How to Sex Your Geese?
In the past, poultry farming almost always meant keeping chickens. Nowadays, more and more farmers are keeping geese. These birds are excellent weeders for some vegetables, make good watchdogs, and have an entertaining personality for those looking for pets.
The most common proverb associated with birds might be ‘’what is good for the goose is good for the gander’’. Though this might be true for some birds, you cannot assume that everything will be good for both sexes when keeping geese.
For instance, as a handler breeding your geese for the first time, it is imperative to tell your male and female birds apart. A gander might lose its penis when a goose mistakes it for a worm and nibbles on it after mating. After this, the penis dries up and falls off. You might later pair this gander with a goose and wonder why your birds are not breeding.
Differentiating a gander and goose is crucial but might be one of the most challenging tasks when rearing geese. Though genetic testing is the surefire way of knowing a bird’s gender, below are a few pointers to help correctly sex your bird.
Gander vs Goose
A common myth is that you can differentiate between a gander and a goose by the number of their lobes; the fat deposits hanging between their legs. Two lobes identify a gander and one lobe for a female. This is false.
Just like humans will cue their sexes from appearances, watching the color, voice, behavior, size, and shape of geese can give you an indication of their sex. Though individual personalities might confuse you, here are some differences that will give you a general idea of your bird’s gender.
Ganders and geese are distinguished by the colors of their feathers and fluff. Remember that the distinction only works for pure breeds since genetics will determine your birds’ color. Pure Pilgrim geese will hatch diluted grey geese that retain grey feathers.
Their bills will be darker than those of male goslings. At hatch, the males have yellowish-grey fluff and become almost white as adults. Shetland and West of England breeds also have diluted grey-back patterns in their fluff and retain the patterns in adult geese. Adult ganders are almost white.
Male goslings generally have bigger feet and grow faster than females. This will be quite noticeable in birds with closed rings. Ganders often end up larger with longer necks than geese, with this size difference quite marked in Chinese and African breeds, where males will be taller than females by twenty weeks.
Eventually, the head knobs in these breeds grow broader and larger in ganders. Geese, in all species, have a heavier undercarriage, mostly by 26 weeks. They also have wider pelvic bones to support egg-laying.
Chinese ganders weigh 10-12 pounds, while geese weigh 8-10 pounds. African ganders tip the scale at 20 pounds, whereas their female counterparts will be a few pounds lighter. Embden ganders weigh 30-35 pounds, while geese of the same breed weigh 20-22 pounds.
A gosling’s voice changes at around sixteen weeks of age. The tone difference is an adult trait. Brecon ganders have higher, faster chatters compared to females. Chinese geese have a distinct ‘oink’ at sixteen weeks.
The sex of African geese is harder to distinguish by voice until they are older. For most breeds, the general pitch of a goose is less shrill and hoarser, with the gander having an ear-piercing cry.
Ganders often imitate mating behavior and will try to mount females on the water. They also frequently swim in small ponds while the geese stand on the shore. When you introduce a new goose to an existing gaggle, the bird will often run away when approached by the existing alpha gander.
On the contrary, when you introduce a gander, it often fights with the existing alpha to establish a pecking order.
Geese handle most of the nest building and egg incubation duties. As such, when you notice your bird sitting on the nest, it is most likely female. Moreover, geese defend their eggs, young, and nests, while ganders often defend against interlopers.
Some geese will instigate fights and sometimes ‘’cheer on’’ or coax the ganders to fight, but they rarely participate in the confrontation.
At What Age Can You Tell The Gender Of Geese?
You can know the gender of your gosling from as early as two weeks old. Ganders of the Shetland, West-of-England and Pilgrim breeds start sprouting white feathers at this time, while the feathers of geese come in gray.
When as young as three weeks old, ganders often raise their heads with their beaks up to stretch their bodies into vertical positions. In this position, they can assert their dominance over females. On the other hand, geese will assume horizontal postures with their necks arched gracefully.
How to Vent Sex Geese?
Vent sexing is slightly opening your bird’s anal vent, known as the cloaca, to check if it has a penis indicating it is a gander. Before vent sexing, here are some tips that will come in handy for the practice:
- Use a pair of glass cutter gloves or wear a long-sleeved shirt to protect your hands from being ripped from the nails.
- The best time for venting is during the breeding season when the reproductive organs are a bit active and more readily available.
Typical Steps of Vent Sexing Geese:
- Pick your bird, ensuring the wings are kept folded against its sides to protect it from injuries.
- When you are new to vent sexing, it might be easier for you to sit down during the process. Carefully turn your bird over so its tail rests over your knees and it lies with the back on your legs.
- Tuck the head of your bird under your less dominant arm.
- Ensure the goose is well-supported on your laps. Failure to do this will cause the bird to feel insecure and start flapping.
- Use your less dominant hand to push the goose’s tail a little downwards towards the floor. Place gentle pressure around and above the goose’s vent using your dominant hand at the same time.
- When you apply pressure, you can feel a hardness around a goose’s vent if it is male. The area will be soft in a female. Do not be worried about hurting your bird with the pressure because geese are quite tough. When vent sexing for the first time, be patient since it might not be so straightforward.
- As you continue applying downward pressure gently, the vent’s interior will pop up, and if it is a gander, its penis will appear. The penis is corkscrew-shaped and relatively long, with small hair-like spikes covering it. Be sure to check the end of the penis in your gander. Some birds lose it and will be infertile since they cannot penetrate the female to fertilize eggs. If your gander has lost its penis, you will feel a stump.
Thanks to the information above, sexing your geese will be easier. With an assurance of the gender of your birds, you can set out to successfully breed them to increase your gaggle. Remember that geese prefer mating on the water, so provide some swimming water for them in the breeding season.
Moreover, it would be best if you mated them not less than a month before the breeding season. This is because the birds are selective when choosing mates. You thus give them a month to mate successfully before the breeding season so they get a mate that they will remain with for life.