We got geese last summer, and it's definitely been a learning curve! They aren't like any other poultry we've ever had, and are significantly bigger than most of the varieties of poultry we've had. They are actually a lot like the Livestock Guardian Dogs, as they have a pretty apparent flock hierarchy and are very territorial. We got into the geese as a way to graze the gullies that have a large small tree population, since we can't run the larger animals there because they'll eat the trees. They are also great guards, even going so far as to kick overly enthusiastic roosters off the hens! So far they've done a great job of grazing around the house and barn, so we'll see how grazing the gullies goes when we manage to move them down there! We are currently evaluating three different breeds.
Of the breeds we have, the Toulouse are the favorite. They are mild mannered and incredibly beautiful. They are also the quietest of our breeds, and the last to hiss at you. The Toulouse are somewhat like the Buff Orpington of the goose world, if you know chickens. They are gentle, good mothers, hardy, and forage well, but they are slower maturing (some not reaching sexual maturity until 3 years, although they reach butcher weight at a more normal age). They are one of the most traditional heritage geese.
If you think "goose," the one that most likely comes to mind is the Embden. Embdens are the traditional meat goose. They grow fast, and they grow big. They are cold and heat hardy, fairly good guardians, and can hatch their own eggs, but their main purpose is for meat production.
The Chinese are the most well known guard geese. They are loud, and very dedicated to protecting their flock against anything and everything. They are among the best layers in the goose world, averaging around 90 eggs a year. They have a long, slender neck, and a light build. They are also really awesome foragers, and do so for a large part of their food.
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