Lynn Garner of Preston has raised the elegant mute swan for about seven years. The long neck birds live in the ponds at Preston Golf and Country Club. He’s had expensive black necked swans and black swans but dogs and kids hitting them with golf balls has reduced the bevy to two breeding pairs and an extra female.
Garner bought the swans while serving on the Preston Golf Course Board of Directors. He was worried about the mess geese had made around area ponds and thought the swans would be a good addition to the golf course.
The thing about swans is they are really aggressive towards geese; they will chase them out of a pond, but they coexist fine with ducks. Another positive about swans is they eat about eight pounds of moss a day, he said.
“Swans spend about 85 percent of their time in the water and 15 percent on the ground,” Garner said. “Geese on the other hand spend 80 percent of their time on the ground and 20 percent in the water and they leave quite a mess.”
He likes the way the swans look as they glide across the water. But introducing them to the golf course ponds are not without problems.
“We lost a bunch of swans and now we have to almost start over from ground zero,” he said. “We had two this spring and hopefully in a year we will have some baby swans.”
Swans are not the kind of bird you get at chick time from the farm store in the spring. They are harder to find.
“I usually buy them when they are six months old from a place back east. There are some growers in the Salt Lake area that are good to work with,” he said. “We have a good relationship; we try to help each other when we can.”
Garner said there is a market for them if you can get them raised. A breeding pair of mute swans goes for about $1,500 to $2,000, black neck swans are about $3,500 and all-black swans are even more expensive.
“I usually check on them every day. They are pretty self-sufficient until winter comes.”
Then Garner feeds them and sometime brings them home where he can care for them.
Originally, Garner bought swans as an investment. He was hoping he could rent them out to other pond owners, but when most of them were killed off he had to rethink his investment.
“I’ve gone backwards on them, but I sure enjoy swans. I get entertainment from watching them, but they don’t make you money.”
The swans with their S curved neck are not native to the United States, but have been transplanted and can be found in many lakes and ponds across the country.