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African Goose

African geese near railroad tracks

The African Goose, despite its misleading name, originates from the Chinese Goose and the Swan Goose. It is one of the largest of all domestic geese breeds and is usually kept for its meat. It lays far fewer eggs than other domestic breeds, typically only yielding around 30 a year. They are quite docile and peaceful and it is a recognized breed in the UK, France, and the US.

Read on for more information on this intriguing bird, including details on breeding and keeping it.

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Quick Facts About African Geese

two african geese by the water
Image Credit: Uschi Dugulin, Pixabay
Breed Name: Anser Anser Domesticus
Place of Origin: Likely from China
Uses: Meat production
Bull (Male) Size: 22 pounds
Cow (Female) Size: 18 pounds
Color: Gray, Brown, or White
Lifespan: 10 – 15 years
Climate Tolerance: Avoid extreme cold
Care Level: Low maintenance
Production: 20 – 40 eggs per season
18 – 20 pound adult weight

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African Goose Origins

African goose about to go into the water
Image Credit: RBCKPICTURES, Pixabay

The exact origin of the African Goose is contested, although it is widely accepted that the most likely country of origin is China. It is believed that the African Goose originates from the Chinese Goose, although it has also been theorized that they originated as a cross between the Chinese Goose and the Swan Goose.

It is also believed that the breed first made its way to the USA aboard ships that had traveled the world, making it very difficult to identify their origin. It has existed as a specific breed since the 19th Century and was accepted into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1874.

The name is likely to stem from the fact that the word Guinea was once used to describe anything foreign or unknown, and Guinea is a part of Africa. However, even the origins of its name are not known for certain.

African Goose Characteristics

Like other breeds, the African Goose is known to be a hardy bird that can survive in most climates, although it will require extra attention and care during very cold winter months. They have curved feathers and this, combined with their size, means that they are unable to fly.


African Goose Diet

They are also known to be low-maintenance birds. Their diet consists primarily of grass: in fact, they are sometimes kept as an environmentally friendly means of lawn control, while their guarding instinct means that they double up as a guard dog replacement, too. You will need to feed a commercial pellet and some wheat. They also need special grit and sand that help them grind their food down, but some soils are sandy enough to be able to fulfill the same role. You will need special poultry grit but any clean builder’s sand will do if your soil isn’t up to scratch.


African Goose Housing

You do need to provide a house. A 6ft x 4ft enclosure is large enough for two domestic African Geese, but you may need extra room if they produce goslings. The housing must be secured against predators including foxes and domestic dogs. They may seem fierce, but geese are no match for these predators.


African Goose Health

The species does not tend to get ill, if they are provided with decent grass and a source of water. Pet geese do not need a lake, or even a pond, and a bathtub will provide ample space and water for your bird.

Even their droppings are easily dealt with. The droppings consist of digested grass, don’t smell, and they don’t stick to the ground so they will wash away easily, even in the rain.

African goose swimming in the water
Image Credit: JosepMonter, Pixabay

Noise

The most challenging aspect of owning African Geese is that, like other Geese, they are loud. They may not be as loud as the Chinese Goose, but they will still disturb neighbors and cause a ruckus.


Size

All Geese are considered large birds and the African is one of the largest. They can weigh as much as 20 pounds. When standing up straight, this species can reach a height of as much as 1 meter.


African Goose Temperament

Geese are very intelligent birds that are highly inquisitive. They will investigate what is going on around them and make a friendly addition to a garden. They will greet you when you arrive, and they won’t be shy about heading in your hose to see what is going on.


Handling

Although the bird has something of a reputation for being aggressive, with socialization and careful handling, they can be very caring animals, and the African Goose is known to be one of the more docile species.

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Uses for African Geese

The primary use of the African Goose is as a meat bird. It is sometimes cross-bred with breeds like the Toulouse to further improve the meat yield, but as this is a 20-pound bird, a single bird does yield a lot of edible meat.

Although some geese are known to be productive layers, the African is not one of them. You can only expect between 20 and 40 eggs a season. Treat the eggs as a bonus and not the primary reason that you’re keeping this characterful bird.

African Goose Varieties

There are three recognized varieties of the African Goose, all of which are color based:

  • Gray – The plumage is a combination of gray and some brown. It has a dark brown stripe down the back and has a black bill and knob.
  • Brown – Brown African Geese have feathers of different shades of brown. Their bills and knobs are black.
  • White – These have all-white plumage but orange bills. The knobs on top of their bills are also orange.

African Geese Population

The African Goose is a domestic breed that was derived from the wild Chinese Goose. It has never lived in the wild and there are no wild populations found today.

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Are African Geese Good for Small-Scale Farming?

African Geese are primarily bred for their meat because they have a low annual egg yield. Although they have a natural lifespan of around 15 years, it is common to kill and eat geese when they are around 14 weeks. Any younger than this and there is very little meat, but the meat gets tougher as the bird ages. They do not require a lot of room, don’t need a pond or lake, and they don’t smell as bad as a lot of other animals, so they are considered good breeders for small-scale farming.

The exact origin of African Geese is unclear, but these large domestic geese are known for being very large, quite docile, and sociable, inquisitive birds. They can be kept in a garden or kept as part of a small-scale farming operation, but they produce few eggs and are only really farmed for their meat production.


Featured Image Credit: mfuente, Pixabay

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