Are without exception the least expensive poultry to keep. If they can be permitted to roam about at large, their great delight is to wander into green lanes and peck about in the ditches at the side of the road. The largest description of geese are of course the best, as also are the white and grey. The time geese sit is generally thirty days, but in mild weather you may expect a hatch a few days sooner; let them have plenty of food, such as scalded bran and oats twice a day; that is, early in the morning before they commence their ramble. and in the evening on their return.
All poultry fetches a good price early in the season in the London market, high prices being given for green geese. The best and quickest food for fattening geese is oatmeal and peas, or any good grain mixed with skim milk or buttermilk. It is a waste of time to give bad corn. Begin to fatten when about six weeks old. Feed well for about three months on this description of food, and the green geese will well repay you. As with other poultry geese must be kept perfectly clean, and punctually fed. You will generally find that one gander will be sufficient for four or five geese. During the time the goose is sitting, the gander is a perfect model, sitting by her the whole time, and very determined to shield her from harm. They are at these times very spiteful. When the goslings are hatched, they should be penned for a few days with the goose on a dry grass plot, and she should have plenty of food within easy reach of her and the young ones. Any green vegetables chopped small, oatmeal made into cakes and broken small, and similar food will soon cause them to thrive. Surrey and Lincolnshire produce thousands of geese every year, Lincolnshire more especially.
Some years since, before the Continent was opened to us for traffic of every description, we depended entirely upon our home supply of geese. Pennant, in his description of the goose, after showing the way they breed and rear geese in Lincolnshire, gives us an insight into the cruelty (for such it appears to us to have been) practised in plucking the geese for their feathers. The geese are plucked five times in the year. The first plucking is at Lady-day for feathers and quills, and the same is renewed four times more between this and Michaelmas for feathers only. The old geese submit quietly to the operation; but the young ones are very noisy and unruly. We once saw this performed, and observed that goslings of six weeks old were not spared, for their tails were plucked, as we were told, to habituate them early to what they are to endure. If the season prove cold, numbers of the geese die by this barbarous custom. When the flocks are numerous, about ten pickers are employed, each with a coarse apron up to his chin.
Vast numbers of geese are driven annually to London to supply the markets, among them are the superannuated geese and ganders (called the cog-mags) which, by a long course of plucking, prove uncommonly tough and dry.