Cotton Patch Geese

Because geese relish grasses and shun most broad-leafed plants, some enterprising US farmers in the 1950s began using them to rid cotton fields of grassy weeds, which are difficult to kill with herbicides.  The geese were put into the fields as soon as the crop came up.  A brace of birds kept an acre of cotton weeded; a gaggle of 12 would gobble as many weeds as a hard-working man could clear with a hoe.

The geese cleared the fields more cheaply than hoe hands.  They left the crop untouched and ate only the succulent young weeds.  They did not damage crop roots (as hoes or tractors can), and they were safe and selective, unlike many herbicides.  On top of all that they spread fertilizer for the farmer, and ultimately provided him meat for the market.

Eventually, farmers found that geese could be used to weed nearly all broad-leafed crops: asparagus, potatoes, berry fruits, tobacco, mint, grapes, beets, beans, hops, onions, and strawberries, for example.  Geese were used in vineyards and fruit orchards to eat both weeds and the fallen fruits that could otherwise harbor damaging insects.  They were employed in fields producing trees for the forest industry and flowers for florists shops.  Some growers turned goslings loose in cornfields to consume the “suckers” (corn, after all, is a grass) as well as the grain left on the ground.  This eliminated the problem of corn as a weed when different crops were later planted in those fields.

In the 1970s when cotton acreage dropped and herbicides selective for the troublesome grasses were developed, the use of geese declined.  But today, some organic farmers are returning to the practice.

Cotton Patch Geese were originally bred in the south to eat the weeds in the cotton and corn fields.

Dr. Tom Walker is the man who single handedly saved the breed from going extinct.

Dr. Walker travelled the south looking for the goose he remembered from his childhood.  He collected them from many of the southern states and developed his breeding flock by selecting geese that met his exacting standards.  

When Tom decided to retire from selling geese, we drove out on a grueling 25 hour drive from California to pick up the gaggle.  Our van broke down and our three day trip ended up being a week long (and three times as expensive)! However, we learned that Texas has great food lol!

We are dedicated to continuing this very endangered breed by breeding the same lines and to the same standards as Dr. Walker.