What Goose Breed Is Right for You?
Nowadays, more people are venturing into geese keeping. The birds are friendly and make good pets because they become attached to their owners when raised by the same person from an early age. They are also quite profitable because their eggs and meat fetch tidy profits. Moreover, you can use geese as watchdogs and weeders, making them among the most versatile backyard animals.
Before embarking on geese keeping, you should pick the right breed to match your needs. Below are tidbits that will guide you in selecting a goose breed that works for your circumstances.
7 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Goose Breed
When thinking of keeping geese, not all these breeds you come across will work for you. Below are the main aspects that should inform your choice of a goose breed.
You can keep geese for meat, eggs, exhibition, feathers, down, guard duty, or weed control. The purpose of your geese farming will determine the breed that works best for you. For instance, when you want to hatch many eggs with as few male geese as possible, your best choice is a lightweight breed since this mates with up to six females compared to heavy breeds that can only mate with 2-3 females.
Though geese are often associated with warm weather, they are hardy birds that thrive even in cold climates. They have an extra layer of fat that keeps them warm in the winter, but they also need your help staying warm in the biting cold with insulated coops. In hot summers, keep your geese cool by providing a splashing pond and shade.
Your geese need enough space for them to spread out. If your birds will spend most of their time wandering outdoors, you can have a small but uncrowded area for them to sleep and shelter in when it rains. Either way, you need not less than 4-8 square feet of space per goose for most breeds to ensure your flock’s comfort.
Geese have had a bad rap as being aggressive though this temperament has more to do with how you handle them. When you hand raise your goose and are gentle when handling them, it can become the friendliest animal in your backyard. Pilgrim, Toulouse, Embden, and Chinese geese are some of the friendliest breeds.
Geese are observant animals that will honk loudly when they see anything different or new. They also honk when they see you, want to be fed, are uncomfortable, and are about to take flight. If you live in an urban area, these constant loud honks can be an issue for your neighbors. Generally, the Chinese goose is the noisiest.
When shopping around for your goose, you will notice that some are more readily available than others. Hatcheries and breeders will often stock breeds with the highest benefits. The most popular goose breed you will come across is the Embden because of its white feathers, large size, and fast growth rate. Most hatcheries and breeders also have Pilgrim, Chinese, African, and Toulouse geese.
Geese can live for up to twenty years, so it takes commitment to keep them. Thankfully, they are not high-maintenance animals since they are largely self-sufficient. Their diet mainly comprises grass, and they are good foragers that need little to no dietary supplementation when they have access to quality pasture.
Best Goose Breeds for Meat Production
You will be pleasantly surprised to know that goose meat tastes less like poultry and more like beef. For a small-scale farmer, it is an excellent way of adding some taste to your harvest without factoring in the high expense of raising a cow. Here are three of the best breed alternatives for goose meat.
- Embden: A female Embden weighs 9-11 kg, while a male weighs 11-14kg. This breed reaches maturity quickly, usually within 2-3 years.
- Toulouse: An adult male Toulouse goose weighs 19-20 pounds while its female counterpart weighs 15-17 pounds. This breed gains weight rapidly and puts on plenty of fat when fed well resulting in an oversized liver often used to produce pate de foie gras.
- Pomeranian: A grown male Pomeranian goose weighs 17.5-25 pounds, while the female weighs 15.5-20 pounds. These geese are renowned for their high yield of breast meat and are often used to produce smoked goose breast.
Best Goose Breeds for Egg Production
Geese eggs are divinely delicious. Their yolks are rich, dense, and large, while the whites are runny and perfect for waffles and custards. Here are the best goose breeds for egg production.
- Chinese: Chinese geese can lay 50-80 eggs annually in a five-month season, though some strains can lay as many as 100 eggs. The eggs are generally white and weigh 120g on average.
- Roman: These geese lay 40-60 eggs annually.
- Toulouse: A Toulouse goose with the dewlap variety will lay 20-35 white extra-large eggs yearly while the one without dewlaps lays 25-40 eggs in the same period.
Best Goose Breeds for Pest Control
You can use geese to control the pests in your farm or backyard biologically. They are omnivorous animals that will eat weeds to give your plants a healthy environment to thrive and eat worms and harmful small animals like slugs, insects, and snails. Below are the best goose breeds for pest control.
- African: The exceptional foraging and grazing habits of African geese make them perfect options for ridding your garden of unwanted pests without using harmful chemicals.
- Chinese: The long necks and small bodies of Chinese geese enable them to poke around easily and reach weeds that other goose breeds will not usually reach.
