5 Reasons to Keep Geese

by: Sara on 10/23/2017

While chickens preen in the spotlight, geese are the historic unsung heroes of small farms and homesteads. In today's post we here from Kirsten Lie-Nielsen, author of The Modern Homesteader's Guide to Keeping Geese on why geese deserve a little recognition and why you should consider adding them to your farm family.

Thinking geese?  Large and loud, these waterfowl are fantastic additions to the farmyard and bring so many delightful benefits to a farmer.  Geese are not always considered when you’re building a menagerie, but they should be, since their numerous benefits are both practical and enjoyable.  

1.  Food

A Christmas goose is a tradition for many families.  Goose meat is dark and juicy, full of flavor and leaves you with some tasty fat that can be used for cooking later dishes.  Geese are not only kept for their meat, however.  Often overlooked, goose eggs are a prized delicacy that can elevate a breakfast or dinner.  A single goose egg is equivalent to about three chicken eggs, and their thick, deep orange yolks are perfect for mixing in baked goods or just whipping up a perfect-size omelette.  Geese only lay from February through July, so their eggs are rare and seasonal.  This means that if you find a local restaurant or farm stand to sell your goose eggs, they can actually be quite valuable.

2.  Guarding

One of the original reasons that geese were domesticated was because of their loud voices and feisty attitudes towards predators.  Geese can keep smaller varmints from attacking a flock of chickens, and they are very effective at protecting property from trespassers.  Geese kept outside the Temple of Juno in the year 390 BC alerted Romans to an attack by the Gauls, and geese are still used today to guard properties around the world.  

Unlike dogs that can be tempted by treats, geese are virtually unbribable, and they will sound off at anything different in their pasture space.  Many people have memories of scary geese that harassed them as children, and even those that do not are very respectful of an angry goose.  Therefore, while they do help with many predators, one of the primary uses for geese is as an alarm for human visitors to your land.

3.  Weeding

Geese have an insatiable appetite for fresh greens.  While this can spell disaster if you allow them free range in your

Gosling with geese

vegetable or flower garden, it can be used to your advantage with just a little bit of forethought.  You would not allow geese in a field of tender green shoots, but let them stretch their wings in an orchard or vineyard and they will keep your paths trimmed and surrounding vegetation down.  

4.  Entertainment

Entertainment may not seem like a key factor in a farmyard animal, but geese bring backyard antics to a new level.  Geese have very distinct personalities and each one is a little bit different.  With a large flock of geese their family dynamics are clear, with some geese being bossy and other submissive.  Our follow a daily routine that includes a long nap under the tree and twice-daily running down our driveway, wings flapping in excitement.  

5.  Companionship

If you raise a young gosling by hand, they will imprint on you and be your constant companions.  Imprinted birds think you are their parent, and they’ll follow you around like puppy dogs even into adulthood.  Once grown, they are no longer dependent on you but will still enjoy sitting in the yard next to you, eating grass and enjoying muttering to themselves about their day.  

Whatever the reason you keep geese, you’ll be sure to enjoy them.  Between their practical benefits and their endearing personalities, geese are unforgettable additions to farm life.  

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