Never considered geese before? Me neither.
I bought a breeding trio of large African geese that first spring on our new homestead. I bought them on a whim; because I liked the cool look of them and we had the space and shelter. I just wanted to see their beauty on the land in the early mornings as I drank my coffee. After a cursory bit of research on raising geese and confirming a price and time with the stranger online — I was set.
My husband rolled his eyes and obliged me as I told him what I had done — after the fact, of course.
And so we drove to collect the massive geese in a large wire dog crate.
Very shortly those geese would become my favorite animals on the homestead.
And now I cannot shut up about my geese everywhere I go.
I raise ducks (Saxony, Cayuga, Welsh Harlequin, Muscovy, Pekin, and soon Silver Appleyards) and chickens (Azure Blues, Orpingtons, Bresse, Red Rangers, and more) but I'm obsessed with my geese in a special way.
Here are 15 reasons why you should seriously consider adding geese to your own land.
Grass Grazers That Thrive On Pasture
I had no idea what geese ate or what their primary food source would be.
I figured it would be similar to the variety of chickens and ducks I had brooding in playpens in my dining room.
I was wrong.
Geese are primarily grazers and they thrive on pasture where they will spend most of their day eating various grasses and plants.
They are also vegetarians and do not really pursue insects or worms.
I hear of people offering them mealworms as treats but I think they must have gotten them accustomed to this from the time when they were goslings.
Mine won’t touch insects.
Geese Are Surprisingly Cheap To Feed
Pastured free ranging chickens and ducks can get a large portion of their diet from foraging on pasture.
But they still generally need supplemental feed in the form of grains daily.
No, not even baby geese (goslings).
I watched in amazement as my African geese thrived on pasture to the extent that I only gave them a small ration of seed and grains once a week all through the spring, summer, and even most of the fall.
On this diet the two females lay a clutch of large white eggs in the early spring.
And when they hatched I watched in further amazement as the teeny tiny goslings grew strong and large on pasture with the same small weekly grain ration of oats, flaxmeal, and black oil sunflower seeds.
I gave no help or interference at all.
You would think that such massive birds would require more feed but the reality was the complete opposite.
They were on a single acre, fenced in, and that acre was capable of sustaining many more geese than the numbers I would raise that season.
In the wintertime I would feed them daily but they still took in far less than I would imagine for creatures of their size.
And I was able to supplement the grains with cheaply purchased root vegetables that I would then roast in the oven to make them even easier to digest.
I sprouted seeds, grew fodder, added a measure of corn into their diets, and even provided them with some quality hay and occasionally alfalfa pellets.
They ate very little.
Minimal Shelter Requirements
Along with being cheap to feed — geese are very easy to take care of and maintain.
They don’t need much in the way of shelter.
We had a large shed already on the pasture from the previous owners. The entire acre was fenced and luckily the fence was enough to block out larger predators like coyotes.
We put down a bunch of ordinary straw, propped the door open, and left them to come and go as they pleased.
Much different from my chickens and ducks which required considerably more vigilant predator (and weather) proofing — hardware cloth everything, doors with latches that couldn’t be opened by the freakishly nimble hands of raccoons, runs, automatic door openers/closers.
Like the chickens and ducks I figured the deep litter method would be the best way to maintain their roomy goose house.
A couple months later we added a small flock of Icelandic sheep to the pasture and the indignant geese refused to share their shelter.
So we built them an easy A-frame off the back of what became the sheep shed.
They were happy.
They Can Be Taught To Target Specific Weeds
A long time ago there was a breed of goose that was used to weed the cotton fields and other crops in the southern states.
The geese would clean up the weeds and leave the main crop alone.
It became known as the Cotton Patch Goose.
Chemical pesticides and herbicides would put the Cotton Patch goose out of business.
I wonder how different our monoculture farms would look if they raised their grain crops alongside geese for human consumption too by letting them feed off of the weeds?
But you can definitely do this yourself on your own property.
I'm currently collecting weeds and freezing them for next spring when I will introduce new geese (and new breeds) to the homestead.
You can train your geese similarly by introducing them to the weeds you want them to target from the time they’re goslings.
Geese are sticklers when it comes to food and it’s harder to introduce them to new things when they’re older.
They Will Not Destroy Your Garden (Probably)
Unlike chickens, geese will (probably) not destroy your garden.
For one, they do not dig up and scratch the soil looking for a cooling dust bath or insects and worms to eat.
For another, they seem to prefer and target weeds and leave other plants alone.
Ducks are quite good at this too.
Gigantic Delicious Goose Eggs
Geese are seasonal layers of massive eggs.
About three times the size of a large chicken egg with massive yolks.
Here is a picture of my African geese eggs and one showing them next to my large Orpington eggs.
Depending on the breed you raise you will get anywhere from 40 to 100 goose eggs starting in the spring.
