds, or indirectly, by contact with a contaminated environment. Birds that have recovered from DVE are immune to re-infection by the DVE herpes virus. It should be noted that in Australia a herpes virus has been isolated from a flock of infected geese (with a mortality rate of 97 percent) which was anti-genically distinct from the duck viral enteritis herpes virus.

Symptoms. The symptoms depend on the age and sex of the geese, the stage of infection and the virulence and intensity of the virus exposure. Lesions of DVE are associated with vascular damage (tissue haemorrhages and free blood in the body cavities), vascular eruptions at various locations on the mucosa surface of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as lesions of lymphoid and other tissues.

Treatment . There is no treatment for DVE but vaccines that are effective have been developed.

Erysipelas is generally an acute, sudden infection of individual geese within the flock. In both young and adult birds it is caused by the bacterium Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae . Outbreaks of this disease which are economically significant are uncommon in avian species, with the exception of turkeys, but some cases have been reported for geese. Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae is somewhat unique in that it can infect over 50 animal species and can also infect humans. In the latter case, the infection usually enters through scratches or puncture wounds and is considered a safety issue for people working with infected animals. Human infections can be treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms. Infected geese will appear depressed, have diarrhoea and die suddenly. Lesions are suggestive of generalised septicaemia.

Treatment. The antibiotics of choice are rapid-acting forms of penicillin that can be administrated together with an erysipelas bacterin. Since the presence of the disease in geese is sporadic, routine immunisation is not generally recommended. However, in areas where the disease is prevalent, and particularly for breeder flocks, vaccination is recommended. Birds that have recovered from acute infections have a high degree of resistance to re-infection.

Flukes (trematodes) are flat, leaf-like parasitic organisms. Over 500 species belonging to 125 genera and 27 families are known to occur in birds. Generally, flukes are not a problem for geese, however, geese with access to natural lake or pond water may become infected. This is because most flukes have an aquatic snail (genus Limnaea ) as an intermediate host. The dragonfly ( genus Odonata ) is the second intermediate host in many cases.

Symptoms. Flukes may invade almost every cavity and all tissue of birds and can show up unexpectedly at a post-mortem. One species of fluke known as the oviduct fluke ( Prosthogonimus ovatus ), can infect the oviduct which results in flukes appearing in the geese's eggs.

Treatment. The only practical solution is to remove the birds from the source of infection. This can be done if the intermediate host(s) is/are known.

FIGURE 50. A sample life cycle of flukes

( Source : Guy, 1996)

(1) Infected geese excrete fluke eggs in their dropping.
(2) When the conditions are favourable, the eggs hatch, producing a primary larvae.
(3) The larvae mature in an intermediate host (a snail of genus Limnaea ).
(4) The intermediate host lays the mature larvae on grass.
(5) After ingesting the larvae by grassing, the geese become re-infected.

Fowl Cholera, also known as Pasteurellosis, is a contagious disease affecting all domestic and wild birds. Pasteurella multocida is the causative agent, to which geese are highly susceptible and mortality can be high.

Symptoms. Fowl Cholera usually appears as a septicaemic disease, associated with high morbidity and mortality. Perhaps the most characteristic aspect of the acute form is the sudden death of birds with the symptoms appearing only a few hours before death. The chronic form, which can follow the acute form, normally shows as localised infections. The lesions associated with this disease can take several forms, but in most cases the heart, pericardium and air sacs are damaged.

Treatment . Fowl Cholera is not a disease of the hatchery nor is it one transmitted through the egg. Rather, infection occurs when the geese are on the farm. The first step in the control of Fowl Cholera is therefore good sanitary management practices and keeping the geese separate from other birds.

In areas where Fowl Cholera is present either in geese or other species of birds, vaccination of all birds is recommended. In the case of an outbreak, it is possible to treat the birds to stop the spread of the disease, but this must be done quickly. A number of sulphonamides, such as sulphamethazine, sulphamerazine, sulphaquinoxaline and sulphathoxypyridazine have been shown to be effective when administered in the feed or water. In addition, a number of antibiotics when given intramuscularly have been shown to give good results. These include chlortetracycline, oxytetracycline, chloramphenicol and penicillin. Erythromycin in the water and both oxytetracycline and chlortetracycline in the feed have also been seen to be effective.

This is a parasitic disease of birds which affects the blood cells (especially the white blood cells) and the tissues of various internal organs (parasite multiplication occurs in the macrophages of brain, liver, heart, lungs, and spleen). It is a very uncommon disease in geese but outbreaks of economic significance have been reported. Leucocytozoon simondi is the causative agent in waterfowl and has been reported in 27 species of ducks and geese in North America, Europe and Vietnam.

Symptoms. Leucocytozoon infections are diagnosed by direct microscopic observation and by identification of either the gametocytes (sexual stage of the parasite) in stained blood samples or of the schizonts (stage of massive multiplication) in tissue sections.

Treatment Treatment of leucocytozoonosis with drugs has, in general, had limited success and no effective treatment has been found for Leucocytozoon simondi . Control methods require the elimination of the insect carriers that include various species of diptera (simuliid flies and culicoid midges) that live near streams.

Listeriosis is not a common disease of geese but some instances have been reported in temperate areas of the world. This is probably due to the fact that, in temperate climates, Listeria monocytogenus (the causative agent) is found in both faeces and soil. Also, it is in these areas that many geese are kept on pasture and therefore are exposed to the organism.

Symptoms. The symptoms are septicaemia with necrotic areas in the liver and heart. Encephalitis has been reported in young geese. Infected birds appear emaciated with diarrhoea.

Treatment. Prevention depends on eliminating the source of infection. As the organism is resistant to most commonly used antibiotics, high levels of tetracyclines are usually recommended for treatment.

Mycoplasma infections, also know as Pleuro-Pneumonia Like Organisms or PPLO, can cause relatively serious problems in geese. These organisms have an intermediary structure between that of bacteria and viruses. At least three species of Mycoplasma ( Mycoplasma anseris , Mycoplasma claucale and Strain 1220) have been isolated in geese. In recent years the prevalence of Mycoplasma infections in geese in a number of areas appears to have increased. This is most notable when birds are managed under intensive conditions.

