Domestic Ducks


Guinea Fowl

Ornamental Waterfowl





Domestic Geese

There are two wild ancestors of geese, the greylag (Anser anser) and the swan goose (Anser cygnoides) and while most domestic geese are descended from the greylag, the African and Chinese come from the swan goose.

Geese are kept as pets, guards, for eggs, meat and as lawn mowers. All of the breeds will not suit all of these purposes, however, as some of the heavier breeds lay very few eggs indeed. The pure breeds are usually available as young stock in late summer but some may need to be booked in advance. It is still possible to obtain ordinary farmyard geese which are any colour and pattern but tend to be mainly white and these may be available as dayolds or growers (best sexed). Dayold commercial white meat geese are available in late spring. Geese are a flock species and should never be kept on their own.

Classification of Breeds

Heavy Medium Light
African Brecon Buff Chinese
American Buff Buff Back Pilgrim
Embden Grey Back Roman
Tolouse Pomeranian Sebastopol






If geese are in a house and run then driving them into the house will be the best method. Then corner the goose you want, restraining it loosely around the neck before putting your other hand over its back, confining its wings. Then slide the first hand underneath from the front, palm up, and clasping its legs between your fingers. Transfer the goose to your forearm, the other hand now on its back and its head pointing behind you with the mucky end pointing away from you – they tend to projectilely defecate when picked up, so you really do not want the mess in your pocket.

Geese can be serious about nipping as they bite and then twist, which can be excruciating, but if you have its head under your arm, as above, it can do little damage. Beware your shins if attempting to look at a goose on her nest - the leading edge of the wing is used as a most efficient cudgel. Grasp the goose firmly around the neck at arm's length once off the nest - she will sit down and you can then pick her up as before, her head always pointing behind you. Warn any children to steer clear as a broody goose can be very aggressive.

If getting a goose out of a box or crate, loosely restrain around the neck, then put your arm over the wings slide your hand in under the bird from the front, palm up, and clasp the legs firmly, then transfer as above.

If geese are free-range or have a large pond, they will soon learn that being on the water is the safest place and you will be unable to catch them. Always try and be devious first and feed them away from the water so that they can then be driven into a hut or run. Once in the run, unless they have been used to being handled from dayold, it is best to catch them with a fishing landing net, then transfer them to an arm as above.



Housing is needed for geese at night for safety from predators. Floor area should be a minimum of 1 x 1m (3 x 3ft) for light breed geese, more for the heavy ones. Ideally, they will all be in a foxproof enclosure so will not need secure housing, especially as waterfowl see well in the dark and really do not like going into huts, except to lay. Make sure the huts have fairly high interiors so the birds feel less claustrophobic if they have to be shut in at night. A hut with a large entrance door, one that perhaps drops down or at least opens sideways with no step, will encourage the birds to go in. If the area is foxproof, then a very simple shelter for laying in is all that is needed.


Use commercial waterfowl feed for the correct age of bird and put this in vermin-proof hoppers. If the hopper has extendable legs, such as the Parkland feeder, geese will quickly learn to use this when it is at the right height (the feeder bar level with their backs). Wheat can be put in shallow troughs which are then filled with water so that crows and rooks are not attracted to the feed, but ideally net over the enclosure. Geese eat lots of grass, so give them a much larger area than recommended in order for the grass to remain without becoming a sea of mud. Grass has its greatest food value in the spring and summer:  supplementary feeding may be needed all year round but particularly in the autumn and winter.


Water for any geese is ideally provided in movable ponds that have a ballvalve, thus keeping the level of water constant plus avoiding the muddy patches which always seem to accrue. A pond which is capable of being emptied at least once a week is adequate. If a natural or dug out pond is very large, put pea gravel around the edge to help drainage, this can be hosed down. Geese are not as destructive to plants as ducks, but they will still have a good go at them. No matter how disciplined you think you are, waterfowl acquisition is addictive, so allow for serious expansion when planning your enclosures. Put a water trough in the hut at night if they have to be shut in. Geese do not have to swim, in fact the larger breeds tend not to, but they do like to get in the water and have a good wash.



Feed a breeder ration 4-6 weeks before the first eggs are expected and then waterfowl crumbs (medicated chick crumbs are toxic to waterfowl) for the first 4 weeks, followed by lower protein feed plus wheat. Geese choose their mates in the autumn, so if adding new stock, do it then before the pair bond becomes too strong, adding new stock in spring can be unsuccessful. Geese have best breeding results when incubating and rearing their goslings, both parents taking care of the young. Outdoor reared goslings need to be wormed with Flubenvet at 3 weeks to avoid fatalities from gizzard worm. It is possible to artificially incubate goose eggs, but they do not travel well and are not as easy as other poultry species to breed in this way. A large fowl chicken will cover four goose eggs and will hatch them but can get upset when the goslings begin to swim! Artificially rearing goslings is easy, they need overhead heat for 2-3 weeks and then a lower protein feed at 4 weeks before going outside on grass and then wormed as above. Never buy or sell a single gosling, they must have company.

A broody goose can be de-broodyfied by simply moving her and her mate or a companion to a different area.

Health and Disease

Positive signs of health in geese

  • dry nostrils
  • bright eyes (colour varies with breed), no soreness
  • clean, shiny feathers (all present)
  • good weight and musculature for age
  • clean vent feathers with no smell
  • straight toes and undamaged webs
  • the bird alert and active with no sign of lameness

Geese do not tend to be vaccinated against any diseases. As long as they are fed correctly, stress kept to a minimum and are wormed 2-3 times a year with Flubenvet, they should remain healthy. Stress can make a goose go off its legs, so never chase them around, unless catching one with a net. Never buy a goose which has a runny nose, swollen sinuses or noisy breathing, caused by mycoplasma. 

Geese can have lice (dust with louse powder and keep the bird(s) off the water for 12 hours) and may be affected by red mite, see chicken parasite section.

Geese moult once a year, usually in late summer. They spend much time preening as they need to keep their feathers waterproof which is helped not only by the oil from the preen gland, but the actual structure of the feather, keeping the barbs “zipped up” like velcro maintains waterproofing. If feathers are missing off the back of the neck of a goose she has been over mated, so separate her by a fence from the gander for a while so she can still see and hear him. Birds like the Brecon Buff fade in the summer sun, so when they moult they regain their lovely colouring.

Geese tend to nibble at everything, so be really careful if fencing as wire and nails will kill them by perforating the gut. Plastic string is very dangerous whether eaten or wrapped around a leg. If you see string hanging from a goose’s bill, do not under any circumstances pull, but cut it off and hopefully the goose will eventually pass it. Tree bark is a magnet to geese, so if running them in an orchard, use tree guards.


Biosecurity for geese

  • Isolate new stock for 2-3 weeks
  • Isolate birds after taking to an exhibition for 7 days
  • Change clothes and wash boots before and after visiting other breeders
  • Change clothes and wash boots before and after attending a sale
  • Keep fresh disinfectant at the entrance to waterfowl areas for dipping footwear
  • Disinfect crates before and after use, especially if lent to others. However, it is preferable not to be sharing equipment
  • Disinfect vehicles which have been on waterfowl premises but avoid taking vehicles onto other premises
  • Wash hands before and after handling geese
  • Comply with any import/export regulations/guidelines

These are common-sense measures which can easily be incorporated into daily routine.