Shetland geese come from the Shetland Islands of Great Britain, but no detailed records exist of their breed development. They are noted for their foraging ability and sex-linked color.
Mature geese weigh 12-14 lbs, and lay about 30 eggs yearly. Their coloration sometimes leads to confusion with Pilgrim geese, which are also color sex-linked. The plumage of the gander is white, and his eyes are blue. The goose (female) is half white and half gray. The shoulders, secondary flight feathers, under-wing back and thigh coverts are gray. The head and neck are mainly white, with varying amounts of gray plumage on the lower neck. The eyes of a goose are brown or brown mottled with blue. The bill of both sexes is orange and reddens towards the nostrils.
The Shetland goose has a broad back and a well rounded, keel-less breast. The paunch is single-lobed. The wings are powerful, allowing full ability of flight.
When selecting breeders choose vigorous, strong-legged birds free of physical deformities. Shetland geese in North America descend from a small genetic pool. As a result, special care must be taken to avoid genetic defects, including crooked toes, wry tails, kinked necks, and lack of vigor. Consider growth rate, egg production, and foraging ability for utility birds. Because Shetland ganders rarely bond with more than one female, keep equal numbers of each sex, preferably from multiple bloodlines, to allow breeding birds to pair up.
The Shetland Goose combines several valuable traits including a shortened bill for active foraging. With ample access to succulent grasses, Shetland geese will forage for most of their food.
Shetland geese typically form very strong bonds with their mates. Females often go broody after laying approximately 18 eggs, and are successful setters and mothers.
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The Book of Geese
- Dave Holderread
Storey's Country Wisdom Bulletin: Raising Ducks and Geese