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Articles about our American Buff geese


1: Springmagazine 2005 British Waterfowl Association: Geese keeping in The Netherlands.

2: Geflügel Börse nr.10, 20-05-2005: Amerikanische Buffgans mit Haube.

3: AMERIKANSK GUL GÅS (THE AMERICAN BUFF GEESE)

4: At last.....Our geese are vaccinated: Diverse Engelse, Amerikaanse, Canadese en Zweedse magazines

5: Goose Club Journal: January 2006: The Tufted American Buff Geese.

6: The Goose Club Journal: May 2006 and Svenska Rasfjaderfaforbundets Tidskrift Nr 2, 2006;
    The confinement of a beginner goose keeper.




1.
GEESE KEEPING IN THE NETHERLANDS; through our eyes.

I've been asked to write about geese keeping in The Netherlands and I think it's a lot different than in the UK, mainly because we don’t have that much specialists, experience and space. Most of the Dutch breeders only have one or two breeds because they don’t have enough land. Some lucky ones have more space so a few breeders over here have more than three or four breeds but I think you can count them on one hand. Also some breeders don’t have land near their houses so they have to take the car twice a day to take care of their birds. We, my husband Peter and myself, don’t like that because in our opinion you can’t give them the attention and care they need. Beside the attention and care; What if something happens if you’re not around? Since a couple of years, as an example, it’s forbidden to hunt foxes over here and it’s becoming a big problem for all kind of breeders of poultry and waterfowl. A friend who lives just outside a village had three times a visit from a fox and a lot of his birds were killed. Another problem when you don't have your geese near your house and if you don’t have proper pens to put your breeding couples in you’ll end up with a lot of cross breeds. Unfortunately it happens a lot over here. You can’t keep an eye on them if you don’t have them near your house. I remembered when we started with our American buffs and Tufted American buffs a few years ago I said: I like the Buff Back and the Buff Toulouse too! I still do but a friend told me: As a starter stay with those two breeds before you start with more breeds because you can’t give your attention to more than those two breeds if you want to do it right. He was right; Almost all of our attention and space goes to the Tufted Americans, mainly because it’s a new breed compared to other breeds. We found out that it’s not that easy to breed with geese; it takes a lot of study, reading, experience and a lot of help from the really good breeders. If you want to do a proper job as a beginner stick to one or two breeds for the first couple of years and don't buy so many different breeds as many beginner breeders over here do just to be important, or hope they will be accepted inside the associations. In the eyes of a lot of “old fashioned” breeders, as we call them, we are to “careful” with our breeds. Firstly we see our birds as pets and secondly we find it’s important to keep a breed as pure as possible. Early this year I received a phone call from another breeder who had bought two Celler geese in Germany and it turned out he had bought two males so he asked me if I would like to buy them? I told him I can’t do anything with them, same as he couldn’t do anything with those two ganders, but he said: You can cross them with yours. Sorry, I told him we try to keep our breeds as pure as possible and we don’t cross breeds if we don’t need to. He really didn’t understand me because his were buff too and I really think he believed all buff colored geese are the same. That brings me to another issue over here: There’s not much information or books on keeping or breeding with geese over here. Before we bought our first couple of geese we tried to find as much information as possible but we couldn’t find any Dutch book with the information we were looking for. Luckily I found Chris Ashton’s book Domestic Geese on the internet and for the first time we had a lot of information we could do something with. Since then we bought a lot of English and American books. Because there’s so little information over here I think a lot of breeders just try and find out. Same as in the old days; geese don’t need more than grass and even during the winter time a lot of geese keepers don’t give their birds extra grains or pellets. Some don’t even know the existence of special waterfowl pellets and they give the geese bread and if the birds are lucky, grains, chicken or turkey pellets. Breeding with brothers and sisters which can lead to deformities, worming geese, the right feeding during the breeding season? Never heard of it! Don’t you have any poultry or waterfowl associations over there I can hear you ask. Yes we do but they don’t have much information too because most people over here breed chickens, rabbits and doves. Waterfowl demands space! It’s possible we want to know everything there is on this issue and that we want to learn more than the average breeder but I’m sure we would have stopped if we hadn’t had those books. We did join some Dutch associations and got to know some breeders who had some experience with geese but for most members of those associations the main issue is winning at a show instead of real interest in the birds well being is our experience and if you don’t join the showing activities you’re not important or of any value,……. they think. What also happens a lot over here is; buy good geese from others and start showing instead of breeding themselves and showing their own offspring. We don’t show our birds! First of all we have shows over here that take more than 3 days and we don’t like to put our geese in a small cage with only a tiny can for water instead of a bucket. I’ve seen lot’s of geese with sticky eyes on shows because they couldn’t wash their head properly. Second if there are ten geese at a show it’s a lot and what value has it for us to compare our geese with a Pommorian, a Toulouse or an Embden because those breeds you see most at shows. Another issue is that no Dutch waterfowl judge has ever seen an American Buff alive and they have to take the Waterfowl Standard to see if our geese are good or not. Therefore we want to organize a kind of goose day next year at our place for people who have bought geese from us. We hope they will bring one or two of their best offspring with them so we can compare them and I hope they all will do better than we do! Third; the jealousy between a lot of breeders over here. Instead of helping each other with problems or try to improve the breeds together it seems they have more fun in fighting each other and talking bad about each other. You must be a part of the old boys party and follow their rules and don’t have any new ideas because that’s to difficult. And certainly not a woman with other ideas or opinions! Therefore we are no longer a member of the Dutch Associations but instead we joined some Belgian Associations which are a lot different and have a lot more knowledge. Beside that it’s important for the Belgians to have a nice time with friends who have the same hobby, not only Belgians but also English, Germans, French, Dutch etc. It’s always a pleasure to be there. We found out it’s important to look over the borders and we made friends in several countries. We had a lot of help from breeders in different countries when we didn’t know anymore what to do when we faced problems and we hope to help new breeders over here with the information we gathered the last years. A lot of things are changing over here, maybe because of the Avian Influenza crisis from last year but also, I think, because new waterfowl lovers don’t like the old fashioned way of breeding and showing any more. The entries at shows run back very fast and a lot of shows don’t exist any more. A pity? I don’t know but I do think it’s time for new things because there are a lot of people interested in keeping waterfowl, only not in the old fashioned way.
We went with some of our geese to a one day country living fair in Peer, Belgium last September and more than 10.000 people visited that fair. The organization, a small local association called the Dommellandse Animal Friends, wanted to show the people how much fun you can have in breeding waterfowl, chickens and other small animals in your own back-yard even if you don’t like to go shows. All kind of activities were organized beside the poultry show which could be of any interest for country smallholders and it was a great success! I really believe if we want to keep breeding waterfowl alive we have to find new ways to interest and inform people otherwise I’m afraid we don’t have any of our beautiful pure breeds anymore in the future!

