During some of the recent live sessions I noticed quite a few people asking why Giggle looked different from the other geese. It is because she is a Chinese Goose whereas many of the others are Embden geese. Since its Caroline's birthday today I thought it would be a good time to share some of the information I have discovered about Chinese geese
Most domestic geese are descendants of the wild Greylag Goose whereas both the Chinese Goose and African Goose are descendants of the wild Swan Goose of Asia. In France they are known as 'Oies' and as 'Hockerganse' in Germany.
In the United Kingdom there are two types of Chinese Geese. One is heavier and commercially bred mainly for egg and meat production. The other is a more graceful elegant strain introduced in the 1970s from America and often bred for exhibitions. Giggle must surly be the latter type!
Chinese Geese are either white or grey in colour. They have a pronounced basal knob on the upper side of their bill which is larger in males than females. It is apparently quite soft and warm, and is orange in white Chinese Geese and black in grey Chinese Geese. Both colour varieties have orange legs and feet, however white geese have blue eyes and grey geese have brown.
In December last year, to great excitement, Giggle laid her first egg. Chinese Geese can apparently lay about 40 – 80 white eggs per year and their breeding season is usually from February to the end of June. The eggs weigh about 120 grams (4.2 ounces) and incubation is about 28-32 days. Chinese Geese often go broody quite easily compared to some Geese and usually take good care of their goslings. Some become quite aggressive to strangers at this time. In general though, the temperament of Geese is a lot to do with their upbringing, and it has to be said that Giggle is a well behaved friendly goose.
Chinese Geese are known to be both alert and curious with exceptional foraging abilities. As a result they have been used to weed between crops, for examples in strawberry and tobacco growing fields. Also, like most geese, they make excellent guards. This is well demonstrated by Giggle herself, who can be rather noisy at times. Here a link for anyone who would like to read more about a flock of Chinese Geese used to guard a Whiskey distillery in Scotland.
Geese are generally one of the most hardy, healthy domestic birds to care for. Ideally they need an area to graze as well as some supplies of grain. They also need a small amount of grit to help with digestion and oyster shell is needed to provide calcium for healthy production of eggs. I think Giggle would also like a continuous supply of lettuce.
Although apparently geese in general do not need a large area of water for swimming there is no doubt that Giggle loves to bath and swim. She does however have a bit of competition for access to Caseys Pond at the moment from Issy and Wizzy, as well as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Guide to Ducks and Geese by Celia Lewis (ISBN 978-1-4081-5264-5
Chickens,Ducks,Geese and Turkeys by Fred Hams (ISBN 978-0-7548-2352-0)