Geese on the Homestead

Flock of Toulouse geese
Flock of Toulouse geese

Toulouse geese

I’ve wanted to add geese to our little homestead for several years now.  Every time I see them,  I’m fascinated by their long necks and squat bodies.  I love how they can maneuver and use those necks as appendages.  Peering over edges, around corners, and even underneath surfaces.  They are a never ending source of entertainment.  I’m thrilled to finally be getting a pair.

We are starting with two Toulouse; chosen for their size and docility.    I wanted geese big enough to be turned loose in the pasture to graze without fear of loosing track of them.   We also wanted geese that would become part of the family.  These guys certainly fill the bill! They’re great for production and entertainment, and they make great guard dogs as well.

Geese, in general, are great foragers and will do a tremendous job weeding gardens and orchards.   They prefer to eat the weeds around your homestead rather than the grass or growing crops.   That fact alone is a fantastic reason to have them around!   Can you imagine if your dog would feed itself, trim the weeds, AND warn of impending danger from strangers?!

Production uses of the goose are many and varied.  Meat, down, eggs, feathers and grease are all common  uses.  The meat of the goose is highly prized for feasting at parties and celebrations.   In the United States, all  through history, the turkey has been in the limelight as the meat of choice for the feast deluxe presentation.  In other areas of the world, the goose is equally as popular and regarded with very high esteem.  It is a dark meat bird that always provides an intensely satisfying and flavorful dining experience.

Goose liver pate, also known as foie gras, is considered a delicacy.  Many geese, the Dewlap Toulouse in particular, are kept solely to be fattened for production of foie gras.  I would hope that these breeders would make use of the entire splendid animal, but one never knows until the facts are researched.  That will be food for another  post another day.

The down of the goose is the soft fluffy part underneath the feathers.  It is used to make pillows and mattresses and other items in need of stuffing.  You will even find goose down in parkas and jackets because it is extremely warm too.

Now let’s talk about the eggs.   Most geese don’t lay eggs all year round.  They usually start laying in the spring, and will give you 20-45 eggs (depending on the breed) each season.

Relative egg sizes

Egg size comparison

You can let your geese sit on these eggs and hatch them, or you can remove them and use them in several different ways.

The first, and most obvious, way to use your goose eggs is to eat them.  Fried or in omelets, you will find that they have a slightly more rubbery texture than chicken eggs.  Many people don’t mind this at all.  In fact, they love it.  Others, myself included, are a little put off by it.   A more discreet but amazingly wonderful use is in baking.  Goose eggs, like duck eggs, provide the ultimate cooking experience!  Your cakes and biscuits will raise higher and have a lighter texture.  Your breading and meatloaf will hold together better than you ever imagined!  If you haven’t tried goose or duck eggs in your baking, you are totally missing out!  Look for them at your local farmers market.

Hatching your eggs in an incubator is also an option, but they are somewhat harder to hatch than chicken eggs.  The babies seem to have a harder time cracking through the tougher shell.  I have misted the eggs daily when turning as advised by a friend, and had limited success with this technique.   I have another friend who doesn’t do anything different to her eggs and she still has pretty good success.  Of course, it would have to be harder for me LOL!

If hatching your goose eggs is not something that you want to do, you can easily sell them.  You should be able to find local buyers on Facebook or Craig’s List, but if you want to reach a broader audience and command a higher price, eBay might be the way to go.

As you can see, there are lots and lots of reasons to add geese to your homestead. The entertainment value and being in such close contact with these magnificent birds is my main reason for wanting to raise them.  I’ll keep you posted on that as we go along.  I brought my babies home yesterday, and couldn’t hardly sleep last night because of the excitement.  Their names are Gilbert and Gertie.  They were named by the children of the beautiful family that raised them to this age for me.

Juvenile Toulouse Geese

Gilbert and Gertie, our Toulouse geese