How to Raise Geese, Goose
Geese constitute 0.02% of the poultry population. If the purpose of raising geese is for breeding, then reproductive capacity and egg production are important factors; whereas if they are raised for market flock, meat production and carcass requirements are important.
Why Raise Geese?
Geese are not known to be prolific egg layers, and lay only 30-50 eggs every year, mostly in spring, based on the breed.
Raising Geese for meet production is ideal, they are fast growing birds, live the longest and are also the toughest of all poultry. They reach a good weight with little feeding and the main demand for goose meat is during the festive season.
Down And Feathers:
Geese produce down and feathers, which are in good demand for use in quilts and cushions.
Various Breeds Of Geese
The most popular breeds of geese are Toulouse, Emden and Chinese. There are other nondescript breeds such as the Roman or German, African, and among the fancy breeds is the Sebastopol.
Toulouse is one of the heavy breeds, with the gander weighing 12 kg and the goose weighing 9 kg. This only lays about 35 eggs per season. They are not good foragers. Toulouse goose crossed with Emden gander produces geese that grow rapidly and have excellent fleshing qualities.
The most popular of the heavy breeds and the same weight as Toulouse, it is a prolific breeder and most suitable for crossing. Emdens produce up to 40 eggs per season and are good sitters, good foragers and mature early. The white feathers of Emdens are more in demand than feathers of other geese.
They come in two colors, the White Chinese and the Brown Chinese. They are smaller than the Toulouse or Emden; with the gander and goose weighing 6 kg and 5.5 kg respectively. They have a unique protuberance on the head that distinguishes them from the other breeds. They are better layers, and lay about 50 eggs in a season. This makes them ideal for crossing.
The result of crossing between Chinese and Emden are goslings of white fleshing qualities that are produced more economically than other pure breeds.
Geese are mainly kept for meat production, so the breeding stock are selected based on their quick growth, early-maturity and meaty bodies.
Breeders that are over-sized or over-fat may result in poor fertility. Healthy, vigorous stock from geese of marketing age and body weight should be selected.
Breeders should be at least one year old for mating and are kept for breeding until they are ten years of age, but ganders are culled at six years of age. The length of time breeders are kept depends on the performance.
Generally, one gander to three geese is used with the heavier breeds, but with the Chinese and lighter breeds, one gander to five geese is used.
Geese like mating on water and swimming water can be provided in the breeding season as it keeps the geese and the eggs clean. They should be mated once per month at least before the breeding season starts. Geese are finicky about their mates, but once they establish a relationship, they remain together for life.
Spring is the main egg-laying time, around August and September. Chinese breeds start laying in winter and lay about 12-15 eggs and then brood.
Geese eggs can be hatched artificially with light but natural incubation produces the best goslings. Using geese to hatch their own goslings is expensive. Other poultry such as hens, turkeys, and Muscovy ducks may be used to hatch goslings, but the best results come from the Muscovy duck which can sit on 6-8 eggs.
The sheds should be enclosed with the ability to be locked at nights and in bad weather. This keeps the predators away and the birds secure.
Each shed should have some nest boxes, although geese are in the habit of making their own nests in the litter on the floor.
If geese are going to be housed totally on pasture, then housing is not required but the area should be made totally predator-proof.
A layer of shavings on the floor will keep the area dry. Geese have the habit of fouling their sleeping areas, so litter has to be cleared frequently. It is a good idea to use slatted floors to ensure proper drainage.
Each shed should have a spacious yard; this should be planned based on the number of geese per shed. It is important to provide separate sheds for each breeding flock with pastured area.
Goslings need more protein as they show a rapid weight gain in the first four weeks. There should be plenty of green feed as goslings can start grazing at just a few weeks of age. Their weight will increase by almost 50% in the first two months.
Geese tend to graze frequently and in summers, they may graze and feed at night as well. If pasture for grazing is not available, then breeders should feed chopped green feed.
It is recommended to feed goslings a starter diet that contains 20% protein, in the first four weeks along with good grazing. After four weeks, they should be fed 16% protein finisher feed. This feed can be either dry or wet, in mashed form or pelleted form. Growth promotants can also be included.
Geese are sensitive to arsenicals and this should not be included in the diet.
Geese are tough and diseases are uncommon. They can be reared to marketing age with only 2% death rate. With clean environment and proper feeding, there may not be any mortality.
If affected, it is with coccidiosis, fowl cholera, white eye, botulism, coryza, paratyphoid, sinusitis, worm infestation and nutritional deficiency diseases.
Compared to all other poultry, taking care of geese is the easiest as they are tough birds that can manage in any situation.