Acquired: Bred animal myself
Posted Aug 02, 2016
The Chinese is one of the popular domestic goose breeds kept in my country although it is rarely the case that the keepers breed them without crossbreeding with other breeds. When I have first encountered these geese I found them very attractive and their long necks, straight and proud posture with huge knobs in the base of their beaks made me think they were swans. And truly they are swan like, especially the white strain, whereas the grey strain is just as beautiful as their beaks and legs are pigmented dark.
I acquired 5 eggs from a local breeder and I tried to incubate them with a broody hen. It was quite a challenge because of the huge size of the eggs and I was advised that the eggs should be manually turned few times a day and in the last 2 weeks of incubation, they should be regularly misted. That was what I had done, and at the end of the fourth week of incubation, the small goslings started vocalizing within the eggs. I was so excited that I could not wait the moment to see them. It was necessary to help them a bit and I was also advised to mist the eggs with slightly acidic water by adding a bit of vinegar, so as to make the eggshell softer and facilitate the hatching process. Out of 5, only 3 goslings came out, and it was a real success for me. I allowed the broody hen to take care of them in the next few weeks, but they grew so fast that they outgrew her after only 3 weeks. It was funny to see how she tries to cover them and keep them warm in the evening although she was way smaller than they were.
They reach almost full size at the age of 3 months and I was lucky that I had one gander and two geese. I kept them for a few years and they proved to be one of the best domestic fowl species in terms of being very attached to the farm and family. It appeared to me that they were able to discern when someone new comes by popping their heads high and watching first with one eye and they turning their heads to check with the other. Once they notice something new or suspicious they flap their wings and become very loud. So in a way they were taking the role of farm watch dogs and sometimes, people were even more afraid of them than the dogs as they were loud and they could pinch quite a bit with their beaks so as to frighten the strangers.
They are also very good layers as my two geese were able to lay more than 100 eggs each during the season. However, I was never very successful in incubation and hatching of the new goslings. On one hand it was due to the fact that my geese never went broody, as they were laying eggs all summer long, and on the other hand, when I tried incubating them, the success rate was very low as I could get only 2-3 goslings out of 20 eggs. I was told by some local breeders that the reason might be that I was keeping the geese without water pool, and they require it for the mating as they naturally mate in water.
All in all, they are very amicable, gregarious and one of the smartest domestic fowl, so I warmly recommend them for keeping if you happen to live by the river or lake, and even if not, they will be happy to graze your lawn and run around the yard.