All about goose eggs

Goose eggs are delicious!

How do I get this (lovely/amazing/dad-blasted) thing open?

I can tell you right now, its shell is not going to cooperate. Goose egg shells are as hard as concrete. Find a table or counter edge, and start by tapping it a bit harder than you would a chicken egg. Hit it harder each time until it cracks. Resist the temptation to use a hammer.

Now that you have it open, you’ll see that it is slightly different from a chicken egg. It has all the same parts, but the yolk is much bigger, more golden, and very firm. There is less of the white. It’s going to taste a bit different, too. Richer, mild, but more eggy. So, you have this humongous egg in a bowl. Now, what?

Cooking with goose eggs

You can use one goose egg anywhere you'd use three chicken eggs: custard, brownies, cakes, ice cream, omelets, crepes, frittatas, scrambled, or even hard boiled (10-15 minutes in an Instant Pot works best at our altitude). They make extravagant fried eggs, filling up most of a frying pan and sliding perfectly on top of a stack of pancakes! Scrambled goose eggs are silky and require no butter or milk.

Goose eggs make absolutely outstanding homemade pasta or egg noodles. 

Baking with goose eggs

An average large chicken egg weighs 56-62 grams. Goose eggs are often three times that heavy. In baking, they make rich, moist, dense baked goods. If you don’t want the "dense" aspect, you can add in a chicken egg white or two. Substitute one goose egg for 2-3 chicken eggs in the recipe.

If you are a precise baker, I am happy to weigh the goose eggs for you and we can write the weight of each one right on the shell with pencil. Goose eggs can vary a bit in size so this isn't a bad idea if you're doing any cooking that you can't "eyeball" or guess from experience.

Goose eggs and art

There are lots of different crafts made with goose egg shells, usually that have had the contents blown out and used for food, or sometimes, the art is made from crunched up egg shells.

You may have heard of the Ukrainian art, pysanky, made traditionally with goose egg shells. 

Just Google "making art with goose eggs" and the Pinterest and Etsy sites alone will give you hundreds of ideas!

About our geese

We have purebred French Toulouse, a 2021 gander named Jacques, a 2021 goose named Marie, and six more birds, three purchased as show quality from a well-known hatchery, and three hatched by Jacques and Marie. The six 2021 babies are grown up now, and we're pretty sure they are one gander and five hens. This is the equivalent of hitting the lottery!

French Toulouse are a dual-purpose breed but we have no plans to eat our birds. They do get to nice weights; geese to 20-25 pounds and ganders to 25-30 pounds. Each hen is likely to lay 40-60 eggs this year, and they have just gotten started for 2023! We plan to put about half the eggs we get into our incubator and will sell threesomes of goslings, and we will sell the other half as eating eggs.

Outside of breeding season, when they are very territorial and protective, French Toulouse geese are mostly sweet and non-aggressive, especially to their family members. As teenagers, they are honestly kind of jerks, but they accept being kindly disciplined and do learn who they can nip and torment, and who they can't. They are curious and recognize many people. Jacques knows one of our UPS guys and loves him, as he used to always feed him lettuce. They establish a pecking order with ducks and chickens, but ganders especially can be a little mean to small birds who insist on being in their space so springtime separation is ideal if you can manage it.

Geese love to swim and like ducks, they need to be able to dunk their entire heads in water year-round, to clear their nacelles (nostrils), which makes them a bit challenging up here at 9100 feet elevation. Water freezes fast when it's very cold! But they are wearing nature's best down coats and they don't care a bit about the cold, enjoying outside time every day. They need protection from predators but do serve as good watch dogs, letting you know if someone is on your property or predators are around with drama-queen honks.

They don't require incredible housing (wild geese live outside year-round in Colorado) but they do require protection from predators, and we find that easiest to do by putting them up in the barn overnight. They will cooperate with this after a week or two of training. They do not need heat indoors even on the absolute coldest night. They just need dry bedding and to be out of the cutting wind, and they will be happy.

Geese are mostly very hardy but they are susceptible to avian flu (all barnyard birds are). We haven't had it in Gilpin County. Sometimes, a bird will hurt their foot and you will see them limping; they can develop a bacterial infection called bumblefoot that can be treated at home with simple care. Being able to isolate a sick or injured bird in a big dog kennel can literally save their lives and a simple first aid kit will get you through most issues.

Care of baby geese (goslings)

Goslings are pretty tough and don't need as much heat when they are babies as chicks do. They do love to make a mess, they are loud, but they are also cuddlebugs who will fall asleep on your chest on a towel while you watch TV. A kiddie pool inside a collapsible dog pen with a zip-off lid is a really good setup for baby geese, keeping them in, your cats out, and mostly containing the mess. After the first week on puppy pads, I like to give them pelleted horse bedding in the kiddie pool. It absorbs a ton of moisture and then it can be scooped into a bucket and added to the compost pile.

They only need a brooder plate for 2-3 weeks, and they definitely need to be able to escape the heat. They are easy to care for IF you buy them the right feed; they need waterfowl grower or gosling/duckling starter feed. Both of these feeds are readily available at stores like Big R and Murdoch's, and they contain adequate niacin for their bones and legs to grow correctly. Never ever feed them medicated chick starter! The drug added to that feed is bad for goslings and toxic for ducklings, and it doesn't have enough niacin, anyway.

They don't need treats when they are little, but when they are older than 5 or 6 weeks, you can offer them a bowl of chick grit or tiny pebbles from your yard (this helps them break down the treats you're going to give them) and they will like greens like turnip and mustard greens, collards, napa cabbage, and their favorite, frozen peas. Once they figure out how yummy these things are, you will become their favorite "parent" and they will make a ton of noise when they see you coming! It's very gratifying. It is best to avoid getting them hooked on spinach; it interferes with the absorption of calcium and once they're adults, that can affect the strength of their egg shells.