Cape Barren Goose – Breed Profile & Facts
The Cape Barren goose is among the largest geese species in the world. The pale gray goose has a unique small head and a bulky body. Prevalent in South Australia, the Cape Barren geese are some of the rarest geese in the world, although they are becoming increasingly popular in recent years.
They have a unique appearance, thanks to their gray plumage and round black spots. Wild Cape Barren geese live near water bodies such as dams, rivers, lakes, lagoons, and swamps. These birds are capable of thriving in confinement and free range.
History of The Cape Barren Goose
The Cape Barren goose is an exotic goose breed native to Australia. Cape Barren geese are prevalent throughout South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria. They are also common in various offshore islands throughout the world.
A hybrid version of these geese arrived in New Zealand in the 1800s. John Latham, an English ornithologist, brought these geese to England in 1801, and they have since become popular across Europe and the Americas.
Cape Barren Goose Characteristics
The Cape Barren geese are huge blue-grey birds. These geese have white feathers on their heads and dark wingtips. They have short bills with large yellow ceres, giving them peculiar expressions. They have black feet and pink legs.
Unlike other geese, these geese don’t have a large webbing on their feet, making them capable of spending plenty of time on land.
– Size & Weight
The Cape Barren goose is a large diurnal bird measuring between 30 and 39 inches long. These birds have a wingspan of about 1.7 meters across. The average Cape Barren goose weighs between 3 and 7 kg. Male Cape Barren geese are larger and heavier than females.
The Cape Barren geese are gregarious and shy when alone and around humans. However, these geese are comfortable with other flock members and their owners. Their ease of confinement makes them quite popular among geese raisers.
Furthermore, the Cape Barren goose has fairly good breeding compared to most geese breeds. These birds are territorial and will fiercely defend their goslings and nesting sites against intruders.
Cape Barren geese can be quite aggressive, especially during the breeding season. These geese like to live in pairs, which later form large flocks comprising over 300 flock members.
The Cape Barren Goose is a hardy, free-range bird that can thrive both in confinement and free-range. It also has a fairly long lifespan compared to other breeds because it can live for over 17 years in captivity.
Nonetheless, wild Cape Geese barely live for ten years because of the many threats they are vulnerable to in the wild, including predation and diseases.
– Egg Production
The Cape Barren Goose is a seasonal layer and thus not a reliable egg producer. The egg-laying season for this goose starts in February and extends to the winter months, which is from May-June.
The female lays between 3 and six eggs a week at the beginning of the laying season. However, the number of eggs a Cape Barren goose lays keeps declining as the birds age and approach the cold season. Despite laying a few eggs annually compared to other breeds, these geese lay some of the largest eggs of all the geese species.
– Meat Production
Cape Barren geese are some of the best geese to keep for meat, thanks to their large, bulky size. Furthermore, these geese mature fast, and most are ready for the table at around 18 weeks old.
They are some of the best geese to keep for meat, especially in commercial meat production. Ganders are particularly terrific meat producers because they are larger than females.
Moreover, ganders grow quite fast, making them superb meat producers. Females also make fantastic meat producers because they are larger than female geese from other species.
Cape Barren Goose Care
You should provide your Cape Barren geese with great care regardless of whether you are keeping these geese for large-scale or small-scale farming. Caring for your Cape Barren geese entails providing them with nutritious foods and good housing and ensuring your birds are safe from some of the health issues that affect Cape Barren Geese.
– Feeding & Nutrition
Cape Barren geese are herbivores like other geese because they strictly eat plant material. Cape Barren geese are free-range birds that like foraging for grass, legumes, seeds, and herbs. If you keep free-range Cape Barren geese in your yard, you won’t have to worry about their diet because they will eat a variety of plant materials out there, ranging from grasses to herbs.
They will mostly go for aquatic plants because they are some of their favorite food choices. Free-range Cape Barren geese rarely feed on insects because they aren’t some of their best foods.
Although they occasionally eat a couple of insects, these geese will never have bugs and insects as part of their diet. Cape Barren geese, instead, opt for plant-based proteins, including legumes such as beans and peas.
Feeding your indoor Cape Barren geese doesn’t have to be a big challenge because you only need to ensure your captive birds have a similar diet to their free-range counterparts. For instance, ensure the birds have plenty of vegetation, including some of the vegetables you grow in your garden.
Some suitable vegetables for your Cape Barren geese include lettuce, chards, broccoli, and cabbage. You can also provide the birds with various types of grass since they don’t have the luxury of eating the grass in your yard when in captivity.
Pasture grasses are some of the nicest for all geese, including Cape Barren geese. You can substitute pasture grasses with clover and barley if these grasses aren’t available in your garden.
Captive geese need a complete diet that will provide them with various minerals and nutrients. Opting for a commercial feed with a good formulation of multiple nutrients and minerals will help give your Cape Barren geese a nutritional boost.
Cape Barren goslings need plenty of protein, and it helps to provide your goslings with protein-rich foods, especially soft legumes, to ensure they have an adequate protein intake.
While Cape Barren geese are hardy and can withstand cold during the winter, providing your birds with carbohydrate-rich foods will ensure they can generate heat internally, thus allowing them to withstand cold. Grains like wheat and corn are great for Cape Barren geese during winter because they are rich in carbohydrates your birds need to withstand cold.
