Heritage Breeds: Keeping Ducks and Geese

Keeping ducks and geese in your backyard flock helps these heritage breeds as well as your bottom line.

| November/December 2011

For many folks, ducks and geese are merely ornamental entertainment. We see them on ponds and lakes, and we enjoy their beauty and grace from a distance; however, we often forget their role in our agricultural past. Throughout our history, ducks and geese have been staples on farms across North America.

For centuries, families and small farmers valued these animals for their many products and services including meat, eggs, fat, down and feathers, weed control, alarms and more. Today, most folks have forgotten the role that ducks and geese can play in sustainable farm practices. Unfortunately, that’s led to a fowl loss, including many historic breeds that helped our founding fathers and mothers make a go of it in the New World. Take a gander at some of the remaining rare-breed geese and ducks and see waddle you think!

Keeping ducks and geese

Chinese Goose

Status: Watch 

Are you looking for beauty, brains and practicality? Look no further than the Chinese goose. Known for its elegance and grace, the swan goose, as it’s often called, is the quintessential backyard beauty, but don’t let the good looks fool you. Chinese geese are one of the most active foragers, best egg layers, and exceptional meat producers of all the geese breeds. Originating in Asia several centuries ago, the Chinese goose is an ancient breed with modern applications. Chinese geese can provide 40 to 100 eggs annually for the family. Their noisy, chatty nature makes them a great “watchgoose” for the farm or homestead. Also, as first-class foragers, these geese are great for weed control and lawn maintenance.

The Chinese goose is a lightweight breed, with geese averaging 10 pounds and ganders averaging 12 pounds. This alluring goose comes in two color varieties, brown and white. The goose has a long, slender, well-arched neck with a short and compact body. The breed has a distinctive knob on its head that has led to the nickname the knob goose. Today, the breed’s numbers are improving as more and more small farms discover the value and charm of the Chinese goose.

Pilgrim Goose

Status: Critical 

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