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Raising Geese?

Discussion in 'Geese' started by marthat, Dec 22, 2012.

  1. marthat

    marthat New Egg

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    So, I just paid an enormous price for my Christmas goose from a local farmer. $76 (CAN) for a 12.8 lb bird. And on the way home, hubby says, "And why couldn't we talk to "(friend with acreage who also likes to roast a goose)" and see about raising our own meat birds. It's gotta be cheaper than what we paid today!"

    We are new-last-summer chicken ranchers with a 6 bird backyard flock of layers (3 Delaware, 3 RIR's) and no experience at all with geese. In a nutshell, what do I need to know about geese to help me make a decision?

    Such as:
    Can they be raised from chick to butchering in one season like meat chickens?
    How does the workload compare to chickens?
    Can they co-habit with chickens?
    Any breed suggestions?
    Would a flock of 8-12 be a reasonable size between two families?
    Are they bought as day old chicks like chickens, or can they be purchased a bit bigger?
    To raise big ones (10+ lbs) do we have to raise males?
    If they overwinter, we live in cold Central Ontario - any major winter issues?

    Thanks for any insights you wish to share. This would be a project to look at for next year, so I have a while to ponder...
     
  2. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    Last edited: Dec 22, 2012
  3. Haunted55

    Haunted55 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I started with geese this summer because I too like to have a goose for Christmas and I also love pate and couldn't find it. I have my geese living with ducks and between the two they need lots of water and the geese need to have forage time when there is grass for them to forage. I am currently using an idea, thought up by Miss Lydia, to offer them timothy hay. It works!

    I'm in Maine, our weather can be very similar. Geese need water even if it's cold. A heated bucket would work to provide the daily needs but once in a while, once a week weather permitting, they need access to a bath. I have Toulouse and Embdens, and my females would probably dress out close to 10 lbs. right now and they are this year's hatch [May].

    They need shelter from the winds and I give mine a house to go into to get out of the weather. Everything here is all ice right now but I still let them out for a while everyday the sun is out. Your count depends on how many geese you want for food. I have 5 Embdens and 4 Toulouse. I am keeping them through the winter so they can breed and keep the lines going. It depends what you want to do. I do not keep them with the chickens just because they are bigger and they will be territorial. They have ranged with the chickens, ducks and turkeys all summer and except for some minor problems, they have all gotten along well. Their feed is specific to their breed. They need a higher protien level than chickens do. I use Purina Flock Raiser for mine and add in sunflower seed and oats as well as the timothy hay.

    Your biggest problem is going to be deciding to let them go for meat. Geese are wonderful creatures and they capture your heart. As Miss Lydia said, research them and their needs but also think about how you will handle the processing of them. In the end, you'll probably end up with your own breeding pairs for future 'meals'.
     
  4. CelticOaksFarm

    CelticOaksFarm Family owned, family run

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    Geese hatch in spring only and have to grow all year long to get to butcher size.

    they require pasture, quality food and fresh water daily to grow properly

    so say a gosling hatches in March and you butcher in November ..... 8 months of food into one goose for Christmas dinner.

    now on the flip side you KNOW what it has eaten, how it was raised and appreciate the quality of the meal it provided to you and your family.

    they require housing to keep them safe

    then you need to butcher and pluck them.

    you got a bargain on your Christmas dinner. We raise geese for show, pet and butcher. let me tell you that our customers are more than happy to pay our asking price and tell us how much they appreciate the effort we put into the birds in raising them and processing them too.
     
  5. marthat

    marthat New Egg

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    Aug 14, 2012
    Central Ontario, Canada
    @CelticOaksFarm, Thanks for the detailed reply. We, too, like your customers, gladly pay to have a premium quality, locally raised goose for Christmas dinner. Though it seems like a pile of money for one meal, when compared to other things, like our almost-weekly sushi habit, or eating lobster from the grocery store for a special dinner, it falls right in line.

    It was just a thought, given that we are enthusiastic new chicken ranchers. But we live on half an acre in an outside-of-town subdivision, not an ideal goose environment. Our friend with the 10 marshy acres up the road, however, is much better suited. And in talking to him yesterday, he admitted to a history of raising geese. (He was our inspiration and mentor in the establishment of our own flock.) So he knows what's involved and we will talk over the winter about the possibilities.

    Any suggestions for breeds that will dress out at 11-12 lbs? Do I need to raise males to get them that big?
     
  6. CelticOaksFarm

    CelticOaksFarm Family owned, family run

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    Ganders will grow larger than geese normally. Good quality Embdens dress out nice, OregonBlues here on BYC raises Grey Saddleback Pomeranians and swears by them and says they are very large dressed out. You can find production Toulouse (not dewlaps as they are higher priced show type birds) and they grow out nicely as well for butcher. Even American Buffs make a good meat bird choice.

    You may even think of raising french white muscovy in place of geese (larger number of eggs and can process more in a year). The FW Muscovy are specifically bred for meat production, dress out without any special treatment 8 - 10 lbs each. Many compare them to veal in meat quality. They can be processed at 10 and 12 weeks of age too instead of waiting till fall.

    All something to think about.
     
  7. homeworkin

    homeworkin Out Of The Brooder

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    I am new to raising geese, but thought I'd add in a few things I have just learned. We decided on one turkey and three geese. The guy at the farm store said they'd do fine together. They were all a bit bigger than the new chicks, so we got a discount and saved a week or two of feed and care - plus lower mortality rate - right?

    Well, the geese and the turkey (BB White) did not get along. The turkey cried for me for at least an hour after every time I checked on them. I finally bought two tiny BB Bronze turkeys to keep it company. Even though the little ones are much smaller, everyone got along great for about 4 days. The little ones were snuggling up with the geese, the BB White was still all alone. There was a fair amount of beak pecking and a little bit of plumage pecking. Nothing too bad, but clearly some squabbling.

    Then yesterday morning I checked on them and the BB White was plucked bare all across the back. I guess the geese objected to the white plumage!

    So, depending on your bird's personalities, they may or may not get along with other birds!
     
  8. Geela

    Geela Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 27, 2013
    Wow. Thanks for sharing.

    We are also new to "raising baby geese". Our mother goose got killed and we were lucky enough to hatch out two of her eggs. I gave them a Teddy Bear, which they snuggle to every night. Maybe your little one could find companionship with a stuffed animal, as well.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    I was reading on the duck thread where some Pekins were done the same way, White may make a difference. I'd spray the poult with Blue Kote to cover the bare spots, it stains but does work to help healing and cover over bare skin. I't might nip the plucking in the bud.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2013
  10. Geela

    Geela Out Of The Brooder

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    Great advice! The "Blue Medicine" works wonders on sooooo many things!
     

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