Geese as Pets – Which breed is right for me?
Geese are amazingly intelligent animals. If raised the right way they will become friends for life. Hand raising sexed goslings is the best way to go if you want geese as pets. From a young age they bond with you and will follow you around like a puppy dog.
Geese can however be very noisy. A gander has a shrill voice & a goose has a more of a deeper horse cry, and for this reason may be better suited to areas where you don’t have close neighbours. Ganders are more defensive then geese but usually only when protecting eggs or young. Geese become excited and noisy when confronted by intruders or strange sounds. They respond by making a hissing sound, and for this reason make good “watch dogs”. The Chinese breed has been the most widely used for this purpose, though all breeds are suitable to some extent.
Geese eat all manner of weeds and with a couple of birds in the backyard, you may never need to mow. Geese are not prolific egg produces, laying only 30-80 eggs a year and breed mostly in the spring.
Geese are more like grazing animals then any other type of poultry. Their bill and tongue are particularly well-equipped for grazing. The bill has sharp interlocking serrated edges designed to easily cut & divide grass and other plant tissue like a hacksaw. The tongue at the tip is covered with hard, hair-like projections, pointing towards the throat, which quickly convey the pieces of grass and other vegetable material into the throat. This rough covering on the point of the tongue enables geese to bite off plants even closer to the ground than sheep. Because of this,overstocking must be avoided or the ground will become bare. You can supplement the diet with a little bread, wheat or corn or poultry breeder rations from your local produce store. Favourite grass for geese is kikuyu, clover and lucerne.
An ideal home is a simple shelter housed within a netted pen, leading to a paddock with access to a pond or a small kids paddle pool. People say you can keep geese without a pond, but they love to preen and paddle. They need access to good shade and plenty of fresh water. A shed is not necessary unless you have a problem with dogs, crows or foxes & you would therefore need to secure the birds at night. If you live in a secure, fenced backyard geese will make a nest under a shady secluded spot to lay their eggs. You could also use a dog kennel with shavings or dry grass clippings when the birds are laying. Unlike hens and some ducks, geese don’t lay eggs consistently. You might get 30 – 80 eggs a year, but goose eggs are much bigger. Their creamy flavor is excellent in quiches, flans and custards. A gander isn’t needed for your goose to produce eggs.
The Camden White Toulouse in Australia Michael Peel was responsible for their creation and having them accepted in to the Australian Poultry Standards.
Colour – Bill, legs and feet are orange, plumage is white, eyes are blue.
They are a flightless large heavy breed that were crossed with Embden and Grey Toulouse geese with a quiet temperament similar to the Grey Toulouse. Read more about the White Toulouse story by clicking here.
GREY TOULOUSE GEESE
A heavy breed that originated from France.
Colour – Bill, legs and feet are orange. Plumage various shades of grey, each feather laced with a white edging. Paunch & tail are white.
Grey toulouse geese are also a flightless large heavy breed of goose with a calm temperament.
A heavy breed that originated from Germany.
Colour – Bill, legs and feet are bright orange. Tight plumage is glossy white. Head is long and strait, bill is short and stout at the base. Body is broad, thick and well rounded.
Embden geese are also a large robust flightless breed of goose with a slightly more feisty and active temperament.
These geese are also more capable of handling themselves against predators and are always ready for a fight. While foxes are a danger to geese It would take a determined fox to bring down an Embden.
Medium size breed originating from Europe near the Danube River and the Black Sea.
Colour; Bill and legs are orange and their eyes bright blue. Sebastopol are known for their long white curly feathers which cover the whole body.
Sebastopol geese are a flightless light breed of goose that are quick on their feet. They are great natural breeders and while they are more energetic than the heavier breeds they still have a quiet nature if hand raised.
A light breed that originated from China.
Colour – Black bill and Hazel eyes, with orange legs, body feathers are brown and lighter on the underside of the bird.
The Brown Chinese geese are an ornamental goose due to their fine features. They are a very alert bird that are also able to fly if startled. Brown Chinese geese are the noisiest of the bunch, but are also great egg layers. Scrambled goose eggs anyone?!
WHITE CHINESE GEESE
The Australian White Chinese are a light breed that were created & developed by Michael Peel from Camden NSW.
Colour – bright orange bill and legs. Blue eyes, pure white body feathers & a long slender neck.
The White Chinese geese are an ornamental goose due to their fine features. They are a very alert bird that are also able to fly if startled. White Chinese geese are great layers and are also noisy making them great guards of your property. Read more about how they were bred by clicking here.
PILGRIMS OR AUSTRALIAN SETTLERS
Pilgrim geese are one of the oldest breeds of geese available.
Colour – They are naturally sex linked with the ganders always being pure white and the geese light grey usually with a white head. Pilgrims are classed as a light breed with the females weighing around 5kgs and the males 6kg.
Pilgrims are a popular beginners bird, because the male and female differ in colour making it easy to tell the sex. They are a light energetic breed that can fly if they need to. They have a quiet temperament, but not as good layers as the Chinese geese.
It only takes a goose twenty minutes to digest food and then excrete it, so be aware, they can be quite messy!
Geese lay around 15 eggs in a clutch and can lay up to 30 eggs in a season.
They also prefer to mate on water and some say that once geese are mated they are paired for life but they will find another partner if they lose their mate (a bit like us).
The term goose applies to the birds in general, and the female in particular. The word gander is used for a male. Young birds, before fledging, are called goslings. A group of geese on the ground is called a gaggle and when flying in formation they are called a wedge or a skein.
There are light and heavy breeds of geese.
Light breeds are roughly 3 – 5kgs in weight and include Pilgrim & Chinese breeds. Being smaller, they can make a better first time bird as they are not so daunting in size.
They make excellent weeder geese & due to their lighter weight they are less likely to compact the ground. Light breeds mature very quickly.
The lighter breeds are more likely to master flying, so clipping of wings is recommended.
Sebastopol’s are a great backyard breed as they are unable to fly due to their evolved plumage.
Heavy breeds such as the Toulouse and the Embden do require a little more space. These birds take years to mature fully, but once there should weigh over 10kg. They are in general a quiet, gentle and slower moving due to their massive size.
*Original information from http://goosebreeders.petdirectory.com.au/