African vs Chinese Geese – What is the Difference?

Nowadays, most poultry farmers are opting for geese. These birds can serve as guard animals, help to control some weeds in your vegetable patch, and have tasty eggs and meat. When choosing a goose, you will come across several options. Like horses, dogs, and cats, geese come in many sizes, shapes, and temperaments.

While some are loud and unsuited for urban areas, others are docile and ideal when living close to your neighbors. The two most common geese breeds are the Chinese and African geese. Below are tidbits on the elements that differentiate these two popular breeds.

What Are Chinese Geese?

Chinese geese are sometimes called swan geese because they are considered the most beautiful ones in the goose family. They are also closely related to the wild swan goose of Asia. Chinese geese have loud honks that make them excellent guards, and they are excellent weeders for most gardens.

They are lightweight geese often used for egg production because their meat is not much. There exist two main strains of Chinese geese. One is a stocky one usually found in the UK and primarily used as an ornamental bird and for egg production. The other is a slender one primarily found in the US, where it is mainly kept as an ornamental bird or pet.

What Are African Geese?

Despite the name, African geese are not initially from Africa. One school of thought believes they descended from wild swan geese, just like the Chinese geese. The breed is thought to have come to North America on the ships that toured the world, so its exact origin remains ambiguous.

Other people claim that the African goose is a cross of the Chinese and swan geese. Irrespective of its origin, the breed has been recognized as a distinct one since around the mid-19th century in North America and since the late 1700s in Europe. The three recognized African geese breeds are the gray, brown, and white varieties.

Chinese Goose vs African Goose

Below are the main aspects that distinguish Chinese and African geese

– Appearance

The African goose is a heavy bird with a thick neck, confident posture, and stout bill that give it an impression of vitality and strength. The plumages of brown and gray African geese are a combination of gray, white, brown, and buff.

Dark brown stripes run down the backs of the geese’s necks and over their crowns. Mature birds have narrow bands of whitish feathers separating their knob and satin-black bills down their brown heads. The white geese have pure white plumages, bright orange feet and shanks, and orange knobs and bills.

The Chinese goose is a small and slender bird that comes in white or brown. White geese have orange bills, striking blue eyes, orange legs, and white feathers. Brown geese have orange feet, brown eyes, and black bills. Chinese geese have pale gray breast feathers and long creamy necks. The necks are arched, meeting their bodies at 45 degrees to give them a unique, elegant look.

– Size and Weight

The African goose can weigh up to 20 pounds and reach heights of slightly above 3 feet when standing upright. The Chinese male goose weighs approximately 11 pounds, while the female is about 9 pounds. The birds can grow to a maximum of 2-3 feet. Chinese geese will rarely grow above three feet tall.

– Temperament

African geese are highly intelligent and inquisitive birds. They love investigating things around them and will often follow you around. They are also very friendly and will happily greet you.

The male birds are more aggressive than the females and will hiss at potential animals, whereas the females honk while backing away from threats. Nonetheless, female African geese can hiss at enemies when alone or protecting their goslings.

Chinese geese are curious and intelligent though naturally suspicious of people. When raised without human contact, most will become aggressive around humans. When raised by humans, Chinese geese will chatter and honk when you talk to them. They grow very tame if you frequently talk to them, give them treats and touch them. They will squawk and honk when threatened.

– Egg Production

Female African geese are not very prolific layers. They lay 20-40 eggs annually. The eggs are white and extra large, weighing 5-8 ounces. If you want them to hatch, they will do so in 30-32 days.

Chinese geese can lay a maximum of 100 eggs in a breeding season spanning about five months. These eggs weigh about 4 ounces which is less than most goose breeds.

– Meat Production

As a lightweight breed, the Chinese goose is not often exclusively kept for its meat. Nonetheless, its meat can adequately feed a small family. The African goose is primarily a meat bird. Its large size means that it can comfortably feed a large group. Sometimes, farmers crossbreed it with breeds like the Toulouse to boost the meat yield. Goose meat has been described as tasting more like beef than chicken, so it is a good way of getting the taste of beef without dealing with the high expenses of raising a cow.

– Care and Housing

Chinese and African geese need water sources in which they can fit their entire bills. They also need small water bodies to splash in and groom themselves. The birds mainly feed on grass. You will need to supplement their diets in the winter with feed pellets and dry wheat.

A pair of Chinese geese will need a least 1.5 square meters of floor space in a well-ventilated coop secured from predators. Two African geese will need a 6ft x 4ft enclosure. Their coop should be well-secured from predators like dogs and foxes. Geese have large feet enabling them to walk on soggy ground, so they do not need a roost like other birds.


Chinese and African geese thrive in almost all climates and are not predisposed to any illnesses. With the above information, you can confidently pick one of these to add to your flock, depending on your needs.

You can also diversify your flock by mixing African and Chinese geese. Thankfully, most of their care needs are similar, so this will not be a challenge for you.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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