I couldn’t wait to open the box when I got it from the post office. Guard geese — these are what I had been waiting to add to our homestead for quite some time. But because guardian geese might not be a welcome wake up call for my neighbors in my subdivision, I had to wait and get these beautiful birds once we had land to put them on. Of course, you don’t need a large amount of land for geese, but I did want to keep happy neighbors!
In April of this year we welcomed one male and one female guard goose to our homestead (we’ll go over guard geese breeds further down in this post). We’ll be using these guardian geese for the new homestead we’re building just up the road from our current subdivision cottage in the woods. These fluffy balls of cuteness don’t look like warriors right now, but they will become a vital part of our homestead over the next few months. In fact, they are already showing signs of just how amazing they will be.
You can use geese on your homestead for many things, but one of the most popular tasks is using your geese for chickens. As you may know, chickens are prey animals. This means that while chickens are fairly smart, they are also susceptible to being at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to predators. Especially sky predators. Geese are amazing protectors of chickens and other fowl.
We will be moving our large batch of meat birds to our property into the middle of a wide open pasture. Without a guardian, it leaves our flock more likely to fall prey to a predator of any type. This is one of the main reasons we decided to incorporate guardian geese this year.
The History of Chinese Geese
The specific breed we chose are Brown Chinese Geese. This breed is smaller than White Chinese Geese, with identical coloring to the African Goose. Chinese geese are very talkative and alert. This means they are great guardians for the home flock. In fact, Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms even uses guard geese on his large pastured poultry operation in Virginia, though he uses different kinds of breeds.
Chinese geese have a very serious disposition, but are docile. They have also been known to snuggle close if hand-raised by their owner.
These geese are often thought of to be one of the most graceful geese breeds, sometimes even being referred to as “swan geese” because of their long necks and origin. This beautiful breed originated from the wild swan goose that is native to Asia.
Chinese geese tend to lay more eggs than most goose breeds—anywhere from 40 to 100 per year. This means they can produce twice as many goslings as well. If you’re looking for a sustainable breed, this is it!
The earliest record of Chinese geese in America dates back to George Washington, who received a pair of Chinese Geese from Governor Morris in 1788. Originally, Chinese geese were the brown color that we got for our homestead. Later on, the white coloring was introduced. Both varieties were admitted to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1874.
You can read more about these specific breed of geese on The Livestock Conservancy website.
Jobs for Geese on the Homestead
Geese are good for more than just guarding chickens, though. They have other great uses and jobs as well. You don’t have to just look at the Chinese geese breed, though. There are several other geese breeds that are just as amazing, and all have similar jobs. Just make sure that if you want a guardian goose, you’re getting one that is fairly talkative. I’ll list them below in a moment.
Here are some things you can use geese for on the homestead:
- Weeding Garden Beds — it’s true, most geese are amazing weeders. Chinese geese, especially. They are quick to eat grass and broadleaf greens. This is great when you have a mature garden that needs tending too. Under careful supervision, your weeder geese can also weed an immature, new garden. Just make sure they aren’t getting too close to your baby plants. Sometimes they can get confused with little transplants.
- Sustainable Meat Source — geese mature quickly, eat much less feed than chickens, are incredible foragers, and are an amazing source of meat on the homestead.
- Guarding Your Flocks — more than anything, many geese breeds are impeccable at guarding your flocks. And not just chickens and other fowl!
Check out the following jobs and which geese breeds are best for the jobs listed.
While any geese breed can be used as a weeder geese, the most popular breed are the Chinese geese because they are more agile and have a lighter body weight. This causes them not to harm the plants as they weed around them.
Geese can weed around just about any crop, just make sure your garden is fairly established before setting them free.
Again, while geese, in general, are great at sounding an alarm, the three breeds mentioned above are the most popular. These breeds have shown true guardianship abilities, which include attacking predators when needed.
GEESE BREEDS FOR MEAT AND EGGS
It’s not common to raise geese for eggs, as they are seasonal layers. However, it’s very common to raise them for meat!
First, we ordered our geese from our favorite hatchery (hint hint). Or you can also find a local breeder. We hope to breed our geese next spring for some friends and family. And, well, for myself, of course!
Next, the goslings arrived in the mail and we brought them back to their new home! At the time, it was our living room. But we quickly moved them to our outside chicken tractor brooder.
Goslings can eat regular non-medicated chick grower, but honestly, we start all of our chicks out on regular chicken feed with at least 16% protein. The feed we use is soy-free and contains wonderful minerals and vitamins. They also free-range in the movable chicken tractor.
Make sure your goslings have plenty of water. They drink a lot of water each day because they grow so quickly.
It’s best to raise your goslings with a group of chicks. This will teach them to guard from day one. Otherwise they will only guard each other and not your flocks.
You can rise one gosling per flock, or you can add a pair of goslings to a flock. It is not recommended you have more than a pair per flock, otherwise they will bond to each other, not the flock. Goslings and geese will see your chickens as their flock members, unless you have more than two geese in the group.
Should you need to move a goose or a pair of geese to a new flock, you can simply just move them. They are not like chickens who need a transition time. However, it’s best to move them at night so that they wake up with the flock in the morning.
Whatever you do, make sure you get to know your geese very well, because they’re going to be with you for awhile! Certain geese breeds can live up to 25 years! That means that one day, my grandchildren (who aren’t even a thought to my 10-year-old right now) could run around with the same geese that I bought this year.
Geese are so much fun on the homestead. Go through these guard geese breeds, consider adding guardian geese to your property, and use those geese for chickens and other livestock. You won’t regret it!
Photos courtesy of Amy Fewell.