Symptoms. The main problem of Mycoplasma infections is that in breeder flocks it results in reduced egg production and lower fertility. There is necrosis of the phallus (Venereal Disease) which can cause a severe drop in fertility. In young goslings Mycoplasma infection results in reduced growth, and respiratory and air sac infections. For young geese the common source of Mycoplasma infection is from the hatching egg.

Treatment. The most important aspect of a Mycoplasma control programme is to ensure that the grandparent and parent stocks are Mycoplasma-free so that goslings from these flocks are not infected. Treatment of eggs from an infected flock is achieved by dipping the eggs in a tylosin solution before the eggs are incubated. Infected goslings can be treated by adding either tetracycline or tylosin to their drinking water.

MYCOSIS OF THE DIGESTIVE TRACT

Mycosis of the digestive tract, caused by Candida albicans , can occur frequently in some classes of poultry but not in geese. An exception is force-fed birds, where inflammation of the oesophagus may be caused by the insertion of the corn dispenser. This inflammation can then provide a port of entry for Candida albicans.

Symptoms. The symptoms are not particularly characteristic but infected birds show unsatisfactory growth, are stunted, listless and have ruffled feathers. Lesions occur most frequently in the crop and are characterised by a whiteish deposit.

Treatment. Since unhygienic and overcrowded conditions are conducive to Candida albicans infections, the first step is to eliminate these. The addition of copper sulphate to the drinking water has had variable results in treating chickens and geese. Sodium bicarbonate in the drinking water increases the pH in the crop and creates an unfavourable condition for the organism as it likes an acid environment. Addition of either Nystatin or Amphotericin to the feed has been reported to be effective.

Mycotoxicoses is a disease caused by exposure to mycotoxins, and the most prevalent source of mycotoxin contamination for geese is mouldy feedstuffs. Diagnosis of Mycotoxicoses can be very complex since hundreds of mycotoxins have been identified. However, knowing what the geese are being fed, the source, the symptoms the geese are exhibiting and whether or not other livestock or poultry being fed the same feedstuffs are showing similar symptoms, will allow diagnosis of the problem and identification of the source(s) of the mycotoxin. In tropical countries where aflatoxins are very common, their origin is connected with the development of genus Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus growing mainly on peanuts but also on soybeans, copra, rice bran and corn. According to the literature, alflatoxins may cause slow growth, a drop in egg production and feather loss for all species of waterfowl, although geese are among the less sensitive. The genus Fusarium produces numerous toxins injurious to geese, and these have been found in corn, sorghum, barley, sunflower seed, oats, mixed feed and brewers' grains. Fusarium mycotoxin production thrives in conditions of high humidity and a temperature of 6-24°C. In temperate climates it is therefore essential that grains be harvested early before the cool-humid conditions of fall arrive as these are conducive to mycotoxin production.

Symptoms. T-2 toxin is one of the most common Fusarium toxins and, depending on the level of contamination, will cause feed refusal, reduced activity, increased water consumption, reduced egg production and reduced hatch (Figure 51 and 52). There are reports that exposure of young geese to T-2 toxin has resulted in the geese dying within two days. Another Fusarium toxin to which geese are very sensitive is zearalenone which can not only result in an immediate drop in fertility but can also permanently damage the testes of the gander.

Treatment. Treatment is to remove the contaminated feedstuff immediately and provide the geese with fresh, uncontaminated feed. The best prevention is to ensure that all purchased feedstuffs are mycotoxin-free.

FIGURE 51. Relative effect of T-2 toxin intake levels on egg production (relative rate of lay of controls is set at 100)

FIGURE 52. Relative effect of T-2 toxin intake levels on hatch of fertile eggs (relative rate of hatch of controls is set at 100)

Necrotic enteritis is caused by Clostridium perfringens and has been reported to occur in geese although the incidence of the disease does not appear to be high. Clostridium perfringens can be found in soil, faeces, dust, litter and contaminated feed.

Symptoms. The clinical signs of Necrotic enteritis are severe depression, decreased appetite, reluctance to move, diarrhoea and ruffled feathers. Sick birds may die quickly due to enterotoxemia and necrosis of the small intestine.

Treatment. Prevention is the rule. Many birds have natural populations of Clostridium perfringens in their caeca, but rarely in the small intestine. Stress or any irritant to the digestive tract can provide the stimulus for this genus to appear and multiply in the small intestine and should be avoided. If the disease appears, a number of antibiotics have been found to be effective which include lincomycin, bacitracin, oxytetracycline, penicillin, tylosin, virginiamycin, avoparcin and nitrovin.

It has been said that nematodes, or roundworms as they are commonly called, constitute the most important group of helminth parasites of poultry. With geese, Ascaridia are generally not a problem but various species of Capillaria and Heterakis can cause problems. The most common nematode in geese is Amidostomum anseris .

Symptoms. The usual symptom of worm infection in geese is lethargy. The presence of eggs or worms in either the faeces or in any organ, as revealed upon autopsy, will confirm a worm infection. Amidostomum anseris infects the horny lining of the gizzard and sometimes the proventriculus. It causes dark discoloration of the gizzard and a sloughing off of the lining.

Treatment. The first principle in controlling nematode infections is to practice good management. For geese on range, it is essential to rotate pastures 3-4 times a year and to change the pastures every year so as to break the cycle of nematode re-infection. For geese in confinement, the litter should be changed regularly and the building washed and disinfected with insecticide after each flock of geese. It is important not to mix young and old geese together, nor to follow old geese with young geese who are much more susceptible to nematode infections.

A number of anthelmintic drugs are available to treat nematode infections. For the control of Amidostomum anseris in geese cambendazole, pyrantel, mebendazole and fenbendazole have each been shown to be effective. Hygromycin B and coumaphos, when included in the feed, are both effective against Ascaridia , Capillaria and Heterakis . Phenothiazin is effective against Heterakis and Thiabendazole is effective against Syngamus .

