Caring For Goslings
Goslings need heat from day old to one to two weeks depending on the weather. A 250-watt infra-red pig lamp will brood 30 to 40 goslings. It should be suspended about 15 inches above the litter, and then gradually raised as the goslings are weaned off heat. A surround of hardboard will keep out draughts, and white wood shavings or straw is ideal for bedding. Goslings are then best kept on grass but they should not be allowed to become too wet.
Rearing Your Geese
Geese are excellent grazers and 40-50 adult geese per acre can flourish well on rough land. They do not need elaborate housing, just shelter against sun and storm and protection from foxes at night. This compound is one producer’s way of providing such protection, often the geese are kept in old farm buildings which can be ideal for this purpose.
Feeding & Finishing
When young, the geese should be fed on a good goose, duck or a recommended ration with flint grit available to assist in digestion.
From about 10 weeks the compound feed can be reduced gradually and a small amount of corn or pellets should be fed once a day, preferably in the evening. Plenty of good, succulent short grass should be available. If the geese are penned, the number per pen should not be more than 200 and the pens should be moved as necessary. Swimming water may be allowed in early months, but not during the finishing period.
Between four and seven weeks should be allowed for finishing depending on condition, and the geese should be kept as quiet as possible. It is best if the same person looks after them. Finish with an ad-lib feed in a cattle yard, similar housing or on a reduced grazing area.
Culinary Delights of Goose Eggs
Goose eggs have long been prized for egg decorating and now their culinary qualities are whetting the appetite. Around the country goose eggs are now readily available at farmers’ markets, in farm shops and on the shelves of prominent retailers including Waitrose and Harrods.
For information on local or mail order supplies contact Eddie Hegarty at Norfolk Geese (01379 676391) www.norfolkgeese.co.uk who also supplies geese for egg production. Also visit our ‘Where To Buy‘ for where to buy your goose eggs.
David and Helen Perowne have been selling goose eggs from their Great Snoring farm in north west Norfolk for several years, starting with just 10 geese and now more than 600. The eggs are sold locally under the label ‘Norfolk free range goose eggs’ and are also available in some supermarkets.
Goose eggs are a seasonal delight with the first traditionally on Valentine’s Day — “Yes, we really did get our first eggs on February 14th this year,” says Mrs Perowne. “The geese usually go on laying into August, and I expect we’ll get 30 or 40 from each during the season.”
There has been controversy in the media over how long you need to boil a goose egg – and perhaps how many mouths one egg will feed – but there is no doubting their virtues in terms of taste and nutrition. Mrs Perowne recommends boiling them for 9 to 11 minutes. Her preference is to use them in Yorkshire puddings and omelettes and her family’s own favourite dish – egg fried rice. Helen can be contacted at 01328 820351.