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The Country Enterprise Handbook
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Keeping geese
...Getting them

Most geese lay in the spring.

A good female may lay 40 to 60 eggs. Chinese geese lay throughout the year and will lay at least 60, if not more. With a lot of care this may yield 25 goslings but the emphasis is on the word 'may'. Goose eggs are difficult. Fertility is a problem and geese themselves rarely make good mothers. Of course, you can eat the eggs or sell them to someone else to eat. They are just like a hen's egg apart from their stupendous size. Small children literally shriek with delight when presented with one fried. If you buy the jumbo egg-cups that are sometimes available, breakfast will never be the same again. If you do intend to hatch the eggs, either use an incubator or a broody hen. Mother goose may well manage to raise some of her young but you will have to accept that the numbers reared will be low and you may have a complete disaster. We have had goslings squashed by their overprotective parents and a goose will not protect its young from rats although a hen will. Having said all that, the sight of a happy family of geese with goslings in tow is delightful. This sight of a happy mother hen with goslings in tow is funny and delightful. The sight of an incubator is neither; it does, however, make the best producer. The care of the goslings once they are hatched in the incubator is similar to the care of ducklings.

The great increase in the popularity of egg-painting as a hobby or indeed as a business has lead to an increase in the price of goose eggs. If you find a good outlet for your eggs into this market, it is possibly worth selling all your eggs this way. Each egg sold to a painter could fetch 1: this means that one laying goose is bringing you 40 to 60 per annum. If you manage to hatch 25 of the eggs and sell the goslings for 2, that is 50 income.

Mathematicians among you are no doubt already clamouring that the remaining 15 to 35 not hatched could still be sold to the affluent egg- painter. This would make a total of between 65 and 85. But if you have tried to incubate these eggs, they may well be in a state of yuck inside their shells and if you have ever tried to blow a 'gone-off egg then you will appreciate that the egg-painter will not be very happy, to say the least of it.