The following nematodes have been isolated from the small intestine of the goose: Echinura uncinata , Epomidiostomum uncinatum , Ascaridia galli , Capillaria anatis , Capillaria bursata , Capillaria annulata , Capillaria anseris , Capillaria caundinflata , Capillaria obsignata , Heterakis dispar , Heterakis gallinarum , Strongyloides avium and Trichostronglus tenuis . The nematode Syngamus trachea has been isolated from the respiratory tract of the goose.

NEPHRITIC HEMORRHAGIC ENTERITIS

Nephritic hemorrhagic enteritis is a disease that is currently quite prevalent in the south western region of France and is often referred to simply as NEHO. It can infect geese from 4-20 weeks of age and causes mortality rates from 30-100 percent. The causes of this disease are not well understood but it seems to be primarily poor management. An excess of protein in the feed or any sudden change in the diet of the birds can also bring it on, as can poor quality drinking water and parasite infections.

Symptoms. When suffering from this disease, geese are often unsteady on their feet, have difficulty getting up and have erratic movements. These symptoms are accompanied by diarrhoea and trembling and death usually follows shortly afterwards. The characteristic lesions are urates and haemorrhaging in the kidneys, an exaggerated sub-cutaneous swelling and the presence of intestinal parasites.

Treatment. The first measures to take are good management prevention practices such as controlling parasites and ensuring that the geese have a balanced ration. For outbreaks of the disease, good results can be obtained by injecting homologous serum. Also available are renal tonics and liver detoxicants, both of which can help relieve the symptoms. Due to a lack of knowledge of the disease, no vaccine has yet been developed.

The Newcastle Disease Virus is of the genus Paramyxoviruses which has been isolated from geese. Clinical signs are the exception rather than the rule, but when present, consist of greenish diarrhoea and, occasionally, disorders of the central nervous system. In many cases, geese may be infected without showing any clinical symptoms, yet they can be carriers for a prolonged period. Usually geese are not vaccinated since Newcastle disease is not generally a problem for them.

Paratyphoid, or salmonellosis, is an important disease in geese with young birds, generally under six weeks of age, being the most susceptible. In addition, the concern regarding salmonella infection in humans and the demand for salmonella-free poultry products has increased the awareness of this disease and resulted in various monitoring programmes being undertaken in many countries. Over 2 000 types of salmonella organisms have been isolated from various species of fowl worldwide. Generally, the salmonella serotypes isolated from poultry are more characteristic of the region than the species of poultry. Paratyphoid is easily spread through contact with either infected birds, their faeces or through infected equipment, particularly that used for hatching and brooding. It now appears that salmonella is spread by salmonella entering the egg both in vivo before it is laid and by penetrating the egg after it is laid. In both cases it can multiply in the egg. For this reason, the importance of collecting eggs frequently before they get dirty, and cleaning and fumigating them as soon as possible, cannot be over emphasised.

Symptoms. Geese with Paratyphoid will usually be less than six weeks of age, tend to stand in one position, with their heads lowered, eyes closed, wings dropping and feathers ruffled. Sick birds will also exhibit marked anorexia, increased water consumption, watery diarrhoea, pasty vent and a tendency to huddle close to the heat.

Treatment. The first step in the control of Paratyphoid is to remove all the possible sources of salmonella. This requires excellent management and sanitation of the breeders, the hatching process and the rearing of the goslings. The cleanliness of the hatching eggs is perhaps the most important single aspect in the control of Paratyphoid, especially the fumigation of eggs immediately after laying. Rodent control is also very important.

A number of sulphonamides, antibiotics and nitrofurans have been recommended in the treatment of paratyphoid. In addition, furazolidone and injectable gentamicin and spectinomycin can be used. The final diagnosis of Paratyphoid depends on isolation and identification of the causative organism. This will help determine which drugs are best suited to treat a particular outbreak.

RIEMERELLA ANATIPESTIFER INFECTION

Riemerella anatipestifer infection is a contagious disease affecting domestic geese, ducks and various other birds which means that infections in geese can originate from other species.

Symptoms. The common symptoms are ocular and nasal discharges, mild coughing and sneezing, greenish diarrhoea, uncoordinated movement, tremor of the neck and head and coma. Geese that recover from the disease are resistant to subsequent infection.

Treatment. The sulphonamides and antibiotics as listed under Fowl Cholera for the control of Pasteurella multocida are usually effective against Riemerella anatipestifer . Vaccines have been developed but they have been used primarily with ducks although they can be expected to prevent the disease in geese as well.

Pseudotuberculosis caused by Yersinia pseudotuberculosis has been reported in a large number of avian species, including geese. It is not, however, a common disease in geese.

Symptoms. The disease is characterised by an acute septicaemia and infected birds have difficulty breathing and are weak, with dull and ruffled feathers and diarrhoea. A definite diagnosis requires isolation and identification of the causative agent.

Treatment. Due to the low incidence of the disease, there is very little information available but chloramphenicol, streptomycin and tetracycline have been effectively used in some species.

Reticuloendotheliosis refers to a group of syndromes caused by the retroviruses of the REV group. The disease occurs in a wide variety of domestic poultry but is rare in geese. It is sometime called the Runting Disease because it is characterised by poor growth and abnormal feathering. In geese, viruses have been isolated from tumours of the spleen, liver, pancreas and intestines. No vaccine has been developed for this disease because the incidence and economic importance of the disease is very low.

Spirochetosis in avian species is caused by Borrelia anserina and is tick-borne. Spirochetosis was first described in 1891 as a severe septicaemic disease of geese in Russia but it is now found worldwide, especially in the tropical and subtropical areas where fowl ticks (genus Argas ) are common. However, even in these areas the incidence of the disease is low.

