Shetland

History

Geese have been recorded as being kept on Shetland from as early as the 17th century although it is not certain that they are the exact descendants of the current breed whose characteristics have been known for 150 years. They would need to be tough birds in Islands 60 degrees north where winter winds are very strong and winter daylight is less than six hours. Both Shetland geese and ducks can eat the liver fluke without any apparent ill effects to themselves which does very much help to control this devastating parasite in sheep. As with so many of the other breeds, the Shetland goose was important to cottagers and farms alike for providing a cheap and reliable source of meat, feathers and grease. The Shetland has been exported to the USA.

Behaviour

A hardy goose that is a great converter of grass to meat and in the Northern Islands they will forage on seaweed which is not usual for geese. They are good guard geese as alert to new situations and many islanders swear you can predict weather by their behaviour such as moving their young when bad weather approaches. They are devoted partners and parents and can live in excess of 20 years.

Appearance
This is another 'auto-sexing' breed where males and females are different colours quite early on. Even as goslings the male is gold and the goose is grey/gold. Later on the gander is always white and the goose is grey and white. The legs and feet are pink.

This is a light breed.

This is a very rare breed indeed so expect to have to look for this one. It is under threat of extinction so it needs supporters. The Rare Breed Survival Trust is very interested in the future of this breed so contact them for more information.

Status

Common

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