The Chinese goose is an eye-catching goose with its sleek neck stripe and cream, fawn and brown body, with an unusual knob on top of its head.
Chinese geese have two outstanding qualities; the first is the relatively large number of eggs that utility strains can lay, and the second is the noise they will make when something out of the ordinary happens in their environment. This makes them useful ‘guard dogs’ that will keep a watchful eye both day and night (or a nuisance if you or your neighbours don’t like the noise they make)!
Chinese Geese are known as Höckergänse in Germany and Oies de Chine in France. Along with the African goose, they are one of our two domestic breeds of goose descended from the wild Swan Goose. Despite their name, Chinese geese are thought to have originated in Europe!
Chinese geese are by far some of the best egg layers and quite a popular breed for their slick looks. They are very alert and curious, but can be extremely noisy when strangers are about. This has earned them a reputation as ‘guard geese’ which can be used to an advantage on farms, smallholdings or other remote properties, alerting their owners when wanted (or unwanted) visitors arrive, but this characteristic also means they are not suitable for every situation where their noise might not be appreciated.
Available in two colour varieties, the first is called Brown or Grey and is popular globally for producing goose eggs.
Chinese geese were admitted to the American Standard of Perfection in 1874 and into the British Waterfowl Standards much later in 1954 and are in the Light Geese category.
Brown or Grey
Standardised in 1954, the Brown or Grey Chinese goose has similar markings to African Geese. Both are descendants of the wild Swan Goose (but the Chinese has a much heavier build).
The bill and knob are black and the front of the head and neck is light fawn/cream. From the top of the head, and down the back of the neck is a brown stripe.
The breast is a light fawn and the back and sides an ashy brown. There is lighter edging to the feathers and the underbody becomes white on the stern. The webs and legs are dark orange. The feet can sometimes carry dark markings.
There are two distinct strains of Chinese in the UK, an elegant exhibition strain that was introduced during the 1970s from America and a heavier English dual-purpose utility type of bird that is better for producing goose eggs.
Like we find with the African goose, there is a white variety, (although the African is a heavy goose and the Chinese a light goose so, in size, they are at complete opposites ends).
The White Chinese goose is an extraordinary bird with pure white plumage, blue eyes, and a striking orange bill and knob which is larger in the ganders.
The same shape as the Brown/Grey Chinese, the British Waterfowl Standard calls for their necks to be ‘long and refined’ and for them to ‘stand with their heads held high’!
The Whites are becoming more and more popular in the UK and have been winning high awards at poultry shows in recent years.
Eggs and laying
Chinese geese are good egg layers although as with other poultry, the number of eggs they will lay is dependent on the strain. Birds that have been bred for the show pen will have been selected for their looks over egg-laying capabilities, but utility strains that are kept on smallholding and commercially can produce around 50 white eggs per year. Some have been known to lay more than 80 eggs when kept in the right environment, although these birds are few and far between these days.
Chinese geese will pair up during the winter. They will mate on water, so if their pool is shallow and the gander is having trouble balancing, deeper water can help them succeed.
Geese are known to go broody quickly as well as being good layers of eggs. Once the goose starts laying, remove the first 2-3 eggs as these are often infertile, but leave the remaining eggs. She will begin to sit once she has laid a clutch of 8-15 eggs.
The temperament of Chinese geese can be pretty different between strains, although, as with other geese, their upbringing has a lot to do with it. You should take care with ganders if the goose is sitting on eggs. Chinese ganders have been known to take a strong disliking to visitors at this time!
When raising goslings, regular contact and handling of the young will help them become tame when older. If their parents object too much and you cannot handle them easily, then it is better to hatch in an incubator and raise the goslings by hand for the first week. This also has the advantage that goslings are less vulnerable to predators after the first week when they can move around with the flock more easily. You can give goslings to the geese and the whole flock will care for them.
By about eight weeks of age, you can use the size of the basal knob to sex goslings. The knob is smaller in the goose than it is in the gander.
Chinese geese breed profile
Uses: Exhibition / egg production / guarding.
Eggs: 50-80 white eggs per year.
Weight: Gander: 4.5 – 5.5 Kg. Goose: 3.5 – 4.5 Kg.
Colours: Brown or Grey, White.
Useful to Know: Chinese geese are highly productive, being some of the best geese for producing eggs, but they are noisy which can make them suitable for guarding but less suitable when you have near neighbours.
If you have any photos of Chinese geese, you would be willing to share, please contact me.