The eggs are as delicious and nutrient-dense as any other egg, but goose eggs are rare and hard to come by.
And if you’re raising pastured geese on lush and varied grasses with minimal inputs you’re getting an egg from an animal that isn’t fed the typical soy and corn commercial feed which can make for an even healthier and more nutritious egg.
It’s nearly impossible to do this with chicken and duck eggs.
However, as geese are seasonal layers they will stop once they’ve reached their maximum and you will not get the sheer abundance that you do with ducks and chickens.
But as they’re significantly larger, a single goose egg is enough for one person to have a great breakfast.
Goose meat is rich and red. It is not like chicken meat and it is not like duck meat either.
You can also cook it medium rare. And in fact, you should.
The taste is incredible.
As geese are so large, they also yield a huge, meaty carcass that can feed a family with plenty of leftovers.
It’s a shame that bland, boring commercial chicken meat has become the standard and that most people have never enjoyed goose nor would they know how to cook it themselves.
Valuable Down & Feathers
I treated myself to a luxury goose down duvet this past year.
It was very expensive.
And it’s been worth every penny as a duvet if this quality will last a couple of decades.
In an old farmhouse that feels very isolated during a windy winter when the snow piles up outside, nothing beats the warmth of goose down.
I also absolutely cannot survive a Canadian winter without my Canada Goose jacket.
Goose down is a very valuable by-product of the geese farming industry.
And the industry is small with few — but high-quality — operations in North America.
If you raise your own geese, you have a source of goose down and feathers that you can use to make duvets, pillows, and even your own clothing if you’re so inclined.
Depending on the project, you can mix goose and duck down too if you also raise ducks — which you should consider doing too.
Less Prone To Predator Pressures
Geese are large and powerful animals that (thankfully) don’t know how intimidating they can look to humans.
Every time a new neighbor stops by, they always ask the first time if the geese are safe to be around.
And yea, they are. Canada Geese ( that look tiny next to my African Geese) are an exception to this — you’re right to scared of those demons.
But domestic geese are typically more terrified of you.
My geese have been entirely pasture raised, never touched or coddled by human hands, but they’re still scared of my toddler who is shorter than they are.
That said, geese face less predator pressure than chickens and ducks by their sheer size and strength.
Creatures like raccoons, skunks, weasels, martens, possums, will not go after a grown goose.
Aerial predators like owls, eagles, and hawks will also not bother.
(Although all of the above might target goslings).
A coyote? Yes.
A large fox? Also yes — but with more difficulty.
I lost a female goose to what I assume was a fox this year. I had stupidly left the gate unlocked and while she was broody and vulnerable on her nest, the fox took her.
I found her remains in a corner of the pasture a few days later. Her entire body cavity had been ripped open and eaten.
The fox had left the neck and head untouched.
Effective As Guard Animals (Sorta)
This one is partially true but mostly a myth.
You see, geese vacant be pretty loud.
And little thing happens that is outside of the norm or they don’t like for whatever reason — you will hear about it.
Oh boy will you hear about it.
And so will your far away neighbors who hopefully enjoy the ambient country sounds of geese screeching at nothing.
So if you’re in bed at night and you hear a goose racket start up — something is happening on your land that is out of the norm and the geese are warning everyone within hearing.
Hopefully the sound will make the offending creature think twice about whatever they were doing and they will scamper away instead to a house without loud geese.
The one time they remained quiet was a night we heard a chilling chorus of coyote howling that sounded like it was right outside our window.
Even they seemed to know it was best to lay low until the threat had passed.
This doesn’t mean, however, that geese will jump in to defend an animal
on your property from being attacked.
Yes, I’m sure you know someone who witnessed exactly that, but I would absolutely not count on it in any way.
Geese are not like dogs.
If you want that level of protection and security, get a livestock guardian dog.
I see people perpetuating this myth that geese will be defenders of your property and other animals and it is very much not true.
Source Of Fertilizer
Geese poop constantly and they are eating constantly.
This results in a lot of waste being generated.
This is a great thing because you will be fertilizing your land.
Their bedding of straw will also make for amazing compost whenever you clear it out.
Goose feces can look bulky and unseemly on your lawn but it is mostly water and grass fibre and will break down during the rain.
Some people even collect it and compost it separately but I absolutely could be bothered. My geese are confined to their own acre with my Icelandic sheep so it’s not a concern.
Geese droppings contain a hefty amount of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus making it fantastic for your vegetables or just in keeping your grazing pasture lush and healthy.
Goose waste is also about 77% water. When dried it has a fertilizer value of 2-4-2.
Healthy & Hardy
Whereas chickens seem to be plagued by everything from pasty butt to mites and lice to wry neck and coccidiosis and sour crop — not so with geese.
They are healthy and hardy birds.
In a non-intensive pasture-managed system like I have, where crowding isn’t an issue, and they’re allowed to live naturally according to their instincts, there is little stress or worry about disease.