Symptoms. Morbidity and mortality are highly variable, ranging from 1-2 percent up to 100 percent. Lowest rates occur when the birds have previously been exposed to Borrelia anserina and have developed immunity. Larval ticks or puncture haemorrhages from tick bites on the birds, or ticks in the birds' environment are indicative of the disease.

Treatment . In areas where Spirochetosis is prevalent, vaccination is the control method of choice. Female geese that have acquired immunity, either through natural exposure or through vaccination, are capable of passing on passive immunity to their offspring which will protect them for 5-6 weeks post hatching.

When an outbreak occurs, the treatment of choice is usually antibiotics. Borrelia anserina is sensitive to most antibiotics including penicillin, chloramphenicol, kanamycin, streptomycin, tylosin and tetracyclines.

All avian species are susceptible to staphylococcal infections though geese do not appear to be affected to any great degree. If and when they are infected, it is generally as a secondary infection but even this is rare in geese. Staphylococcus aureus is the most common infection in birds. One of the major concerns is that staphylococcus infections can be transmitted from birds to humans. This has been observed among both slaughterhouse workers and people performing autopsies.

Symptoms . The most frequent sites of infection in poultry are bones, tendon sheaths and leg joints but infections may occur elsewhere.

Treatment . Staphylococcus infections can be treated with antibiotics. Penicillin , streptomycin, tetracycline, erythromycin, novobiocin, sulphonamides, linomycin and spectinomycin have been used successfully.

There are a number of species of streptococcus that infect birds. However, to date, streptococcus infections in geese are very rare although Streptococcus mutans , a common bacterium of the human oral cavity, has been identified as a cause of septicaemia and mortality in geese.

Symptoms. In its acute form, the clinical signs of Streptococcosis are related to septicaemia, depression, lethargy, diarrhoea and head tremors, although often the birds are just found dead. In the chronic form, depression, loss of weight, lameness and head tremors may be observed.

Treatment. Prevention and control require reducing stress and following proper sanitation practices. Treatment includes the use of either antibiotics such as penicillin, erythromycin, tetracycline or nitrofurans.

Over 1 400 species of cestodes or tapeworms have been noted in wild and domestic birds and for many an intermediate host has been identified. Control of the intermediate host has proven to be the best way of controlling the tapeworm. Even though geese have been reported infected with numerous species of tapeworms introduced by wild waterfowl, tapeworms are generally not a problem in goose production. This is particularly so if geese are denied access to natural waterways where they can ingest an intermediate host (most of the time a fresh water crustacean). At least four tapeworms have, however, been isolated from the intestinal lumen of geese: Fimbriara fasciolaris , Hymenolepis megalops , Hymenolepis compressa , Hymenolepis lanceolata .

Symptoms. Normally geese infested with tapeworms will not perform well, but isolation and identification of the worm is required for an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment. As with many other poultry species, it is not easy for geese to contract a tapeworm infection because of the trend towards confinement poultry production systems. This trend has resulted in a marked decline in tapeworm infections simply because poultry species are now more separated from the intermediate host. For this reason the first step to control tapeworm infestations in geese is to separate the geese from the intermediate host by confining them or by developing an effective pasture rotation system. The geese must also be isolated from natural waterways. Using only drugs to expel the worm will have a very short-term effect if the intermediate host is not controlled. Drugs that have been effective in controlling tapeworms in chickens are butynorate, either on its own or in conjunction with piperazine and phenothiazine under the trade name Wormal. Experimentally, hexachlorophene and niclosamine have also been shown to be effective.

This is a protozoan disease that infects mostly mature geese in breeder flocks. The causative agent in geese is Trichomonas anseris while for other classes of poultry it is Trichomonas gallinae . These organisms are transmitted from bird to bird through the water and, to a lesser degree, through the feed.

Symptoms. The infection in geese is mainly in the lower digestive tract and the first symptoms are reduced reproductive performance and weight loss. The droppings can be monitored for the protozoan although an autopsy (with heavy infections mortality can be high) will generally not yield the protozoa as they disappear quickly.

Treatment. If the disease has not spread throughout the flock, any sick birds that can be identified should be isolated. Nitrofurazon, metronidazole and dimetridazole are effective in treating the disease.

Bacteria, especially Neisseria , Mycoplasma , and Candida albicans have been associated with a venereal disease in ganders although it now seems that Mycoplasma are the primary infective agents.

Symptoms. Initially, the base of the phallus becomes swollen and inflamed with the infection extending to the cloaca. Later, there is necrosis, ulceration and eventually considerable scarring, making reproduction impossible. The disease spreads throughout the flock very rapidly.

Treatment. The onset of the disease has, in some cases, been associated with a high density of ganders that has led to fighting, resulting in the phallus of some ganders being injured and becoming infected. The infection then spreads through the flock via the females. When infected, the females exhibit symptoms such as airsaculitis, peritonitis, and salpingitis. The first control measure to take is good management of the breeder flock. Because of the principle involvement of Mycoplasma , some veterinarians view the disease as a component of Mycoplasma infections rather than as a separate disease. Treatment is therefore with antibiotics effective against mycoplasma such as tylosin, tetracycline, chlortetracycline, linomycin, oxytetracycline, spectinomycin, spinomycin and tiamulin. Sensitivity tests should be conducted to select the appropriate antibiotic.

GOOSE DISEASES - CONCLUSIONS

To conclude this chapter, we can say that for a sustainable production of geese, it is essential to ensure sanitary conditions for the flock. Some diseases, such as Derzy's disease, can cause severe losses of up to 100 percent of the geese but generally many of the diseases are not as serious a problem for geese as they are for other poultry species. Every effort must still be made, however, to keep the geese healthy and good flock management will greatly contribute to the prevention of most diseases.

Listed below are the summarized guidelines with regard to disease management for both growing and breeding geese:

Put goslings in a clean, disinfected poultry house and ensure that the temperature is correct and that the air circulation is adequate.

Provide adequate fresh food and water.

Practice pasture rotation and treat with 5-6 g of ferric sulphate per square metre.

Respect the stocking density recommended for the type of housing being used.

Observe the behaviour and general health of the flock regularly.

