While chickens are popular birds for small backyard flocks, geese are also a good choice. Some people find their size and behavior a bit intimidating, but by choosing the right breed, you can avoid these issues. Choosing a breed on the smaller side with a friendly disposition will make backyard goose-keeping more rewarding.
The most popular domestic goose breeds are bred for meat or eggs but with a passive and friendly personality. Aggressive breeds are better suited to more experienced keepers.
The Toulouse, Pilgrim, Embden, American Buff, and Sebastopol breeds are excellent choices for a flock.
Geese make excellent watchdogs for your backyard flock, and when hand-raised from goslings, they can become very attached to their owners.
Geese are intelligent, curious, and friendly, but their territorial nature can give them a bad reputation. Choosing a more docile breed will be better if you are a beginner at keeping geese.
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The Most Popular Goose Breeds For a Backyard Flock
Whether you keep only geese or add them to an existing backyard flock, you’ll need to pick a breed that suits you. Some geese are friendly, while others will be more aggressive. You may want geese for meat or eggs, or prefer an ornamental species purely as a pet.
The Pilgrim is a Wonderful Beginner Goose
If you are new to keeping geese, the Pilgrim is one of the best-recommended breeds. They can be very tame if hand-reared and are fast-growing, making them suitable for production. Pilgrims are generally kept for meat but can lay 20-40 eggs annually.
These attractive white and grey geese are not usually very noisy, and they are easy to sex, as the ganders have blue eyes and the geese have brown. They will forage readily and are good to keep in pastures, large yards, and orchards.
The Medium-Weight American Buff
American Buffs are known to become highly tame if you hand-rear your goslings. The breed was developed in America and is an extremely popular heavy bird for meat production. They come in a beautiful fawn and apricot shade.
They are a rare poultry breed and could be challenging to source. A tufted variety is available but is even rarer. You can keep these geese as dual-purpose birds, as they lay 15-25 eggs in a year.
The Friendly and Unusual Sebastopol
If you want a goose with a unique and interesting feather pattern, have a look at the Sebastopol Goose, also sometimes called the Danubian. They have curling white feathers on their bodies and smooth neck feathers, and they make attractive and unusual pets.
These medium-weight geese are not good flyers thanks to their unusual feathers and will need plenty of water to be happy. They are rarely aggressive unless the female is sitting on eggs. Keepers have found them to be a friendly and curious breed.
Embdens Have Tons of Personality
Embdens are one of the most popular breeds used for commercial meat production, and they lay between 10 and 30 eggs a year. They are a tall, heavy breed and are noted for their long curved necks, which sometimes led to them being called ‘swan-geese.’
Embdens are docile and friendly, and their active and curious natures make them popular for backyard flocks. They can make a lot of noise when intruders are spotted and are often kept to guard flocks.
Chinese Geese Make Distinctive Pets
Choose Chinese Geese if you want a small goose that lays many eggs. They are best kept in pairs and are some of the best domestic geese for egg production, laying 50-80 eggs yearly. They have a distinctive appearance and come in barred and white varieties. The gander can become more aggressive in the breeding season.
They are known to be intelligent, curious, and watchful, which makes them good at sounding the alarm if they see any danger. However, these geese can be very vocal, so while they don’t need ample space, they can be a problem if you have nearby neighbors.
Tufted Romans Are Good Exhibition Birds
If you have a smaller space and are looking for a good meat bird that also lays eggs, consider Roman Geese. They are chubby birds with an excellent meat-to-bone ratio and lay 25-35 eggs yearly.
If they are hand-raised, they are usually friendly and not aggressive. These birds were once sacred to the Roman goddess Juno and are considered one of the oldest domesticated breeds. They are kept as utility birds and also for exhibition.
Toulouse Geese Are Excellent Meat Birds
The Toulouse is the perfect bird if you are looking for a heavy, meat goose with a docile, friendly nature. They can lay between 20 and 40 eggs in a year, but due to their size, they sometimes break the eggs while sitting on them.
They have an excellent tolerance for colder weather and are fast-growing. If you want better egg production, choose the variety without dewlaps. This lighter variety is bred to be more dual-purpose.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Friendliest Goose Breed?
The Toulouse consistently rates as one of the friendliest goose breeds, particularly the females. Originally from Toulouse, France, this friendly and docile breed grows quite large and can weigh up to nearly 20 lbs.
The Toulouse is reared for meat, foie gras, and goose fat and has a peaceful disposition. This makes it an excellent choice for backyard keepers whose primary goal is meat production. If you prefer a smaller, friendly goose as a pet, consider the Sebastopol with its unique curling feathers.
Hand-reared geese will often imprint on their owners and be friendlier than geese obtained as adults.
Are There Domesticated Geese?
Domesticated geese have been widely kept for meat, down, and eggs, and it is thought that geese could have been domesticated as early as 3000 BC. Archaeological evidence points to domesticated geese in Egypt up to 4000 years ago.
Geese were also kept to guard flocks due to their territorial and aggressive nature. More recently, geese have been kept as pets. Lighter breeds are sometimes kept as ornamental species, especially those with unusual feathers like the Chinese and Tufted Roman.
What are The Common Breeds of Geese?
Common domestic goose breeds include the Toulouse, the Emden, Chinese, African, Pilgrim, and Sebastopol geese. These are primarily commercial breeds that are good for meat, down and egg production. You can expect around 40 eggs a year from most domestic geese during the laying season.
What is the Smallest Domestic Goose Breed?
The smallest domestic goose is the Chinese, which has a slender, upright body and a large knob at the base of the beak. This breed is a particularly productive layer and can be pretty vocal. The goose weighs about 3.5-4.5 lbs, while a gander can reach 4.5-5.5lbs.
There are many goose breeds you can consider adding to your flock, from commercial to ornamental. Domestic geese can be light-weight, medium-weight, and heavy-weight birds.
Some geese are more vocal than others, while certain breeds, such as Egyptian geese, are known to be more aggressive. Beginners in keeping geese are recommended to consider the Pilgrim or the Emden.