On the Sixth Day of Christmas

On the Sixth Day of Christmas...Six Geese a-laying

Dec 20, 2006 (updated 12/27/10)

Geese were among the first birds to be domesticated.

Our Neolithic ancestors discovered that, rather than spending days searching for animals to kill or nests to rob, it was easier to capture them live and keep them penned by the cave. The heard or flock could be increased by having them mate.

The food supply became more regular as one could just go outside and slaughter a bird or other animal in the pen for meat or collect eggs from the fowl nesting in the enclosure.

Since geese were a common barnyard fowl in England it is natural that geese were included in the carol. Also, over time, goose became a traditional Christmas meal.

Ganders' Lifetime Polygamy Means Fewer are Needed on Farms

While geese were among the first animals to be domesticated, they were not, and still are not, as common as chickens in barnyards. The reason is that they are not as prolific as chickens in terms of egg laying. While chickens lay eggs regularly, geese only lay 30 to 50 eggs per year. This limits their usefulness as egg producers and also means that it takes longer to increase the size of the flock for meat production. While geese are known to mate for life, the mating is not monogamous as the males will often mate with multiple females making for a lifetime polygamous relationship. Of course, this helps in breeding as you can cull the males for meat, while keeping a larger portion of the flock in the form of egg laying females, knowing that the remaining males can be counted on to mate and fertilize the eggs of all of the females.

Six Geese a laying

Six Geese A-Laying
Six Geese A-Laying

Gift of Six Egg Laying Females Provides His True Love with Good Supply of Eggs

It is thus interesting to note that our lover has given his true love six female geese that are currently laying eggs, thereby providing her with both a supply of eggs as well as the possibility of increasing her flock by allowing them to be fertilized and hatched.

Being larger than chickens, the eggs of geese are also larger than chicken eggs. Goose eggs are also very rich tasting and are good for making deserts. On the downside, goose eggs are extremely high in cholesterol (cholesterol in excess of 1200 milligrams per egg), however, since people in the sixteenth century not only did not know about cholesterol but also were exposed to enough other deadly diseases that killed them long before cholesterol could clog their arteries and cause a heart attack, the cholesterol content of goose eggs was not a concern in those days. So, here we are again, six days into the twelve day celebration and the focus remains on foods for the feasting.

© 2006 Chuck Nugent

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Huntgoddess profile image

Huntgoddess 4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

I had no idea about all that.

Thanks.

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