How to Tell the Gender of your Goose… or Gander

It can be a little difficult to tell a goose and a gander apart. Other than a couple of autosexing breeds, geese have the same plumage colors. Males and females are also similarly sized and have no real obvious distinguishing characteristics like a rooster’s sickle feathers. So how do you tell the genders apart?

Well, it can be fairly easy once you’re familiar with geese. Read on to find out how to tell the gender of your geese.

Goose Traits

A female goose is called, well, a “goose”. She will generally have a shorter neck. She will also be more timid, tending to stay behind the gander for protection.

When a goose walks around she tends to have her bill in the air, watching intently. Her voice is lower pitched than that of a gander.

During breeding season (spring) you might notice feather loss on the top of her head if you have a gander breeding the geese. During mating the male bites the feathers on the goose’s head which can lead to feather loss.

Gander Traits

A male goose is called a “gander”. His neck will be longer and thicker than the female. He will try to place himself between you and those that he wants to protect.

Ganders tend to move their heads with more snakelike movements and are more likely to try to bite people and other animals. If you approach him when he’s trying to protect his family he will stretch out his neck towards you.

Ganders will have a higher pitched voice and tend to be more vocal than the geese. They also have, in my opinion, more personality than the females.

Do you want to learn how to incubate and hatch your own goslings?

Vent Sexing Geese

Geese can be vent sexed, but be aware that you can damage or kill your geese if you aren’t careful. Do so at your own (and your bird’s) risk. Please proceed with caution.

Okay, now that the disclaimer is out of the way we can dive into vent sexing. These instructions are for older birds. You can hold a younger g

  1. Catch your goose and place it on the ground, belly up.
  2. Kneel over the goose using your legs to keep it in place. Hope it doesn’t bite your butt. 🙂
  3. With gloves on (they’ll probably poop), use your fingers to spread the vent apart while pushing down.
  4. If the goose is a male the penis should either pop out or be visible (corkscrew shape). If the goose is a female she will not have a penis, obviously.

Tip: If you have multiple geese consider banding their legs (I use colored zip ties like these) to easily tell them apart. For example, you can band ganders on the left leg and geese on the right leg.

Myth: A goose’s lobes can determine if they are male or female.

I’ve heard a number of people say that the number of lobes (the fat deposits that hang between goose legs) can determine the gender of geese. They say that a “W” shape (2 lobes) is a male and a “U” shape (1 lobe) is a female. This is 100% false.

The number of lobes a goose has depends on its breed. The APA Standard of Perfection for American Buffs, my breed of choice, calls for 2 lobes. When geese do not have the proper number of lobes for their breed it is a conformation fault, not a gender-determining trait.

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