|Gray Geese Grazing Grass with Glee|
So, in summary: raising geese- fun and fairly easy. They are hardy, self-sufficient and only seem to want a small amount of grain. They eat weeds and grass and coexist well with chickens, which preferred rotten fruit and bugs over grass. Their main need was a wading pool full of clean water. They stayed together as a group and self-trained to go into their shed at night, only needing someone to close the door once they were inside.
Processing geese for sale- not fun, not easy and not profitable. Two people, working for free, made $590 dollars for two days work. Subtract $200 for rental of equipment, $350 for feed, gas for delivery and the initial investment of $6 per bird leaves us $60 in the hole for our small scale geese experiment. Each goose weighed about 7 lbs, which was smaller than we had expected. We're not sure how we could have gotten them heavier, as they weren't too interested in gorging on our sprouted organic wheat and they are fairly athletic birds, wanting lots of space to move around and even flying for short distances.
Like everything else farming related, you don't get paid for your time, and it only makes sense if you can get your volume up to a point where you can enter into the commodity food processing system. If we raised 300 geese, our initial investment would drop to $5 a bird. Organic grain costs per bird would stay about the same @ $23 per bird, but we would need to add in an amount for irrigation as they would need dedicated pasturage than the small orchards where 15 geese could graze comfortably. Processing cost would be $12 per bird to send them through the line at a poultry plant, which would leave us with $25 per bird over costs. $25 x 300 = $7,500. Still no labor paid.
But you and your neighbors have to deal with 300 geese honking, and boy are they loud!