Which Goose Breed Is Best For Me?
Geese have a reputation for being noisy and mean. While this may be true for some breeds, there are others that are quite docile and friendly (like the Large Dewlap Toulouse, White Embden or Sebastopol). Being social animals, they will form strong relationships within the flock. I call my geese “the biddies” because they excitedly chat amongst themselves quite often and once they get sight of me they let me know all about it.
A pond is not a necessity for raising geese but they will need a kiddie pool or trough for drinking, bathing and playing. In the cooler months, a simple, dry, and covered shelter along with their feathers and soft down helps to keep geese insulated and warm in the coldest temperatures. Keep in mind special care should be taken for Africans and Chinese to prevent frostbite on their knobs. In the warm summer months, a shady spot and cool, clean drinking water will need to be provided to help your birds to cool and hydrated. Once these things are provided, your geese will be able to free-range to their little heart’s content.
Choosing a Breed
When choosing a breed of goose, it is important to take into consideration their ultimate purpose on your homestead. There are basically 4 different categories (meat, eggs, weeders, or watchdogs) that a breed of a goose can fall into and while most overlap and fall into multiple categories we have broken it down to the top three for each.
Geese are fairly inexpensive to raise and tend to be the easiest as well. They are great foragers which keeps feed costs low. However, if you are raising geese during the winter, the additional feed will be needed since fresh grass is not available. After three weeks, an ideal goose diet consists of 80% grass and 20% grain along with plenty of water. With proper diet and husbandry, geese can gain up to a pound a week. Typically by 12 weeks, they are ready for processing.
Geese lay noticeably larger eggs than chickens or ducks, up to three times bigger. An average goose egg is 3-4.5 inches in length and a circumference of more than 7 inches. The yolk of the egg is quite large and there is less egg white than that of a chicken egg. Using them in your baked goods recipe can result in heavier, moister and denser bakes. Goose eggs are quite a delicacy and have a higher price tag per dozen because the laying period is shorter than other birds.
Here are your top three breeds for eggs:
French Toulouse – 35-50 eggs per year
White Chinese – 45-55 eggs per year
White Emden – 35-45 eggs per year
Geese have a lighter footprint and are smaller than humans which means less ground compacting and they can get in between garden rows with ease. The secret to weeder geese is that they tend to avoid broader leaf plants so they are perfect for keeping the rows between you tomatoes or cucumbers weed-free. If you have fruit bushes like blueberries you may want to net them before the berries ripen because geese love berries – frozen blueberries are a favorite treat during the hot summer for my biddies.
Here are your top three breeds for weeders:
Stories of guard geese date back to 390 B.C. where the geese alerted Rome to an attack by the Gauls by wildly flapping their wings and honking loudly. Birds, in general, can hear better than humans and geese have an extra light sensor in their eyes so they can see further and clearer than we would ever hope to. This combined with the noisy honk we all have heard gives geese the reputation of being one of the best guard animals in existence. Check out his article from National Geographic.
Here are your top three breeds for guarding:
When choosing a goose for a pet, remember to keep their dominant traits in mind so you don’t have a pet goose that is loud and always sassing when people come around, unless you don’t want people to come around. Geese are a great addition to your backyard flock and, just like chickens, and they can provide hours of enjoyment and entertainment.
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