- Pentti Alho
- phone / fax 358 (0) 3 7654 727,
- mobile phone mobile 358 (0) 440- 654727
- The last breeding of a free living Lesser White-fronted Goose in Finland was observed in 1995. Breeding the geese in captivity is necessary for later reintroduction of the species in Nature. About one hundred Lesser White-fronted Geese are living on the farm in Hämeenkoski, accounting to 1/4 of the World's captive population and practically the total Finnish population.
The Goose Farm is located in Hämeenkoski, Southern Finland. Its owners -- Pentti and Kaija Alho -- live on the farm. They take care of the 100 Lesser White-fronted Geese all year round. On the farm there live also a few other birds. Many of them have been brought there because of injury and are not capable to survive in Nature. All cages are insulated from each other and from their Environment by dense enough nets; this is in accordance with Finnish rules on preventing bird flu.
- The farm's total area of about 5000 m2 consists of three adjacent parts
Breeding in separate brooding compartments of about 40 sqm for each pair has proven to be superior in comparison to an open compartment. In their boxes the pairs do not disturb each other or the goslings. Keeping track of individual birds and their ancestral lineages is also easy. In spite of our favourable system, a farm with a hundred Lesser White-fronted Geese is of maximal size, since oversized flocks lead to stress and internal conflicts.
The farm is run by Pentti Alho. Taking care of the bird's well being and keeping the farm's buildings in good condition all year round requires several hours of daily work, depending on the season. Occasional help - in particular during the construction of new buildings - has come from the Häme Regional Environment Centre, and the Friends of the Lesser White-fronted Goose.
Originally, the farm was part of a governmental financed WWF project. In 1998 the birds were abandoned by WWF. Since then Pentti Alho continues breeding Lesser White-fronted Geese on his own expence, except under the period 2001-2004 with some EU support. This unbearable state of affairs continues. Today, the Friends of the Lesser White-fronted Goose (est. 1999) are the formal administrators of the farm, but we have not been able to collect reasonable support since 2004. Instead, considerable construction aid has been given by our volunteers.
The Friends thank those who have contributed to our work by more than the equivalent of 200 EUR, by donating a high class signed and numbered print of a Lesser White-fronted Goose painting. A series of Finnish and Swedish artists have painted them and donated the paintings to the society. The paintings will be published annually; the first are created by the artists Auvo Taivalvuo, Kari Eischer, Pekka Saikko, Tom Björklund, Erik van Ommen and Dag Petterson.
A kind of painting by artist Niilo Kallio can be purhased by buying our T- or College shirts. You will find all these paintings on the farm's Photo album.
Occasionally, the Finnish Government, as well as the EU have supported our farm, but today we are completely dependent on our members and sponsors. Enterprises and private persons have contributed with material and food. We are very grateful to them all. See the Sponsor list on the Society Page.
The Farm at Hämeenkoski was initiated by WWF Finland in the late 1980's, at a time when it had become apparent, that their original farm on Hailuoto did not have enough production capacity for the extensive re-introduction programme planned.
The first 18 Lesser White-fronts came to Hämeenkoski in autumn 1989 from Hailuoto. These birds were descendants of the Lesser White-fronted Geese kept in Sweden, Öster-Malma. Next year four young birds arrived the same way, and later Lesser White-fronted Goose have been bought in Denmark and Germany. They seem to originate from Russia.
The first goslings hatched in spring 1991. The proud parents were a pair of only 2 years of age (in their 3:rd cy). In the beginning, breeding was done in an open compartment, but this method soon proved insufficient for various reasons, and brooding compartments were introduced in 1994-5. Since then breeding has been successful with increasing numbers of goslings. 2002 a record high of 43 fledglings was reached and soon we had up to 133 geese on the farm.
But in December 2005 The Finnish Lesser White-fronted Goose project was struck by disaster. In an unexpectedly heavy snow storm, large parts of the buildings collapsed and amost half of the geese were set free and died under the winterly conditions. Even worse, the geese who had lost their partners in the accident did not breed in 2006, so recovery was delayded. In spring 2007, only 75 Lesser White-fronted Geese were still alive. Today (May 22, 2007) the farm buildings are repaired and geese are breeding in all compartments.
- In 1998 a genetic paper was published containing the claim that a large percentage of the captive Lesser White-fronted Geese in Finland and Sweden are hybrids between Lesser and Greater White-fronted Goose. Later studies have proven that this was a fatal misinterpretation of data.
In 2001 and 2002, the genetic background of our geese was controlled, both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA. As a result of these studies, releases could be continued in Finnish Lapland.
A large German research project in 2006 was able to find the error in the original paper of 1998. Also, it was shown that captive Lesser White-fronted Geese have very satisfactory genetic variability. After picking out a few birds and some exchange of birds between various breeding sites, we will have an optimal breeding population. The original research report as well as Wetlands International's wiew on its reliability can be found at http://www.piskulkaconf.tk/ .
All construction efforts aim at improving the living conditions for the birds. For pictures, see the Photo album.
- It was intended that the renewal of the farm constructions should be finished by the end of 2005. To achieve this, the following work was done:
- The farm buildings were repaired almost to their original condition:
YOU ARE WELCOME TO WORK WITH US. TOGEHER WE CAN RESCUE THE LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE!