The early domestication of the goose was probably as much due to its behaviour as to the products that could be obtained from it. The goose is one of the most intelligent birds. It has a good memory and does not forget people, animals or situations easily which is what makes it such a good watch animal against intruders whether human or animal.
Geese do not normally exhibit pecking or cannibalism and usually live harmoniously among themselves and with other creatures. They have very strong flocking instincts and can easily be herded from one area to another. It is because of the combination of their memory and flocking instincts that geese will return home as a flock of their own accord in the evening, even after being permitted to range over distances of 5 km or more. This allows the birds to make long trips every day, if necessary, to find their food.
Furthermore, geese are not very demanding with regard to their environmental conditions. The area in which they can be bred is very large, ranging from hot (Africa) to cold (Scandinavia) countries. The most important precaution is that the young goslings are protected from the cold during the first weeks of their life.
The goose, of all poultry species, is a bird used for multipurpose production. Raising geese provides an opportunity to produce meat at a low cost in unfavourable areas while fatty liver production requires considerable input but leads to a very high value product for an affluent market.
FIGURE 9. A flock of geese on the move (Poland)
(Source: Wezyk, 1995)
In the wild, the bond between a breeding pair of geese is very strong and carries over from year to year. A similar but weaker bond exists with domestic geese in small mating groups of one gander and four to six geese. In flocks larger than twenty this bond does not exist as both geese and ganders are promiscuous.
By nature, geese are independent and intelligent creatures. If you recognise and work with their unique attributes, you will find that geese can be one of the easiest and most enjoyable birds to work with.