Heritage Geese
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Meat, Weeding

Egg Color:

Egg Size:

Market Weight:
8 - 10 lbs

Active, Self-Sufficient

Shetland Goose

Shetland gooseShetland geese come from the Shetland Islands of Great Britain, but no detailed records exist of their breed development. They are noted for their foraging ability and sex-linked color.

Mature geese weigh 10-12 lbs, and lay about 30 eggs yearly if eggs are removed from the nest. Their coloration is sex-linked, which sometimes leads to confusion with Pilgrim geese, though there are clear distinctions. The plumage of the gander is white, and his eyes are blue. The goose (female) is typically half white and half gray with a saddleback pattern. The shoulders, secondary flight feathers, under-wing back and thigh coverts are gray. The head and neck are mainly white, often with varying amounts of gray plumage. The eyes of a goose are brown or brown mottled with blue. The bill of both sexes is pale orange and reddens or turns pink towards the nostrils and a pink bean.

The Shetland goose has a broad back and a well-rounded, keel-less breast, and has been described as a rugby ball shape. The abdomen is relatively flat with a single-lobed paunch. The wings are powerful, allowing full ability of flight, and on some farms it may be necessary to clip the feathers of one wing to keep them at home..

When selecting breeders choose vigorous, strong-legged birds free of physical deformities. Shetland geese in North America descend from a small genetic pool. As a result, special care must be taken to avoid genetic defects, including crooked toes, wry tails, kinked necks, and lack of vigor. Consider growth rate, egg production, and foraging ability for utility birds. Because Shetland ganders rarely bond with more than one female, keep equal numbers of each sex, preferably from multiple bloodlines, to allow breeding birds to pair up.

The Shetland Goose combines several valuable traits including a shortened bill for active foraging. This resourceful breed will forage year round, and will even forage for grit and grass under snow cover.

Shetland geese typically form very strong bonds with their mates. Females often go broody after laying 12-18 eggs, and are successful setters and mothers. They retain many other natural instincts, and will flock during the non-breeding seasons, and band together to ward off predators.


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- Dave Holderread
  Storey's Country Wisdom Bulletin: Raising Ducks and Geese

An Introduction to Heritage Breeds
- D. Phillip Sponenberg, Jeannette Beranger. Alison Martin