American Buff Geese
When we tell people we raise geese, the reaction we get is often a mixture of horror and pity. "Geese" to many evokes childhood memories of being chased across the farmyard by a screaming, angry giant white or gray bird, intent on your destruction.
American Buffs are a whole different critter. First, they are much smaller than the goose most people picture. The Livestock Conservancy classifies them as a medium sized goose, but this is based the weight of their heavy bodies, rather than their height or length. They weigh out at 14-18 pounds. They are good layers, and if you pick their eggs regularly, they will continue to lay for several months, rather than the 30 days some geese lay. Our own Little Mamma even started laying this fall!
American Buffs are a calm goose with people and animals alike. They have been wonderful to raise with our chickens, ducks, guineas, goats... basically anything we have housed with them. As long as all the other species know who is boss, they all get along just fine! In fact, even though they obliviously don't like the other birds much, we have - on several occasions - observed them running to their defense. In one case, this involved fending off a raccoon who was trying to get at baby chicks. In another, they herded a flock of young guineas under cover when snow slid off the roof into the pen.
American Buffs are great parents. Not only are the mothers attentive to their eggs and their young but the fathers will remain close, even laying on the eggs while the mother gets up to drink and eat if the weather is too cold. After they are hatched, mothering skills vary. One of our mothers this spring was attentive until the babies were old enough to not trip over their own feet, and then got more distant, checking in on them if one seemed distressed. Otherwise she let them find their own way. The other had only two babies - the others were lost to a freak, late spring snowstorm. The ones that remained? Well, let's just say no one can "helicopter parent" like a goose!
Thinking about raising geese?
Geese are not just large chickens, and there are some important things to consider.
Geese live a long time. When you buy a gosling, you may be looking at as much as a 30-year commitment.
Geese don't do well with change. They bond with their humans and their environment as well. If you buy a goose and decide it isn't for you, decide quickly. The older to goose, the harder it will be for them to adapt to a new home or a new human.
Geese are also very social. If you don't buy more than one, expect to have a goose that follow you everywhere and cries if you leave it behind.
Geese are devoted mates. While occasionally a male will take two females to mate, they are primarily monogamous and will mourn and grow depressed if their mate dies. Our observation has been that this is especially true if a male goose loses his mate, because the other males will immediately drive him away from their wives and they stay on the outskirts until there is another "free" lady around. If you sell a goose, make sure it is unmated, or sell them as a pair.
Geese are choosy! They will not choose a mate just because there is one of the opposed sex around. We currently have a lone male, two lone females and a gosling (unknown gender at this point) un-mated.
While we originally got geese as poultry guardians, they have turned out to be more loving, fun and funny then we ever expected. We would not trade them for the world.
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