Kholmogory Geese – Breed Profile & Facts
The Kholmogory Geese is a hardy, and highly productive geese breed that is native to Russia. Its profitability, when reared in Russian small and large poultry farms, is quite unmatched.
Kholmogory geese are among the greasy and heavy meat breeds of geese you can ever find. They can withstand harsh conditions and boast a peaceful disposition. When rearing a couple of them, expect the gander to always protect the rest of the flock.
Since they are among the oldest geese breeds, it can be challenging to distinguish them from their cross breeds. In general, Kholmogory (also known as Kholmogorskaya) geese can have either short or medium-length beaks or long-humped beaks. You can also spot a drooping feather on their wings.
If you are interested in rearing Kholmogory geese, here’s what you need to know about this geese breed.
History of Kholmogory Geese
Kholmogory geese originate from the Vladimirskiy region in Russia. They are considered among the most valuable and oldest goose breeds in the country. Historically, they were domesticated by farmers and households in the Central Black Earth Zone, which lies around the eastern European borders of central Russia.
The geese were also reared in southern Oryol, Tambov, Kursk, Voronezh, and Chernihiv. Other parts they were kept include Sumy, Kharkiv, Rostov, and northern Volgograd.
Today, Kholmogory geese are quite scarce across Russia and other parts of the world where they are kept. The good thing is that they have incredibly high acclimatization abilities, which make it easy to breed and raise them.
Kholmogory Geese Characteristics
One thing that draws breeders and geese lovers to Kholmogory geese is their adaptation to local conditions. These birds feature a forehead lump (swelling on the frontal bone), a big head, a skin fold beneath the beak, and a massive body. Here are the unique characteristics of Kholmogory geese.
– Size & Weight
Thanks to their large size, Kholmogory geese are great meat producers. The average weight of a gander can reach 12kg, while that of a goose can reach up to 8 kg.
The bump above these geese reaches its full size when they get to their fifth year. Kholmogory geese also have a large dewlap beneath the beak (also known as a purse) as well as two fat folds along the abdomen.
They also have a relatively wider body with a well-developed chest. Their legs and beak are orange and noticeable from afar.
A key consideration when choosing domesticated birds has to be temperament. You’d definitely want to rare a bird that is less chaotic and copes well in the presence of other birds. Well, the Kholmogory geese have an overall calm disposition and can easily get along with the rest of the flock.
Kholmogory geese fully develop by the age of 3 years, and with great care, they can live close to 17 years. Once they reach full development, the bodies of the geese have an egg fertilization rate of 80 percent.
Expect your Kholmogory geese to start laying eggs around this time. However, the birds can only produce 30 eggs each year, with each egg weighing 140g for a younger goose and 190g for an older one.
Sexual maturity in Kholmogory geese means that they can hatch goslings. Even more, the Kholmogory geese of the male gender are highly monogamous. This means that they stick and live with their preferred goose for the rest of their life.
– Egg Production
Well-fed and maintained Kholmogory geese can lay 20 to 30 eggs each year. Their egg production capabilities can also reach 40 eggs a year, with each weighing between 170g and 200g. The geese are exceptionally good in egg incubation and have high hatching quality rates.
Before they reach the egg-laying age, Kholmogory geese gain weight gradually to accommodate reproductive changes in their bodies. They gain more weight as they are nearing their fertile stage.
And at the age of 3 years, the geese are ready to start producing eggs. At peak fertilization, the birds reach 80 percent of egg production capacity.
– Meat Production
Young geese grow relatively fast to acclimate to a large amount and the best quality of meat. As they grow, their body fat increases while the feathers and down thicken. Expect a goose to weigh between 4 and 4.5 kg as early as sixty days old.
You can even take a 9-week-old Kholmogory goose to slaughter for meat production. At this time, the gosling will be weighing an average of 4 kg. If you choose to fatten the bird further, it might not garner more money when sold.
Even more, you have to keep the geese within their housing for 120 to 130 days if you fail to take them to slaughter on time. This is because as the bird reaches the age of 2.5 to 3 months, its meat gets tougher, and it can’t gain significant weight.
If you want to rear Kholmogory geese for profitable meat production, consider having them slaughtered when they are still young. To increase your profit margin, go for seven-day-old goslings and grow them until they come of age. You may also purchase viable eggs and brood them under a brood hen or incubator.
Kholmogory Geese Care
Generally, Kholmogory geese cope well with less crowded environments. They also can’t withstand cage conditions since they need to walk around in the open for fresh air. In this section, we’ll cover three care aspects (food and nutrition, housing, and health problems) related to Kholmogory geese.
– Feeding & Nutrition
Kholmogory geese are less demanding when it comes to their nutritional and food requirements. You can have them graze in the pasture all day (consuming close to 2kg of grass) during the summer. The birds can also adapt to a 2 times a day feeding schedule at this time of the year.
Either way, the foods should comprise compound or grain feed. You can also add vegetables and roots such as cabbage leaves, beet, pumpkins, and zucchini to the diet during summer.
