Greylag geese (Anser anser) can cause serious damage to agricultural fields near wetlands that are attractive for resting and nesting but not for feeding. Alternative plantings or spraying fields may prevent goose damage. We randomly designed 64 plots in spring 2004 and prepared plantings of white clover (Trifolium repens), white clover with perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne; mixture), fertilized perennial ryegrass (grass), or unfertilized perennial ryegrass. We measured goose-dropping densities in plots as a measure of feeding preference in autumn 2004 (7 weeks), spring 2005 (6 weeks), and autumn 2005 (7 weeks) following removal of a protective fence and vegetation sampling for content analysis in 2004. We also sprayed activated charcoal (20 kg/ha) in a suspension on 32 plots (8/planting) to deter geese in autumn 2004 only. In a second experiment we examined pairs of greylag geese in cages for preferences between grass treated with or without activated charcoal. Charcoal did not deter geese in either experiment. However, dropping density averaged highest for clover (1.01/m2), followed by the mixture (0.65/m2), then fertilized (0.23/m2) and unfertilized grass (0.16/m2). Preferences were consistent in all 3 experimental periods. Fertilized grass reached 31.8 cm in height on average in spring, whereas clover measured 15.4 cm. Crude protein and water-soluble carbohydrate content (g/kg dry matter) was 294 and 49, respectively, in white clover and 183 and 139, respectively, in fertilized grass. We found a positive partial correlation independent of vegetation type between dropping densities and crude protein and a negative correlation with water-soluble carbohydrate content. Thus, to prevent grazing damage to agricultural fields, we recommend planting white clover, strongly preferred by feeding geese, in areas (fallow agricultural or nonagricultural) adjacent to their habitat and not in agricultural fields under production.
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Vol. 73 • No. 6