Elevating Geese for Meat: A House-Grown Vacation Goose

Elevating geese for meat is the first objective for many goose breeds, though some are bred with an emphasis on different attributes as nicely. The Sebastopol goose, for example, has lengthy, curly feathers that seem like a misguided perm, whereas the diminutive Shetland was bred to thrive in a tough setting.

Geese are straightforward to prepare dinner, requiring nothing however a roasting pan and a rack. Like all heritage breeds, the goose wants sluggish, mild cooking for a crisp pores and skin and a succulent moist inside. Picture courtesy of www.heritagefoodsusa.com.

The very fact stays that geese, like turkeys, are mainly meat birds. Correctly cooked, goose meat is wealthy and juicy with out being greasy. And household squabbles over who will get the sunshine meat and who will get the darkish are eradicated because the meat is uniformly succulent all through.

The Breed for You

When elevating geese for meat, an necessary consideration is the scale of the goose breed. When you’ll be feeding a crowd, you’ll most likely need a Toulouse of Embden goose, which reaches 20 to 25 kilos at maturity. For medium-size gangs, the African is simply the ticket, weighing in at 18 to twenty kilos. Smaller households respect the tidy dimension of Pilgrim and Chinese language geese, which vary in mature weight from 10 to 14 kilos.

Don’t neglect to test the scale of your oven in relation to the scale of the goose. Loads of trendy ovens usually are not almost large enough to carry a big roasting pan, not to mention foiled potatoes or a casserole stuffed with stuffing on the aspect. When you can roast a giant turkey in your oven, you possibly can roast a goose.

Foraging capability is a vital side for of elevating geese for meat naturally and as economically as attainable. All goose breeds forage to some extent, though should you intend to make use of your geese as backyard weeders you could wish to keep away from the soil compaction that sometimes happens with the heavier breeds.

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The Embden is the most typical goose to boost for meat due to its quick development, giant dimension, and white feathers. Picture courtesy of Chris Pool, South Dakota.

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Feather coloration is one other consideration. Lighter varieties are higher than darker ones, since missed pin feathers don’t present up as readily when the goose is cooked. Although it’s merely a matter of aesthetics, after going via all the difficulty of elevating the hen, cleansing it, and roasting it to perfection, you’ll need it to look its greatest on the platter.

How neat a hen will look on the desk is partly decided by the stage of molt. Geese decide cleanest proper after their first feathering, at about 13 to 14 weeks of age (typically longer in yard conditions). Since geese obtain their most development throughout the early weeks of life, the age at first feathering can also be the prime butchering time from an financial standpoint, despite the fact that the birds is not going to have reached their most weight.

Quickly after the primary feathering, a goose begins to molt into grownup plumage and also you’d greatest anticipate it to come back again into full feather earlier than butchering. In any other case, the multitude of unpleasant pin feathers could nicely put a damper on vacation appetites.

To find out if molting is full, test to see if the wing primaries attain the tail, pet the plumage to check for smoothness, and run your fingers backward over the feathers as you peek beneath for the presence of pin feathers. Plumage ought to look shiny and arduous, with no downy patches across the vent or alongside the breastbone.

Ending the Hen

When a goose reaches full feather however isn’t any older than 10 months for greatest texture and taste, a standard apply is to complete it in preparation for butchering. This means of placing on weight to spherical out the physique is particularly necessary the place geese have been operating freely in a pasture.

When elevating geese for meat, ending takes from three to 5 weeks and must be accompanied by confining the birds in an space the place they can not roam and burn off that additional plumpness you want to encourage. However do give them enough room to stay clear and dry, or the ensuing decline in vigor could lead to weight reduction.

Find your ending pen the place the birds is not going to be agitated by exterior disturbances, together with neighborhood canine. Except you may have raised just one goose for the aim, attempt to end a number of collectively as a lone goose typically pines away for the gaggle it will possibly see or hear close by.

