Typically, geese lay eggs once per year in the spring between February and May. Geese usually lay their eggs in small clutches of roughly five eggs per year, but some species can lay up to 50 eggs in a single year.
To keep their eggs safe, geese build nests and guard their eggs for the full month until they hatch, with the male goose bringing food for the female so that she doesn’t need to leave the nest.
In this article, we will shed some light on the super-secretive nesting habits of geese. We’ll see where they lay eggs, how often, and even some other cool stuff like what happens if their eggs aren’t fertilized before they lay them, and why geese sometimes abandon their eggs before they hatch.
When do Geese Lay Eggs?
Geese lay their eggs in Spring, after the mating season. Most wild geese only only lay one clutch of eggs per year, but there are some heavily farmed geese species (such as the Chinese Goose) which can lay up to 50 eggs in a single year.
In the wild, geese can be pretty secretive about where they build their nests and lay their eggs. They prefer to hide their nests from predators, keeping them up high and obscured from view by bushes or plants.
Ideally, they prefer to find locations around large bodies of water to make their nests, and typically lay their eggs when they have made their annual migration to their northern nesting sites in the Arctic.
For the most part, geese will only lay eggs from the end of February until the end of May. However, there are exceptions to this rule. On occasion, geese in their first instance of breeding can end up having a clutch of eggs in late fall, and some heavily farmed species have been conditioned to lay eggs year-round.
Do Geese Lay Unfertilized Eggs?
Just like chickens, geese can also lay unfertilized eggs. When this happens in the wild, the female goose will still sit on the eggs until the rest of the clutch hatch, before abandoning the unfertilized eggs.
In farming, geese have been specially bred to lay unfertilized eggs year round, in a similar manner as modern chicken farms.
How Often do Geese Lay Eggs?
Unlike chickens, most wild geese will only lay eggs once a year, just after mating season in early spring.
Though this is partially due to the biological differences between the two species, the main reason for this is that chickens are so widely farmed by humans that they have been selectively bred to lay more eggs. Geese are not as widely farmed as chickens, and when they are it’s usually for their meat and not for eggs.
Although wild geese only lay one clutch of eggs per year, there are some species of goose which are widely farmed in Asia which are much more productive, laying upwards of 50 eggs every year. The best known example of this is the Chinese Goose (Anser cygnoides domesticus) which is popular in China, Japan, and South East Asia.
Why Do Geese Abandon Their Eggs?
For the most part, geese are dutiful mothers and won’t leave their eggs for just about anything. Mother geese often sit on top of the eggs for the full incubation period without even leaving to eat, relying on her mate to bring food for her.
It takes something extraordinary to cause a mother goose to abandon her eggs, but interference with the nests by human activity, or too many of her eggs becoming spoiled may cause a goose to abandon her nest.
Geese typically breed for the first time at around two or three years, and the first clutch is often not as successful as the following years. In some circumstances, a goose pair with a failed clutch may lay a second clutch in their first year later in the season
Where do Geese Lay Their Eggs?
Geese are experts at hiding their nests from predators. They like to nest within 150 feet of a water source, but also somewhere out of sight, where predators can’t find them.
Some geese species like Barnacle Geese nest in high ocean cliffs to avoid predators, while some others like Canada Geese tend to nest on the ground.
The final line of defense geese have is that their nesting sites are usually somewhere in the high arctic. Common nesting locations include Iceland, Greenland, Northern Canada, Alaska, Svalbard, Siberia, and the north west coast of Norway.
How Long do Geese Sit on their Eggs?
Geese will sit on their eggs for the entire duration of the incubation period, which can be anywhere between 28 and 35 days depending on the specific species and the environmental conditions. Larger geese tend to have a longer incubation period than smaller geese.
During this time, the female goose will spend nearly all of her time sitting on her clutch of eggs. In fact, she will be so totally dedicated to her task that she will completely neglect her own needs, not bathing and quite often not eating.
All of this is due to the fact that the eggs need to be kept at the perfect temperature for them to survive. Naturally, she also stays around to defend her clutch from predators. The male also stays close to the nest to help defend it and to tend to his mate while she looks after the eggs.
How Many Eggs Do Geese Lay?
Geese will generally only lay a single clutch of eggs each year, roughly consisting of five eggs. Though geese can live for upward of 20 years, their egg production gradually drops off as they age. Generally, they will lay their healthiest eggs in their first 5 breeding seasons.
On average, it is considered normal that a clutch will be somewhere in the region of 5 eggs. But there isn’t any set pattern to this, as between 2 and 10 eggs per clutch are still considered normal for wild geese.
Farmed geese can lay upwards of 50 eggs every year.
Geese are not prolific egg layers like ducks or chickens, focusing on quality rather than quantity. Geese are known for their lifelong bonds and shared parenting responsibilities, which greatly increases the chance of their young surviving to adulthood.
Geese lay their eggs only once per year in the wild, usually just after breeding season in their northern nesting grounds. Each clutch of eggs contains roughly five eggs.
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.