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Friday, October 21, 2016

The Pilgrim Goose, rare and perfect for a small farm

I mean no disrespect to the other goose breeds! 
I actually love all geese for their beauty , ease of caring for the adults and hardiness of their goslings. 
Not to mention their ability to turn grass into delicious meat, golden fat , rich livers and the best tasting eggs I've ever had!
Can't forget the down either! Best down on any bird is from the goose.
All geese excell slightly different in qualities but All geese are excellent multipurpose livestock! When you have a smaller farm like we do ( only 35 acres)
The Pilgrim goose is hard to beat has a lot to offer!

Ive had several different breeds and crosses.
 I settled on keeping Chinese and raising pilgrims for different reasons. 
Before I get into pilgrims here's my experiences with the other breed I keep for some comparison...
I absolutely adore my Chinese geese... They are so loud!!! So very,very loud! I personally enjoy their constant chatter and arguments. Many people do not! They are truly excellent 'watch dogs' and scream so loud when they see Hawks.
Most geese make good alarm systems.
I love their slender ,gracefull appearance and the odd knobs on their beaks!
Most of all I love ALL the eggs they lay.
It's a shame that people in the USA have bred this bird to primary be a show exhibit and not a utility egg layer as it was developed to be. They are the heaviest laying goose in the states but breeding for standard of perfection with no thought to egg production has meant their productivity isn't what it once was. 
Still they do produce a lot of eggs. They do not go broody and can be aggressive toward other poultry and each other! They are kinda barnyard bullies..
They are never aggressive to me or other people though.
They arent easily sexed unless you can vent sex them or wait until they start developing their knobs. They are worth keeping around and I enjoy them. Since I primarily want them for eggs, I don't plan to breed them every year. 
They are wonderful but I can see how they would not work for everyone.
They also need extra protection in the winter so their knobs won't get frost bite.

Now , The pilgrim goose. It is the calmest , quietest goose I've ever owned. It's a gorgeous breed and one of the very few goose breeds that can be sexed by color as soon as they are hatched. 
Which makes life very easy! 
Also , they do not fly.
Most domestic breeds don't but the other auto-sexing geese tend to fly better than Pilgrims.. Which do not fly at all!
My main line of pilgrims lay almost as many eggs as a Chinese but because they do go broody they don't lay as long.
They do have larger eggs. Not all lines of pilgrim lay well. Many lines have been inbred severely and are loosing productively as well as the sex link coloring and fertility. Sourcing out good stock can be an issue with this rare goose. 
Once you find good breeding stock this bird is a treasure!
They are medium sized , nice tempered geese. They won't share a nest or feed bowl with the other poultry but they don't go out of their way to be mean either.
They only honk alittle when they see me or if they get separated from each other.
They are protective of their nest and goslings but aren't near as aggressive as many breeds. So they are a great goose if you have small children because they do not attack unprovoked. They are excellent mothers and the ganders are good protectors of the goslings also. He will even stand guard in front of the goose nest while the geese are sitting. 
The pilgrim to me is the perfect sized meat bird.. Not to small not to big.
They never over eat if I have to feed pellets and if my pasture is good I do not need to feed extra. 
They don't need special shelters, a three sided shed is fine for nest making out of the wind and weather. 
They are a very low maintenance breed if managed properly. 

Honestly ,, Any goose is better than no goose at all!
If I had to choose just one goose breed it would more than likely be the Pilgrim.  
I've loved the other breeds and really like the Chinese because they are different and excell at egg laying. 
The pilgrim is the perfect package to me though... Very easy and a joy to keep. 

I look forward to goslings every year! 
Possibly the cutest baby poultry ever!
That's just a bonus 😉


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