I got some goslings the first year, Embden crosses. They had tufts on their heads, and I later figured out they were tufted Toulouse crosses with Embden. Embden geese are big, agressive geese. Toulose geese are much calmer, but still not calm enough for me. The ravens ate my goslings right through the wire enclosure. I wondered what happened as they disappeared. I could not find a way for them to get out and did not see any dead bodies. The raven would sit patiently on the outside of the cage and when the gosling was close enough, reach his beak in and tear off a bit of the gosling, eventually pulling the remains out and eating it all, which is why there were no bodies. The next goslings were raised where the dogs could protect them and they fared better. They grow very quickly and eat mostly fresh grass. How a creature can eat grass and convert it to fat is a miracle. Some of those geese went to the freezer and I must say, they are incredibly delicious eating. They averaged about 14 pounds, not much, and of that, provided two meals only, with much of the waste being bones. The meat breeds of geese dress out to a greater percentage of meat to bone.
Last year, I ordered two Sebastopol geese. I had seen photos of these geese who look like they are wearing wedding gowns of fine ruffles. Simply stunning, they are! The goslings were sexed and cost $100 each. They were taken great care of and have grown to be lovely adults. One was nearly lost to an owl in the winter. The owl tore off the wrist portion of a wing, but since they are flightless, once it healed, it will not cause any permanent harm. The two female geese other than the one Sebastopol are Amercian Buffs, a beautiful buff coloured quiet, docile breed. I wish I could find a gander of that breed. Instead, to have two ganders, in case of the demise of one, I kept one of those tuft tops that I had originally. He was a scrawny teenager, but is quite handsome now with grey and white feathers. Of all the geese, he is the loudest and most agressive.
They geese are nesting now, so they are highly protective of their nesting area. They were hissing at me when I checked one nest today. The Tufted gander has mated with one Buff goose and the Sebastopol gander has mated with the other Buff and his Sebastopol wife. The cross goslings, Sebastopol and Buff, will be very striking with long flowing coloured feathers or possibly the soft smooth feathers of the Buff with Sebastopol fluffs. There are 7 eggs in the nest now. It has been pretty cold and has frozen to minus 10, so the eggs might not be viable, since the goose is not sitting yet. She will continue to lay eggs in the nest until she feels she has enough to ensure continuation of her species, usually about ten or twelve. It takes just over a month to hatch the eggs. Due to the loss of baby birds to the ravens, the goslings will have to be taken away and artificially reared or they will be dinner. I have a waiting list for Sebastopol geese and the crosses. At $100 and up per goose, it is better money than raising sheep. From one nest, ten babies provide $1000 dollars. At best one lamb will fetch $300 unless it is a specialty lamb, which may come closer to the big dollars, but still not equal to the thousand dollars.
Geese are interesting and the Buffs and Sebastopols are gentle and non invasive. Anyone can walk around them, provided they do not come too close to the nest, and they do not bother with them.The Tufted Toulouse cross gander has learned to give me a wide berth after a few early encounters where he met my boot after he tried to bite me. He does not both with Robbie too much either, because Robbie has given him a haircut once or twice when he attacked him. Sofi, on the other hand, is fair game and the gander loves to chase her, hissing and creating a scene.
A mixed farm wouldn't be complete without geese. I am considering raising forty to fifty next year and then having a goose per week for dinner. One goose, in the grocery store, is around $50. If I had a market for them, butchered, then that is another possibility to add to the farm income. I am thankful for the opportunity to get to know geese. Would you like to ?