Before I list what I feel are the pros and cons of owning geese, let me say that in retrospect, I should have done some things differently. I did not anticipate what a pain in the neck it would be if they imprinted on me. That was my first mistake. If I were doing it again, I think I would cover most of my face with a bandanna, make sure multiple people fed/watered them, etc.
Secondly, the moment I moved them from the brooder, the geese should have been installed in their permanent home. For our own convenience, we ran the tractors in the yard near the house. That wasn’t wise. They saw us constantly and viewed our house as “home base.” It was familiar and “safe”. We should have constructed an enclosure at the water and moved them from the brooder to it rather than hoping they would adopt this new home just because it should appeal to them. Probably we could have released them to the entire pond after a few weeks, but they should definitely have been confined there for a while.
Pros and ConsThere were several reasons why we wanted to try raising geese this past year:
1. Like other grazers, they can utilize greens we cannot and turn it into meat.
2. Because they largely feed themselves from the varied salad bar, they don’t cost much to feed after they reach adolescence.
3. They produce down that could be used for producing quilted clothing, bedding, etc.
4. The Pilgrim geese we chose are a heritage breed on the “critical” list, meaning there are few left. We would be helping to ensure their continued survival. They are also a breed native to the US.
5. Being a heritage breed, they are naturally mating and still retain the instinct to set eggs. Thus, they would be able to increase their numbers without additional cost to us.
6. They lay enormous, delicious eggs.
7. They can be used to pluck emerging weeds out of your garden since they prefer new shoots of plants to mature existing ones.
8. They are known to be good guardians. They sound the alarm when strangers approach and stand their ground against small predators. We’ve had people drive up and refuse to get out of their cars because geese had surrounded them and were hissing.
9. You can turn a profit in selling your surplus. We listed ours for $35 apiece and had quite a few calls.Here are the downsides as I see them:
1. Cost to get started. I think these day-olds were about $13 each. We already had all the equipment we needed, so there was no extra expense there.
2. They can be noisy. Though some breeds are much louder than others, your neighbors will know you have them. Even if they are assumed to be wild geese, they could draw unwanted hunters to your property.
3. They can be aggressive, especially some of the other breeds like the Chinese. Possibly not safe around small children. Our youngest child just yells and waves his arms at them and they turn tail, but the geese terrorize our big dogs.
4. They take up much more space than ducks if enclosed. We solved our duck problem by returning them to chicken tractors, but geese are far larger and need more space. Since they mostly graze, they would either have to have their tractors moved more than once a day or you could only fit a pair in each one- maybe both if you don’t want to supplement much feed.
5. Messy droppings and lots of them. Geese produce a LOT of green poo. That’s not a problem- in fact it’s a bonus- if they are in pastures. It’s a big issue if they sleep on your porch!
6. They are insatiable curious and nibble everything. They’ve eaten a bicycle seat, hose insulation, styrofoam, etc. Again- having them around the house is NOT the way to go.
7. Since the eggs are so large, they are harder to use in baking. One makes a whole omelet, but is a bit hard to judge in substituting for duck or chicken eggs. They also only lay a few months a year.
Having said all that, I’m not necessarily opposed to ever having geese again, but it won’t be soon with everything else we’ve got going on. I would also definitely do things differently the next time around.
Any experience or insight about raising geese? Please share in the comments section.