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Breeds of Geese

Selecting the right breed of geese can make all the difference, from docile to temperamental knowing distinct traits proves useful.

| November 2017

The Modern Homesteaders Guide to Keeping Geese (New Society) is a must have practical guide for the kitchen table of homesteaders, small farmers, permaculturists, and professional farmers looking to add the power of geese to their land.

Like cats, dogs, horses, and chickens, geese come in many different shapes, sizes, and temperaments. While a goose’s behaviorcan be greatly shaped by how it is raised, each breed has distinct traits. Selecting the right breed for your farm will help you be sure you’ll get the most from your bird. Some breeds are loud, excellent guardians and not suited to an urban farm. Others are docile, perfect for families with children, and some are showy, with crowd-pleasing feather patterns.

You can get farmyard mix geese from local farms, which have uncertain heritage and are often all gray or white and gray. Mixed stock farmyard birds like this can make the perfect family pet, but if you have any intentions of breeding or showing geese, it is important to start with strong, purebred stock. After researching your options, select breeds that will suit your type of farm and are predisposed to behavior you think you can handle.

African and Chinese Geese History

Most domesticated geese trace their lineage back to a common ancestor, the Greylag Goose (Anser anser), but this is not the case for the distinctive African and Chinese geese. These birds have Asiatic heritage and descend from the wild Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides), a breed still found in north-ern China and southern Russia. The actual continental origins of these two geographically named breeds are uncertain, but it is thought that they are called African and Chinese simply because they were introduced to Europe by those who had traveled to exotic locales.

Elegant and graceful, both the African and Chinese geese were intro-duced to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1874 (source: Livestock Conservancy). Since that time, different color variations have emerged, and the apparent distinctions between the two breeds have grown more clear. Always popular on the homestead, both breeds are known for their versatility as egg layers and meat birds, but they are most prized for their vocality and weeding abilities.


What’s the difference between African and Chinese geese? Their size. Africans are bigger, weighing up to 20 pounds, while the more petite Chinese average only 10 pounds. Both are most commonly found in the brown va-riety, with black bills, pink feet, and a cream underbelly. White Chinese are solid white birds with orange bills and feet. For that matter, there is a white variety of the African, but these are highly unusual.



July 17-18, 2020
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