Is Raising Your Own Geese Worth It?

geese grazing

Geese are popular, especially in Europe, for raising as a meat bird. Yet, they are lagging in popularity in the U.S. Are geese likely to be a new business opportunity or more of a potential hobby?

Geese cost $22.94 per year per adult to feed for four months in the winter and $12.68 per gosling to feed from hatching to 12 weeks.

Cost to buy gosling
(price varies by breed)
Cost of feed per pound
(using non medicated broiler feed)
Feed to gain ratio of geese4 to 1, overall
3 to 1, up to 12 weeks
Geese per acre for weeding3 young geese
(5-6 week old goslings)
Geese per acre of pasture20-40 growing geese
8 breeding age geese
Reduced feed consumption with
pastured geese
38% 3-12 week old goslings
48% 12+ week old geese
Age when goslings can start grazing
(in a protective pen)
3 weeks
Meat yield from geese
(as a percent of live weight)
70% (with giblets)
63% (w/o giblets)
8-9 week old “broiler” goose9 pounds
12-14 week old heavy goose13 pounds
Feed costs to raise gosling to 12 weeks$12.68 each
Feed per day for breeding age geese.5 pounds per day
Feed cost per year per adult goose$22.94
Number of eggs per goose per season20-50

Geese need some space to roam

Geese like to walk around and check out what is going on in “their” area. Ours make a route around some of the closer fields, going out together to graze, coming in together to stay for the night.

Your geese will need some room to roam around. A fenced in backyard would be great!

In fact, I have long believed that if you are mowing your lawn, you need to get some grass eaters, like geese, to do that for you!

Our American Buff geese grazing.

Your geese will also need some sort of shelter to hang out it. They may or may not use it at night, ours like to sleep in the driveway, not the barn.

In rough weather, hot or cold, your geese will want a place to be under roof.

You could have a little shed, of course, or open up part of an out building or garage for them to walk into, it depends upon what you have.

Got a spare dog house? A large sized dog house would work just fine for a pair of geese.

They aren’t picky. If you are using something like a dog house, I would raise it up off the ground a bit to keep it from collecting water and give them a no slip ramp up to it.

Geese are Low Maintenance Farm Animals, read my article for more details.

geese walking up from grazing in the pasture
Some of our geese, walking back up to the barn after grazing and taking a dip in the creek.

Geese are not hard to raise

Geese are actually pretty easy to raise. We find that waterfowl is more hardy when young, making them easier to raise than chicks.

Your goslings will need a brooder for the first 2-3 weeks, depending upon outside temperatures in your area.

After that, they need a protective pen, like a chicken tractor, or a fenced in area to keep them from wandering too far and protect them from inclement weather and predators.

The only downside with all waterfowl, geese included, is they love to guzzle water.

Once your goslings get to be a month or so old, you’ll be shocked at how fast they can drain down that waterer you just refilled!

Since all that water has to go somewhere, this can be messy.

However, now that you are warned, you can take steps to minimize the water party or keep the in a spot where the water spillage doesn’t matter.

Best Geese For Eating walks you through picking the breed you should be using if your main concern is meatiness.

Our geese will hatch and care for their own goslings. We only end up with them when we find one or two lost in the yard, which occasionally does happen.

The last gosling I raised was put in with a group of meat chickens, since they were the only young birds I had at the time. The gosling did great.

It stayed with the birds in the brooder and went into the chickens tractor (pasture pen) as well.

When the meat chickens were processed, I turned the goose loose close to the main group of geese. The half grown gosling zoomed over and blended right in.

gosling in with the meat chickens
You can see the gosling in the corner.

Goslings hatching makes the adults assertive

The only time our geese get a bit of an attitude is during breeding season (late spring) and when they have goslings.

Our geese never come after us, but will let us know if they feel we are getting too close.

How close is too close? The geese determine that. I will tell you that “too close” is more of a big deal to them when they have goslings than any other time.

Don’t let this scare you off of geese. If you give them space, they will be fine and so will you!

If you try to snatch up goslings, you’ll get 100% of their attention, that’s for sure!

Geese are grazers

Geese will snatch up a tasty slug or other little insect that is easy to see, bugs can be up to 10% of the daily diet of a goose.

Even so, their main focus is on grass and other forage plants.

If you are looking for some poultry to peck around for grubs in your yard or scratch bugs out of your garden, you’ll need to team up chickens with your geese to get full poultry power.

Where the geese really shine is in keeping your lawn eaten down. We graze our lawn with the sheep a few times a summer and the geese keep it under control the rest of the time!

I have to admit, if you have a big lawn that grows like crazy and you have 5 goslings, they won’t be able to keep up with it.

Next year, they will be serious grass eaters. This year when they are full size, they will graze your lawn pretty well, too.

When you get your goslings in the spring, you are still going to be mowing your lawn or pasture.

Even when the geese are mature, the grass spring could get ahead of them.

If this happens, you’ll want to mow it or have larger livestock eat it down to keep the growth at the low height they enjoy.

geese grazing
This is a mix of younger and older birds grazing as they walk along.

Geese will eat grain when grass is scarce

Our geese do not eat much, if any, grain in the grazing months. While the ducks are always hitting us up for grain, the geese don’t.

When there is no grazing left, they want some grain, around a half pound each per day.

They are more interested in grain when there is heavy snow cover and the grass is harder to get to.

They seem less interested in grain on the days when they can go pick around at the frozen ground to see what they can find.