Feed the geese all they will eat of grower ration, stimulating appetites with a bit of grain making up not more than one-third of the each day complete. Prime off the feeder three or 4 instances a day to stimulate curiosity in consuming. When elevating geese for meat, chorus from together with within the food plan any strong-flavored meals reminiscent of fish scraps, garlic, or onions, which typically trigger off-flavors within the flesh.

The night time earlier than the massive day, take away all feed so dressing gained’t be difficult by messy half-digested rations. However proceed to supply water to forestall dehydration and mottling of the flesh.

When elevating geese for meat, I might be mendacity if I stated killing a goose is straightforward. First off, geese are regal and clever, and (like different poultry) have particular person personalities. Second, even the younger ones are fairly highly effective. So butchering a goose requires overcoming each psychological and bodily obstacles. A ploy that works fairly nicely for many poultry keepers is to maintain a pair of yard geese, allow them to hatch out an annual brood, and hustle the younger ones into the freezer whereas they’re nonetheless younger and nameless.

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Chinese language geese develop comparatively quick and have lean meat, and White Chinese language pluck cleaner than the Brown selection. Picture courtesy of Stephanie Kendall, Funky Feathers Fancy Poultry Farm (www.funkyfeathers.com, Maryland.

Feather Plucking

In case your expertise has been with chickens, you could be in for a bit of shock whenever you pluck your first goose. Not solely have they got additional layers of feathers and down, however the feathers appear to be caught in additional firmly than a hen’s. Because of this, many people flip at this level to a customized plucker. But it surely’s understandably not straightforward to seek out one who’ll do the job. Test not solely within the farm neighborhood but in addition amongst native hunters who could know somebody who cleans the waterfowl they bag.

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The African goose, just like the Chinese language, has leaner meat than most different breeds, and the younger ganders develop comparatively quick. Picture courtesy of Heather Boyd.

When you’ll be doing the selecting your self, a technique is to sit back the unplucked, complete carcass to a temperature of 33°F to agency up the pores and skin, which makes dry selecting simpler. Since I’m all the time in a rush to get the job accomplished, I begin dry selecting straight away. When just one hen is concerned, dry selecting is quite a bit much less mess and hassle than making ready a pot of sizzling water for scalding and moist selecting. But when I’ve a couple of goose to wash, or if I’ve different birds to choose on the identical time, I’ll use sizzling water to loosen the feathers and velocity up the job.

The water should be near 150°F. A lot hotter and it might discolor the pores and skin and trigger tearing when the feathers are pulled. A lot cooler, and it’ll do no good. A little bit added dish cleaning soap breaks floor stress and helps the water penetrate the layers of feathers, and a long-handled spoon is helpful for pushing the floating hen underneath water. You’ll want quite a bit larger scalding pot than you’d usually use for chickens or geese. In case your pot isn’t large enough to carry each the entire goose and sufficient water to cowl it, the ensuing sizzling tidal wave will function a painful reminder to make use of an even bigger pot subsequent time.

For cleansing a number of geese or different waterfowl, it’s worthwhile to spend money on selecting wax as an support in eradicating the ultimate layer of down and pin feathers. However for the occasional goose, it’s not price the additional mess and expense.

As soon as the goose is dressed and prepared for the oven, retailer it, loosely lined, within the coldest a part of the fridge for not more than three days. In case your butchering has been accomplished nicely prematurely of the vacations, freeze the hen in an hermetic plastic bag designed for freezer storage. Thaw the hen within the fridge, permitting two hours per pound. By no means thaw a goose at room temperature, since spoilage could happen in thawed parts whereas the within remains to be frozen stable.

Whenever you’re prepared for roasting, rinse and drain the goose. When you’ll be stuffing it, fill the neck and physique cavity loosely along with your favourite combine, ideally one containing one thing tart, reminiscent of apples, oranges, pineapple, or sauerkraut to reinforce the pure richness of goose meat. Fasten the neck pores and skin to the again with a skewer and tie the legs collectively.