- Embden: This goose breed is a good forager with feathers that sit close to its body, enabling it to reach cramped spaces and pluck weeds and pests.
Best Goose Breeds for Pets and Companion Animals
Geese are intelligent animals that can become friends for life when hand raised and when you remain calm around them. Here are the best breed options for pets.
- These geese are renowned for being quiet and friendly. They are somewhat shy and perfect pets for anyone concerned about the aggressive nature of most goose breeds.
- Pilgrim: Pilgrim geese are friendly and calm, making them perfect companions.
- American Buff: The American Buff is a docile and calm goose breed, thus making it a good pet. Moreover, this goose is inquisitive and will follow you around, giving you lots of time to bond with it.
Best Goose Breeds for Show
If you are looking for an exhibition animal, consider getting a goose to stand out at the next show. Below are the best geese breeds for show.
- Sebastopol: The Sebastopol stands out with its soft-quilled, long, curling feathers which elegantly drape from its tail, body, and wings. It comes in gray, buff, and white varieties, with the white variety being the most popular.
- Roman: The main characteristic of the Roman goose as a show bird is the tuft of feathers perched on its head. However, this tuft’s size differs among birds in different areas with geese in Australia and Europe having small ones.
- Exhibition dewlap Toulouse: Unlike the production Toulouse, the dewlap Toulouse is eye-catching and remarkable. It has unruly gray feathers, and skin sags called dewlaps under its beak.
Best Goose Breeds for Small Spaces
If you live in a confined space, this does not exclude you from running a successful goose-keeping venture. Here are the best breed alternatives for your small space.
- Pilgrim: Pilgrim geese are medium-weight breeds with mature ganders weighing 14-18 pounds while females weigh 12-16 pounds.
- Sebastopol: A female Sebastopol goose weighs 12-14 pounds, while a male weighs 12-14 pounds when fully grown.
- American Buff: A mature gander American buff will weigh around 18 pounds while its female counterpart weighs 16 pounds.
Best Goose Breeds for Cold Climates
Geese can get too cold, more so in freezing temperatures, but some breeds can withstand freezing temperatures better than others. Here are some of them.
- Toulouse: Toulouse geese grow quickly and develop a thick down feather coating that insulates them from the cold.
- Embden: Embden geese have lovely feathers and a pure white coat that keeps them warm in the cold. Their full coats even cover their feet and beaks when temperatures dip too low.
- Sebastopol: The curled feathers of a Sebastopol goose can help it snuggle with other birds in the winter to survive the cold.
Best Goose Breeds for Warm Climates
If you live in a warm region, you should have a pond nearby to keep geese cool when it gets too hot. Nonetheless, the breeds below thrive better than others in warm climates.
- African: African geese can be kept in hot and cold climates, but their knobs are susceptible to frostbite. This makes them better suited for warm temperatures.
- Chinese: Chinese geese are exceptional foragers that thrive best in warm weather, where they can forage all year round.
- Brown Chinese: These are small geese weighing 10-12 pounds as adults with low fat making them ill-suited for cold climates.
Best Goose Breeds for Large Spaces
If you have a lot of space for geese keeping, here are the breeds you should consider:
- Embden: The standard weight of an adult male Emden goose is 26 pounds, while its female counterpart weighs 20 pounds. Their large sizes and fast growth rates make them perfect for commercial meat production.
- Toulouse: Toulouse ganders can weigh 30 pounds but they often weigh 26 pounds with females weighing 20 pounds.
- American Buff: A male American buff goose weighs 18 pounds, whereas the female weighs 16 pounds. Though not so large, the breed needs a lot of space because it loves foraging and exploring its environment.
Best Goose Breeds for Beginners
Beginner goose keepers should ideally settle for breeds that are easy to care for and calm so that their venture is not too tasking. Here are these breeds.
- Pilgrim: Pilgrim geese have friendly and docile temperaments. Moreover, they have an exceptional vision that will prove handy if you want a guard animal.
- American Buff: This calm and docile breed is quite hardy, making it hard for beginners to make costly mistakes with it.
- Sebastopol: This good-natured goose breed fattens up easily and has many uses. You can use a Sebastopol goose for meat or egg production, as a guard animal, or as a weed controller.
You are now adequately prepared for your goose-keeping venture from the above article. Always get your gosling from a reputable breeder, farm, hatchery, or vendor. This protects you from breeding problems that can lead to genetic issues in your geese. Moreover, in so doing, you are sure that you will not contribute to illegal breeding or trade that leads to the extinction of some goose breeds.