Poorly Grace – Sun Stroke?

Here goes. Two days ago we noticed one of our moulting geese, Grace, was a bit listless, wobbly on her feet, and not eating a great deal. She’d also taken to sitting down quite a lot, in the full sun. We have had a heat wave into the high 20s, early 30s for a week or so and, despite having a field shelter, the geese have taken to wandering around in the full glare.

Our other goose, Lucy, had also been listless and lacking energy about 3 weeks ago, and was also going through the moult, but this was before the heatwave, and is now plodding around happily with Barty the gander.

Worried that something was amiss, we decided to part Grace from the flock and bring her near to the house where we could keep an eye on her. There was also more shelter from a large fence, should she decide she needed it. We also gave her her own bucket of water, another lower water bowl in case she was too tired to stand, a bowl of barley corn (there is some doubt over the suitability of barley for geese – this needs more research), layers pellets, and a selection of freshly picked greens. She nibbled at the corn and pellets, but didn’t touch the fresh stuff. She would also take some water occasionally. During the day she got neither better nor worse.

We looked to the ever-helpful Pilgrim posse on mail, and had suggestions that worming her may be a good idea, and possibly treating for heat stress (cooling her down with a damp towel, dipping her beak in the water to encourage her to drink).

This book was suggested for diagnosing ailments:


The next day we were greeted with clear and runny poop, so we whisked her off to the vets who prescribed her with the antibiotic Metronidazole and the wormer Panacur.

Whilst being initially offered Baytril, the usual antibiotic cleared for use in poultry, the vet mentioned we wouldn’t be able to eat the eggs once administered. We said we knew this, the usual fortnightly wait before it was safe, but she informed us we would never be able to eat the eggs again! Crikey – that’s a turn up!

We were also advised that 2ml of Panacur per 1kg in weight per bird was to be given once daily for three days, so 5ml for our Grace was the dose!

Alarm bells once again sounded, so I called Chris Ashton of Ashton Waterfowl for some advice. Chris said that vets tend to just multiply quantities based on animals they know, but that 2ml per adult Pilgrim would be plenty. And to combat gizzard worm you only need to dose once, then again in 1-2 weeks time – two doses in total. The staggered dosing is to kill the emerging adult worms the first dose missed, as Panacur is not effective against the eggs of the gizzard worm.

As for the Baytril, it seems to be a misinterpretation of the regulations, but in practice you can eat the eggs 14-18 days after administration. That being said, a recent visit to another vet with a poorly chicken we bought (we didn’t have the heart to leave her with her owners), we were also told that Baytril was no longer an option and that they had to give us something else – amoxicillin – a paediatric banana-flavoured antibiotic. It worked, but I’m sure their reason was something along the lines of ‘clamping down on the over-use of antibiotics’.

So there are the official quantites for Panacur for Pilgrim geese, from Chris. And as for the antibiotics, there seem to be many discussions online around people’s experiences of it – for example:


I’m still not sure about Baytril’s current standing, but one vet said they can no longer prescribe it, and the other said we can’t eat the eggs ever again if they did so. All theories welcome.

We’re now on the evening and we have given the first doses of both, much to Grace’s disgust. It’s relatively easy to squirt the stuff into her with one adult hugging her and the other doing the messy business of holding her mouth open and syringing. However, it has crossed my mind that this is a weakened goose and that, if all goes to plan and the liquids do their job, by the time she’s ready for her second dose of Panacur she’ll be a darned sight less amenable to having her beak prised open by a ham-fisted, syringe-toting human slave. I’ll be glad of that bite when it happens, as I know she’s back on form.

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