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2.
Amerikanische Buffgans mit Haube

Die Amerikanische Buffgans mit Haube (American Tufted Buff) ist eine der wenigen Gänserassen, die in den Vereinigten Staaten entstanden. Erzüchtet wurden sie von Mrs. Ruth Books von den Book Farms mittels Kreuzungen von glattköpfigen Buffgänsen mit den “Roman Geese” , den dortigen Römischen Gänsen. Nach intensiver Selektion entstand die Buffgans mit Haube. Nach dem Tod von Mrs. Books übernahm John Metzer von Metzer Farms in Gonzales/Kalifornien den gesamten Bestand und erstellte ein Zuchtprogramm. Da Mrs. Books über ihre Erfahrungen mit der neuen Rasse kein Zuchtbuch geführt hatte, war es für Metzer im Grunde ein Neuanfang. Ausgelesen wurden Gänse mit zu kleinen Hauben, einer rosa-bzw. roten Lauffarbe und zu kleine Buffgänse, um zu einem einheitlichen Aussehen zu kommen. Die Amerikanische Buffgans mit Haube ist eine elegante, mittelgrosse Gans mit stolzer Haltung. Die Haube, die sich direkt hinter den Augen auf dem Oberscheitel befindet, besteht aus hoch gestellten Federn und hat keine Schädelerhöhung, wie manche beim ersten Eindruck vermuten. Buff bedeutet soviel wie Leder-bzw. Büffellederfarbig. Die Rasse wurde nach diesem Farbbegriff benannt. Es ist eine aparte intensive Farbe, die durch Sonneneinstrahlung erstaunlich weniger verblasst als bei den glattköpfigen Buffgänsen. Sie wird lediglich kurz vor der Mauser heller.Die Buff-Haubengänse sind lebhafte Gänse, die gerne das gesamte Grundstück benutzen für ihre “Rennparaden” mit flatternden Bewegungen. Gerne haben sie eine Badegelegenheit zu ihre Verfügung, in der sie sich stundenlang aufhalten können. Die Buffgänse sind sehr freundliche und soziale Tiere, die besonders ihrem Pfleger gegenüber sehr zutraulich werden. Auch sinds sie neugierig und “schnattern” dauernd vor sich hin, ohne dass dies störend wirkt; Lärm machen sie nur gelegentlich, wenn sie eine Gefahr spüren oder Fremde das Grundstück betreten. Insgesamt sinds sie sehr umgängliche Gänse, auch während der Brutzeit. Der Platz sollte mindestens 50 Quadratmeter pro Gans betragenSeit dem Frühjahr 2002 gibt es Buffgänse mit Haube in den Niederlanden. Im Nachhinein stellte sich heraus, dass wir die einzigen Züchter dieser Rasse waren. Sechs Haubengänse und zwei glattköpfige Buffgänse importierten wir aus Amerika, eigenlich ohne züchterische Absichten. Aber: Wir waren wohl die einzigen in Europa, die wussten, dass die Amerikanische Buffgans in ihrer Heimat eine stark bedrohte Rasse ist. Diese Tatsache und die Motivation, die wir aus Amerika erhielten, veranlassten uns die Zucht der Buffgänse in Angriff zu nehmen und dieser Rasse in Europa eine Chance zu geben. Im Frühjahr 2003 wollten wir deshalb weitere Gänse einfuhren, aber der Ausbruch der Geflügelpest in Amerika (2002) und der Vogelgrippe (2003) in den Niederlanden verhinderten dies. Die einfuhrbestimmungen wurden wesentlich strenger und der mögliche Import finanziell eine zu hohe Belastung. Wir machten also weiter mit unseren Gänsen. Da wir nur wenige Ausgangstiere zur Zucht hatten, wurden einzelne Paare zusammengestellt, damit wir stets die Eltern unserer Gänse kannten. Es blieb uns nichts anderes übrig, als auch die glattköpfigen Buffgänse einzusetzen. John Metzer, der Züchter, von dem wir unsere Tiere hatten, hatte uns versichert, dass unsere Gänse nicht miteinander verwandt waren. Mit den Glattköpfen hatten wir ingesamt vier Linien, wobei uns bewusst war, dass die Haubengrösse durch die glattkopfigen Elternteile abnehmen könnte. Aus diesem Grund verpaarten wir einen Glattkopfganter mit einer Gans mit grosser Haube. Daraus vielen vier Ganter mit schönen Hauben und eine Gans mit einer kleinen Haube. Die richtige Paarzusammenstellung