Geese are a versatile addition to any homestead, but they certainly haven’t been as popular in the homestead movement as goats, chickens, pigs, or ducks. This is mostly because people have a lot of negative associations with geese, and often a bad experience with an aggressive goose in their past. Geese are protective but no more dangerous than a dog and a properly raised goose is often mostly honk.
One of the great things about geese on your farm is how easily they are adapted to different roles. Geese lay beautiful, large eggs which you can easily make a whole omelet with. Most goose breeds lay 30-40 eggs a year, which is usually more than enough for a small family. Many breeds of geese are ideal as “weeders”, to control unwanted vegetation whether it be a small yard or to stop pest plants in a vegetable garden or commercial crop. And geese also make excellent guard animals – you will never miss a visitor coming up your driveway.
Geese are relatively easy keepers on the farm. Like ducks, geese don’t require a pond but they are very happy if they have open water to bathe and play in. They do need a large enough water source to clean their sinuses – they can get blocked up with food while eating. They are large birds so they like to have plenty of room to roam – ours are free range, but if you live on a smaller or more urban property, you have to be careful of them wandering into neighbor’s yards.
Geese do form bonds and if handled regularly when they are little they will be loyal to you for life. Many smaller goose breeds are barely aggressive at all, and if they aren’t handled a lot they can actually be quite skittish.
We currently have one African Goose and one Sebastopol. Africans fall in the category of good “weeder” geese, and are also extremely vocal and one of the largest breeds of geese. Sebastopols are a laid back variety with very distinct feathering and a much smaller body.
Geese do require open water in winter but otherwise are hardy, easy keepers. They like to have hay to nibble on and keep warm in, and they are much happier in the summer months with access to fresh grass. If you do want geese for weeding purposes, keep in mind you need at least six geese per acre. Weeders can also be used as meat birds in the fall.
Geese do make great friends if you move past their defensive personalities. A bonded goose will follow you anywhere and likes cuddles just as much as a puppy dog. They add a lot of humor to the barnyard and will brighten their owner’s lives.