If you intend to fatten your Kholmogory geese or feed them properly in winter, include the following in their diet:
- Hay from legumes (100 to 150 grams)
- Grain and legumes (mostly peas) – 130 to 160 grams
- Sauerkraut (50 to 100 grams)
- Root vegetables (including beets, potatoes, and carrots) – 300 to 500 grams.
Consider steaming the grain for the Kholmogory geese to consume it better. You can also add fresh kitchen waste to wet mash to vary the diet.
On average, an adult Kholmogory goose consumes between 700 and 800 grams of feed every day. The bird can also survive on a premix, as well as vitamin supplements to boost egg production. You can also introduce gravel, chalk, or crushed shells into a separate container to help the bird’s body digest food and absorb minerals.
When constructing a housing unit for your Kholmogory geese, consider using hay/straw cuttings or sawdust as bedding. You should also feed the bird properly for it not to eat the bedding material. Understand that geese need access to fresh food and water in winter and can graze on their own in summer.
Though they aren’t afraid of frost, you should keep their housing insulated with a thick layer of bedding for added warmth. The food should always be in the feeder at such a time to prevent movements in and out of the housing.
Remember to keep the litter completely dry to prevent a health scare. You wouldn’t want to have runny droppings lying around the thick bedding for a long time. And as you remove the wet spots, pour fresh litter in place.
Kholmogory geese tend to have deteriorated feathers when they live in a surrounding full of fecal matter. This is because of the ammonia fumes that come from the fecal matter.
When it comes to constructing the housing unit, calculate the area of the house based on 1 square meter per head. You should also spare about 5 to 6 square meters to serve as walking paths. The key here is to ensure the birds have a comfortable spot to spend the night.
– Health Problems
Though Kholmogory geese rarely fall ill, you need to watch out for certain ailments and health problems. These health problems include cannibalism, rickets, poisoning, and parasites.
Your Kholmogory geese are likely to develop cannibalistic tendencies when confined in a tight space or exposed to too much light. As a remedy, consider putting any bird that pecks others or itself away.
The geese may suffer rickets, characterized by weak, brittle bones. You may also notice eggs with fragile shells being produced by geese that have rickets. Releasing the birds into the air or adding fish oil to their food can help eliminate this condition.
It’s also common for Kholmogory geese to get ill after consuming poor-quality food. When this happens, the birds may experience dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting, and convulsions. Either way, use a vinegar solution to treat food poisoning.
Geese come into contact with parasites when exposed to unsanitized environments. Parasites tend to affect the bird’s egg and meat productivity. But with treatment (such as a relevant ointment), you can get rid of the parasitic infection.
How Much Do Kholmogory Geese Cost?
The price for Kholmogory geese depends on the seller’s pricing policies and the bird’s age. Seven-day-old goslings cost between 3 to 5 dollars, which is 200 to 300 Russian rubles.
As you shop for goslings, consider what the young birds look like in the advert picture and take time to read the detailed descriptions on the product page. All of this information should be laid out clearly to get the best value out of your cash.
Are Kholmogory Geese Good for Beginners?
If you are planning to rear Kholmogory geese for the first time, it’s important to note that they aren’t for everyone. Geese tend to honk, and their noises may be unpleasant to your household members or neighbors. The good thing is that they can alert you when anything out of the ordinary happens around your property.
Kholmogory geese rarely fall ill, unlike chickens, when kept properly. Besides routine deworming, the birds won’t need any other medication. Their droppings also don’t smell and can be washed easily with a hose pipe or in the rain.
Since they mainly feed on plant foods (such as grass), it requires fewer resources to feed geese. You will only need to buy leafy vegetables, root vegetables, compound feed, and cereals once in a while. Other advantages of keeping Kholmogory geese as a beginner include:
- Young birds grow and gain weight rapidly
- Adult birds are heavier
- Unpretentiousness in feeding
- Birds maintain high productivity irrespective of the rearing conditions
- Excellent adaptation to both hot and cold climates
- Ease of care
- High-quality feathers, fluff, fat, and meat
- Developed maternal instincts in females
Are Kholmogory Geese Hardy?
When kept in a properly equipped poultry house, Kholmogory geese can withstand all weather conditions. Their winter shelter needs to have a dry floor, zero drafts, and good ventilation.
Can Kholmogory Geese Fly?
Due to their bulky size and ability to gain weight fast, Kholmogory geese seldom fly. Instead, they flap and flick their wings when moving. They also tend to thrust the head forward with the bill open as a way of showing aggression.
Tips on Keeping Kholmogory Geese
Here are some of the tips for rearing Kholmogory geese:
- Position the poultry house away from your neighbors since the gander tends to be noisy during the mating season.
- Never leave young children unsupervised with Kholmogory geese since the birds get irritated with the noise and fast movements that kids make.
- Spare some land to grow grass for the number of birds you intend to rear.
- Only feed the geese with short, fresh spring grass since it has the highest nutritional content.
- Have a secure, predator-proof fenced field or enclosure to keep predators out.
- Avail water for the birds to keep them hydrated.
All in all, Kholmogory geese are among the disease-resistant and sturdiest goose breeds in the world. You may consider rearing them for their ability to gain weight quickly and for ease of care and maintenance. Whichever way you choose to breed them, be sure to provide the birds with optimal conditions for survival.