Raising Geese for Meat and More

Adding a flock of geese to the homestead is a great way to add poultry variety, particularly because geese are largely self-sufficient.

| March/April 1970

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    Carolyn and Jackie get a close-up of a new member of the "family" — a day-old gosling. Four or five goose eggs can be hatched (in 28-35 days) under a hen while the goose goes on laying more eggs.
    Photo by Ed Robinson
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    The young geese are eight weeks old — half-grown and weighing about 9 pounds. The pair of breeders (at left) are two years old. Geese are extremely healthy, eat grass, and practically raise themselves.
    Photo by Ed Robinson
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    We bought this little poultry house and the scratch shed (at right) for our original backyard flock of seven laying hens. We've used it as a coop to fatten boilers and as a shelter for our geese.

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In raising poultry, my husband, Ed, and I believe chickens are fundamental — they furnish both meat and eggs. But, after you are producing broilers in your battery and have a flock of laying hens, you ought to consider raising at least one other kind of poultry for variety's sake.

It is up to you to choose geese, ducks, turkeys, squabs — or something fancy like guinea hens or pheasants. You can easily handle one or maybe two of these in addition to your garden, fruits, chickens, goats and bees. You've probably eaten duck and turkey recently, maybe goose and squab. If you haven't eaten these latter two recently, do so — and then plan on raising what ever you like the best.

We believe the goose is the best-tasting. Yet, it seems to be the forgotten fowl in America. The most common objection we hear is that goose is too greasy. But you don't have to eat all the grease any more than you eat all the excess fat on the best cuts of beef. The first Christmas we were married, I roasted a goose (at Ed's insistence!) even though I had never tasted it. I used a prune and apple stuffing to offset the richness and pricked the skin to release fat which could then be poured out of the pan. I have been an ardent goose fan ever since. If you like dark meat, which we find to be more succulent and tasty than white, you should like goose.

Geese are the cheapest and easiest of all poultry to raise. Extremely hardy, they are rarely affected by any disease or insect pests. After they are two weeks old all they need is plenty of water and grass and they will gain a pound a week until they are about 12 weeks old. They may be eaten at this age and are called "green geese." Geese have no use for fancy housing — a simple three-sided shed where they can keep dry in the severest winter weather is all they want for they prefer to stay in the open even at night.. As for fencing, any low wall or fence 36 inches high holds them. At breeding time, geese make their own nests and hatch their own eggs.

In Europe and Asia, geese have been highly valued for centuries. As far back as 4,000 years ago the Egyptians used goose liver to cure night blindness — and they were right, for scientists now know goose liver is exceptionally rich in Vitamin A because geese eat such large quantities of green grass.

If you live in a closely populated section you will not find geese desirable as their call is a noisy one and they are easily disturbed. In fact, they make good "watch dogs." If you want to keep feed at a minimum, one-half of an acre of good grass will support eight to 10 large geese. Of course, you can keep them in smaller areas and supplement their grass with waste greens, vegetables or fruit and a little grain. Oats make a good grain. Geese need sand, grit and oyster shell for egg laying and digestion's sake. But, from early spring to winter, it is grass and water than they prefer. If you supply those two things, your geese will virtually raise themselves.

Evans Milazi
2/7/2009 1:30:17 PM

This sure takes you back to mother earth.

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