Apart from giving your Cape Barren geese nutritious foods, you should ensure they consume adequate amounts of food. A rule of thumb when feeding your geese is to ensure they eat thrice a day.
Regardless of how nutritious the foods you give to your geese are, they won’t help the birds stay healthy if you feed them these foods in limited amounts. Every Cape Barren goose should have ample food, irrespective of the number of geese you have in your flock.
Most importantly, don’t forget to provide your geese with water since Cape Barren geese like spending time in the water, even though these birds aren’t excellent swimmers. Have a water pond in your yard if you keep free-range Cape Barren geese. Or, you can have a small pond in the coop if you keep your geese in confinement.
Housing is also critical for the survival of the Cape Barren goose. Ideally, it would help if you housed your geese in a pen that offers adequate space for each Cape Barren goose. The enclosure should be clean throughout.
Furthermore, it should be predator-proof to deter dogs, raccoons, weasels, and other predators that kill Cape Barren geese. Most importantly, ensure the pen has proper ventilation, especially during the hot summer.
– Health Problems
We think of Cape Barren geese as hardy birds. Nonetheless, these birds can sometimes succumb to some health issues, although in rare instances. Like other birds, Cape Barren are susceptible to some health conditions, whether in captivity or the wilderness. Some of the health problems that affect Cape Barren geese include:
- Virus hepatitis-This viral disease is a highly infectious disease that mostly affects Cape Barren goslings. The fatal disease can kill your geese within a couple of hours after infection. Symptoms of virus hepatitis in Cape Barren geese include breathing difficulty, coughing, and nasal discharge.
- DVE- Also known as duck plague, DVE is a highly infectious chronic disease that affects geese, swans, and ducks. Its main symptoms include hemorrhagic lesions in a bird’s blood vessels, lymphoid tissues, and gastrointestinal mucosa.
- Aflatoxin poisoning– This is a serious health problem that many geese keepers have to grapple with. Geese susceptible to aflatoxin exposure show symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, convulsions, and abdominal pain. Chronic exposure to aflatoxin poisoning can cause severe complications, such as immunotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, and teratogenicity. Cape Barren geese that consume contaminated plant material are vulnerable to aflatoxin poisoning. Geese can also get aflatoxin poisoning from eating contaminated feed.
- Colibacillosis-Also known as E. coli infection, this disease is a major geese disease affecting all types of geese species, including Cape Barren Geese. The bacterial disease causes severe illness and death. The symptoms of this disease in Cape Barren geese include a reduction in egg production, weakness, lameness, acute dehydration, and respiratory distress.
- Parasite infestation- Though many geese keepers don’t consider parasite infestation as a major health problem in their Cape Barren geese, parasites can pose many health problems for your geese. For instance, internal parasites like roundworms and hookworms can drain your birds’ blood because they like sucking on blood. Your birds can suffer from anemia as the parasites continue to suck blood.
- Coccidiosis– Coccidiosis is among the most deadly geese diseases. It has a high mortality rate in Cape Barren geese, especially goslings. The symptoms of this disease are pretty noticeable. For instance, Cape Barren geese with this disease exhibit lethargy, bloody diarrhea, weakness, and balance problems.
- Avian cholera– Avian cholera is another highly contagious disease that affects all fowls, including Cape Barren geese. Cape Barren geese are most susceptible to this disease during the summer months. Birds carrying this bacterial disease show symptoms such as convulsions, lethargy, blood-stained diarrhea, and breathing problems.
How Much does Cape Barren Goose Cost?
Although there are exotic birds, Cape Barren geese are some of the cheapest. Adult geese usually cost around $35, although females, especially egg-laying females, can cost up to $50 per bird. Cape Barren goslings cost anywhere below $15 per gosling.
However, the price of these birds can vary significantly depending on where a goose raiser is sourcing their birds because Cape Barren geese cost more in some areas than in other places.
Are Cape Barren Geese Good for Beginners?
Yes, Cape Barren geese are good for beginner geese keepers. Furthermore, these geese are suitable for those seeking to venture into either large-scale or small-scale geese keeping.
Although there are some of the largest geese species on the planet, Barren geese aren’t overly aggressive. They, therefore, make a perfect choice of a goose breed for beginners who don’t want to have an aggressive goose species around.
Are Cape Barren Geese Hardy?
Yes, these geese are hardy and capable of thriving in harsh, cold, and hot climates. Furthermore, Cape Barren geese hardly fall ill and have some of the lowest mortality rates of all the domestic and wild fowls.
Can Cape Barren Goose Fly?
Yes, wild Cape Barren geese are known to fly, although not for long distances. Their domestic counterparts are also flighty but are quite docile and loyal to their owners. They will rarely fly away from their homes. Furthermore, their large size discourages them from flying far.
Tips on Keeping Cape Barren Geese
These tips will help you raise Cape Barren geese if you are considering rearing these geese:
- Consider raising Cape Barren goslings to adulthood rather than raising adult geese
- Provide the geese with excellent living conditions
- Protect your geese from diseases and predators
- Consider keeping free-range Cape Barren geese since they thrive well than their captive counterparts
- Keep your geese happy by providing them with enough nutritious foods
Cape Barren geese are wonderful to keep, especially if you want to raise terrific meat producers. They can thrive well, irrespective of whether you raise them in confinement or free-range. Cape Barren geese are also highly disease-resistant, and you are unlikely to see an ill Cape Barren goose in your flock.