Saturday, December 3, 2011

Be A Conscientious Carnivore: Insights On Raising Free Range Geese

Over the years our property has been home to dogs, cats, pygmy goats, my daughter's rat, a few snakes, a duck and some geese. When our kids (meaning son and daughter) left home and our last goat was gone, the small barn became home to a handful of geese. To this we added a second and even a third small out-building and the goose population has grown substantially.

This coming week is butchering time, and we still have a few geese to sell, as well as goose-related products like goose down, rendered goose fat, goose feather quill pens and more. I decided today to have Susie share a little of her knowledge about raising geese and especially regarding conscientious carnivores.

Me: What breed of geese are you raising and why?
She: I decided to raise the Toulouse breed as they have a reputation for being calmer and less aggressive than others. I have not had a problem with them attacking anyone yet. Mostly their aggressiveness is a lot of bluff. It's good to know how to "call their bluff." Mainly it is during egg-laying season in the spring when they become more aggressive. It is advised to not turn your back on them, especially the ganders. Also the Toulouse are good egg producers, and fatten readily for butcher.

Me: What is the difference between the way your geese are raised other geese raised for meat?
She: I know of only a very few places in the U.S. where geese are being raised. They are a little bit harder to raise than other poultry as they do not do well in confinement. They need space and plenty of green grass which is their main preferred food.

Me: What difference does the free range approach make when it comes to the final product: Goose for Christmas dinner?
She: Many people these days have become more concerned about the quality of life that the animals have that they are eating. We have been hearing more about the huge factory farms where animals are crowded into pens by the thousands. People who still want to eat meat but have a conscience about how animals are treated have begun to look to smaller local sources for their meat. My geese are raised roaming around all summer freely on green grass and have a pleasant life. Their life ends quickly and humanely.

Me: Goose eggs are really large. How do they compare to chicken eggs, both is size and taste?
She: The goose egg is around the size of three chicken eggs. The yolk is quite large which makes the egg very rich. They are highly prized by chefs for baking. I have served them scrambled to many people and have never had anyone dislike them. The taste is quite the same as a chicken egg, the texture somewhat denser. The high cost is partly due to the fact that they are somewhat rare, the geese lay one egg every other day for only about three or four months in the spring. I have seen them sell for as high as $12.00 an egg online.

Me: "Foie gras" a.k.a. goose liver pate is considered one of the two great delicacies for kings, caviar being the other. Do you also make this treat?
She: Foie gras is made from the livers of geese who are force fed on regular intervals. This forced feeding of corn causes their livers to become as much as ten times the normal size, which is a disease called hepatic steatosis. I do not do this. But just the regular liver of the goose makes a very nice pate. Try a recipe with cream cheese. It is delicious!

Me: What else do you do with the geese you butcher?
She: There are many recipes and advice about roasting a goose online. I cut up one goose last year and made jerky. I thought it was almost indistinguishable from beef jerky, everyone who tried it liked it a lot. I’ve also used chopped meat sauteed in soups and stews. It is a dark meat, and even though there is a lot of fat on the goose it is not marbled into the meat, the meat itself is lean. The fat is wonderful for all sorts of uses. I kept all the fat I could and used it instead of oil for almost everything. Just put it in some brownies yesterday! It is liquid at room temperature and similar to olive oil in its composition. It has a very mild pleasant flavor. It is also hard to come by and sells for around $1.00 per ounce. It is more commonly seen in Europe. I made some nice lip/hand balm with it by mixing it with beeswax and a little Peru balsam.

Any bones left, after I’ve gotten all the meat off, are boiled into a bone broth. I also use the goose down and small feathers. I made a very comfy throw from some last year. I plan to have down available for sale. I also enjoy making and selling quite a few feather quill pens.

Me: I've watched the compassionate manner in which Susie takes care of all her animals and these geese are no exception. Here's some information from her flyer regarding the goose meat and other products she is selling this month:

Susie’s Down Home Creations Presents Free Range Goose Meat For Sale
These geese are raised through the summer wandering on green grass and plenty of space, their diet supplemented with some grain. They are butchered quickly and humanely at about 6 months of age near Thanksgiving and Christmas. Plucked and ready to roast they weigh from 8 to 12 lbs. Price per bird: $6.00 a pound.

About Goose Meat
Goose meat is a dark meat. Though there is a lot of fat on a goose it is not marbled into the meat. The meat itself is lean. Don’t throw away that fat! Goose fat is highly prized by chefs for frying onions and potatoes and many other uses, and is not easy to come by. It is sometimes available for a high price in specialty shops or through mail order. It is less saturated than butter and other animal fats and similar to olive oil in its composition. It is liquid at room temp. and has a pleasing nutty flavor.

Also Selling
ED GOOSE FAT *GOOSE FEATHER QUILL PENS Limited and seasonal availability on all products. For info and current pricing, email

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