Derzy's disease: goslings from protected breeders should be vaccinated before they are four weeks of age. Goslings from unprotected flocks should be injected with a serum twice: at one and 18 days of age and then vaccinated.

Cholera: three vaccinations are required at six, ten and 20 weeks of age.

Parasites: birds on deep litter and pasture should be treated for worms every six weeks. It is also recommended to check the faeces every month for worms and/or oocysts.

When available, and depending on the composition of the diet being fed, a vitamin and mineral supplement is recommended every two weeks up to ten weeks of age and at any time that the birds are stressed.

It is necessary to perform all the medical treatments before the first egg is laid. These include treatments for Parasites (worms, coccidioses, tricomoniasis), Mycoplasma, Salmonella, and further vaccination for Cholera and Derzy's disease. During the lay period, it is important to monitor egg production, percent fertility and percent hatch on a weekly basis. Any decrease in these or any other parameters could mean the onset of a disease even if the birds still appear healthy. To maintain the reproductive performance of the flock, any disease must be identified and treated immediately.


How to Feed Geese Safely

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Feeding geese is a great pastime. Whether you’re at a local millpond or a rural public park, geese are one of the most common and identifiable birds. Feeding geese, though, requires some consideration. You can’t feed geese just anything, and your technique must be carefully considered. While feeding geese is generally ill-advised (doing so increases their reliance on humans for survival), with a bit of planning you can feed geese in a way which keeps both you and them safe.


Things That Are Toxic To Geese

Updated June 15th, 2021

It can be a challenge to ensure geese residents have healthy, happy lives after coming to a sanctuary, and there are many different aspects of care to consider each day. Unfortunately, toxic and poisonous hazards are sometimes overlooked in the hustle and bustle of operating a sanctuary. While minor exposure to many of these toxins are unlikely to cause serious problems, large amounts can cause severe health issues and sadly, even death. Many geese may instinctively avoid toxic plants or avoid them because many are bitter to the taste. However, there are also some toxins that are highly dangerous even in small amounts and others that are quite palatable. In order to help ensure you never run into this problem, we have compiled this resource of common plants and other potentially toxic things that have been known to be a problem for geese.

This is not an exhaustive list. There may be particular plants that grow in your region that are not included on the list. Check with your region&rsquos agricultural department to ensure you have a full picture of what could be problematic for sheep in your area!

While prevention is imperative when it comes to protecting your residents from toxins, in the event that they accidentally ingest something toxic, the administration of an activated charcoal product may help absorb the toxins. This is not a magic cure and may not be appropriate in all situations, but it can be helpful to have on hand. We suggest asking your veterinarian if there are specific products they recommend for the various species in your care so you can have them ready should you need them. In addition to seeking urgent medical care, if a resident ingests a toxin, ask your veterinarian if administration of activated charcoal is advised.

Plants That Are Toxic To Geese

We have built a list below of a number of plants known to be toxic in some way to geese. If you&rsquod like a more detailed list and/or pictures of plants toxic to geese and other species, check out The Open Sanctuary Project&rsquos Global Toxic Plant Database and filter Species Afflicted by geese in order to see a list of plants across the world that are toxic to geese. Please note that, while comprehensive, this list may not contain every single plant toxic to geese!

Plants That Are Toxic To Geese

  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Cardiac Irregularities
  • Weakness
  • Edema
  • Weakened Heart Rate
  • Seizures
  • Death
  • Contact Dermatitis
  • Appetite Loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Dehydration
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Elevated Heart Rate
  • Death
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Cardiac Arrhythmias
  • Increased Temperature And Pulse
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Cold Extremities
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Discolored Mucous Membranes
  • Depression
  • Weight Loss
  • Labored Breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Sudden Death
  • Frequent Urination
  • If geese ingest any bark, fallen branches, or young sprouts, they can become poisoned.
  • Symptoms generally present within 1-2 hours after consumption.
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Paralysis
  • Death
  • Diarrhea (Possibly Bloody)
  • Weakness
  • Stiffness
  • Reluctance To Move
  • Red-Brown Urine
  • Rapid Respiratory Rate
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • If birds ingest large quantities of bracken fern it can inhibits absorption of essential B vitamins and result in vitamin B1 deficiency, which can be fatal.
  • Weight Loss
  • Progressive Incoordination
  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Slow Heart Rate
  • Base-Wide Stance
  • Muscle Tremors
  • Tremors
  • Weakness
  • Hyper-excitability
  • Increased Breathing Rate
  • Diarrhea
  • Salivation
  • Dilation Of Pupils
  • Convulsions
  • Death
  • Demineralization of Bones
  • Calcinosis
  • Nephrocalcinosis
  • Hypercalcemia

Animals acutely poisoned by Gelsemium species, neurologic signs predominate, and are characterized by:

