If any animal has a strict schedule, it’s the humble goose. Geese fly for thousands of miles to reach their breeding grounds every year where they lay their eggs and raise their young before making the arduous journey to their warmer overwinter locations.
Geese lay their eggs in the spring or early summer, usually between March and June. Their eggs take around 35 days to hatch fully, meaning geese eggs usually hatch between April and July.
In this article, we’ll learn about how and when geese lay their eggs, how it ties in with their incredible migration schedule, the timeline for a goose egg to hatch, and go over some tips for if you’re hatching geese eggs yourself with an incubator.
Goose Breeding Timeline
Geese have a pretty regular breeding schedule throughout the year. Like many birds, there is a dedicated breeding season when the birds make their nest, lay their eggs, and raise their young.
Geese lay their eggs in spring, between March and June depending on the climate.
Geese will incubate their eggs for between 28 and 35 days, depending on the size of the goose. Eggs from smaller goose breeds hatch quicker than those from larger breeds.
Geese live in pairs to look after the eggs while they incubate.
After roughly one month, the hatching process begins. It can take up to three days for a goose egg to fully hatch.
How Many Eggs do Geese Lay?
The number of eggs a single goose can lay in a year is heavily dependent on the breed of goose, with wild breeds like Canada Goose typically laying far fewer eggs than heavily farmed breeds like the Toulouse goose, which has been selectively bred for centuries for Foie Gras.
Read More: Is Goose Meat Edible?
According to the Australian Dept. of Primary Industries, the average goose lays between twelve and fifteen eggs per year.
This bears out in the data, which shows various ranges of as few as Two eggs per clutch, but doesn’t always consider that geese may lay several clutches of eggs per year until they have a successful hatching.
Egg Laying Ability by Goose Breed:
|Goose Breed||Number of Eggs Laid|
|Toulouse Goose||Between 20 – 40 Eggs Per Year (source)|
|Canada Goose||Between Four and Nine Eggs Per Clutch (Source)|
|Egyptian Goose||Eight or Nine Eggs Per Year (source)|
|Hawaiian Goose||Between Two and Five Eggs Per Clutch (source)|
|Chinese Goose||Up to 60 eggs per year (source)|
How Often do Geese Lay Eggs?
During the breeding season when female geese are laying their eggs, a single female goose can lay up to one egg every one or two days.
Different breeds have different clutch sizes (See the table above), and some breeds lay multiple clutches of eggs, whereas some only lay one. Some other breeds lay multiple clutches but only if the first brood was unsuccessful.
Some breeds (notably the Chinese Goose or Swan Goose) lay eggs more frequently, due to centuries of selective breeding.
How Long Does it Take for a Goose Egg to Hatch?
After a goose egg is laid, it takes a total of between 28 and 38 days in total for the egg to incubate and the gosling to fully hatch. This is made up of between 28 and 35 days of incubation, followed by up to three days of pipping until the gosling is fully hatched.
Typically, eggs from smaller breeds of geese will hatch quicker than those of larger breeds, and eggs.
How Long Do Goose Eggs Incubate For?
Goose eggs must be incubated for a period of between 28 to 35 days, depending on the breed.
If using an artificial incubator, it should be set at 99.5°F (37.7°C) for the first 28-35 days until pipping starts, then transferred to a hatchery for up to three days to hatch safely.
In the wild, the mother goose sits on top of her eggs for the entire 28-35 day incubation period, without leaving the nest even to feed herself.
During this period, the male goose (called the gander) stands near the nest to protect the eggs from predators while the mother sleeps on the nest.
Read More: Where Do Geese Sleep?
How To Incubate and Hatch Goose Eggs
There are two main methods of goose egg incubation and hatching, artificial incubation (using an incubator) and natural incubation (letting a goose sit on her own eggs, or using another bird like a hen).
Method 1: Artificial Incubation
Set the incubator to 99.5°F (37.7°C) if using a forced air incubator, or 103°F (39.4°C) if using a still-air incubator.
Lay the eggs in the incubator either hori\ontally or vertically. If the eggs are laid hori\ontally, they must be rotated 90 degrees every two hours, and if they are vertical they must be rotated 180 degrees every two hours.
Keep the eggs in a humid environment (55% Humidity in a forced air incubator, 75% in a still air incubator). Forced air incubators can manage humidity themselves, but in a still air incubator, this can be achieved by using a damp towel or a tray of water at the bottom of the incubator.
Incubate the eggs for roughly 30 days, until the eggs start pipping.
Once the eggs start pipping, move the eggs to a hatchery. In small-scale operations, this can be achieved by setting up a second incubator where the chicks can hatch. Keep this incubator clean and dry for the chicks.
Method 2: Natural Incubation
Many small farmers choose to leave the eggs alone and let the mother goose incubate them naturally.
This has some advantages, including a higher hatch rate per clutch of eggs, but it has an economic cost to the farmer since geese will not lay more eggs while they are incubating their existing eggs. Although geese live in pairs, only the female incubates the eggs.
To get around this, some farmers choose to let another bird species like a chicken or a duck incubate the goose eggs.
To sum up, goose eggs take roughly 30 days to hatch, although the exact number of days varies depending on the size of the bird, with eggs from larger birds taking longer than smaller birds to hatch.
Geese lay their eggs in Spring after they have migrated north to their summer nesting grounds. They spend between 28 and 35 days incubating their eggs, after which point the chicks will begin to hatch, in a process that can last for an additional three days.
Different goose breeds lay vastly different numbers of eggs. Some endangered species like the Hawai’ian goose can lay as few as two eggs per year, whereas some highly productive farmed goose breeds like the Chinese goose (aka the Swan goose) can lay up to 60 eggs per year.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.