war auch von Bedeutung für den Erhalt einer intensiven Gefiederfarbe. Es ist bekannt, das ein heller Ganter und eine gut gefärbte Gans eine schöne Bufffarbe vererben. Das stimmte auch in unserer Zucht. Ein Haubenganter mit einer Gans ohne Haube ergaben eine Nachtzucht mit kleineren Hauben (die jedoch in Ordnung waren), nur schlug bei diesem Paar die dominante hellere Farbe der Gans durch, wodurch die gesamte Nachzucht heller in der Farbe war. Durch die Kombination mit den Glattköpfen erhielten wir jedoch schöne kräftige Junggänse.Die reinen Haubenpaare vererbten sowohl grosse wie auch etwas kleinere Hauben, was uns verwunderte. Aus einer kleinen Gans und einem grossen Ganter erhielten wir Nachzucht im richtigen Format. Die verpaarung kleiner Ganter x grosse Gans wollen wir nur im Notfall versuchen, da die grösse und der Typ vorwiegend vom Ganter weitergegeben werden. Mit der Nachzucht wurden weitere Verpaarungenkombiniert und ausprobiert, um mehr über die Vererbung zu erfahren. Allerdings stellte es sich als nicht empfehlenswert heraus, Einjährige einzusetzen, da die Buffgänse zwei Jahre brauchen, bis sie vollständig ausgewachsen sind. Das wirkt sich auf die Bruteier aus; zwischen den Eiern von ein- und zweijährigen Gänsen stellten wir einen Unterschied von bis zu 30 Gramm fest. Von den Einjährigen hatten wir zwar die grössten Bruteier gesammelt (daraus erhielten wir eine grossformatige Nachzucht), aber wir bevorzugen es inzwischen, die Bruteier von ausgewachsenen Gänsen zu sammeln. Durch die verschiedenen Verpaarungen der Alttiere und deren Nachtzucht erhielten wir die Erkenntnis, welche Gänse die Haube besser vererbten. Dadurch konnten die Ausgangstiere gezielter verpaart werden. Dadurch erhielten wir bei unseren Gänsen grössere Hauben. Nur Geschwister wurden nicht verpaart, und davon raten wir auch neuen Interessenten ab, damit es nicht zu Inzuchtschwierigkeiten kommt. Eine Überraschung begegnet uns bei der Nachtzucht immer wieder: das Erbe der Römischen Gans. Regelmässig treten bei der Nachtzucht eine oder mehrere weisse Handschwingen auf. Das Schöne und Merkwürdige daran ist, dass diese mit der ersten Mauser farbig werden, und wenn nicht mit der ersten, dann mit der zweiten Mauser (hellere Bufffarbe). Gänse mit weissen Schwingen werden nie miteinander verpaart, damit sich der Scheckungsfaktor nicht festigt. Ein weissschwingiges Tier, das sehr gut in Typ und Haube ist, wird daher immer mit einer Gans mit möglichst dunkler Schwingenfarbe kombiniert. Gleiches geschieht mit den wenigen weissen Federn unter dem Schnabel. Ab und an haben wir Gänse mit mehr oder weniger blauen Augen, die wir konsequent nicht zur Zucht einsetzen.Zur Haltung der Buffgänse ist zu erwähnen, dass ein Ganter mit zwei bis drei Gänsen gehalten werden kann. Die Gänse bevorzugen ein verstecktes Legenest, z. B. im Stall. Sie legen im ersten Jahr 150 bis 170 Gramm schwere Eier, zweijahrige Gänse 180 bis 200 Gramm schwere. Eine Gans legt 10 bis 20 Eier, und weitere, wenn diese gesammelt werden. Die Brutdauer beträgt 28 bis 30 Tage. Die Gänse schreiten leicht zur Brut und führen die Küken ausgezeichnet. Auch der Ganter lässt die Kleinen nicht aus den Augen. Die restlichen Gänse betreuen die Nachtzucht ebenfalls. Die Küken weisen ein gelblich karamellfarbiges Daunenkleid auf und haben bereits als Küken eine Haube. Sie sind sehr beweglich und wachsen rasch heran. Die Buffgänse verschlingen das Gras im Auslauf nicht, aber halten sich dort sehr gerne auf. Der Graskonsum übt einen Einfluss auf die Farbe von Schnabel und Läufen aus. Daher ist es sinnvoll, Mais und Karotten zu verfüttern. Vor allem während der Wintermonate, wenn nur wenig Grünes zur Verfürung steht, mischen wir diese unter das Futter.

