5 Best Goose Breed for Beginners
Poultry farming is an excellent activity both as a hobby and an economic venture. The most common birds kept are chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, and quails. Most people know of the intricacies of chicken farming, but very few are yet to discover the benefits of Goose farming.
If you are a new poultry farmer or a seasoned veteran and you would love to add some geese to your collection of birds, then this is the article for you.
Just like ducks and swans, geese are adapted to both land and water and can properly survive in both. They have webbed feet, serrated bills, and long legs. Their diet is made up of plants but they can consume the occasional bug. There are several species of geese but only some of them have been properly domesticated with the rest having been left as wild. A free-range system works best for their domestication.
I hope that by this point your interest in goose farming has peaked. Here are the best 5 goose breeds that you can look to add to your farm as a beginner.
1. Cotton Patch Geese
This species of goose gets its name from the task it performed in the USA back in the day. It was excellent for weeding corn and cotton fields back in the 1950s while providing an excellent source of meat and eggs. This made the breed find use in weeding and as a source of food and grease.
The geese grazed fields and helped in the clearance of weeds and crabgrass while leaving the cotton and corn unharmed. This helped to keep the weeds in check and reduce the manual labor required to maintain the fields.
The Cotton patch is a breed characterized by orange-pink or pink bills, the ability to fly, and lightweight bodies. It is a medium-sized goose breed with a tail in line with its wings and back. It weighs anywhere from 7-10 pounds when fully grown. The feathers of this breed are dove gray.
The females are usually solid gray with white facial markings or white with gray markings. The goslings are sexable at hatching with the females being dark gray and the males having a lighter shade.
They are excellent at foraging, have a calm temperament, and can live for about 20 years. They produce around 20-30 eggs per season. Though they are rarely bred these days, they are an excellent starter breed.
2. Embden Geese
This is a large goose species that is discernible by its white color and its bright orange feet and bill. It is a species that has its origins in Germany in the mid-1800s. It has a large carcass and was primarily bred for its meat.
The males of this breed grow to large size of about 20-30 pounds while the females are relatively smaller and grow to about 20-25 pounds in weight. It is a common breed and is believed to have been the inspiration behind the goose that laid the story of the golden egg.
They grow to maturity in about 2-3 years. In terms of appearance, they have round and stocky bodies with short tails and legs. They have long necks and oval-shaped bodies. Their eyes are a light shade of blue and usually have strong wings that enable them short term flight.
As a breed, the Embden goose is hardy, tolerant of most climates, and excellent at foraging. The geese have a quiet temperament but the males can get vocal from time to time, especially in the mating season, when spooked or when looking after goslings.
These are also the times they express aggression. They average 20 eggs per season and incubate for about 30-35 days. They also find use in weed control.
3. Sebastopol Geese
This is the easiest breed of goose to distinguish simply by looking at its feathers. It is believed to have originated from central Europe, in Sebastopol, Crimea. It has long, curling, soft-quilted feathers that drape over its body from the neck to the tail.
This is a result of selective breeding over the years and also makes them a goose breed that can be kept for their aesthetic value. The males and females have white feathers, bright orange bills, and orange feet. There are also some varieties of this breed that have some gray in their feathers.
The breed is medium-sized and the males weigh about 12-14 pounds when mature while the females a slightly smaller and weigh about 10-12 pounds when mature. Their curled feathers are a hindrance to flight and this makes them easier to confine, which is usually an attractive quality to most new goose farmers.
They have a lifespan of about 25 years and can serve you for quite a long period if kept for their aesthetic appeal. They are good layers and can produce anywhere from 20 to 35 eggs per season. Their small stature reduces the amount of meat they produce but they can still be kept for meat.
They have a friendly and quiet temperament making them excellent pets. They can also interact with children without causing them harm. They are rarely hostile, rarely vocal, and are very approachable. They are also excellent foragers and can help with weed control in your garden or backyard.
Their feathers don’t provide adequate heating and as a new farmer, you should try to have something in place to supplement this during harsh winters.
4. Dewlap African Geese
First of all, no, this is not a Goose that has its origin from any part of Africa. The Buff Dewlap African has its origin in China and other parts of Asia. It is a majestic goose that has a brown smokey coloring that is very pleasant to look at. It is also easy to distinguish in adulthood as it has a prominent black knob that sits atop its beak.
It also has a dewlap that hangs below its bill, its upper neck, and its head. This adds to its elegant appearance in adulthood. Its temperament changes from time to time. The Dewlap African Goose is generally loud with spurts of aggression from time to time. It may brood but not very often and will always announce its presence from time to time throughout the day.
They are a large goose species with the males weighing around 22 pounds upon maturity and the females a little less at 18 pounds. They live for about 15 years and are known to produce about 20 to 40 eggs per season.
Though their egg laying may not be as impressive, their meat production is almost second to none and they are primarily bred for their meat. They grow fast and mature in 2-3 years.
They remain viable for egg laying for quite a while but the quality of their meat starts to depreciate over the past 6 years. They are good foragers but are susceptible to frostbite and require insulation during the winter.
5. Tufted Roman Geese
The Tufted Roman Goose draws its origins from Italy, dating back to the roman empire hence the name. It was revered and legend has it that this breed of goose alerted the Romans to the invasion of the Gauls, enabling them to react in time and repel them.
It is characterized by the tuft of feathers atop its head. They have been selectively bred to extenuate this trait and this makes them good for use as an esthetic within the farm. The breed is pure white with some species having buff and grey feathers. They have blue eyes and pink legs and bills.
They have a large carcass, with the males and females weighing about 10-12 pounds upon maturity. There is usually a distinction in size and color between the geese of this breed kept for meat and eggs and those kept for ornamental reasons with the former being smaller and less white.
In Europe, they find more use as sources of meat and eggs and this has increased their gene pool and differences. In North America, they are mainly kept for their beauty with few farmers keeping them for meat and eggs. They lay about 20-30 eggs per season and can live up to 25 years.
They have a good tolerance for the change in weather but extra insulation is advised in extremely cold temperatures.
If you choose to acquire any of the above geese, then you should opt for a reputable breeder to get the healthiest of the flock. You should also start with no more than 5 geese, with only one gander. This will be a manageable flock and you can feel what it is like to look after geese.
You may not necessarily need a pond available for your geese, a large trough of water that they can sit in should be enough to make them happy. Have a healthy field around with enough grass as this is part of their diet. Ensure that you have a shed that they can retire to from time to time should they need it.
Keep your property fenced to prevent the ducks from wandering too far as they acquaint themselves with the new environment. No matter what breed of goose you decide to keep, you should have some fun as geese are easy to maintain and add some good ambiance to the farm.