Will has always enjoyed rearing a gaggle of geese. As a teenager he raised them for family and to sell in the Christmas auction at Ledbury Market. He took a dressed goose to his Mother-in-Law’s in Hertfordshire for Christmas lunch in 2000. She liked it so much she moved to live in Worcestershire the following year, just a mile from the farm, what a draw these geese have!!
Raised for Christmas, a goose is a symbol of the full years cycle on our farm. As seasonal breeders, geese take a special place amongst our livestock. They lay their eggs in March/April over a period of several weeks and then brood them together, sitting on the nest, keeping the eggs warm for around 28 days until they hatch. Our organic goslings come from a closed, organic flock of breeding Embden geese.
The day-old goslings arrive at out farm in early June. We keep them warm and dry for a week or two until they have true feathers and are eager to explore! They range and graze our organic pastures, enjoying the opportunity to stretch their wings whenever they choose. They are the most observant and loudest of our livestock, calling out in unison at a glimpse of anything out of the ordinary. We get to know each other and raise them with great respect.
A goose for Christmas dinner was quite normal in the 16th and 17th century, remaining predominant until the Victorian era when the Christmas turkey made its mark, although if money were no object then dining on a peacock or swan was de rigeur! And maybe more common these days as the centrepiece of a Christmas meal in Scandinavian countries, goose and duck are, quite rightly, regaining their popularity in the UK.
For many farms raising poultry to a ‘finished weight’ is the end point. For us this respect continues right through to the finished, oven ready bird. Whilst not often talked about, we think it is important that those who choose to eat our poultry have the opportunity to know and ask questions about this process if they wish. More information is available on our website under Will's Meat - 'Food for Thought'
Winter 2022 *UPDATE*
Following the Government requirement for all domestic poultry to be housed this winter as a result of an avian flu pandemic, our geese were moved into large, airy cattle sheds. Here they have enjoyed space to stretch their wings and enjoy nibbling at the meadow hay bales which keep them safe in this area. They grazed the orchard grass from June until late October when the grass stopped growing and of course have benefited from the protection of the barn through the November rains. Poultry 'flockdown' ... its a thing!