VERY Cold Tolerant
The insulating effect of goose down and feathers makes for an animal that is incredibly cold hardy and well suited to living in the harsher northern climates.
Whereas chicken coops need to be designed with winter in mind for those of us who live in places with hard winters — not so for geese.
The same three-sided shelter is more than adequate for them and in my experience, they will continue to stay outside even in blizzards.
You can add extra straw as the first snows start and a simple wind block at the entrance of their shelter.
We did both things and a simple piece of plywood was used to partially cover the entrance while still allowing them to come and go as they please.
Tons of Personality
I don’t raise geese for pets, and I don’t brood goslings, preferring to leave that job to the geese themselves.
As a result, mine are not hand-tame.
They’re still very entertaining and fun to watch, not to mention beautiful.
Geese have tons of personality.
The people who do raise them as pets find them to to be incredibly affectionate with individual personalities and quirks.
Geese make wonderful mothers.
In a breeding trio like mine, both females will make a nest of twigs and straw and other suitable materials (including their own down and feathers they will rip from their bodies) before laying eggs.
One will then go broody and proceed to sit on the nest to hatch the eggs.
The broody female takes in very little food or water during this time.
When the eggs hatch the entire family takes care of the goslings and teaches them the ropes of being geese.
The little goslings are so much tinier than the adults but they get to work straight away grazing.
They quickly grow on pasture, though not as fast as grain-fed geese in commercial operations.
My first time witnessing this act of nature was incredible.
Valuable As Breeding Stock
Geese are more expensive than chickens or ducks typically speaking.
This goes for goslings and adult geese and breeding trios.
It’s one way you can make extra money from your land and animals.
Geese are always in short supply.
Their eggs are also very expensive whether that be for hatching or for eating.
Cons & Further Considerations
Geese are seasonal layers and lay during one short period in the spring unlike chickens and ducks.
Geese are big and they require land. Geese are not suitable for small backyards and they really thrive in pastures where they can wander, grazing.
Geese are loud. Sometimes they are loud for no real reason. Another reason why they are not suitable for small backyards and close neighbors. They are as loud or louder than an annoying barking dog.
Geese need water. They need a drinking water container deep enough to dunk their heads and clean out their nostrils. They also really do best with a pond or kiddie swim pool to splash around in.
Geese need a friend. Like all animals, they need a friend of their own species, preferably two (as in a breeding trio of one male to two females). It is cruel to keep a goose alone or to think that your ducks or chickens will suffice — they will not.
Goose droppings are big and there will be plenty of them. On a fenced-in pasture like I have this is fantastic — they’re fertilizing my land alongside the sheep they live with. In a free-range situation where they’re allowed to wander everywhere they please, it can get kinda gross and ugly to look everywhere and step in.
See What's New At the Homestead
In many cases, geese and chickens (and ducks) can be kept together with no issues. You need to provide ample space for all of your animals and the appropriate shelter requirements must be kept in mind. Geese are very cold tolerant, whereas chickens are not and their coop or house must reflect their respective needs. Keep a close watch on interactions for safety.
Yes, your geese can be kept together with ducks but must be closely monitored for safety and behavioral issues, especially at first. Both species are very cold tolerant and do not require roosts or nesting boxes.
Yes, but keep in mind that they will do best with their own species and other water birds like ducks. Geese are very territorial and can take time to get adjusted to new animals. I raise mine with my Icelandic Sheep and although they largely ignore each other, the geese do not like the sheep in "their" pasture.
No, you cannot and should not keep only one goose. It is very cruel to the goose to deprive them of their own species. Two geese are the minimum and three is even better. A human companion is not enough for them and they are highly likely to develop behavioral issues from this type of arrangement.
Geese are intelligent creatures full of personality and they make wonderful pets. Raised from goslings and handled regularly, they develop deep bonds with their owners.
Domestic geese are too heavy to fly and they will not attempt it. Once a goose knows where home is, it will return to it after a day of foraging. To keep them contained, you need the appropriate fencing.
A goose that is bonded to its human owner will enjoy being touched and petted often. This may be specific to the individual goose.
Geese raised from goslings to adults can forge deep and everlasting bonds with their owners.
Are geese dirty? No more than other animals. They do poop a lot but it is mostly water and it will dissolve in the rains pretty quickly. their poop is also a great source of fertilizer.
Geese can be easier than ducks or chickens to take care of, and in my experience, they are hardier and healthier animals that thrive on pasture with very little human input required. If they have grasses to raise and water to dunk their heads into, they are content.
Domestic geese are seldomly aggressive and will mostly hiss and flap their wings as a bluster. Wild geese like Canadian geese are way more apt to charge and hurt a person, especially a small child. that said, you need to remain respectful of their space and boundaries to minimize the risk of injury. A goose on a nest, or a male protecting her will be more likely to be aggressive.
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