We have seven geese on the farm at the moment, representing five different breeds.
Like chickens, a goose’s personality can vary a great deal depending on the breed you’ve gotten, and also the individual goose. That is just one of the reasons we enjoy having a mix in our gaggle, along with the added spectacle that a group of different breeds bring.
Brown Chinese – Our first geese were a pair of Brown Chinese. Sadly, we lost Mr. Goose a little over a year ago, but Lady Goose (now three years old) remains the matriarch of our flock. Chinese geese are exceptionally loud and alert, offering piercing calls when something on the farm is out of place. They are much more upright than other breeds, and they have especially long and slender necks. This makes them the most effective weeding goose, and one of the best guard geese. Lady Goose showed signs of aggression as a young goose, but since Mr. Goose passed she has become docile and cuddly around her people. She is the most affectionate of all of our geese, and is always eager for snuggle time. As with any pet or livestock creature, her situation and companionship have made all of the difference in her behavior.
Sebastopol – Rupert joined us as a six month old gander, to help amuse Lady Goose after we lost Mr. Goose. Rupert is a Sebastopol, which is the most unique and, frankly, crazy looking goose breed available. Not only do Sebastopols have a mass of wild feathers on their body, but their short necks are more curved than other geese, giving them an appearance reminiscent of a swan. Sebastopols are notably sweet and docile creatures, without any hint of the aggression problems common to other goose breeds. Rupert has maintained a shy opinion of people, not liking to be held or touched. His bright blue eyes add to an expression of permanent thoughtfulness, and we often joke that he was meant to be more of a philosopher and less of a goose.
Roman Tufted – These white geese with little bumps of feathers on the crest of their heads are possibly my favorite breed. They are rather small – although still larger than the diminutive Sebastopol. Though they can occasionally be aggressive, for the most part they are very friendly and curious birds. Penelope, our Roman Tufted, was a gosling this past spring but as quickly become the queen of the flock. She can be bossy to the other birds, but is always sweet to us. Despite her somewhat shorter neck, Penelope is one of our best weeders because of her voracious appetite. She is always curiously nibbling and, as a goose who imprinted as a gosling, will follow me around the farm muttering inquisitive honks.
Dewlap Toulouse – The most massive breed of geese, Dewlap Toulouse can grow up to 25 pounds. Their feathers appear unkempt and ruffled, and they have hanging pouches of fat under their beaks known as dewlaps and huge, sagging breasts and keels. While this might not make them sound like the most beautiful bird, these geese have a classic Mother Goose appearance and a friendly, low-pitched honk. Petunia, our Dewlap, is quite a sight in the flock and spends most of her time alongside Rupert, as if they know they are the most unusual birds in the group.
Brown African – We got a trio of female African geese this past fall, hoping for more goose eggs in the spring. When they came these three were evasive and skinny, but they quickly gained plumpness and are remarkably inquisitive about people. Brown Africans are very closely related to Chinese geese, and are similar in appearance but heavier, and with slightly smaller knobs on their beaks. They are not as aggressive as Chinese geese, but can be equally loud and tend to honking at any sign of abnormality. It’s been a pleasure getting these three – ranging in age from three to five years old – to become more friendly and their desire to be fast friends with the rest of the flock and their people is very clear.
One of the reasons I enjoy keeping geese is their distinct personalities. Like people, they have good moods and bad moods, favorite people, favorite snacks, and their personalities can change over time. It’s a delight to have them on the farm, both for their weeding and guarding skills and their amusing antics.
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