Biology

The wild ancestors of domestic geese belong to genus Anser. Most European breeds are derived from Graylag Goose (A. anser) and most Asiatic breeds derive from Swan Goose (A. cygnoides).

Geese have a body weight of 6 8 kg and lay 40 60 eggs per female (90 110 eggs in the Chinese breed). They lay one of the largest eggs (up to 200 g) and have the longest life span (20 25 years) among all poultry species. Profitable biological features are the greatest growth intensity among poultry and utilization of large amounts of green forage.[5] By 60 70 days of age, goslings weigh 4 kg. Compared with other poultry meat, goose meat contains the minimum level of moisture and maximum level of dry matter. The protein content in goose meat is greater than in pork and mutton. The energy content of goose meat is 29 66% greater than that of pork, beef, or mutton; 30 63% greater than that of other poultry meat; and 2.1 times greater than that of chicken meat. One female can produce 40 45 goslings per year, totaling 160 180 kg of meat, up to 70 80 kg of fat, and 20 25 kg of fat liver. The high content of fat in goose meat does not reduce its quality but, on the contrary, brings it delicacy, sappiness, and pleasant taste and odor (due to its low melting point, 26 34°C), as well as marmoreal color. One goose can produce 25 50 g of down and 95 130 g of feathers.

Fig. 1 A flock of Russian geese. (Courtesy of Annette Gun therodt, Beberstedt, Germany.) (View this art in color at www. dekker.com.)

Based on economic implications, reproduction in geese possessing large body size is of great concern, and maximizing the number of day-old offspring produced is a primary target. Increases in the output of day-old goslings reflect improvements in selection, food quality, management, incubation technology, and health.[6]

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