I have found geese to be the most delightful farm animals and pets. For that reason I felt like blogging about how great these creatures are, and how they get a bad rap from far too many people. Yes they do take a little bit more commitment than chickens, but they are great assets to any farm or small homestead in so many ways.
Geese are wonderful companions. Unlike most farm animals which don’t really care if you are there or not unless you have treats, geese will actively follow you around all day, just to be part of the action. They are much more inquisitive, probably because they are less commonly prey animals than chickens.
A goose or geese can and will bond with a human, as we are proof of. However geese are somewhat solitary animals and, much like certain breeds of dog, even a friendly goose will be aggressive towards strangers. Geese are one of the wonderful species that mate for life, and if there’s not another goose around they can bond with you or even with another farm animal. Many people keep geese as guard animals, and they are perfect for that — ours love to announce any car coming up the driveway with honking and flapping wings.
You can tell domestic geese from wild ones because of their upright posture: being several pounds heavier than the wild variety, the body type changes to give them an erect stature and potbelly. The variety we have, African Geese, are actually from Ancient China and are distinguished by the large knob on their beaks and tight chest (but a large, often saggy belly).
Our geese are nearly four months old (wow, how time flies!). A goose actually takes two years to reach full maturity, so ours are just preteens at this point. The African goose isn’t known for large egg production, although we should get about 30 eggs a year when they are grown up. These guys are more known as a heavy breed, commonly used for meat. Geese live for about 20 years, which is good to keep in mind if you are thinking about getting goslings.
If you are considering keeping geese, the one thing to think about is that they can be quite messy. They poo everywhere, and their droppings are large and messy. They also molt, like any other fowl, and when they do everywhere they go will be covered in white pinfeathers. We have a pond, and I highly recommend one for your geese. It keeps them cleaner, and it also keeps them out of the yard for most of the day.
My favorite thing about our geese is their friendliness and attachment to us. I’ll admit they can be aggressive towards other people, but they’ve definitely bonded with me, and I credit that to the amount of time I spent with them as goslings. Like any animal, the more you handle them and spend time with them the more familiar and comfortable they are with you. Any aggressive behavior, even in joking, also has an effect.
Breeding also has a lot to do with the temperament of your geese, and African geese are known to be particularly docile and event curious. A goose is an all around great animal, a friendly pet if you treat them right, they provide tasty meat if you feed them right, and one egg can make a complete omelet.