Ours is a closed flock, meaning all our organic replacement breeding stock, as well as all the organic goslings we sell or rear ourselves for the Christmas trade, are hatched here from eggs produced here under fully organic conditions supervised by the Organic Farmers & Growers Ltd. All our breeding geese are individually identified and we know their pedigrees going back over 20 years.
We do not buy-in goslings from the Continent or anywhere else to sell on to other farmers. Any geese of any age you buy from us were hatched here from eggs produced here.
We are organic only, we do not have a non-organic section as some bigger businesses do. Nevertheless we do sell goslings to quite a few non-organic farmers. They often report better Christmas weights than we achieve ourselves. We think this may be because they can use some of the feed ingredients not currently permitted in organic rations.
We breed our own replacement stock from organic geese.
Each year we select 10 to 15 pairs of geese, chosen on their performance and genetic background. Of these a few pairs are of minor breeds such as the West of England. The rest are our own strain of commercial whites. These are the outcome of over 20 years of selection, the last fifteen under organic conditions supervised by the Soil Association and more recently by Organic Farmers & Growers Ltd.
Every egg from these select pairs is marked with date and parents’ number right through the incubation period . Each pair’s eggs are incubated in a separate compartment and as soon as they hatch they are fitted with small wing tags whose identity numbers are recorded alongside parents’ numbers. We rear all these tagged goslings ourselves, and at 5 or 6 weeks of age we remove the mini wing tags and replace them with permanent tags which will stay in for life.
In the autumn we go through all the goslings and select the best to keep for breeding. They are then reared separately to avoid them getting too fat.
The rest of the group are reared for the Christmas trade . Because they are all tagged we can record “long-legged” and oven-ready weights, along with comments on conformation or other aspects of quality.
That information, combined with the live assessments earlier on, give us an in-depth assessment of each pair’s progeny.
Our system is labour-intensive and of limited scale but it is fascinating and we have the certainty that we are avoiding the risk of importing diseases. It also helps us to produce what our customers want.
Over the years those customers have demanded heavier and meatier geese and we know we have been steadily improving these features.
However, this year some gosling customers have asked could we include “a few of a smaller strain” to meet a demand for a 3.5kg to 4kg oven-ready Christmas goose for households of 2 or 3 people.
We can meet their request because we have maintained a few birds of a smaller white strain, as well as the West of Englands and Czechs.
Organic Gosling (day-olds) price list 2018
a) Commercial table bird goslings:
£7.50 to £8.00 each.
b) West of England goslings available in limited numbers.
Prices start at £12 each at day-old.
Hatching eggs £5 each + P&P at cost. No guarantees on fertility or hatchability. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or tel 01769 520 506.
We much prefer customers to collect their goslings. Where that is not possible we try to “hitch a lift” with a suitable person and vehicle travelling in the customers’ general direction. That may involve customer and lift-provider negotiating a fee.
Some customers justify their journey by taking a weekend break in Devon or Cornwall and collecting their goslings on their way home.