Curious about raising geese? Here’s what we’ve learned over the years of having geese on our little farm. There are both benefits and drawbacks to raising geese, so know what you’re getting yourself into before deciding on goose raising.
What to Know About Raising Geese on a Homestead (Benefits & Drawbacks)
- What to Know About Raising Geese on a Homestead (Benefits & Drawbacks)
- Small flocks of geese make great guard animals.
- Geese don’t need much for shelter
- Raising Geese Can Mean Extra Income
- Geese are good foragers / vegetarians
- Interesting Goose Facts
- Different Breeds of Geese
- Commonly Asked Questions about Geese
Geese get a bad rap (sometimes quite fairly, in my opinion). But we have found them to be a great addition to our homestead. They can be raised as guard animals, for goose eggs and goose meat, and they are hardy and self-sufficient. Here’s what to know about raising geese: the good, the bad, the ugly.
Small flocks of geese make great guard animals.
We have a multi-tiered guarding system on our five-acre homestead to keep our birds safe. Geese are large, loud, and in-charge. They work together with the guineas and the Great Pyrenees to help the chickens and ducks safe.
Guineas are useful at alerting everyone that something is not quite right, the geese are great at scaring things away (especially people LOL), and the dogs get called in by all the noise to investigate and fight, if need be.
- Learn about raising guineas here.
- Curious about training Great Pyrenees dogs to be useful on the farm?
Sometimes geese can scare children and even grown-ups, particularly older grownups who may have grown up on a farm. Surly geese, usually the males, charge and hiss which can be quite intimidating.
Geese are the largest type of fowl we have on the homestead. Their sheer size can be intimidating in its own right. But when they charge at someone in full hiss with their necks out, they look a bit like a mean snake.
We make sure the kids know to carry a goose stick and also teach them to be intimidating to the geese if they need to be instead of running away and being chased by a goose. Our geese back down very easily, but they will chase if you run.
Geese don’t need much for shelter
Geese are very hardy and don’t need much for shelter except in the very coldest of weather. Our geese sleep outside in most types of weather, but they will seek shelter when the wind starts to howl and the wind chills approach double digit negatives.
Geese don’t roost like chickens, instead they nest on the floor. If you want to raise geese, you’ll want to make sure you have fresh straw in a protected area, especially during mating season.
Female geese will lay one egg a day during egg laying season. They usually start laying eggs in the winter. Once they’ve laid enough, the female will sit on the eggs to try to hatch them. Incubation time for goose eggs usually takes 28-35 days.
Raising Geese Can Mean Extra Income
A great benefit of raising geese is that they can be an extra source of income. Geese lay big, beautiful eggs that fetch a high price.
Raising Geese for Goose Eggs
They aren’t known for egg production, but goose eggs are edible! In fact, they are prized by gourmet chefs and crafters.
A goose will lay only for a few weeks in late winter / early spring. Like chickens, they lay about an egg a day, but they don’t lay them for long. So it’s a real treat to find goose eggs!
Raising Geese for Meat
Of course, you can raise geese for meat as well. I’ve heard goose meat is more like beef than chicken, but we haven’t tried that. Instead, we enjoy our geese for all the reasons listed above!
Raising Geese for Goslings
Geese are great at breeding and they make excellent mothers. If goose breeding interests you, you can sell goslings for another source of farm income.
Geese are good foragers / vegetarians
While geese occasionally snack on a bug or two, they are primarily vegetarians. They love to eat grass, hay, dandelions, weeds, and herbs. They also love to eat flowers. The great thing about geese is that they are fantastic at foraging, if you let them free-range.
We don’t really have to feed our free-ranging geese in the summer, but they will need to be fed in the colder months. They eat the chicken food we put out for everyone. If your geese eat chicken feed, do make sure the food is unmedicated. Medicated chicken feed can be very bad for the geese.