  • Ingesting just one cherry pit could be fatal.
  • Staggering
  • Falling Down
  • Death
  • Diarrhea
  • Incoordination
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Death
  • The toxicity increases if leaves are damaged or stressed from frost, storms, drought or seasonal wilting.
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Weakness
  • Hyper-salivation
  • Seizures
  • Sudden Death
  • Blistering Mucous Membranes In The Mouth
  • Irregular Heart Beat
  • Increased Respiratory Rate
  • Slow Irregular Pulse
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Weakness
  • Convulsions
  • Colic
  • Severe Diarrhea With Blood
  • Convulsions
  • Respiratory Distress
  • Throbocytopenia With Haemorrhages
  • Anemia
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Alopecia
  • Geese may develop acute or chronic toxicity as a result of consuming cockleburs.
  • In acute cases, death is usually due to liver failure and may occur within hours after onset of clinical signs.
  • Birds that survive acute poisonings usually will develop signs of chronic liver disease.
  • Depression
  • Increased Respiratory Rate
  • Incoordination
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Reluctance To Move
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Death
  • Coffee Tree Husk should not be used as bedding or made available for geese to ingest.
  • Excitability
  • Restlessness
  • Involuntary Muscle Tremors
  • Chewing Movements
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Increased Respiratory Rate
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Ovaries may be adversely affected, resulting in yolk leaking and dysplasia of the inner layer of the membrane.
  • Death
  • Repeated consumption can also cause illness.
  • Listless
  • Unkempt Appearance (Rough Feathering)
  • Diarrhea
  • Cheesy Material In Mouth
  • Oral Lesions
  • Decreased Respiratory Rate
  • Decreased Heart Rate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unthriftiness
  • Anemia
  • Sudden death is seen in acute cases.
  • Ingestion of any parts of the plant are toxic to birds.
  • If diagnosed early enough and the bird is provided prompt treatment with activated charcoal, and supportive care, they may survive.
  • Acute Onset
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Tachypnea
  • Progressive Nature
  • Incoordination
  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Listlessness
  • Dullness
  • Incoordination
  • Weakness
  • Coma
  • Excess Salivation
  • Tremors
  • Recumbency
  • Sudden Death
  • Depression
  • Trembling
  • Incoordination
  • Respiratory Failure
  • Convulsions
  • Coma
  • Death
  • Fruit is highly attractive to birds
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Photosensitivity
  • Diarrhea
  • Not normally consumed unless they have no alternatives.
  • Appetite Loss
  • Depression
  • Jaundice
  • Behavioral Changes
  • Frequent Yawning
  • Photosensitivity
  • Loss Of Condition
  • Head Pressing
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Incoordination
  • Aimlessly Wandering
  • Awkward Gait
  • Ingestion of the plant can result in sudden death in acute cases and severe liver damage if the animal survives the acute toxic episode.
  • Recently sprayed wilting plants are more palatable than fresh healthy plants and potentially can cause more deaths.
  • Depression
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Incoordination
  • Stiffness
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death
  • Listlessness
  • Wobbly or drunken gait
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme thirst, or refusal to drink
  • Putrid-smelling, watery diarrhea containing partially-digested leaves
  • Grinding jaw
  • Dropped wings
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Darkening of the legs (or comb )
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dehydration (skin does not return to position when pinched)
  • Head drooping toward the ground
  • Appetite Loss
  • Depression
  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal Swelling
  • Nervousness
  • Hyper-excitability
  • Death
  • Photosensitivity
  • Incoordination
  • Not typically consumed unless food is scarce.
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Slow Breathing
  • Death
  • Painful irritation and blisters in the mouth and throat
  • Hyper-salivation
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Restlessness
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Frequent Urination
  • Twitching
  • Depression
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Respiratory Distress
  • Incoordination
  • Diarrhea
  • Lowered Body Temperature
  • Convulsions
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Weak Heart Rate
  • Tremors
  • Weakness
  • Death
  • Depression
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Constipation
  • Frequent Urination
  • Jaundice
  • Inflamed Eyes
  • Ocular Discharge
  • Photosensitivity
  • Irregular or slow heartbeat
  • Behavioral changes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Coma
  • Death
  • Acute Photosensitivity
  • Redness And Swelling Of Unfeathered Areas
  • Loss Of Feathers In The Periorbital Area
  • Dried Serous Fluid On Comb And Edge Of Beak
  • Keratoconjunctivitis
  • Multiple Lesions On Feet And Legs
  • Tremors In The Legs
  • Limb And Beak Deformities
  • Nervousness
  • Depression
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Aimlessly Wandering
  • Muscle Twitching
  • Excessive Salivation
  • Convulsions
  • Coma
  • Death
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Shock
  • Respiratory Distress
  • Dullness
  • Depression
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Spasms
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Weakness
  • Inability To Stand Or Walk
  • Irregular Heart Rate
  • Uncoordinated Gait
  • Labored Breathing
  • High Body Temperature
  • Rapid And Weak Pulse
  • Coma
  • Symptoms develop between 30 min to up to 6 hours following consumption.
  • Symptoms
  • Appetite Loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Incoordination
  • Paralysis
  • Weak Heart Rate
  • Weight Loss
  • Lethargy
  • Incoordination
  • Tremors
  • Weak Pulse
  • Seizures
  • Death
  • Birds are attracted to the immature (green) berries and the leaves of nightshade plants.
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Loss Of Muscular Coordination
  • Convulsions
  • Sudden Depression
  • Death
  • Signs of poisoning usually occur several days after ingestion.
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Regurgitating food
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Increased thirst
  • Severe kidney and liver damage can result and be fatal if not treated promptly.
  • Appetite Loss
  • Depression
  • Jaundice
  • Behavioral Changes
  • Photosensitivity
  • Loss Of Condition
  • Incoordination
  • Aimlessly Wandering
  • Death
  • Symptoms begin to appear within 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Appetite Loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Dehydration
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Elevated Heart Rate
  • Death
  • Salivation
  • Weakness
  • Nervous Signs
  • Paralysis
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced Growth
  • Hepatic Congestion
  • Enteritis
  • Diarrhea (Possibly Bloody)
  • Anemia
  • Weakened Pulse
  • Lethargy
  • Convulsions
  • Lethargy
  • Aimlessly Wandering
  • Depression
  • Chronic Weight Loss
  • Photosensitization
  • Weakness
  • Listlessness
  • Jaundice
  • Diarrhea
  • Blindness
  • Circling
  • Sleepiness
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Cardiac Arrhythmias
  • Cold Extremities
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Sudden Death
  • Bradycardia
  • Cardiac Arrhythmias
  • Hyperkalemia
  • Colic
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Incoordination
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Death
  • Gastrointestinal irritation, and in high doses, liver failure.
  • Symptoms
  • Increased Thirst
  • Jaundice
  • Sudden Death
  • Plant is generally avoided unless there is no other food.
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Increased Water Intake
  • Coma
  • Death
  • Appetite Loss
  • Depression
  • Ruffled Feathers
  • Necroitic Enteritis
  • Easily Excitable
  • Blood In Feces
  • Nasal Discharge (Blood)
  • Weakness
  • Incoordination
  • Liver Failure
  • Weight Loss
  • Weakness
  • Listlessness
  • Incoordination
  • Jaundice
  • Aimlessly Wandering
  • Sudden Death
  • Redness And Swelling Of Unfeathered Areas Of Skin (Followed By Blistering And Scabs)
  • Loss Of Feathers In The Periorbital Area
  • Dried Serous Fluid On Comb And Edge Of Beak
  • Keratoconjunctivitis
  • Multiple Lesions On Feet And Legs
  • Leg And Feet Deformities
  • Beak Deformities
  • Reduced Eyesight
  • Photosensitivity
  • Listlessness
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Lameness
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Colic
  • Sleepiness
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Cardiac Arrhythmias
  • Muscle Tremors
  • Weak Peripheral Pulse
  • Ileus
  • Foul Odor
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Dark Mucus Membranes
  • Dehydration
  • Sudden Death
  • Lathyrism is a paralysis syndrome. Once signs develop however, they are irreversible, other then surgery might correct roaring.
  • Abnormal Gait
  • Nervousness
  • Hyper-salivation
  • Tremors
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Grinding
  • Rapid Pulse
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Seizures
  • Death
  • Labored Breathing
  • Incoordination
  • Collapse
  • Cyanosis
  • Sudden Death

