Europeans raised geese for food and feathers long before they were brought to the United States by settlers. They are now used for exhibition, meat, eggs, feathers, down, and guard duty.
Cackle Hatchery carries four breeds of geese: White Chinese, African, Toulouse, and White Embden. The Toulouse and Embden are the most popular breeds and the most commonly raised breed for meat. The Embden do not lay as many eggs as the Toulouse, but Embden tend to be better mothers.
Embden geese mature early, dress out well, and are the fastest growing of the domestic breeds. The females reach about 20 pounds and the males about 30 pounds. They are snowy white and what most people see when they think of geese. They lay white eggs.
Toulouse geese originated in France and are great weeders. They put on a lot of fat when plenty of feed is available, and space for exercise is not. One result of this fat is an oversized liver. That’s why they are used for pate de foie gras, which is French for “fatty liver.” The hens lay 25-40 white eggs per year.
African geese originated in China and are the largest of the domestic breeds. The males can reach about 20 pounds. Their lean meat is good for roasting and the hens lay 40-50 white eggs per year. They are cold-weather hardy but need shelter.
Chinese geese are versatile for egg laying, meat, and guard duty. They are one of the smallest of the domestic breeds and are active foragers. They produce the least greasy meat of the domestic breeds. They are protective of their nests and will honk loudly if confronted. They have a long neck and snow white feathers, resembling a swan. The hens lay 40-50 white eggs per year.
Geese can distinguish regular everyday noises from unusual noises. That makes them good guard animals. The best breed for this is the Chinese. They are alert and loud, raising an alarm when they perceive a threat.
An acre of pasture will support 20-40 geese, depending on their size and the pasture quality. Be sure the pasture area has not been treated with any chemicals. The geese should have shade available in hot weather. They will need a house for protection from winter storms.
Geese start laying eggs in February or March, and often lay until early summer. Nest boxes should be provided, at least two feet square, and should have partitions between them or they should be spread out to reduce fighting.
The eggs can be used in the same way as chicken eggs: scrambled, boiled, used in recipes, etc. They are larger than chicken eggs so fewer eggs are needed.
And that’s today’s news from the Cackle Coop!