Thinking about adding geese to your homestead?
Geese are remarkably easy to tend, and in many ways, they’re easier than chickens. They’re self-sufficient, and generally excellent mothers.
While they can be easier than chickens, they’re also quite different than chickens. I’d recommend getting a good book on goose husbandry to fully understand their requirements before jumping in.
The Modern Homesteader’s Guide to Keeping Geese is a great comprehensive beginners guide, and Keeping Geese: Breeds and Management is another great specific goose raising guide. For a more general guide to poultry, there’s no better book than the Storey Guide to Raising Poultry which covers just about every type of backyard poultry, including geese.
Here are just a few ways geese differ from chickens.
Geese are Grazers
Unlike ducks and chickens, which prefer bugs and high-protein food, geese are grazers. They have a digestive system that’s much like a horse, and they’re made for quickly converting grass into meat and eggs.
Be sure they have access to greens, as well as standard un-medicated poultry food. Medicated poultry food is dosed for chickens, and can be toxic to other breeds.
Geese are Very Hardy
Even in very cold climates, they prefer to stay outside during daylight hours. Ours would lay out on the snow contentedly grooming themselves even in the harshest blizzard.
With that in mind, they only need the most rudimentary housing, just enough to keep predators from getting to them.
Geese Can Defend Themselves Better than Chickens While Free Ranging
Geese make excellent free-range birds because they’re excellent at defending themselves against predators. Some mixed flock poultry keepers add them to a flock to help keep chickens safe while free-ranging.
While geese are great at fending off intruders during the day hours, they have very poor night vision. They can’t fight off what they can’t see, so be sure they’re locked up safe in the evening.
Geese Don’t Roost
Geese have large feet for walking over the soggy ground or for paddling through water. Those feet are very different from chicken feet, or any bird that uses a perch.
They’re ground-based birds, and they need able clean floor space in their coop as well as large nesting boxes on the floor. They won’t be able to access raised chicken nesting boxes.
Geese are Water Birds
Geese are water birds, and they’re happiest when they have water to bathe, but you don’t need a full pond. They’re happy with a small kiddy pool to splash in during the warm months. In the cold months, we’d bring them warm water daily and they’d rely on eating snow for much of their liquid.
Be careful that their winter water source is small and not easily spilled. They’ll try to climb in to bathe, and then afterward they’ll freeze their breasts and feet to snow and ice.
It’s best to keep them dry as possible in the winter months if you’re in a cold climate. Though eating snow may seem harsh, it’s much nicer than trying to chip a panicked goose out of ice.
Goose Eggs Need Moisture to Hatch
While chickens are land birds with very dry nests, goose mothers actually have to bathe to wet their feathers to keep their eggs moist during incubation. To hatch goose eggs in an incubator, you’ll need to follow specific protocols. See The Modern Homesteaders Guide to Keeping Geese for details.
All that extra moisture means that goose eggs are a bit different than chicken eggs when it comes to cooking. The yolks are much larger and richer, but the white is runnier.
I love making homemade custard or waffles with the goose egg yolks, but don’t try to make a meringue with the whites. They just won’t whip up right.
Goose Meat is More Like Beef than Chicken
If you intend to raise geese for meat, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that goose meat tastes more like beef than poultry. For small-scale homesteaders, goose meat is a great way to get some variety into their harvests without actually taking on the responsibility or expense of raising a cow.
Even if you’re not intending to harvest geese for meat, there’s always the occasional gander that just can’t be tamed. It’s nice to know that if you do need to harvest to curb attacking behavior that you’re in for a rare treat.
But Aren’t Geese Aggressive?
Geese have a bad reputation for aggression, but more often than not that has to do with handling more than anything else.
Hand-raised geese are devoted to their owners, and welcome them in as part of the flock. Geese hand raised on our homestead are more lap animals than farm animals.
Our geese would welcome us when we came home, come when called and circle our ankles nuzzling just like house cats.
While they accept you as part of the flock, visitors might be a different story. Our family of friendly geese needed to be locked in when friends visited, and we had to work out a fencing compromise with the UPS guy. Anyone outside of their known flock was liable to attack.
This “guard dog” behavior makes them great additions to the homestead in very rural areas where you don’t see a lot of visitors. Geese are still used to this day as “guard dogs” in prisons because they can’t be bribed like real dogs, and they’re fierce at defending their territory against intruders.
