Have you been thinking about adding geese to your farm, but you're not sure what breeds would work for you? Geese have a reputation as being aggressive, and breed selection can make a huge difference in how your goose behaves. It is very important to think about why you want geese and to select the kind that best fits your needs - that can be the difference between loving your geese and being frustrated by them.
To help, I've broken down the main uses for geese and my recommendations for the top three breeds for each use. Hopefully this little guide will narrow down your selections this year! All of the breed names are affiliate links to MyPetChicken, which is the hatchery I use.
Best Geese for the Family Farm
I have heard Sebastopols described as looking like sheets on the washing line, like they're wearing a wedding dress, and even like a roll of toilet paper the cat got to. Suffice to say, they have a memorable appearance! Sebastopols are known for their loose, curly-queued white feathers that often drag behind them as they walk. But that isn't their only memorable feature: Sebastopols are docile, calm geese who fit in well on a farm with children or adults who are otherwise afraid of geese. While they can sound a loud alarm honk, they're generally more laid back birds and are excellent layers during the goose's short laying season from February through June.
Another looker, Dewlap Toulouse geese were originally developed as the ideal goose breed for making foie gras. Now more of a decorative breed, Dewlaps are extra-large geese whose main concern is snacking. They're more interested in their food than in chasing anyone or showing off their aggression, and they are calm and patient around people.
A personal favorite of mine, Roman Tufted geese are small white geese with a puff of feathers on their heads. Because they're smaller, they are easy to manage and they're usually more curious than they are aggressive. These cute little geese imprint easily and are a favorite to use when guarding chickens.
Best Geese for Weeding
For a goose to be effective at weeding they need to be active foragers and have longer necks for clearing out weeds that a human had can't easily reach. The Chinese goose has both of those things. Long and lean, very active and very loud, Chinese geese are the most commonly used goose for weeding. They are also excellent egg layers and guardians, making them a great multi-purpose goose (if you don't mind their shrill honks).
The more standard Toulouse goose, sometimes called French Toulouse or Production Toulouse, is a lighter bird than the Dewlap with a lot more energy. Their gray feathers and orange feet are often what people imagine when they think of farmyard geese, and they are active enough to do weeding in an orchard or vineyard.
The apricot-colored feathers of the Buff goose are unique and strikingly beautiful. While they have a large body, they are still lighter weight than many of their relatives and remain very active, making them excellent foragers. A flock of Buffs weeding in an orchard or a field is a truly lovely sight.
Best Geese for Guarding
The active nature of Chinese geese that makes them good foragers also makes them alert, active guardians. Often a bit pugnacious, even a more docile Chinese goose still has a remarkably piercing honk that will alert the farmer if anything is out of place or in danger nearby.
Roman Tufted and traditional Roman geese have been used for guarding since the time of the Ancient Roman Empire. It's said that a flock of Roman geese alerted the Romans to an attack by the Gauls in 390 BC. Little Roman geese are not the most terrifying or aggressive geese, but they are alert and stand their ground to defend their territory and flock-mates.
Similar to Chinese geese, African geese are alert and loud. However, they aren't quite as active as the Chinese and their honks are at a lower pitch, making them a bit more bearable. African geese have a tendency to be aggressive, and as one of the largest breeds of geese they can be quite scary if they're hissing at you.