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3.
AMERIKANSK GUL GÅS (THE AMERICAN BUFF GEESE)
Låt oss bevara denna vackra ras från utrotning

Den amerikanska gula gåsen är en av de få domesticerade raserna med sitt ursprung i USA. Tyvärr är historien om denna vackra gula gås okänd. En del tror att den utvecklats från en gul mutation ur en flock grågäss och andra tror att den kommit fram ur gulfärgade gäss, liksom den gulryggade pommerska, vilken kom med pilgrimerna från Europa.

Den amerikanska gula gåsen är en lugn, social och vänlig gås, mycket lojal och kärvänlig, framförallt mot sina ägare. Den är en tilltalande och elegant gås att titta på, speciellt honorna har något förfinat över sig. Det är en nyfiken gås, den har nästan alltid näbbet uppe i luften och ser sig om efter något nytt. De är aldrig rädda men alltid alerta och vaksamma. Folk kan stå utanför vår grind här utan att de reagerar men om någon öppnar grinden och går in så låter dom. De älskar att prata men är absolut inte störande eller högljudda. Jämfört med den Amerikanska gula gåsen med hätta så är denna något lite vassare men aldrig besvärlig eller bråkig. Gåshannarna i synnerhet kan verka lite ”macho” men är aldrig till problem, inte ens en gång under avelsperioden. Vår Valentino försöker ibland men jag behöver bara peka med fingret mot honom och han kommer ihåg och får den där speciella blicken: Åh, förlåt, jag glömde. Vi har aldrig blivit bitna eller attackerade av våra gåshannar men man måste lära dom sin plats genom att korrigera dom om de reagerar på ett sätt som man inte tycker om eller accepterar. De lär sig mycket fort.


Den amerikanska gula gåsen är en aktiv och livlig gås som alltid älskar att skoja och springa iväg med flaxande vingar. Att paddla omkring i badet är också en favoritsysselsättning, så har man möjlighet att ge dom badmöjligheter så blir de väldigt tacksamma. Det är också en företagsam ras; lämna aldrig grinden öppen eftersom de inte kan behärska sin nyfikenhet att titta runt hörnet. Man kan hålla dem på en mindre yta men vår erfarenhet är att 50 kvadratmeter per gås är ett minimum för att bibehålla något gräs vintertid. Under sommaren behöver man klippa gräset för de tillhör inte de stora gräsätarna. Om din gåshage håller den storleken så rekommenderar vi att göra rent regelbundet annars blir hagen en enda sörja utan gräs. Fint färskt gräs påverkar också färgen på näbb och ben, precis som morötter och majs. Var försiktigt med att ge för mycket majs, de kan bli för feta. Vi ger majs som belöning.
När man väljer ut sina avelsdjur är det viktigt att välja djur med bra kroppsstorlek, inte för stora och definitivt inte för små. Den Amerikanska gula gåsen är en medelviktsgås och inte en tung gås som Toulouse. Färgen skall vara medelgul (mättad lädergul) utan något grått inslag och om möjligt en rygg med så jämn färg som möjligt, även om det är svårt, för att fjäderdräkten här är oftast något brokig eller spräcklig, även på de bästa djuren. Vi har också lärt oss att en gåshane som är aningen ljusare i färgen parad med en gås med den riktiga färgen ger det bästa resultatet på avkomman; den härliga aprikos-ljust gulbruna färgen! Undvik att avla på gäss med för smala, grunda kroppar, framträdande köl, mycket infallna huvuden, grått i fjäderdräkten eller mycket extremt blekt eller för mörk färg.
De amerikanska gula gässen är mycket duktiga föräldrar och tar väl hand om sina gässlingar och även en ensam gåskarl adopterar de små. Gåsen börjar värpa redan första året men äggen är mycket mindre från en ettåring än från en två år gammal hona. Äggen från en ettåring väger mellan 145 till 170 gram medan äggen från en tvååring väger mellan 180 till 220 gram. De ruvar sina ägg i 28-30 dagar. Vi kläcker alltid maskinellt eftersom vi vill ha tama socialiserade fåglar. En ettårig gås har också modersinstinkt men vi råder alltid uppfödare att inte kläcka från så unga djur eftersom både ägg och gässlingar blir för små. Det tar nästan tre år för en gås att bli riktigt fullvuxen varför vi bara kläcker från tvååringar och äldre honor. Enligt vår erfarenhet så älskar gässen reden som är iordningställda i en tyst och säker omgivning. De lägger mellan 10-15 ägg innan de blir ruvvilliga men om man samlar ihop äggen så kan de värpa 25 ägg eller mer. Man kan hålla en gåskarl med två eller tre honor men räkna med att han har en favorit. Gässlingarna är snabba, aktiva och mycket nyfikna. De växer också mycket snabbt, särskilt om du ger dem tillväxtfoder speciellt anpassat för simfåglar. Gässlingarna har en vacker varm gul färg som är guldtonad.


Den amerikanska gula gåsen blev upptagen i the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection 1947. Den amerikanska standarden skiljer sig något från den europeiska men vi anser att man ska följa ursprungslandets standard. Standarden nedan skriven med tillåtelse från the American Poultry Ass. (copyright).