Interesting Goose Facts
Wonder what geese are called? A male goose is a gander. A female goose can be called a goose or a dame, and a young goose is called a gosling.
A small group of geese (usually on the ground) is called a gaggle, but groups of geese can also be called flocks.
Geese can be useful for weeding.
Since they really like to eat grass and weeds, they can be useful for weeding. I don’t let mine in the garden until the end of the season because they’ll also mow down garden plants, but they do a nice cleanup job in the fall when the garden is done.
Geese are monogamous and mate for life
A pair of geese is fun to watch. Geese are monogamous and they can mate for life. We learned this the hard way this past winter. One winter, we had three geese, one goose and two ganders. One gander paired with the female, and the other gander was a tagalong.
During a very cold winter spell we wanted the geese to spend the nights in the coop. When we put them in the coop, the two ganders started fighting.
So, we separated them and left the female with the wrong gander accidentally. We quickly learned that was not ok! The solo male who should have been with the goose screamed bloody murder until we gave him is lady-friend back. Listening to that poor gander scream was eye-opening!
Goose poop is gross
Goose poop is big, green, and gross. Just beware that free-range geese can poop on your deck, your driveway, and your front porch. You might want to consider them for a pasture and not give them access to your entire homestead.
Different Breeds of Geese
There are many types of geese including the wild Canadian Geese you may see migrating every year. There are also heritage geese, many of which are threatened or endangered species. Heritage geese typically don’t fly and can be raised for many different purposes.
We’ve had two types of geese on our homestead: production Toulouse geese and African geese. Production Toulouse are our main geese. They’re large, weighing in at 18-20 pounds, and they average about 10-20 eggs per female per year.
We had one African goose – he was the most aggressive goose we’ve had. And sadly, his life ended when he charged at a truck tire and lost.
Other types of geese include Chinese geese, Sebastopol, Dewlap Toulouse. There are also a few heritage geese native to North America, including Cottonpatch, Pilgrim, American Buff. I would love to own a few Sebastopol geese. They are feathery and beautiful and reportedly nicer than other types of geese. I don’t know this first-hand though.
Commonly Asked Questions about Geese
Here are the most common questions I am asked about raising geese.
Do geese have to have a pond?
Geese don’t have to have a pond, but they do need some sort of water source. Our geese are pretty happy with a little kiddie pool and they the pig wallow as well. In the winter, they’re very happy to find a puddle to splash around in.
The need to be able to dunk their heads after eating to clean out their sinuses, and having water also increases the odds of successful mating. So if at all possible, make if you want to raise geese, make sure they have some sort of water source, even if it’s small.
Can goslings be raised with chickens?
It is possible to raise goslings with chicks, but be mindful of the size difference. We put goslings in the chicken brooder if we find a gosling that is struggling with its mother. And we only do this if the chicks are at least a week old.
The chicks need to be a bit older to accommodate a larger gosling. If you do put a gosling in a brooder with chicks, make sure to keep a close eye on them so you can remove the gosling in case of trouble.
Is there anyway to make geese friendly?
One question people often ask is, can you have a friendly goose. The answer is yes, to an extent. Goslings imprint very quickly and can be hand-raised. We have found that hand-raising goslings is a great way to make them friendly.
But they don’t always stay friendly for ever once they join the gaggle of geese. Watching a gosling toddle around after its people is so cute though – I definitely recommend hand-raising a gosling if you have the chance.
How do you tell male geese from female geese?
It is really hard to sex geese. The best way I have found to tell a male goose from a female goose is by watching their behavior and listening to them. Male geese tend to be a bit larger, and they often lead the group. They can be more aggressive and will stick their necks out like a snake and charge.
Males make a different noise than females too. They’re sound is lower pitched and more like a honk. Some people think the noise is also slower than what the female geese say.
A female goose’s noise often sounds a bit more link HINK than HONK. It’s faster and higher pitched than the males.
Do you raise geese? Why or why not?
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