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Our Domestic Birds by John H. Robinson

The wild geese will mate with domestic geese


[Illustration:

Fig. 146. Sebastopol Geese on an English farm]

=The Canada Goose, or American Wild Goose.= Few persons in America have not at some time seen a flock of wild geese flying in wedgelike formation as they migrate in the spring and fall. Their honking can often be heard when they cannot be seen. Hunters watch for these flocks and, when they are flying low, sometimes shoot them as they pass, but the favorite method of hunting wild geese is to induce them to approach a hunter concealed where he can get a better shot at them. For this kind of hunting, shooting stands are built near bodies of water where wild geese may alight in their passage. These stands are either concealed in the bushes or masked by green boughs. In order to bring near the stands any wild geese that may alight of their own accord, and also to attract any flying by, captive wild geese are used as decoys. At first the birds used for this purpose were those crippled but not killed by the hunters and kept in confinement. As the supply secured in this way was small, and as the wild birds bred readily in captivity, the breeding of wild geese for decoys soon became quite common in districts where the shooting of this kind of game was good. The wild geese will mate with domestic geese, producing a sterile hybrid called a mongrel goose.

[Illustration: Fig. 147. A pet Canada gander. (Photograph from George E. Parrett)]

=Place

of geese in domestication.= In ancient Egypt and Rome the goose was a sacred bird, not an object of worship but reserved for the use of the priests, who keenly appreciated the advantage of having a monopoly of the use of the best domestic table bird then in existence. In later times, until the turkey was introduced, goose was the favorite kind of poultry for festal occasions all through Europe. Then it lost some of its popularity in those places where turkeys were extensively grown. In Germany, Austria, and Russia there is still a very large production of geese. In this country geese are grown in small numbers by a few persons in almost every community. The feeding and flocking habits of geese especially adapted them to the conditions under which they were kept when stock of all kinds was allowed to run at large and to feed on common or unoccupied land in charge of a gooseherd. As towns grew, and as people became less tolerant of the trespassing of live stock, the growing of geese in towns declined. Nearly all the geese now produced in this country come from flocks on general farms. The production of geese on farms has been restricted to some extent by the abundance and cheapness of turkeys. As turkeys become scarce and dear in any locality the production of geese seems to increase. From early times geese have been prized for their feathers. So valuable have these been considered that it has been a practice to pluck the live geese each year before they molted. Public opinion now condemns this barbarous practice, and persons plucking live geese are sometimes punished for cruelty to animals.

[Illustration: Fig. 148. Mongrel Geese on a Rhode Island farm]

CHAPTER IX

MANAGEMENT OF GEESE

Geese will bear confinement well if given proper attention, but they require such large quantities of succulent green food that it does not pay to grow them where they cannot secure most of this by foraging. Very few people who keep geese in inclosures too small to furnish them with good pasture can conveniently supply them with all the green food that they need. Hence no one engages in growing geese in close quarters for profit. Many, however, grow a few geese under such conditions because of the interest a small flock affords. Goose growing cannot be developed on intensive lines as duck growing has been. One obstacle to this is the difficulty of supplying green food under such conditions. Another is that the average egg production is small. The description of the management of geese on farms will show more fully why this branch of poultry culture is likely always to be restricted to general farms.


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