Other Potential Geese Toxins

Blue-Green Algae

Blue-green algae is often found in stagnant water when temperatures are high. This algae can be toxic to geese if they ingest contaminated water. The type of toxin ingested will determine the symptoms. Geese need only ingest but 1.2 oz (40 ml) of algae bloom to be fatal. In most cases of poisoning, geese are usually found dead, due to the potency of the toxin.

Symptoms include:

  • Hypersalivation
  • Regurgitation
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Reduced Responsiveness
  • Lethargy
  • Ataxia
  • Dilation of cutaneous vessels in webbed feet
  • Recumbency
  • Wing and leg peresis
  • Cyanosis
  • Excessive thirst
  • Open mouth breathing
  • Intermittent seizures
  • Sudden death

Botulism

Botulism can be contracted if geese eat or play in contaminated soil, water, or decaying matter, spoiled feed, or by consuming maggots who harbor the toxins. Signs of botulism in geese includes:

  • Paralysis
  • Weakness
  • Muscle Tremors
  • Stumbling
  • Recumbency
  • Limp neck
  • Droopy Eyelids
  • Death

In order to prevent botulism, be sure to inspect water sources for dying or dead animals and promptly dispose of any bodies properly, then dump contaminated water and thoroughly clean the water container and refill with fresh water. Prevent residents from accessing stagnant bodies of water!

Cedar Wood

Cedar wood should be avoided in avian living spaces because it can cause respiratory issues. If you use wood shavings for bedding, make sure you are not buying cedar shavings. Aspen and pine are generally safer options, though there is conflicting information regarding the safety of pine.

Chick Starter (Medicated)

Goslings should be given a waterfowl starter, if at all possible. Many chick starter foods contain medication to treat coccidia this medication can be fatal to goslings . It can also cause niacin deficiency, leading to a host of joint and leg problems for the gosling .

Copper

Sometimes, copper sulfate is used to treat crop mycosis or digestive issues in geese. However, copper sulfate in a single dose of >1 g is fatal and should be used with care. Symptoms of copper toxicosis are listlessness and watery diarrhea. At a necropsy, burns and erosions are found in the lining of the gizzard , along with a green mucous throughout the intestinal tract.

Hardware Disease

Hardware Disease refers to the injuries that can result from any animal resident eating something they shouldn&rsquot, especially pieces of human-made hardware like nails, screws, and staples. Hardware disease can have devastating effects on any resident. Check out our resource on Hardware Disease prevention here . Geese are prone to zinc toxicity which is often the result of eating small, shiny metal objects containing zinc. When ingested, a zinc object, such as a penny, is broken down in the gastrointestinal track and zinc is released into the body. This can cause damage to red blood cells, the pancreas, and the gizzard. US pennies made after 1983 contain 98% zinc and a single one can be fatal to a geese, if swallowed. Hardware that may also contain zinc includes, nails, bolts, plumbing nuts, nuts, washers, screws, staples, etc, as well as galvanized metal.

Symptoms of zinc poisoning include:

  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Increased thirst
  • Seizures
  • Green to yellow droppings
  • Stiffness
  • Cyanosis
  • Incoordination
  • Posterior paresis/paralysis
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy

Lead Toxicity

Lead was once used in paints and pesticides, and can also be found from natural environmental sources. Even if you have never used any products containing lead, it may still be present in old barn or fence paint, or in the soil. Places where old machinery and leaded gas have been stored may also have caused contamination, as would old treated lumber and railroad ties. Geese may ingest the lead in the environment through the consumption of paint flakes, plant material that has absorbed lead in the environment, and from tainted surfaces.

Signs of lead poisoning in geese are:

  • Emaciation
  • Depression
  • Inappetence
  • Thirst
  • Weakness
  • Greenish droppings commonly seen within 36 hours
  • As poisoning progresses, the wings may be extended downward.
  • Young birds may die within 36 hours of ingestion.

Having the soil tested at your sanctuary is an easy way to learn if the environment is safe for residents. You can check with a local environmental conservation service, or agricultural extension office to inquire about testing. It is usually a fairly quick and easy process. Prevent your residents from accessing buildings and fences with old paint.

Consult a veterinarian immediately if you suspect a goose has ingested lead or is beginning to show symptoms of lead poisoning.

Mycotoxins

Mycotoxins are a toxin produced by molds (fungi) that are harmful to many animals, including geese. Mycotoxins, specifically aflatoxins can affect geese through contaminated food or bedding. Moist, warm environments make a perfect recipe for mold reproduction. Aspergillus and Penicillium can produce aflatoxins and can be a particular concern for birds.