Raskännetecken hos gåskarl och gås:
Näbb: Medellängd, kraftigt och jämnt avsmalnande med välrundad spets.
Ögon: Stora och djupa.
Huvud: Medelstort, aningen brett, ovalt och kraftfullt.
Hals: Medellång, aningen böjd, ganska upprätt och starkt framträdande.
Rygg: Av medellängd, bred, jämn och aningen konvex från skuldror till stjärt.
Stjärt: Av medellängd med breda hårda fjädrar.
Vingar: Medelstora och väl sammanhållna intill kroppen.
Bröst: Brett, djupt och välutvecklat.
Kropp: Medellång, bred och djup.
Lår: Medellånga med god köttansättning.
Ben: Kraftiga, raka, medellånga.
Tår: Raka med kraftig simhud.


Färg hos bägge kön:
Näbb: Ljust orange.
Ögon: Mörkt hasselnötsbruna.
Huvud: Mättad matt gult.
Hals: Mättad matt gul, ljusare på framsidan mot bröstet.
Rygg: Mörkt gul.
Stjärt: Gul och vit, fjädrarna kantade med en mycket blekgul färg.
Vingar: Vingbågar och vingtäckfjädrar – mättade matt gula med en smal kantteckning av ljusare gråaktigt gult. Undervingen mättad gul.
Övervingen – mörkare gul med en svag kantteckning av ljusgult.
Bröst: Mycket ljust gult.
Kroppsfjädrar och dun: Ljust brun övergående till nästan vitt mot buk och bakdun. Sidorna har en ljust gul färg som blir mörkare och övergår till en matt ljusgul färg över låren.
Ben och tår: Orange.

Vikt på äldre djur: Hane 8,16 kg, hona 7,26 kg.
Ungdjur: Hane 7,26, hona 6,35. Diskvalificering: Tydlig hakpåse, svart på näbb.


Den amerikanska gula gåsen är en utrotningshotad ras och the American Livestock Breeding Conservancy (ALBC) försöker intressera människor för att bli uppfödare. Rasen anses som hotad i USA, vilket betyder att det finns mindre än 500 avelsdjur (hanar och honor) och fem eller mindre avelsflockar. ALBC uppskattar att europeiska uppfödare har intresse för den här vackra gåsrasen och också att de försöker bevara och rädda den från utrotning. Mer information om ALBC och deras uppgifter om simfåglar hittar du på: www.albc-usa.org Det var av samma anledning som vi började avla på den amerikanska gula gåsen jämte aveln med den amerikanska gula gåsen med hätta (the Tufted American Buff geese). Även om vi inte visar våra fåglar på utställning så är vårt mål att avla på dessa två raser och försöka rädda dem från utrotning. Vi kände varmt för färgen men karaktären hos dessa fåglar är underbar och de är också trevliga att ha runt huset. Mer information om raserna och mer bilder hittar du på www.buffganzen.nl (fortfarande på holländska men skall översättas till engelska inom kort) eller buffgans@planet.nl eller på telefon 0031-135093598.

Av Andrea Heesters och Peter Jacobs, The Netherlands (copyright)
Översättare: Ingegerd Grönberg

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3. The American Buff Goose
Let us try to protect this beautiful breed from extinction!

The American Buff goose is one of the few domesticated goose breeds originated in the United States. Unfortunately the history of this beautiful goose is unknown. Some think they have developed from buff mutations in flocks of gray geese and others think they may have been created from buff colored geese, like the Buff Back (Pommorian), which came with pilgrim from Europe.
The American Buff is a calm, sociable and friendly goose, very loyal and affectionate, particularly to its owners. It is a graceful and elegant goose to see; particularly females have something refined about them. It is a curious goose, nearly always with its beak up in the air and looking around if there might be something new. They are never scared but always alert and watchful. People can be standing talking in front of the gate here and they will not react but if someone opens the gate and comes in they will honk. They love chatting but are absolutely not a nuisance and certainly not noisy. Compared to the Tufted American Buff, the American Buff's character is a little bit fiercer but never annoying or troublesome. The ganders in particular can look a bit macho but are never a problem, not even during the breeding season. Our Valentino sometimes will try but I only have to point at him with my finger and he remembers. He then has that look in his eyes: sorry I forgot. We are never been bitten or attacked by our ganders but you do have to learn them what’s their place by correcting them if they react in a way you don’t like or want. They do learn quickly.
The American Buff goose is an active and lively goose which is always up for a folic with a run and a flap of its wings. A nice paddle in the bath is also a favorite pastime so, if you are able to provide a bath for them, they will be very grateful. It is also an enterprising breed; never leave a gate open as they will not be able to contain their curiosity to have a look beyond what they know. You can keep them on a small acreage but our experience is that 50m2 per goose is a minimum to keep some grass during the winter time. During the summer time you do have to lawn the grass because they aren’t great grass eaters. If your goose pen is this size we advise you to remove the droppings regular otherwise it will be a mess and you won’t have much grass left. Nice fresh young grass also affects the color of the beak and legs, same as carrots and maize. Be careful not to give them too much maize otherwise they will be to fat. We give it as a treat.
The most important with selecting breeding stock is good body size, not too big and definitely not to small. The American Buff goose is a medium weight goose and not a heavy weight goose like the Toulouse. In color: a medium shade of buff with no grey and if possible: a back with even color although that will be difficult because the plumage on the back usually is somewhat checkered or mottled, even on the best ones. We also found out that the saying that a gander which is slightly lighter in color and a goose with the right color will give the best colored offspring; the lovely apricot-fawn color! Also do try to avoid breeding from buffs with small or shallow bodies, prominent keels, very pinched heads, grey in the plumage and very extreme faded or dark color.
The American Buff geese are also very good parents and take well care of their goslings. Even a single gander will adopt goslings. The goose already lays in her first year but the eggs are a lot smaller from a one year old than eggs from a two year old goose. Eggs from a one year old weigh between 145 and 170 grams and eggs from a two year old goose weigh between 180 and 220 grams. They hatch their eggs in 28 – 30 days. We hatch our eggs in the incubator because we want very tame birds which are socialised with people but even one year olds have a great mothering ability although we advise people not to hatch eggs from a one year old because of the smaller size of the eggs. You do get smaller goslings. Beside that it takes almost three years before they mature so we only hatch eggs from two year old and older geese. Our experience is that they love to have a laying nest, provided for them in a shelter or in a barn so they can lay their eggs in a quiet and secure environment. Yes we do spoil our geese. They lay between 10 and 15 eggs before they become broody but if you collect the eggs they can lay up to 25 eggs or more. A gander can be kept with two or three geese but he will definitely have a favourite. The goslings are fast, active and very curious. They also grow very quickly, especially if you provide them the right feed; special growing pellets for waterfowl. The goslings have a very nice warm yellow colour with a shade of gold.
The American Buff goose was admitted to the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection in 1947 and as there some different in the European Standards we follow the American Standard as we believe you have to follow the country of origin.
The American Buff goose is an endangered breed and American Livestock Breeding Conservancy tries to interest people to start breeding with these geese. The American Buff goose is critical in the US which means that there are fewer than 500 breeding birds (males and females) and five or fewer primary breeding flocks. Therefore ALBC is very happy that European breeders also have interest in keeping this beautiful breed and try to save them from extinction. More information about ALBC and the waterfowl census can be found on: www.albc-usa.org

