A Goose overview

     Geese are a group of birds in the Waterfowls family, which are closely related to Ducks and Swans. They are large heavy-bodied, and long-necked birds, that are intermediate in size between large ducks and swans. Geese can live and thrive everywhere, but they usually prefer fields, parks and grassy areas near water. Some of the species are highly migratory over long distances, while others are sedentary all year around. Geese have a wide distribution range, and known to adapt equally well to hot climates as to cold climates. Despite this broad adaptability, commercial goose production is still limited to relatively few countries.

     Geese are one of the first animals that have been domesticated, and their domestication probably took place in Egypt about 3,000 – 4,000 years ago. Despite this fact, they have never been exploited commercially as much as Chickens or even ducks have been. Domestic geese come in a wide range of colors, sizes and shapes, and are much larger than their wild ancestors. In Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, the domesticated geese species are derived from the Greylag Goose. While in eastern Asia, the domesticated geese species are derived from the Swan Goose. Nowadays in places like Australia and North America, domestic flocks may consist of either species or hybrids between them. In fact, recent researches indicated that there is still a room for the genetic improvement for the domestic goose, that has been underutilized. Also, there are some species of wild geese that could be domesticated, or at least contribute to the commercial goose production.


Characteristic of Geese

     Geese are large birds, with bills which are humped at the base and tapered toward the tip, to help in grasping the grasses upon which they feed. Also, they are equipped with webbed legs which are positioned farther forward than in swans and ducks, allowing the bird to walk readily, and to swim efficiently as well. In fact, most geese species display little sexual dimorphism, that’s why sexing is based primarily on physical characteristics and behavior. Male birds (Ganders) are typically taller and larger, with longer necks, and exhibit protective behavior toward their mates (Geese/Hens) and offspring (Goslings).

     Geese usually spend most of the day foraging for food, which is primarily obtained by grazing. They have a very vegetarian diet, that consists mainly of seeds, nuts, grass, plants, and berries. Interestingly, they prefer fertilized over unfertilized grass for feeding. Geese pair and associate in large flocks called “gaggles”, in which they feed, fly and migrate together. Geese fly in V-formations, which add a greater flying range, than if each goose flew alone. When the goose in front gets tired, another goose will take over the front position, and geese will honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. Geese have also strong affections for others in the same group. If one of them gets sick or is wounded, a couple of other geese may drop out of formation to help and protect it. They will try to stay with the disabled goose until it dies or is able to fly again. Then they will either fly together or join another formation to catch up with their group.


Geese Reproduction

     Geese reach sexual maturity when they are 2 – 3 years old, then they for form couples, and stay monogamous for life, raising new families together each year. They are very faithful to their mates, and if one mate dies, the other mate usually waits for several years before choosing a new partner or might even stay single. The female goose will build a nest of the ground, which is lines up with down plucked from her body. She will lay 5 – 10 eggs, then incubates them for 28 – 35 days, and the incubation period depends on the breed. During that time, the gander will stay on guard to protect the nest from any possible danger. Once goslings hatch, their parents will guide them to different sources of food and water, and they can swim and eat by themselves when they are just 1 day old. Young geese are able to fly when they are about 2 – 3 months old, but they will stay with their parents and follow them back the following year to the place where they were born.

     Once a year, geese will lose their flight and tail feathers (molting), and they won’t be able to fly. During the molting, they seek protected shelters, and stay near water to escape predators, till they grow new feathers within 6 weeks. Geese have many common predators in the wild which include; Foxes, Raccoons, Owls, and Snapping Turtles. And people farm them for their highly nutritious and delicious meat, eggs, and feather production.


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The Egyptian goose by Peter Munks
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The Canada goose
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The Toulouse goose by Hal Trachtenberg
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The African goose
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A flock of Chinese geese
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A Greylag goose family



Black Geese

  • Barnacle Goose
  • Brent Goose
  • Cackling Goose
  • Canada Goose
  • Hawaiian Goose
  • Red-Breasted Goose

Grey Geese

  • Bar-Headed Goose
  • Bean Goose
  • Greater White-Fronted Goose
  • Greylag Goose
  • Lesser White-Fronted Goose
  • Pink-Footed Goose
  • Swan Goose

White Geese

  • Emperor Goose
  • Ross’s Goose
  • Snow Goose


  • Andean Goose
  • Blue-Winged Goose
  • Cape Barren Goose
  • Egyptian Goose
  • Magpie Goose
  • Orinoco Goose
  • Spur-Winged Goose


  • Ashy-Headed Goose
  • Kelp Goose
  • Magellan Goose
  • Ruddy-Headed Goose

Domestic Geese

  • African
  • American Buff
  • Chinese
  • Cotton Patch
  • Czech
  • Danish Landrace
  • Diepholz
  • Embden
  • Emporda
  • Faroese
  • Flemish
  • Franconian
  • Leine
  • Lippe
  • Normandy
  • Norwegian White
  • Öland
  • Pilgrim
  • Pomeranian
  • Roman Tufted
  • Scania
  • Sebastopol
  • Shetland
  • Suchovy
  • Toulouse
  • Twente Landrace
  • West of England