By Les O’Dell, The Livestock Conservancy
Do geese have personalities? Kathy Hopkins believes they do, especially the American Buff goose.
She says this breed, which is designated “watch” on the Conservation Priority List, has “amazing” personalities to go along with beauty, sociability, intelligence and exceptional parenting skills.
“American Buff are a good choice for someone new to geese because they aren’t aggressive and bond well with people,” Kathy, who raises a flock of just over 100 geese near Springtown, Texas, says. “The breed is incredibly intelligent. If hand-raised from goslings, they are as good and fiercely loyal a friend as any family dog.”
But they have their quirks, she admits.
“Geese are not like any other poultry. They know their names – but listen like cats, learn and follow simple commands, understand pointing and love interacting with the more intelligent species, like their people,” she explains,” adding that the breed is not aggressive, except during breeding season and during their “teenage phase,” when they are discovering their place in the flock’s pecking order.
Additionally, she calls American Buffs “somewhat bigoted.”
“They do tend to treat other breeds and species as second-class citizens, although if raised together and with sufficient space, they get along fine,” she adds. “These geese love to inspect and supervise. They ‘discuss’ matters and operate by committee. They don’t accept change well, so it is best approached gradually, if possible.”
She says when change is introduced, a few geese – usually the same ones time and again – will “file a formal grievance with management.”
Kathy explains: “Apparently they also understand the concept of a union, which I find highly amusing. If they have issue with something new or different, you can bet that the stewards will address the management about it!”
Where American Buffs’ personalities really shine, is in parenting. Kathy says they are “wired for parenthood.” In fact, some will “steal” or adopt goslings from other breeds that they believe are not doing a good job in raising their young. They even watch over human children, too, protecting them from harm.
“Ganders do most of the gosling rearing and are very much the heads of families,” she adds. “Although there is a good deal of instinct involved here, the do actually teach their young how to be good parents as well.”
Kathy adds that American Buff are beautiful geese, docile and make good pets.
“They require more social interaction than maintenance,” she says. “They need attention and I don’t think it’s possible to handle them too much. They absolutely thrive on contact and love. Raising these geese has been as rewarding as anything else I’ve ever done and I highly recommend them.”