PHOTO: Chrissy Downunder/Flickr
January 16, 2017

If you’ve decided to add geese to your farm this coming spring, you might be feeling a little confused and overwhelmed by all the different breeds of geese there are to choose from. There are not as many different types of geese as there are chickens, but there is still a surprising assortment to choose from.

The variety you choose will certainly affect its personality and behavior. The right goose can take care of your desired job with pleasure, while the wrong one can be an annoyance. For example, if you’re looking for a weeder goose and you choose the hefty Dewlap Toulouse, you will no doubt be disappointed by its slow-moving nature. Here’s some goose-breed intel to help inform your farm decision-making.

geese on farm
Kirsten Lie-Nielsen

Weeder Geese

The uncontested champion of weeder geese is the White Chinese. This distinct, upright goose with its long, slender neck that can snake into hard-to-reach places is built perfectly for weeding. It’s high-energy and never tires of foraging. Keeping flock of White Chinese geese is a great way to keep a small orchard, vineyard or berry patch weed-free in the summer, and they require little additional grain to keep them at a healthy weight.

The heavier African goose and the Brown Chinese are also excellent weeders. Many geese will work away contentedly at persistent weeds, but the Chinese goose’s enthusiasm is unmatched.

Guard Geese

Using geese for guarding work is less common today than in past generations, but you will soon find that geese make excellent alarms, keeping watch on your property or a flock of chickens. The most renowned guard goose is the Roman goose—it’s claim to fame was sounding the alarm during a siege by the Gauls in 400 B.C. Small but vocal, Roman geese are sure to let you know if there’s trouble on the horizon.

African geese, and the similar but smaller Chinese breeds, are also very loud birds. The African is a great guard animal thanks to its large size, making it extra intimidating for predators and people alike. A single goose, or a pair, is the most effective way to use geese for guarding, but a large flock will certainly make a ruckus if they notice anything out of the ordinary.

Eggs & Meat

Geese were first domesticated in part thanks to our appreciation for their meat. Many goose breeds have been carefully bred to mature at hefty weights, most notably the Dewlap Toulouse, which can grow up to 25 or even 30 pounds. The Super African, or African Dewlap, is a similarly massive bird. These geese were used in the production of foie gras, but they are also tasty dinner birds. The Embden, Pilgrim, standard Toulouse and Buff are all medium-weight birds that do not require a lot of extra feed to grow to respectable weights between 15 and 20 pounds.

eggs
Kirsten Lie-Nielsen

It is uncommon to raise geese for eggs, but those that do will be amazed at the massive, rich rewards that their geese will offer. Some of the best egg-producing geese on the market today include the African, Chinese, Embden, standard Toulouse and Buff. While these particular birds have been known to lay between 30 and 40 eggs during a season, keep in mind that even the best egg-laying goose will only produce from approximately May to September.

Companionship & Showing

Some people want a goose simply for their entertaining personalities or the tight bond that they form with their owners. Others are looking to join the poultry show circuit and want eye-catching looks from their birds. If you’re showing geese, it is important to get them from someone who uses only top-quality show stock to breed their geese.

The most show-stopping breeds of goose include the Sebastopol and Dewlap Toulouse, and they’re also some of the most docile and calm varieties. Super Africans also make quite a splash, but any well-conformed representation of their breed will win ribbons on the show circuit.

It’s impossible to pick a favorite breed of goose because each has their own unique talents and personalities. Different breeds have different strengths and weaknesses, but each individual goose will bring its own flair to your farmyard.


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