If you don’t plan to serve stuffing, a sliced apple and an onion within the physique cavity throughout roasting add a bit of additional taste. To lower the cooking time of an unstuffed goose, warmth up a number of steel forks within the preheating oven and pop them into the cavity to accentuate warmth throughout roasting.

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The decorative Sebastopol goose has lengthy, versatile feathers that curl and drape, giving the hen a barely rumpled look. Picture courtesy of Tina Dinkins, Tennessee.

Roasting Your Hen

Whether or not stuffed or not, pierce the hen’s pores and skin throughout with a meat fork to let the fats ooze out because it liquifies — a kind of self-basting course of. For additional crisp and attractive pores and skin, rub it throughout with a lower lemon, sprinkle with salt, and mud with a bit of flour.

Place the goose uncovered and breast aspect up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan, with a meat thermometer, inserted deep into the within thigh muscle. Roast in a preheated 400°F oven for six minutes per pound, then scale back warmth to 325°F and permit a further 12 minutes per pound. I discover it greatest to get the goose into the oven a bit of forward of schedule, as typically it takes longer than it ought to and there’s nothing worse than an underdone goose when hungry diners are ready expectantly across the vacation desk.

You’ll know your goose is cooked when the thermometer reads 185°F and the stuffing reaches a temperature of 165°F. When you’ve got no thermometer, you possibly can check for doneness by urgent the meaty portion of the leg between protected fingers; it ought to really feel delicate. Then prick the thigh with a fork; the juices operating out shouldn’t be pink. The pores and skin must be golden and crisp.

Throughout the previous few minutes of roasting, after the fats has been melted off and spooned away (as described in “Rendering Goose Fats” sidebar), you can provide your hen the gourmand contact by basting it. My favourite baste combines l/2 tablespoon of sherry or brandy with 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons honey, and l/2 teaspoon seasoned salt.

Brush this combination over the goose quarter-hour earlier than it’s scheduled to be accomplished, after which once more moments earlier than you take away it from the oven. Whether or not or not you may have basted, skim the ultimate pan drippings to make into scrumptious gravy to serve over the sliced meat, biscuits, potatoes, or stuffing. Organize the completed goose on a big platter surrounded by candy potatoes, baked apples, or different favourite trimmings, and be ready for the “oohs” and “aahs” as you arrive on the Christmas desk along with your homegrown roasted goose.

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The American Buff goose was initially developed in North America for business meat manufacturing, however right now is sort of uncommon. Picture courtesy of Tim Peter, New York.

Rendering Goose Fats

A goose collects fats in its stomach, on the base of its neck, and underneath its pores and skin. After the goose has been plucked and chilled, the stomach and neck fats corporations up and will simply be peeled away. To put it aside by melting it down, or render- ing it, lower it into smaller chunks, put it in a saucepan over low warmth, and heat it gently till the fats turns right into a golden liquid. Take care to not let it get so sizzling it splatters or burns. Some individuals, not me, add a cup of water to the rendering fats, which evaporates by the point the fats liquifies and in the meantime helps maintain the fats from turning brown.

The fats underneath the pores and skin melts off throughout roasting. When you want to put it aside, spoon it out about each half hour throughout roasting to maintain it from browning. Don’t baste the hen throughout this time, which is pointless anyway and would spoil the flavour of the rendered fats. In my expertise, the fats that renders throughout roasting isn’t as pure as that rendered in a saucepan, so I maintain it separate and use it primarily for pan frying.

In each circumstances, pressure off and discard stable items and different impurities, pour the rendered fats right into a jar, and retailer it within the fridge. Clear fats could also be saved within the fridge for a very long time — as a lot as a yr — however is so good you’ll most likely use it up lengthy earlier than then. It might be used wherever you may in any other case use butter, shortening, lard, bacon drippings, and the like. My husband grew up having fun with rendered goose fats, unfold on bread and sprinkled with a bit of salt. The key ingredient in my oatmeal cookies everybody raves about is — ta-da — goose fats as an alternative of shortening.