That was also for us the reason to start breeding with the American Buff next to the Tufted American Buff. Although we don’t show our birds our main issue is to keep those two breeds alive and try to save them from extinction. We felt for the colour but the character of those breeds is wonderful and they are very nice birds to have around the house.

More information about the American Buff geese, the Tufted American Buff geese and more pictures you can find on www.buffganzen.nl Unfortunately still in Dutch only but in few weeks also in English.
Or buffgans@planet.nl or telephone: 0031-135093598.

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4.
AT LAST…..
Our birds are vaccinated against Avian Influenza

Our 23 geese and 4 chickens are vaccinated….at last. It could have been done sooner, but we wanted the goslings to be vaccinated as well. As we had permission from the European Union to vaccinate until the first of July, we were able to wait until our goslings were old enough. They had to be seven weeks of age before they were allowed to be vaccinated. As things were so insecure, due to the AI threat, we thought it would be better not to breed this year. We were sorry to disappoint a family who had ordered two geese last year. When another family called looking for two geese, vaccinated, we decided to breed a few goslings. We told the people who had ordered last year that we would breed our geese and that we would vaccinate the goslings. That meant that they had to be registrated by our Ministry of Agriculture if they wanted geese from us. They agreed. On Friday, June 9th, Sible Westendorp, the veterinarian and chairman of the NWPP (Dutch workforce for poultry and waterfowl) came over. Vaccinating them all on one visit would save us the cost of a second visit. I’ve been waiting and fighting for three years for this moment since the outbreak of Avian Influenza H7N7 back in 2003, but that Friday morning I was very nervous. Had I made the right decision? How would the birds react on the vaccine? Could I persuade the vet not to put on those awful metal leg bands? And more of that. It almost gave me a stomach ache…. Unfortunately, Sible didn’t dare not to put on the metal leg bands. He didn’t like them either but we had no choice at this moment, he told me. With four of us working, the job was done in less than an hour. Peter, my husband, took some pictures and Marieke, a daughter of friends who helps us taking care of the geese on Saturday, and I picked up the birds. We had shut them up in their night houses, so they were easy to pick up. They are very tame and used to being picked up. Bernadette, Marieke’s mother, made sure no others would get out and closed the door behind us when we got one out. First Sible had to take blood samples. As some friends had scared me that it would become a bloody mess to take blood samples from the geese, I asked Sible if it was okay to take blood samples from the chickens. “The customer may choose,” he said with a big smile. He took blood samples from two chickens. The required minimum is 5% of the complete flock but at least 2 birds. Normally they cut a vein in the wing but as Sible saw my face he asked, “Shall I try it with an injection needle?” “Please do,” I told him. It didn’t go as I had hoped, because the chickens got scared and moved while he tried to get the needle into the vein, so they started bleeding. He got enough blood, and I really was glad we hadn’t done that with the geese. After the blood samples were taken, the birds received their metal leg bands, marked Vaccination AI 2006NL (NL = The Netherlands). Then they got the injection in the breast muscle. They didn’t give a single kick. After the chickens were vaccinated, we took the geese: first the leg band, then the injection. Not a single one was difficult, not even the goslings. After Sible had finished the vaccination, he had to fill in the forms. That took most of the time. As he said: “It’s unbelievable that we have to do this like this in this century of modern technologies.” It had to be done with a pencil, not just print the forms. As it is a pilot project, I suppose, it takes time. Same as those awful leg bands. Poor birds. Now they have on each leg a leg band and the metal one is quite heavy. They already had a plastic leg band with a unique number on it. Really, we are very curious how they will do that next year. If we vaccinate again next year, will they need a 2007 leg band? The metal leg bands are so difficult to remove. It takes three people: one to pick up the bird, another to keep the leg still and the third one to remove the leg band with special equipment. I can’t imagine our government wants to build up the complete leg with leg bands. I really do believe the people who work at our Ministry of Agriculture have never seen a goose or chicken alive, or they wouldn’t have agreed on such awful leg bands. I wonder if they have ever seen such a leg band at our Ministry. Maybe some vet of the Animal Health Commission came up with them. Oh…they are just birds, they must have thought. Animal welfare is very far away. If they really had no other choice than those metal leg bands, they should have given them a unique number so they won’t have to be replaced if we continue the vaccination program. Better yet, they should listen to the NWPP, who had other suggestions for identification. You do wonder why our own Ministry chose those leg bands, not the EU. The reason they need to be identified is for our AID (Animal Health Inspection), so that the inspectors can see from a distance which birds are vaccinated during a period of confining. Vaccinated birds no longer have to be confined. Suppose our birds are in their pools when they come over and we’re not at home. No one can see if they wear a metal leg band. Sible suggested that since we live in a century of modern technologies, why don’t they have a laptop with them with all the information on it? Just fill in an address and they will know if the birds are vaccinated or not. Or don’t they trust us? Would we buy new birds that aren’t vaccinated and might not be confined? That may be a reason. I do hope all of the world will get the opportunity to protect their birds against Avian Influenza H5N1 like us and France, as experts say we won’t be rid of it for the next 50 years. Right now, a day later, I’m very glad we have vaccinated our birds. Nor only will it protect them against this nasty virus but also, we won’t have to confine them again next autumn (and maybe all winter). I really think it’s the keeper’s responsibility to vaccinate or not. We should have the choice, not need permission from our governments! Our geese are fine, not a single vaccination reaction and doing as usual. They only thing that is different is if they hit something with their metal leg band it goes….cling cling. It took us a few hours before we knew where that sound came from. On June 30th they will get their second injection so they will be protected for a year against H5N1. Then between nine weeks after the second vaccination and a year, more blood samples have to be taken. They want to have a lot of these test results so our Ministry, and the EU, can get more information about vaccinating birds against Avian Influenza. We are a pilot program, same as France. If it will help to get all the birds and humans protected against H5N1, We don’t mind.

