Breeders may be kept on pasture until the winter sets in. A restricted feeding program should be followed until egg production begins. A combination of good quality roughage and a commercially available goose growing ration (in pellet form) during this period is quite satisfactory. The total pellet fed per day may vary between 115 and 225 grams (.25 to .5 pounds) depending on the roughage quality and the environmental temperature. Breeders should be maintained in good condition and should not become overweight.
Approximately two months prior to egg production, birds should be placed on a breeder ration. This may be a pelleted feed intended as the sole feed, fed free choice with no supplement added, or it may be combined in a 50:50 ratio with a grain.
A complete pelleted feed will provide all the nutrients required for good egg production and hatchability. Alternately, non-medicated chicken breeder rations can be used with satisfactory results, as these do not differ fundamentally from a good breeder ration. Where rations are deficient in calcium, oyster shell should be provided. Grower-sized insoluble grit and oyster shell should be provided free-choice about eight weeks prior to the commencement of lay. Second season breeders should be similarly treated.
The larger breeds mate in pairs and trios, while among the smaller breeds, each male mates with about five females. The Canada Goose is monogamous and usually mates for life.
Geese lay more and larger eggs in the second, third, and subsequent years. Fertility, however, decreases with age, while hatchability increases in the second year of egg production. Where the hatchability and fertility are low, the ganders should be replaced with younger males. In those breeds where mass matings are practiced, males either tend to fight and obstruct successful matings, or in some cases, gang up in bachelor groups, thus depressing egg production and lowering fertility.
Ganders should be kept in separate pens to prevent fighting. Matins should not be changed from year to year except when they prove unsatisfactory. In such instances, previously mated birds should be kept as far apart as possible. Geese of 2 to 5 years of age give the best breeding results.
(Atlantic Advisory Committee on Poultry)