The American goose is one of the few domesticated goose breeds which originated in the United States. Some believe the breed was developed from buff mutations in flocks of wild Graylag geese and others think they may have been created from buff colored geese, like the Buff Back, Pomeranian and Pilgrim which came from Europe. This breed is a medium to heavy, smooth breasted, and double lobed, with a stance similar to the Embden Goose.
- Breed Colors/Varieties:
- Buff, Blue, Lavender Ice
- Breed Size:
- Large Fowl
Two fairly new color in the American goose is Blue and Lavender Ice. The plumage of the Blue is a pretty bluish-gray; the Lavender Ice is an lovely silver-lavender; bills are orange and the eyes are brown. Weighing anywhere from 14-22 pounds, they have the same husky physique and regal stature as the American Buff. This beautifully hued strain of American goose was developed by Dave Holderread, who dedicated 20-years immersed in the study of the complex genetics of blue color in domestic geese. With their unique colors and many practical attributes, they make a superior goose for the homestead or yard.
Whatever you say about geese with conviction, they'll make a liar out of you, says Dave Holderread, waterfowl preservationist and author of The Book of Geese: A Complete Guide to Raising the Home Flock. They're very much like people, but on a less sophisticated level.
The American is a quiet and friendly goose. They are much more affectionate to their keepers than your average barnyard goose. You’ll find them to be very aristocratic looking with their long Roman noses posed toward the sky, gliding along through the barnyard with flock in tow on the way to grazing. They're curious but watchful and enjoy exploring new areas. And it's a real treat to see them acting a bit silly while splashing in the pond, bup-bup-bupping their conversations, and racing from one pool to another to jump in and out playfully.
Americans are good-natured and, on the whole, non-aggressive but they still retain the spirit of most goose breeds: they make noise when they sense danger. It’s this watchdog characteristic that geese are best known for. One of the most famous stories about Ancient Rome is the legend of the Capitoline Geese. When Rome was routed in 390 BC by the Gaul’s, the Romans took refuge on Capitoline Hill. For 7 months the Gaul’s held the city at siege but one night while the Romans slept the Gaul’s attempted to sneak up the hill. Before they reached the summit the Capitoline Geese honked and squawked until the Romans woke and forced the Gaul’s to the bottom and saved the city.
In The Garden
Not just good watchdogs, they also will help you maintain your perfect chemical-free sustainable garden - using geese to control weeds is an excellent practice. Their webbed feet don’t compact the soil the way machines or people do. They will happily and industriously work seven days a week, rain or shine. Their agile necks allow them to pull weeds close to and from within the crop plants, where machine or a hoe can’t. All of this is accomplished while the geese are naturally spreading nitrogen-rich manure all over the field. It’s important to start them on weeds as goslings rather than lush grass so they’ll look forward to eating the right greens, and provide them with plenty appropriate forage so they don’t resort to gobbling up your crop. Just be sure to lock them out of the strawberry fields before they ruin your plans for pie!
In The Nest
Geese don’t lay as many eggs as ducks each season; however, one goose egg is a meal for two. Primarily spring layers, if adequately fed in mild climates, they often begin laying the first part of February or early March. Unlike their next of kin, the domestic duck, who nearly always deposit their eggs in the early morning, geese lay throughout the day. Peak production is reached during moderately cool weather, and normally slacks off soon after the mercury consistently climbs to 80 degrees or higher during the daytime. That’s June or July in most regions.
Geese typically lay every other day although some females will ovulate two or more days in succession. Most Americans lay 30-45 eggs in the spring breeding season if eggs are gathered daily. They prefer to have a laying nest that’s in a shelter or in a barn so they can lay their eggs in a quiet and secure environment.
When allowed to set, Americans make excellent natural parents. The goslings are hardy, fast-growing and superb foragers. Females will often go broody and are good mothers, hatching out their fuzzy little goslings in 27 to 32 days. If fed a balanced ration with vitamins and minerals that has 18 to 20 percent protein a month prior to and throughout the laying season, American geese can produce goslings in their first year. When a year-old goose is allowed to incubate her own eggs, Dave Holderread suggests that the first clutch be removed, encouraging the goose to lay a second nest-full which should hatch better.
The American geese are such good parents that even a single gander will often adopt goslings. As sweet natured as the American’s are, ganders can still be aggressive during the breeding season. They know their big job is protecting their sitting goose wife and the young goslings.
