While geese are not nearly as prolific as chickens, one breed is known for laying an egg nearly every other day from early spring through late autumn. The Chinese goose is the most common type in backyard flocks throughout the world, providing not only eggs, but meat for the table and down as well.
Chinese geese appear graceful, with long slender necks and compact bodies. A bright orange knob at the base of the beak gets larger as they age, and is often more prominent in the male of the species. The Chinese goose comes in a pure white variety as well as a brown-gray barred color scheme similar to that of the African goose, but is significantly smaller. Chinese geese are extremely vocal and make excellent watchdogs.
Goslings require supplemental heat during the first weeks of life until they are fully feathered. If they are not being raised by their mother, keep them in an incubator at 95 degrees Fahrenheit the first week and reduce the temperature by 5 degrees per week until they are fully feathered out at about 6 weeks old. If you keep adult geese in a pen, make sure to keep no more than one goose per 4 square feet of floor space.
Chinese goslings can begin life on chick or game bird starter supplemented with grass and other vegetation. Adult birds consume cracked corn and will spend much of their time foraging for bugs and trimming grasses while leaving broad-leafed plants—such as your vegetables, herbs and flowering plants—untouched. If you want geese to nibble at broad-leafed weeds as well, introduce them into their diet beginning at 1 week old. Do not feed baby geese flower stalks or other matter you do not wish for them to consume as adults foraging in your yard.
Geese begin laying when they are about 7 months old. Provide a nest box that is at least 2 feet square for every two to three female geese. Chinese geese will begin laying in February or March, with production dropping during hot summer days. As autumn approaches, laying will pick up again until mid-November. Provide supplemental lighting morning and evening to encourage production when days are short.
Indulging her passion for vacation vagary through the written word on a full-time basis since 2010, travel funster Jodi Thornton-O'Connell guides readers to the unexpected, quirky, and awe-inspiring.