At my daughter"s horse barn, Shadowfax LLC at the Glenmore Equestrian Center, we wage an ongoing battle with geese. Many other farms in Charlottesville and all over Albemarle County are having the same problem. I remember as a child watching v shaped formations of geese fly over in the fall on the way to their winter nesting grounds. Now flocks of geese make their home in central Virginia year round.
Most people are aware of the problems that golf courses and homeowners associations have discouraging the goose population, but farmers are faced with the problem as well. The numbers of Canada geese have increased all over the United States. Not only are they protected by laws but also in most areas there is a lack of natural predators. People understand the problem of goose poop on the golf course, but don’t realize the destruction that a large goose population can cause on a farm. A simgle goose can eat as much as 5 pounds of grass a day. Image what a sizeable flock can do to horse pastures and grazing land. Also geese can foul the water in the ponds where the horses and cattle need to drink.
Due to the fact that the geese are a protected species farmers are not allowed to shoot them. One solution is to use a dog such as a border collie to chase the geese off of the property. Some farmers also shoot over the geese to make them decide that a pond in another area would be a better choice for a home.
Another theory is that geese are not comfortable in tall grass since a predator mght be lurking unseen. Geese also prefer to eat the tender young shoots of grass rather than the tougher taller strands. Unfortunately it is an essential part of pasture management when maintaining fields for grazing to keep them bushhogged. However, there is the option of leaving a barrier of tall grasses around ponds. The grasses will block the goose’s view from the pond, and they will not feel safe there since they cannot see approaching predators. With a little luck the geese may decide to relocate.
Whichever approach you decide upon it will require constant vigilance since geese tend to be very persistent.
Pam Dent, e-PRO, SRES
Real Estate III
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