True partners, you'll find that a gander will share in the brooding and rearing duties to give the mother goose a break to leave the nest from time to time. The gander may sit on the eggs to keep them warm while the goose gets a bite to eat and attends to the call of nature. And if a gosling hatches ahead of the rest, once it's dry the mother will often pass it off to the gander to care for while she hatches the rest of the brood.
In The ALBC
The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists the American Buff goose as critically endangered in the U.S.; meaning there are fewer than 500 breeding birds and five or fewer primary breeding flocks. More information about ALBC and the waterfowl census can be found on: www.albc-usa.org.
On The Table
Because of their fast growth rate, medium to large size and white feathers, Americans are a wonderful choice for meat production. Goose is traditionally a more popular holiday bird in Europe than in the U.S., probably because in America, turkey (wild and plentiful at our founding) was a natural choice for the Christmas feast. However, goose meat is darker (including the breast), fuller bodied, and more intensely flavored than our common commercial turkey.
Of all fowl, goose meat offers the most opportunities to match with wine. Unlike turkey, roast goose can be served without a sauce, as the meat is moist, but would benefit from the use of chutney made using nuts and fall fruits (grape juice, apples, pears, figs, walnuts and hazelnuts).
For centuries goose fat has been hailed as tasty and texturally rich, the French are famous for their cassoulet using goose fat, beans and vegetable, but most famous of all now is confit of goose or duck. If properly prepared, a confit of goose or duck is crisp, deliciously rich, and delightfully satisfying.
A case for the return of the Christmas Goose: Turkey has been crossbred for the commercial market, so its meat has become more or less mushy (not the case with heritage turkey breeds). Geese have been spared this fate, and the natural cycle of raising geese is still intact: hatching, between April and July, and harvesting in September.
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Recent User Reviews
Pros - Calm, Sweet, Quiet, Fun, Alert, Fun to watch
Cons - Can be aggressive during breeding, Can alert you to dangers and strangers
These are my favorite breed. They only get noisy when there are strangers around. They will warn the flock to take cover if a danger is present.
"Sweet, Docile, Less noisy* Just the right size."
Pros - Sweet, Docile, Less noisy* Just the right size.
Cons - Not so bright
I got a breeding pair last Spring. The male was more interested in staying with the flock of ducks. The female often wandered around alone. She ended up getting taken by a coyote at about 3 months, sadly. The male is not AT ALL aggressive. He is quite timid. He honks rather infrequently, but when he does, it is pretty loud. Not very bright. They are a smaller goose, just the right size for a small family. Probably a good meat goose. Maybe not the best for defense. Probably a decent pet if handled frequently. Very pretty, one of the best looking domestic geese, IMO. I plan on getting one or two females this spring to breed them, along with some Embden and a couple Africans. Anyone know of any breeders in New England? PM me. I'd be grateful.
Pros - Small size, Calm, Quiet, Non Aggressive, Get along with other critters, Good in cold regions
Cons - Plant Killers
I've had a number of different types of geese over the years, some were very aggressive and some not like the Buff. The aggressiveness towards me doesn't worry me, since I know how to handle them. It's the aggression towards other people and the other critters in the barnyard that concerns me. So, this is biggest reason I've settled on the Buff or Buff mix. They are aggressive enough to deal with eggs snatcher, bully turkeys and dogs. But, on the other hand, they are calm when interacting with the other critters in the yard. They are good layers and good mothers and the Gander is very active in protecting the young. The bird is a medium sized and great for smaller family without overwhelming the frig with leftovers. The best time to butch is as they are coming off the green grass of summer or early fall. The only time I've notice a great deal of noise from these geese is during the spring mating time, it seems to be a group affair where one is mounting, one is being mounted and the rest will circle around and cheer! The Buffs, like all water fowl, love the water for bathing, however a fresh snow fall of an inch or two will work too. The Buffs do very well in this northern Minnesota cold. They have access to a coop, but most often they are outside in the snow. To date I've not had any of these geese perish to cold weather and we get down to -40° plus wind, nor have they experienced any frost bite of the feet.
Now, let me address the Con! Geese eat a lot of greenery, including flowers and small shrubs. If they don't eat the plant, they will damage the plant by tasting it. This tasting is their only way to find out if something is edible for them. But, in doing so, the plant is damage, pulled out of the ground and/or left in very poor shape. So, if you are free ranging the geese ,of any variety, make sure they don't have access to your gardens!
So, if you looking for a medium sized goose that is calm and for the most part quiet, the Buff is your bird!