Chinese geese are considered by many to be the most graceful and beautiful member of the goose family. They’re elegant and dignified on both land and water. Sometimes referred to as “Swan Geese” because of their long and graceful necks, they descend from the wild swan goose native to Asia.
Chinese geese are exceptionally practical. They’re the best layers of all the breeds, active foragers, produce less greasy meat, and are easier to sex at maturity. With good management, the average Chinese goose produces nearly twice as many goslings as other geese, laying 40 to 100 white eggs annually. Because they’re alert and vocal, they’ll raise the alarm if a threat is perceived. Geese eat many grasses and herbaceous plants. If properly managed, they can be employed as “weeders.” Chinese geese are a very popular breed for weeding chores due to their active foraging habits, moderate size, agility, and good availability. Poultry catalogs sometimes refer to them as “Weeder Geese.”
The Chinese goose is refined and curvaceous. Its bill is relatively long and slender, with a large, rounded, erect knob that attaches to its forehead. The breed holds its head high. Its head flows seamlessly into a long, slim, well-arched neck which meets the body at about a 45-degree angle. Its body is short, compact, has a prominent and well-rounded chest, smooth breast, and no keel. Its abdomen is moderately full but has no fatty lobes, except during the laying season when the female may develop a single lobe. The tail should be held high and a high set tail is a good indication of vitality in ganders. A Chinese goose is often heavier than it appears, as its feathers are closely fitted. Mature ganders average 12 pounds, while mature geese average 10 pounds.
When selecting breeding stock, “pick birds with compact bodies, prominent chests and keelless breasts, wings that fold in front of an erect tail, slender and symmetrically arched necks and large, rounded knobs that rise well above the crown of the head. A spry, upright carriage, is important in Chinese since it is a sign of good health and vigor. Avoid breeding from specimens with drooping shoulders, roach backs, deformed necks and long bodies” (Holderread, 1981). A ratio of four to six geese per gander, rather than allowing a one-to-one pairing, reduces competition in the flock (Holderread, 1981). Chinese geese are a hardy breed, however, their knobs can freeze when temperatures fall below 20 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s important to provide the flock some protection during freezing weather.
There are two color varieties of Chinese geese: brown and white. The original variety is a rich brown and fawn, accented by a dark, russet-brown neck stripe. In mature birds, the glossy black bill and knob are separated from the main head plumage by a narrow band of creamy-white feathers. The shanks and feet are brownish-orange or dark orange and the eyes are brown. The white variety has blue eyes, pure white plumage, and bright orange feet, knobs, and bills. While goslings of white European breeds are mainly gray with yellow trim, the down of day-old White Chinese is a bright canary yellow. Both varieties were admitted to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1874.
Chinese geese are an economical breed. Stock is generally less expensive than other breeds. Their smaller size coupled with their active foraging ability means they don’t require as much food as other breeds. For those looking for “watchdogs,” Chinese geese are an excellent choice for the home flock.
Holderread, Dave. 1981. The Book of Geese: a Complete Guide to Raising the Home Flock. Hen House Publications.
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