The same is true of your homestead. I’d pit my geese against a burglar any day.
I love my American Buff geese.
I am excited as I am bring three American Buff Goslings to our farm the second week of April. This will be my first geese, though I have successfully raised chickens. We have an almost acre pond in the front of our home and I have a goose house ready. Any suggestions welcome.
I’m hoping to get a trio of cotton patch soon!!🥰💕
Very informative article. Highly appreciated.
Jerome John Ogbaje
Hi, this piece of information has been of tremendous assistance to me. I live far away in Nigeria. West Africa. I love animals. I have had a variety of different types of animals. Ranging from spotted antelopes to dykes. I have had a kite as well. I now have nine rabbits, three turkeys, two guinea fowls, two ducks and five geese. All in my small compound. I need expertise advise on handling them. Especially when it has to do their hatchling.
thank you for this post! super helpful. I have a question about what happens when they are older and can fly . Have any of them left?
Domestic geese can’t really fly as well as wild geese. They get a bit too big/heavy, and they can only fly short distances. They only really fly when startled, and even then they generally make it 30ish feet at most.
It was cool to see you are from Vermont as I am also.
We have chickens, ducks and turkeys and my daughter
Wants a goose. Can we just get 1? Would really only like to get 1 so was thinking to get some chicks to raise with it?
Geese do really well with ducks, provided you get a single female goose. Male geese will harass your lady ducks, and can be territorial. We had one very lovely female goose in with our ducks for years before we got more.
Thank you for this article. We have raised chickens before but this is our first time raising geese and we’re raising them with chickens. We’re about two weeks in and everyone is getting along. Do your geese free roam all seasons? Do they need access to shelter all year? Have you had any issues with predators?
This was great! Could anyone out there tell me what the best way to harvest an egg from the nest is? And a good way to ingratiate myself to our new geese? We got a pair from a local farm, but I am new at this, love the eggs and the geese and want to make sure I am doing it right!
Considering getting more in part to this article. Thank you.
I have just got 3 embden goslings. They are 2 weeks old now. They are still inside at night with some heat them I pop them in the run in the day. I really want to get them free ranging without supervision as soon as, as they love it. I have a particularly murderery cat who would definitely have a go at the moment.
Hello. I recently got my first 4 goslings that are almost 3 weeks old now. I’ve been handling them everyday but when I walk into the coop where I’m keeping them right now, they run into a corner in a panic and pile on top of each other. What am I doing wrong?
Great article! Admittedly I didn’t do a ton of research before getting my geese, but I’m enjoying every minute of raising them and learning a lot! One thing I haven’t seen much about is transferring geese from the inside brooder to the outside shelter/barn. My Roman Tufted geese are just a month old and pretty attached to me….if they don’t see me around, they freak out!
My geese are in a transition phase between being outside part of the day, but needing to be inside. They definitely have some feathers, but not completely. I am having a heck of a time the last couple of days catching them. Any tricks?
Try shaking a grain can? We honestly never had trouble with that, they’d always come running when they saw us.
My geese, 6 was old, are in a fenced area in the middle of the chicken yard, 1 acre. When can they free range? Will roosters bother them? Thanks
Correction: 6 wks old
Hi, I love your site & all the great info! I have an issue that I’d appreciate getting your input on, please! I have 10 chickens, all different breeds & 2 geese. I got them all at the same age so they grew up together. They’re about 3 months old & get along pretty well & currently they all stay in the coop at night & have an outdoor pen for daytime. I’ve tried to free range them & for some reason the chickens seem to go all over the place, not staying close to the barn & the geese are so motherly that they freak out if they can’t see them all. So we’ve backed off on the free range idea for now. But the pen they are in does not have enough grass for the geese & eventually the coop won’t be big enough either when the geese are full size. I planned to put them in the stall next to the coop at night.. However, I can’t seem to get these geese to be ok with being separated from the chickens. My hope was that if I took them out a little every day they’d eventually get used to it. But when I do they endlessly honk & cry, trying to get back in by their chickens. Could I please get your input on this? I’m kind of at the end of my rope! I absolutely love them all & I don’t want to keep stressing the geese out if this is not going to solve the problem. Thank you in advance for any suggestions!