Geese are cold hardy

Our geese spend most days outside, even in the winter. They love to be out and about and frequently take a hike out to see what is going on in the pasture with the sheep.

Once your goslings are grown, you don’t have much to worry about, weather wise.

I would make sure they have a dry, sheltered area that they can come into if they choose. When the weather is nasty, ours come into one of the open doorways of the barn and leave again as soon as the weather breaks.

They seem to prefer spending time outside, even in cold snaps.

Geese do not need to swim

Geese are water lovers and will not hesitate to try out your pond. Don’t have a pond? Neither do we and our geese do just fine.

I haven’t counted how many geese we have, I’d guess around 40 pond-less yet happy geese. (We do have a creek that they can wade into out in the pasture, but no pond.)

Fill a short sided water trough in dry seasons

This summer was unusually dry in our area, since the normal watering spots weren’t great we kept a low 60 gallon trough filled for any water lover who needed a dip.

You can find these at any type of water troughs at any livestock feed store. You could try a kids wading pool, but I’m not sure how they will hold up.

If you don’t have easy access water for your geese, a pan that holds 4-5 gallons or a low trough is all you need, as long as you check it a few times per day.

It takes 2 years for geese to mature

Geese take a little bit longer to get to full size than some of your other poultry, like broilers or Pekin ducks.

Geese are going to take 6-8 months or so to get close to mature weight, but still aren’t mature.

Where things get a bit crazy with geese is, you can not consider them a mature breeding bird until they are in their second year.

The first season, at a year old, your pair may lay some eggs and be successful, but it’s not likely.

This is what happened to my Sebastopol pair, they were good fakers this first time, but no results! I have high hope for next spring when they are 2!

A mature pair that will be reliable layers and producers for you will need to be 2-5 years old.

Geese live quite a bit longer than that, but fertility declines after 5-6 years of age.

Are geese profitable?

Profits from geese will completely depend upon how you are selling them. Overall, for most people geese are going to be more of a hobby, not a profitable side business.

This can all change in the right area with some marketing. In our area, most people are not interested in eating geese, so the market goose idea would be tough.

If you are near a large city, see what the specialty shops have to offer. If they are selling it, people are buying it!

Here’s an SARE project final report detailing raising 200 geese on pasture in Vermont.

The study includes tons of valuable information from how they brooded the goslings to the results of splitting up the geese into three flocks to test three different feeding regimens.

This was a for profit project which ended up with final costs per pound of goose meat coming in at $8.13-8.48 per pound, too high for this farm’s customers.

Hobby raising geese costs $22.94 per goose

If you are considering geese as a hobby, you have more room to move in your budget.

Your adult geese will need .5 pounds of grain each per day when they can not get good grazing or are in laying season. For us, this is from December to March, for April they are usually setting.

That’s four months of grain equaling 60 pounds of grain per adult goose. If your grain is $0.38 per pound, that is $22.94 in feed costs per adult goose per year.

For the goslings, your feed costs will be $13.68 each. This is with a $0.38 per pound feed costs and raising them to a size of 12 pounds at 12 weeks.

At this age the feed to gain ratio will be 3 to 1, so each gosling will have eaten 36 pounds of feed at $13.68.

If the adults are with the goslings, you will be feeding the parents the same feed as the goslings!

The $13.68 is just for what the goslings eat, not what the parents will be eating.

While I know the goslings are not full grown at 12 weeks, they are old enough to do most of their own foraging.

At this age some people choose to process, some go to grass only and some keep the geese on free choice grain.

Since there is a huge variety here, putting a specific number on it doesn’t make sense.

You can sell goslings

Selling goslings would be a way to get some returns from your geese.

Goslings available from the hatcheries are all priced at more than $10 each, some significantly more, so don’t hesitate to set your price appropriately.

You can take the hatched gosling from the parents (this is tricky) or incubate the extra eggs.

In case you are not aware, geese to not lay year round, not even close! It’s spring egg production only for geese. Even the better layering breeds will still be very low in egg production compared to chickens or ducks.

To incubate the eggs, you’ll take away the eggs as she lays them. Always leave one in the nest! Otherwise, she’ll be suspicious and find a new nesting spot. The goose will continue to lay until she has 10 or so eggs.

If you take the extras, her total eggs laid for the year will be more like 20-50, depending upon the breed.

Geese can be sold as weeders or guard geese

I have not done either of these things with geese, but know a traditional use for geese is to have young 5-6 week old geese weed fields and older geese as flock or property guardians.

Our geese are loud when someone unexpectedly shows up. I would not call that guarding, since they do not prevent anything. It’s more like making a lot of noise!

You can sell mated pairs for breeding stock

Around here people are interested in buying geese as more of a grass eating yard ornament! Any local sales we have made are pairs for folks who want to have a few geese around.

Geese also tend to sell well at “exotic” animal sales, now called alternative animal and bird sales. We take a few pairs of geese to these special sales in Mt. Hope, and they usually sell quite well.

So you know, geese need to be paired by Christmas in order to successfully raise goslings the following spring. I know some of the commercial operations list the pairing time as a month, but be careful here.

You only get one shot per year, give the mature geese the time to settle in so you get goslings this year!

Relating this back to selling mated pairs, throwing two opposite sex geese together in a cage and calling them a pair is technically correct but will not get you or your customer goslings.

Unless that pair is established and bonded, your customers will be disappointed. Give the pairs the time they need and charge more for your work.

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