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5.
THE TUFTED AMERICAN BUFF GEESE.

A few years ago we had the opportunity to import some American Buff and Tufted American Buff geese from the USA. We only wanted the geese as pets and didn’t have the intention to start breeding with them until I contacted ALBC (American Livestock Breeding Conservancy) . I wrote an e-mail in English to ask if they could tell me more about the American buff goose because I had read on their website that the American buff was an endangered breed. You won’t believe it but I received an answer in Dutch. The office manager of ALBC turned out to be a Dutch lady who lives in the US. She was very happy to hear we had imported those geese and asked me if I would start to breed with them because in the US there wasn’t much interest for them. Please do try to give them a change in Europe she said. I also heard from John Metzer from who we bought the geese that we were the only one in Europe who had the American Tufted Buff Geese. At first my reaction was: That’s nice we have something unique but I’m not going to breed with them. A lot of our friends who heard about this said it we couldn’t keep those geese only to ourselves knowing those facts. Oh no, my answer was every time: I’m not going to breed with them. I don’t know anything about breeding I told them. We’ll help you they told me and the reason we did start to breed was that they are endangered in the US so we hope to give them a chance in Europe. Beside the help of our friends I bought every book about geese I could get to get some more information but after some years I noticed you only learn by just doing it. We still face new problems on which nobody has an answer and I just try and see what will happen. So far all goes very well and we enjoy it very much.

As we had bought 2 American Buff and 6 American tufted Buff geese we started breeding at first with only the Tufted American Buff. John Metzer had told me all our geese were unrelated so we could start with four couples. As we only had two American Buffs at that time we crossed them with the Tufted Buff because we had a tufted lady with some white flights. That was the only way to get the color back in as this breed was originated by crossing the American Buff with the Tufted Roman geese by the late Mrs. Ruth Book. We also had a tufted gander with blue eyes so we crossed him with the American Buff goose. The offspring of those geese were fine, especially the ones from the Tufted goose and the American Buff gander. The other two tufted couples also gave nice offspring. We had some very beautiful goslings that year. We also have a tufted gander with a curved beak; our Cassanova, and at first we didn’t dare to breed with him because it could be genetic. It appeared only a few days after he had arrived from the US so I took him to our vet. As our vet is a specialist in broken bones etc with dogs and cats I hoped he could tell me what it was. I don’t know anything about geese he told me. You don’t have to know anything about geese I told him but you know everything about bones etc. and please tell me what’s wrong with our Cas his beak. Two weeks later, after he had contacted some other vets, he called me and said it wasn’t genetic and he could fix it but he wouldn’t do it. Oh why won’t you fix it I asked him. You told me he doesn’t have any problems with it and can eat very well and as it’s very painful to correct his beak I’m not going to do it. I only could agree with him when he had told me that. Our Cassanova is everyone’s favorite and his children have normal beaks! The year after a friend called me that he was at a Call duck breeder and that breeder had a lot of Casanova’s walking around. Our Cassanova has been helped out of his egg and probably they have damaged his beak because that was the conclusion of the Call duck breeder as he helps most of his ducklings to hatch.

