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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Delightful Goose Eggs! Wonderful Geese!

Love love love.... Big giant fat goose eggs! Muscovy egg was my favorite until I ate one of these big beautiful things!
So rich!
Here we have a pilgrim egg, Chinese egg and one of my tiny silkie eggs...
I'm extra happy because you see my pilgrims and Chinese started laying in November! Usually geese lay from feb. Or march till June... That's it...,
That's how my roman girl is.. But not these guys!
Geese came into my life through a barter deal back in 2012.. Toulouse geese... But it didn't work due to I didn't understand geese and I thought they were mean!!! So mean!!!!! 
I realize now what I had was a really nice production flock of Toulouse that I mismanaged. I just didn't know how to deal with them and the internet is really so limited on any real information about keeping geese. It would have been easy to forget about them and concentrate on something else...
But I could not get over how incredible the meat is...How incredible the fat is ... All That soft down ... 
Most of all I couldn't get over how economical they were to feed!!!!!
So I researched different breeds ,,settled on pilgrims ( one of the auto-sexing breeds) and a couple other breeds for different purposes..I searched hard , found some old, out of print books that gave me more insight to keeping and managing them in a more practical small farm kinda way. It's been the 2nd best thing I could have done on this farm ( the first best thing was getting the gardens producing heavily and four season gardening,, gardens are the heart of the homestead if you want to be more grocery store free!) 
Finding those old books and correct goose information wasn't easy ...
There's some misinformation about geese.. Like the website that tells you you need geese for your homestead to eat bugs and weeds...
First off... Geese are primarily vegetarians ... The true pastured poultry! Sure if there's a little slug on a blade of grass they won't spit it out but they do not eat worms or bugs... 
I've even tried to trick mine and put earthworms in their veggie mix to see if they would.. Lol! No.. They wouldn't !! At all..,
I have seen my brown Chinese gander bite at flies.. If he catches one though he does spit it out. 
And weeds... They will eat some weeds but not like a donkey will ( which is one of the many reasons I have donkeys!)
But they mainly prefer grass... And vegetables ! Don't let anyone tell you you can turn them out and they will weed your vegetable garden.. They might ignore those tomatoes at first but all it takes is one taste ... And Gone are your tomatoes!!
Second... You will hear they are nasty animals ... No,, they are very clean animals but if not provided with proper bathing water they will get nasty looking. They are waterfowl!!!!! 
They do have huge .. I mean huge poos.. So they do need room.. A pair of geese in a small lot will get smelly in a hurry..
Geese given plenty of room and clean bathing water are some of the most beautiful farm animals ever seen..

And...You'll hear they are Mean... Yeah.. Some are pretty mean.. Typically only when they are laying and hatching eggs though.. And the degrees of aggressiveness vary. During breeding/ hatching I like to give the geese room!
And give them areas I can manage around while they have goslings..,
Not all geese need this kind of management .. But some do. Try to choose a line of geese from a breeder who has more docile geese if their protectiveness bothers you.
Honestly after being knocked down and hurt by rams and having rams rip through fencing the protectiveness of geese over their goslings no longer bothers me!! The rams put things in perspective I guess you can say..
So I do have both .. The more docile breeds and the more aggressive. Both are manageable. 

Some say...They are expensive to raise!!
Ha! Most inexpensive livestock I've ever raised! 
In the warm months They eat grass.. And all the overflow produce I grow.. They get to range fairly large areas Here and I rotate them when needed.
Even in the winter when the grass is gone I can make them greens foods , grow beds of leafy greens , radishes and turnips..add some fermented grains and they do amazing on this low cost feed that no other poultry could live on (ok,, my utility silkies can) 
And they produce well on that really inexpensive food I make for them too...
So being expensive to feed is a matter of your own set up... If you have pasture and grow extra food they are very economical ... If you have them sit in a small lot with no grass and you feed commercial feed , they will be much more expensive to keep.
You may hear they are good guards ...
No... They are good watchers.. Very alert animals that are Good alarms and let everyone know something is around that shouldn't be..,
They can and will keep aerial predators away like hawks... So they can be good to keep with chickens if hawks are a problem...,
But they can not defend against coyotes or even raccoons... They need to be protected from larger and more vicious predators like those. I prefer donkeys and llamas for my goose protection because they don't eat my goose eggs!!
They can be expensive to get breeding stock depending on the breed though..
Even the less expensive geese are still $10 to $12 a gosling... With rare breeds anywhere from $25 to $80 a gosling!
But good geese from good lines will be productive for many many years!! Way longer than chickens or ducks. 
Just one good trio of geese can produce a lot of meat and fat... Down too if you take the time to harvest it. The extra eggs are a bonus to eat! I keep Chinese specifically as laying geese only... No they don't lay like a chicken but that breed lays a lot for a goose and their eggs equal about 3 chicken eggs! 
So if I have a Chinese goose that gives me 50 eggs a year that's like 150 chicken eggs.. Which is as good as a lot of heritage breeds lay. Plus goose eggs keep longer.... And in the summer when all they are eating is fresh grass and my extra garden produce... Oh yum! The truly grass fed, pasture raised eggs from a goose.. I don't think an egg gets any healthier!
Yeah... Love my geese.. Anyone who knows me knows my fascination for them is kinda crazy. I chalk it up to being greatly appreciative for how easy they are.. Farming is hard and 
After raising so many difficult , high input animals That sucked away my time and money... There's a reason for this love! 
With the geese being so low input and hardy.. Simple, but entertaining ... Beautiful to watch .., There's just not much not to like...
The cons.. What few there are, are so very outweighed by the pros of this totally underutilized bird. 

They are a blessing and have many uses to a subsistence farmer like myself.

Oh I can not wait for spring goslings!!!!!!
Which is why I have 6 goose eggs in the incubator now...,

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