My first geese were 5 Embden goslings a few weeks old. When I picked them up, I asked why they looked different and the seller told me that she did have a Tufted Toulouse gander too. Hence, the babies were half Toulouse and half Embden. Embden geese are noted for their unfriendly temperaments and watchdog like behaviour. They would just as soon hiss and bite and flap than be friendly, and even though they were lovingly raised by hand, they simply never did become tame. At least, though, they never attempted to bite me, well, until mating that was and then it was only the one big gander.
There were two males and three females of that group and the females made lovely nests and fought over them. Eventually they moved their nests and then fought over whose those were too. I had also acquired two female American Buff geese. One never did nest, but the other nested, stayed on her nest, did not mess with the Embden girls and hatched five lovely babies. The Embden nests grew stale and the eggs rotted due to constant moving of the eggs, and they were abandoned when the other goose hatched her brood. Then the entire flock cared for and protected those little ones. They quickly grew and by the summer's end were indistinguishable from their parents, more or less. The two American Buff geese mated with a lanky, skinny gander and he stayed with them, but the offspring were most likely the big gander's. All the geese but the Buffs and that gander went to the processor and came home wrapped and frozen.
Then last fall, a gander and two geese joined the three remaining ones on the farm. These are Pomeranian Saddlebacks, noted for their quieter natures. The skinny, lanky gander filled out nicely by winter and became a very handsome dude with lovely grey and white mottled feathers and a tuft on his noggin. He and his two ladies have stayed bonded and the Pomeranians have also bonded. This spring then, it should be relatively easy to separate them for breeding, the Buffs with the pretty cross gander and the Pomeranians together.
Although I have read over and again that geese are strictly vegetarian, their behaviour evidences something different. They love raw meat. When the chickens are given bones to pick, the geese are the first to strip the tender bits off. Winter feeding is harder. They do get oats, wheat and barley, alfalfa and grass hay and grit and shells, plus the occasional vegetable scraps. But in the summer, they hardly eat any grain, instead feeding on grass and bugs, worms, mice, and whatever else is in the grass, plus dirt. I imagine they get their minerals from the dirt, plus the grit, because they eat quite a bit, especially in certain pockets in the yard. A waterfowl pool is on the agenda for this summer. All that has to happen is to locate some clay, and there is building going on locally, so that might be easy. It will line the natural pond.
I really enjoy the geese, especially watching them bathe. They will stick their heads in a bucket of water to clean their eyes and come out frozen and if given a chance for a bath, they will enter the water, which freezes to their feathers and then preen for an hour following. They are graceful and flap their wings to move the water down their feathers.
And, I must say, the geese from the summer are most delicious. Thank you to the Creator for making geese and to the geese for the honour of their lives.