American tufted Buff geese are very sociable and friendly geese. They love their keepers and are very easy to get tame especially when you hatch the eggs yourself in a hatching machine. They are also very curious and never forget a thing. We have a gander called Jules and every time he followed me to the gate and watched me how I opened and closed it. At that moment I didn’t notice he was watching me carefully but one afternoon I looked outside the kitchen window and I saw our Carmen and Juanita in Jules his penn. As the are housed in the penn next to Jules I went outside to see what had happened. Gate open, so I thought I didn’t lock it properly. I separate all and locked the gate but half an hour later it happened again and I remembered Jules had watched me carefully every time I went through that gate. Again I separated them and locked the gate. I then didn’t went inside but hide myself behind a tree because I saw Jules was watching me if I would leave. As he couldn’t see me anymore Jules went to the gate and opened it with his beak and called the others they could come. They are very clever and eager to learn! We changed the lock so Jules can’t open it anymore. He wasn’t happy with it. The Tufted Americans can be noisy when they see strangers but most of the time they are very calm although they do like to talk a lot to their keepers. When I’m working in the garden they follow me everywhere and have a lot of comments. They also want to do what I’m doing so normally what I have planed in an hour takes me two hours. Everything I throw in the bucket they get out. They are also very graceful and elegant medium-sized geese. Proud and almost arrogant to look at, probably due to the tuft of feathers on the top of its head. This tuft, which begins right behind the eyes, consists purely of upright feathers and is definitely not a lump on the head of the goose as many people think. If you flatten the feathers with some gel then you would have a smooth headed goose. The American Tufted Buff goose is also an active and lively goose which is always up for a folic with a run and a flap of its wings. A bath or small pond would really be appreciated; they can spend hours lying in it, floating and splashing. Particularly after the mould, when they realize that they have all their feathers back, they will run around at full speed and flap their wings. They can accidentally fly over the fence and land in the middle of another group. We are then called loudly for help.


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6.
THE CONFINEMENT OF A BEGINNER GOOSE KEEPER.

It was so exiting those last days: should we get goslings? A Belgian friend who definitely went crazy from all my phone calls with questions said: You’re in joyful anticipation and he was right. It was so wonderful to see how our Carmen took care of her eggs, how she covered them with straw and down when she went off for a minute or ten to eat, drink or to take a bath. It seemed like Carmen had a clock inside of her body because she knew exactly how long she could stay off her nest. After those ten minutes she walked in a special way back to her nest and I could tell if she went back to her nest or not. Saturday; day 28th it became even more exciting although some friends had told me it could last until day 31st but if it were “fresh” eggs they would hatch probably earlier. Of course I was very alert that 28th day and when Carmen went of her nest in the afternoon to take a bath I didn’t know how quickly I could get into the barn to check her eggs. Yes! One egg with a hole in it so it wouldn’t take that long any more. Sunday morning I got out of my bed very early to check on Carmen and her eggs. Unfortunately nothing to see or hear yet so I didn’t disturb Carmen. An hour later I went back again and oh boy something was wrong over there. Alicia who wasn’t broody had pushed Carmen of her nest and Alicia sat on Carmen her eggs. Poor Carmen sat next to her and looked at me as if she would tell me: I’ve sat on them for weeks, done all the work and now Alicia takes my children away. I couldn’t allow that of course so I put on some gloves, our Alicia isn’t the most friendly one when she’s on a nest and very stubborn so I had to be careful not to damage the eggs/goslings. I carefully took Alicia of the nest and she protested loudly and tried to bite me and put her outside the barn. Carmen didn’t know how quickly she had to clime back on her nest and………...just before she sat down I saw a little head and heard some small peeping. Yes we had a gosling! After that I put some wiring in front of the nest and made a kind of maternity room in the back of Carmen her nest so Alicia couldn’t borrow her anymore. Every now and then I went to check on her to see if more goslings had hatched. It’s so wonderful how tame Carmen is because she didn’t mind that I was sitting on my knees in front of her nest. I’ve been on my knees in front of that nest for hours I think with the photo camera in my hand and on the other side, behind the wiring, the other geese also waited in suspense. As I sat on my knees I regularly asked Carmen: “Carmen please stand up I can’t see anything” and then she looked at me with her head a bit slant and she would stand up so I could see if some more goslings had hatched. I even saw them even all wet and that at a 20 to 30 cm distance. Carmen was oke with it that I was so close by. She trusted me completely. The confinement went well and I have enjoyed it very much. Carmen had five beautiful and healthy goslings that year. Also so beautiful to see was that she cleaned up the egg shells herself by….eating them. After a few days I could let the other geese with them and all the other geese “played” foster parents. Although the confinement went very well we didn’t let our geese breed themselves the years after. I was so shocked how many weight the geese had lost after sitting on a nest for four weeks although they did get room service from me so I knew they ate enough. The year after we bought a hatching machine. Our geese didn’t like it when I collected the eggs the first year but now they don’t mind anymore. Our ladies know they get their goslings when they are about two to three weeks of age. We raise them inside our house the first couple of weeks and after that their parents learn them the “goose stuff”. The advantage of raising the goslings yourself the first weeks is that they become extremely tame and friendly for humans. The reason we started breeding is that the two breeds we have are endangered breeds which we hope to keep alive but mainly our geese stay “pets” for us. They belong to our family same as our cats.


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