  • Inappetence
  • Ataxia
  • Convulsions
  • Opisthotonos
  • Depression
  • Death

Prevention is key in avoiding serious health issues. Luckily, there are a number of steps you can take to help ensure resident geese do not suffer the ill effects of mycotoxin poisoning:

  • Be sure to keep food, grain, and hay storage areas clean, dry, and cool.
  • Try to keep food storage areas protected from mice and rats and other wildlife, as they can chew holes in food bags, increasing the likelihood of grain being exposed to damp conditions.
  • Always feed the oldest sources of food first. Try to use up open food bags within a few weeks after opening in the winter and in even less time in the summer.
  • Clean any storage bins or cans thoroughly to remove old grain that may get stuck in cracks and crevices.
  • Check with your food manufacturer or supplier to see if they regularly test for the presence of mycotoxins in grains before mixing food. If they do not, avoid using them and find another supplier.

If you are concerned about the possibility of mycotoxin contamination, have your food stores tested. This could be especially important if you have a goose that shows initial signs of mycotoxin exposure.

Pesticides, Herbicides, And Rodenticides

It may not come as a surprise that herbicides and rodenticides can cause toxicosis in geese if ingested. If geese ingest plants or insects that have been sprayed with phenoxy acid herbicides, they can become ill or even die. For this reason, it is imperative that geese are not given treated plants or are allowed access to pastures that have been treated with herbicides.

While rats and mice can pose challenges for sanctuaries, it is important to respect them and use compassionate mitigation practices . In addition to the compassion and consideration mice and rats deserve, many rodenticides are anticoagulants that act by preventing the blood to clot and geese may find and attempt to eat the poisoned body of a mouse or rat and become poisoned themselves if poison is used. There are many new and innovative ways to address rodent populations that are more effective and compassionate.

Early treatment is critical. If you suspect a goose may have ingested any of the poisons above, contact your veterinarian immediately . Blood tests may confirm poisoning.

Polytetrafluoroethylene Toxicosis (Teflon Flu, Polymer Fume Fever)

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is found in many household items but those that are intended to be heated are the main source of toxicity. At high temperatures, items containing PTFE can put out highly toxic fumes, resulting in toxicity or even death. Make sure any heat sources you use in resident living spaces, such as a radiant heater or heat lamp, are free of PTFE. We advise against the use of glass bulb heat lamps due to their associated fire risk, but another reason to steer clear is that some are coated in PTFE. Other sources of concern include some hairdryers, heating pads, irons and ironing board covers, computer wires, and non-stick cookware. While polytetrafluoroethylene toxicosis is a concern for any avian resident, be especially vigilant if you share your home with an avian companion, since there are many household items that could contain PTFE.

Snakebites

Venomous snakebites are not common, but when they occur, should be treated seriously and immediately. If you notice a snakebite, look for others. Snake venom varies by species, and the severity of a bite can also be influenced by size, age, and the number of bites. Most venoms can impair blood clotting and damage the heart, while some others contain neurotoxins. Signs of a snakebite may include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling at the bite site
  • One or more puncture wounds
  • Sloughing of tissues near the bite site
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Impaired ability for their blood to clot
  • Shock
  • Collapse
  • Paralysis
  • Death

Seek veterinary care immediately if a goose is bitten by a venomous snake. Do NOT try to suck the venom out or place a tourniquet. Keep the goose calm while seeking immediate veterinary care. Depending on the severity of the bite, treatments may include antivenin, pain medications, fluid therapy, wound treatment, tetanus vaccination, and antibiotics. Check out our Compassionate Wildlife Practices At Your Animal Sanctuary for some tips on how to dissuade snakes from your property.

Wood Stains And Paints

Some wood stains and paints can be toxic to residents. Geese may try to peck at painted or stained surfaces and can become ill if the stain or paint is toxic. When painting or staining fencing or the exteriors of buildings, look for products that are specially made for barns and fencing and listed as animal or &ldquolivestock&rdquo friendly. If you choose to paint the interior of an enclosure, we suggest you opt for a zero VOC paint- some are even labeled &ldquopet friendly.&rdquo Birds are very sensitive to fumes and should be kept away from freshly painted or stained areas until you are absolutely certain there are no residual fumes.

Foods That Are Toxic To Geese

There are a number of plants and human food that should absolutely not be fed to geese, due to toxins and substances that geese cannot digest or tolerate.

Do not feed geese the following:

  • Avocado, any part- contains the toxin persin
  • White potato, any part- contains the toxin solanine
  • Green tomato, as well as tomato leaves- contains the toxin solanine
  • Eggplant and pepper leaves- contains the toxin solanine
  • Green potatoes- contains the toxin solanine
  • Apple, apricot, cherry, peach, pear, plum SEEDS/PITS (fine if cored)- contains cyanide
  • Rhubarb, any part- contains oxalic acid which can lead to soft-shelled eggs. Toxic leaf.
  • Dried beans, raw, and bean plants (fine if sprouted)- contains phytohemagglutinin
  • Raw peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, and pecans- may inhibit protein absorption
  • Dry rice- can cause gut problems
  • Onions, any part- contains the toxin thiosulphate
  • Chocolate- contains the toxin theobromine
  • Coffee or tea- contains caffeine which is dangerous to geese
  • Anything visibly moldy or rotten
  • Alcohol
  • Processed human foods, especially greasy, salty, or sweet foods
  • Anything sprayed with pesticides or herbicides

Additionally, you should limit feeding geese the following things:

  • Spinach- the oxalic acid interferes with calcium absorption
  • Citrus- can interfere with calcium absorption
  • Iceberg lettuce- can cause diarrhea in large amounts, has little nutritional value

Most of the time geese will avoid things that aren&rsquot good for them, but if food is scarce, or it is included in with other things they normally eat, they can&rsquot always be trusted to steer clear.

While this list isn&rsquot exhaustive, it can certainly help you keep resident geese safe, healthy, and happy!

If a source includes the (Non-Compassionate Source) tag, it means that we do not endorse that particular source&rsquos views about animals, even if some of their insights are valuable from a care perspective. See a more detailed explanation here .


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