I am planning on keeping a pair of geese next year to function as both 'alarm system' for my small poultry flock, keeping the grass trimmed down a bit, and just because I think geese are gorgeous and having a pair of them bumbling around in the garden will probably give me hours of entertainment. I wouldn't mind the occasional goose egg omelette either!
I came across a very local breeder (less than a 10 min drive from our property) that I want to buy my ducks from, as he sells indian runners that are a bit hard to come by in these parts. I asked him if he sells any geese as well, as I would like to raise both ducks and geese by hand to have them tame , as Indian runners can be rather skittish, and I don't want to have to chase them and stress them out each time I need to handle them, and neither do I want to have a pair of aggressive geese on my hand. To me it seemed like the best idea to get the ducklings and goslings more or less at the same time so they grow up together and consider each other as part of the flock. Getting both the goslings and ducklings from the same breeder would be very handy because that way I can get them at the same time.
Also this breeder says he only raises breeds that he knows are hardy enough to handle the local mountain climate. Given that I live so closely, the breeds he sells should do just fine on my property.
Now the only breed of geese he sells are Sebastopol (or Danubian) Geese. I did not know this breed and looking them up I can say they look quite Funky!
In german they are called Struppgans, which translates to Unkempt Goose, which seems fairly accurate description of them. I do think they're cute though.
I've read that the curly feathers prevents them from flying much, and they're not great swimmers either. Now I don't have a pond, only a stream, so while there is plenty of water to wash up, it is not deep enough to swim in.
Sebastopols are said to be quite calm with exceptional personalities. When handled carefully, they have a quiet and pleasant nature (Holderread, 1981). Due to the fluffy feathers they are not quite as resistent to cold weather and especially wind. So a windbreak would be a must. Fortunately my property serves as a mini-valley onto itself with most of the wind blowing over it instead of trough it. We do have a bit of a draught created by the creek that runs trough the valley, bringing with it cold air during summer and slightly warmer air during winter.
They are classified as a Light Breed by the German Standards with stipulated weights being 5.0 – 6.0 kg. for Ganders and 4.5 – 5.5 kg, or as a medium breed by the the American Poultry Association Standards with weights as follows:
Old Gander: 14 lbs Old Goose: 12 lbs.
Young Gander: 12 lbs. Young Goose: 10 lbs.
As for predators, the most pressure here would come from fox and (an alarmingly large population of) stray cats. My ducks and chickens would definitely be cooped up during the night. As for the geese, I've never kept them so have no experience, but I have read they usually prefer sleeping outside? During the day I would let them pasture.
Does anyone have any experience with this breed of geese? Do you think this breed would be a good match for my purpose for them?
I raise American buffs so I can't speak specifically to Sebastopol but our geese are penned at night separately from our ducks in an adjoined run/shed that is completely enclosed with welded wire. They range in the daytime with the ducks in electric netting. We determined after several fortunately not very serious incidents at night that they should not be enclosed together overnight for the ducks' safety and split their quarters. Both waterfowl tend to favor sleeping in the run at night over the shed unless it's very cold and windy. Domestic geese do not generally fly, especially Sebastopol with their quirky feathers, so they are vulnerable. My geese can clear a 4 ft fence with sufficient motivation but that's about it. Foxes, coyotes, raccoons, owls, eagles... all could be potentially problematic. In the daytime they do fine in the netting and probably do deter overhead predators from bothering the ducks as well as sounding an alert. Hope this helps! Also be aware ganders can be a handful in breeding season.
Noel Young wrote:We determined after several fortunately not very serious incidents at night that they should not be enclosed together overnight for the ducks' safety and split their quarters.
Thanks for your insights Noel!
Might I ask what incidents you had between the ducks and the geese at night when you kept them together?
Ducks getting roughed up. Not critically BUT enough to warrant concern. (Feathers missing and bloody on back and neck.) No incidents since separating during lockup hours. The geese definitely view themselves as the superior branch of the flock family. It does somewhat depend on how many geese, how they're raised, their age etcetera but bottom line is they are significantly bigger and capable. Breeding season is the worst with hormones surging and the lady ducks are serious flirts even with the geese. The lady geese would probably overnight fine but with a gander I'd advise against it.
I would be looking at two lady geese in a flock of 4 to 8 ducks / chickens. So I'm hoping that since they are females, and I will be raising the animals together from chicks, I hope that should avoid any geese from picking on the smaller poultry during the night.
But thanks for your insight Noel, I will definitely monitor how my geese behave alongside the other poultry when the time comes to nip any bullying in the bud.