Rural System's

The Goose Flock

The Flock with domestic geese (Anser anser domesticus) is a managed system of dispersed flocks. It

  1. Sells geese
  2. Sells Christmas specialties and geese
  3. Sells down and down-related products
  4. Provides "weeders" for garden weeding service
  5. Sells eggs
  6. Sells blown eggs (foam-filled) for a humorous novelty basket sent to loosers, the " big goose-egg"
  7. Sells goslings at Easter
  8. Selling books, cards, photographs
  9. Selling composite soil-hay-waste (Novosoils)
  10. Membership and website
  11. Research grants (feeds, behavior, training as weeders, pest protection, alarm animals, sentinel animals for diseases such as West Nile Virus)
  12. Conducts tours and shortcourses

The domestic breeds of geese are not capable of flight, but they can sometimes clear a 4-5 foot fence, especially if it's downhill. Domestic geese need shelter from the worst weather and wind. (They are covered with goose down.) A series of 2-bale-high "U" of hay bales covered with plywood, openings towards the south, suffices.

Goose eggs take 30 days to hatch. The goslings are raised like ducklings.

All forms of domestic geese can be noisy; some breeds are more noisy than others.The two breeds that are clearly the noisiest are the Chinas and Egyptians. The female Egyptian will often call almost non-stop during the breeding season. Chinas of both sexes are quite talkative normally and can be very noisy during the breeding season. The medium and larger breeds of geese tend to be somewhat more quiet but all breeds will be louder during the breeding season. The African has a wonderful melodic call but that "honk" can often be heard for quite a distance. Solid fences are needed to deflect the noise upward. Otherwise they need to be kept at a distance from living quarters since the noise can bother some people.

Optimum selection will be made from among:
  • American Buff
  • African
  • Bavent
  • Chinese
  • Embden
  • Normandy
  • Norwegian White
  • Pilgrim
  • Pomeranian
  • Roman
  • Scania
  • Sebastopol
  • Smålens
    (Norwegian Spotted)
  • Swedish Island
  • Toulouse

"Franchises" are developed, small goose flocks in select areas managed by separate members of the enterprise. The System provides the birds, housing, fences, insurance, veterinary services and System Central provides marketing, etc. Like the goats, the birds become attached or imprinted to their handlers and those conditions. Very special care is given to selecting such caretakers, and it is made a local honor with a ceremony and newspaper announcements.

Parallel to wool production among goats and rabbits, goose down production for clothing for outdoor wear and new low-temperature homes is likely to be profitable. Geese flocks can forage on Sericea lespedeza and can make top use of that plant often used in strip mine land reclamation. It is perhaps the only major use of the plant except by goats or burros. By maintaining flocks for down production, using natutal gas drying of washed feathers, and marketing of geese for food (including creation of a market or its combined marketing and processing with wine, cheese, mutton, or orchard products), and using it in educational and camping enterprises, a highly viable enterprise can be created.

Combining rabbit or wild fur trim and down garments may be investigated as a secondary industry. Special marketing may be enhanced by "developed and proven by Rural System Crews." Fur and down use are partially a function of style, but this can be offset by marketing focused also on bedding. Local sales to visiting groups, local use for equipping personnel and special products for emergency needs, careful attention to markets, and diversification and scheduling of workers to other enterprises will be important. (Initial Needs: Pens, manager, plucking machine, washer, dryer, packaging and storage, slaughter facilities with other animals.)

Interest in pigeons (squab), quail, and pheasants will be studied as the potentials for other poultry raising and waste composting are explored.

Books are available and breeders show interest in sharing knowledge and experiences.

See Raising Ducks and Geese.

Perhaps you will share ideas with me about some of the topic(s) above .

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Rural System
Glossary
Robert H. Giles, Jr.
July 2, 2005