Managing the Pet Goose

Presenter – Victoria Roberts BVSc MRCVS. An honorary avian lecturer at Liverpool Vet School, honorary vet to The Poultry Club, she edits the British Poultry Standards, has had a column in Country Smallholding for over 10 years, and is currently President of the British Veterinary Zoological Society.

In all honesty, the thought of seeing a goose on my list of consults fills me with fear. Frankly I would rather wrestle a 60kg aggressive Rottweiler than be confronted by a flapping and hissing angry goose. However, I remain faithful to my Thursday night veterinary webinars and decided I really should confront my fears and learn more about treating the pet goose.

After leading the successful duck and chicken veterinary webinars, Victoria Roberts completed her trilogy by speaking on the veterinary management of the pet goose. I was pleased to hear my fear of geese was not completely unfounded as Victoria explained that they can be aggressive, have a fierce bite and are often used as guards.

Correct handling of this species is obviously key to ensuring nobody gets hurt. Victoria explained that catching the goose initially with a fishing net is appropriate and then you can grab them by the legs, followed swiftly by holding their neck, which gives the best control.

A full physical examination is crucial including taking their temperature which falls between 40-42C and heart rate (usually best listened for through the wish bone) which sits between 120-160 beats per minute. Their mouth should also be checked bearing in mind their anatomy where the mouth consists of lamellae on the tongue as well as the top and bottom beak. These lamellae help to sieve mud in search of food such as the invertebrates.

As per ducks we tend to only see geese when they get really sick and generally they present with lameness, weight loss or may have just died suddenly. Victoria advised that if you ever see a lame goose you should always worm them as they are susceptible to helminths. Preventative use of flubendazole outside of the breeding season is advised on a biannual basis.

When presented with a sick goose, bloods taken from the medial metatarsal vein is advised, where biochemistry and heamatology can be performed but most importantly heavy metal levels should be checked. If necessary, fluids can be given although it is not advised to give them subcutaneously as the skin is very tightly adhered. Fluids can either be given inguinally or intravenously via the medial metatarsal vein. Intra-osseus fluids can also be given but care needs to be taken not to use a pneumatized bone. Tube feeding can be administered ensuring the tube is passed down the right side of the neck to avoid the trachea.

Giving medicine to geese should either be administered in their feed or via intramuscular injections. Remember medicating in water would be inappropriate as geese will just wash in it. However Victoria explained that many of the medicines we use won’t be licensed, and all we can do is follow the cascade. Victoria also discussed anaesthesia in geese explaining that masking down should be avoided as it could trigger the dive reflex. Her preference lies with using a combination of medetomidine and ketamine.

Victoria went in to much more detail about the all important husbandry of geese including how to stop a goose being broody and when to introduce a new bird to the flock. As always Victoria’s webinars are packed full of information and act as a wonderful point of reference. So next time I’m booked a ‘goose’ consult I will have all this information at my fingertips thanks to ‘The Webinar Vet’ and will hopefully approach the examination with less fear and a load more confidence.

The Stethoscope (MRCVS)

 

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