Good Stuff for Stuffing Your Goose

Apple Orange Stuffing
6 cups day-old bread crumbs 2 cups diced tart apples
l cup diced orange sections l/2 cup raisins
l/2 cup chopped pecans
l teaspoon salt
l/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
l/2 cup orange juice
l/4 cup melted butter
Combine components collectively and stuff the goose.

Sauerkraut Stuffing
l cup chopped onions
l/4 cup butter
2 kilos drained sauerkraut
l cup shredded uncooked potato
l teaspoon salt
l/2 teaspoon caraway seed (elective) l/4 teaspoon pepper
l/2 cup white wine
Saute onions in butter till clear, then mix remaining components.

Pineapple Orange Stuffing
l/4 cup chopped onion
l-l/2 cup chopped celery
6 tablespoon butter
3 cup cooked rice
l-l/2 teaspoons orange rind
3/4 cup orange sections
3/4 cup crushed pineapple
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
l/4 cup chopped walnuts
l teaspoon salt
l-l/4 teaspoons grated recent ginger sprint cardamom
orange or pineapple juice
Saute onions and celery in butter till transpalease, then mix remaining components, including sufficient juice to simply moisten.

Goose Eggs

No goose breeds lay as prolifically as a hen or a duck, however geese are typically environment friendly layers for longer — as a lot as eight years for some breeds. A goose egg is almost 3 times the scale of a hen egg, the white is considerably thicker than that of a hen egg, and the yolk makes up almost half the egg.

One goose egg makes a formidable omelet, though goose eggs are much less typically used for culinary functions than for hatching or, due to their dimension and thick shells, for creating craft gadgets reminiscent of ornamental jewellery packing containers. But goose eggs could also be utilized in nearly any recipe calling for eggs. They’re particularly prized for baking wealthy pastries.

The first downside with goose eggs is that they’re accessible solely seasonally. In a heat local weather, hens could begin laying towards the tip of January. In a chilly local weather, they could not begin till early March. As soon as they begin, most hens lay an egg a day. How lengthy they proceed laying every season will depend on the breed. Common egg manufacturing for every breed is proven within the “Fast Goose Breed Profiles” desk on web page 53. Some strains lay significantly higher than common.

Age is one other consideration. A hen’s egg manufacturing peaks at three to 5 years, then progressively declines. A 3rd consideration is local weather. As cool-weather birds, geese typically want to put solely so long as daytime temperatures stay beneath about 80°F.

A typical yard situation, although, is {that a} goose will lay a dozen or so eggs in early spring, then go broody, at which period she stops laying. When you take the eggs away as she lays them, or quickly after she begins setting, she could start laying once more. In any other case, she finishes laying for the yr and busies herself elevating goslings in your future vacation meals.

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A Buff goose egg (left) is in comparison with an egg from a Buckeye hen. Picture courtesy of Jeannette Beranger/ALBC.

Good luck elevating geese for meat in your subsequent vacation meal.

Gail Damerow has loved elevating geese, chickens, and different poultry for greater than 40 years. She shares her goose-raising experience in The Yard Homestead Information to Elevating Farm Animals and can also be the creator of Barnyard in Your Yard, Fences for Pasture & Backyard, The Hen Well being Handbook, Your Chickens, and the lately up to date and revised basic — Storey’s Information to Elevating Chickens, third version. Gail’s books can be found from our bookstore.

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Preserving a pair of geese, like this Embden gander and Toulouse hen, and elevating their younger for the freezer retains the yard from getting overrun with geese. Picture courtesy of Karen & Stewart Skrill, Vermont.

Initially printed in December 2011 / January 2012 and often vetted for accuracy.