Geese actually make great chicken guardians. This is in their nature and something you probably won’t be able to change. You might want to consider some portable poultry netting that they can be in during the day. It will keep them contained but they will still be able to free-range within the netting. You can also move them around to different places on the property if you wish.
Ajak bior alier
Thanks for the articles. Am planning to purchase two pairs or at least one male and three females.Be blessed.
Sounds great! So glad you enjoyed the article.
I have two Giant canada geese for the second year preparing for their second batch of goslings. i know they are supposed to eat grass, and pond stuff as they are. Some of our people threw in hot dog rolls. I want to get corn, what kind of corn?
I love these guys and have taken may wonderful photos, so i just want to help Harley and Jesse!
It looks like we must have missed this comment. How are your geese doing?
Hi there! We had a pair of Brecon Buff geese and sadly our gander just died. I’m looking for a companion now for our female. Do you know if two females will be happy together, or does she need a mate? And if you keep two females without any gander will they lay eggs?
You don’t need a male for the females to lay eggs. We had a single female buff in with a flock of ducks and she laid plenty of eggs. Two females should do great together.
Great! Thanks for your response
Great article. I’ve found it so hard getting information to protect the geese on our property. They came with the house when we purchased it last year and have grown to love them. We feed them daily. They roam around but always come back. So they laid 13 eggs at the beginning of the year. We went away and was devastated they were all destroyed when we got back. Surprisingly I see they just laid 3 eggs so far again. She placed them in a more hidden area but still would like to know how can I protect them from the wild without disrupting her process. To be clear this is their home but they are not contained so kind of free geese for which we live with. I’ve been told don’t touch the eggs. I was think of getting them a house or chicken wire to fence them but again not sure how they would act or how I relocate the egg. Help? Do you know I can get a big house for them too? So many questions. Thank you
Are you wanting to allow the eggs to hatch out?
Fowowe Oladimeji Fowowe
Hi thanks for the write up. So educative. I am from Nigeria, west Africa. My question is can a goose and gander from the same parents mate and produce liveable goslings.? Thanks
It’s probably possible but I think it would be best to acquire them from separate parents if possible.
I enjoyed reading your article about geese and it remided me of a question I have. We have a 1/3rd acre pond right behind our house, and ever since we moved in 3 years ago we have put out shelled corm on the bank just off our patio. As a result we always have Canada Geese and several species of duck on the pond. In fall and winter the numbers run into the hundreds and we love having our own private waterfowl preserve. I’ve often thouhgt it would be fun to be able to interact with the birds, but of course wild birds won’t (and shouldn’t) be llike pets. If we were to add some domestic geese to our yard would they happily coexist with the wild population or should we leave well enough alone and enjoy what we have? Thanks for your thoughts.
I’m tempted to say leave well enough alone and enjoy what you have. That many wild birds is a gift, without all the work of taking care of geese as livestock. But really, getting geese or ducks shouldn’t be an actual problem provided you’re willing to take on the extra work in tending them.
We also get plenty of wild birds, and they land right into our flock for a day or two, bathing in the same pools and socializing…before flying off again. I don’t think it’d be an issue.
I’m thinking of adding a goose to my mixed flock of chickens and ducks. I have a dog but he’s inside half the time and I’ve heard geese can help keep watch 🙂
We adopted two one-year-old Roman geese last year. They came from a family of two lovely adults, their sweet child, and a horrible grandmother. The geese love my husband, but hate me (and guests). They attack me and seem to be getting worse. We’ve noticed that suddenly they are also going after my husband, though he seems to be able to stop them from biting him. What’s going on with their change in behavior toward my husband and how do I show them I’m a friend? I’ve tried everything we’ve come up with, but they seem to feel very threatened by me. We assume the former grandmother was as mean to them as she is to human beings.
I found this recipe from Cackle Hatchery that might be helpful for you. https://www.cacklehatchery.com/how-to-deal-with-an-aggressive-goose/
Hey, Ashley, I’ve been following your blog for years and wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the work you’ve put into it. Every time I search a random topic and discover you already have an article written about that same topic, I think, “Thank goodness!” I know your writing is thoroughly researched, something you’ve probably already tested at home, and doesn’t contain superfluous nonsense. Thank you for being such a consistently reliable source of information!
You’re very welcome. Thank you so much for your kind words. We’re so glad you enjoy the articles.