Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Six Geese A-Laying

Geese are a passion for me lately. They differ significantly from ducks and other domestic poultry – in their size, their diet and their behavior.

Geese would certainly have attracted the attention of the earliest hunters, as in this fanciful painting of a hunt of 9500 BC, shared with me by Jim Pickette of Nebraska.

Despite centuries of domestication, geese remain seasonal egg layers. Some breeds of ducks, another waterfowl, have become more productive egg layers over time and with selective breeding, but not geese. They retain this aspect of wild behavior.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, in its book on Goose Production,, considers geese ‘under-utilised,’ “although there is a large pool of genetic material available for the genetic improvement of the domestic goose.” The authors identify 96 breeds of goose currently being raised around the world, but concedes that “there are probably more.”

The two main types of domestic geese are those descended from the European Grey Lag Goose and those from the Asian Swan Goose. The European line gives us the domestic Embdens, Toulouse and all their American descendants, such as these Pilgrim Geese from Metzer Farms, The Asian line gives us the African and China breeds, with their distinctive knobs.

The good news about having Geese A-Laying would be that the goslings would soon follow. Geese are excellent parents and protectively raise their young.

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