Geese

African

The African is among the largest and heaviest of the domestic breeds of geese.

Both the African and Chinese have evolved from the wild Swan goose (Anser cygnoides), an Asiatic species, and are distinguished from the Western breeds of geese in having a prominent “knob” rising up from the base of the beak, and having smooth, velvet (pile)-like feathering on their necks. The African also has a soft dewlap which hangs below its beak. Both knob and dewlap increase in size as the bird gets older. This breed has been present in the U.K. since late
17th Century and although standardized in the U.S.A. in 1874 it does not appear in the British Poultry Standards until
1982. The name African is misleading as the Swan Goose is an Asiatic species.

African

American Buff

The American Buff was developed in North America from common farm geese and is descended from the wild Greylag goose, which inhabits Europe and North Asia. Its history is obscure and there are several theories on how it may have developed. It was Standardized in the U.S.A. in 1947 and in the U.K. in 1982. It differs from the other solid buff coloured geese, i.e. the British Brecon Buff and the German Celler goose, in being larger and having an orange beak and feet.

American Buff

Brecon Buff

As the name suggests, this breed has its origins in the hills of Breconshire, Wales. The overall buff colour, unique among British geese, attracted Rhys Llewellyn who is credited with collecting and developing this breed in the late 1920s and working with them, until they were breeding true. The Standard was initially published in “Feathered World” in 1934 and then in the 1954 British Poultry Standards. It is a hardy, active breed.

Brecon Buff

Buff Back (Saddleback)

This is an attractive goose with a white background overlaid with buff markings on head, part of neck, a saddleback and thigh coverts. Geese of this kind have long been known as “Saddlebacks”. The Saddleback race, in both grey and buff forms, has been bred entirely for utility throughout Europe for many centuries. Formerly regarded as belonging to the race of Pomeranian geese, it has been distinguished from these in having a dual-lobed paunch and orange beak and feet. It is uncertain how the buff back colour was developed, although there are several theories which have not been proven. This breed was Standardized in the U.K. in 1982.

Buff Back (Saddleback)

Chinese

The Chinese is an elegant, fine, small goose, active and good at foraging. Although it shares the same wild ancestor (the Swan goose) as the African, which can be seen in the similarity of colour and marking, in shape and size the two breeds are very different. Chinese have been present in Britain since at least the early 18th Century. As mentioned in the U.K. Standards of 1923 the breed is now standardized in both brown/grey and white varieties. The most distinctive feature is a prominent knob rising from the base of the beak. They are highly vocal by nature and have a reputation for being good “watch dogs” and are famous for guarding some whisky distilleries in Scotland. The Chinese goose is also the most prolific layer of all geese.

Chinese

Czech

Old, long established breed of goose from Bohemia. There it was a small table goose which thrived in the damp meadows. It laid plenty of eggs, starting early in the season, and produced a good crop of goslings. The breed was well known in the former East Germany and it was re-imported there from in 1959 from whence it passed to West Germany and later to the UK in the 1990s.

Czech

Embden

Along with the Toulouse, the Embden has been the longest Standardized breed in the U.K., both breeds being accepted for Standard in 1865. The Embden was also known as the Bremen and as a breed has been known for several centuries. It is a large, heavy imposing bird, but gentle in nature. British breeders set about developing the breed and with careful selection increased its size and weight, with a good meat ratio. British Embdens have a slightly different appearance to the continental Embdens in that they are a solid bird with a good strong neck. Continental Embdens tend to have a longer, thinner neck.

Embden

Grey Back

This breed of goose is of the same type and pattern as the Buff Back except that the buff colouring is replaced by grey. Grey and white “pied” geese occur in many parts of Northern Europe including the U.K., where by 1906 these geese had long been known as and esteemed as “Saddlebacks” and it has always been a popular colour pattern. This breed should not be confused with the Pomeranian, as although in appearance they may look similar, the Grey Back is dual-lobed with orange beak and feet.

Grey Back

Pilgrim

This is known as an auto-sexing breed because the males and females are a different colour; the gander is white and the goose grey. Auto-sexing geese in these colours have been found in the U.S.A., the U.K., France, parts of Northern Europe and Australia. They may well have been taken to the Eastern States of the U.S.A. by early settlers from Europe. Oscar Grow, an expert on waterfowl in the U.S.A., claims to have developed the breed in Iowa and when he relocated to Missouri in the Great depression of the 1930s he named the breed Pilgrim in memory of this move. The breed was first Standardized in the U.S.A. in 1939 and in 1999 in the U.K. The Pilgrim has a reputation for being a calm, sweet tempered and personable bird, with good parenting qualities and a fast growth rate.

Pilgrim

Pomeranian

The Pomeranian gets its name from the former Province of Pomerania, which lay on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea between the estuaries of the Oder and Vistula rivers. This region is now shared between Germany and Poland. The Pomeranian comes in three colour varieties, the Grey Saddleback, Grey, and the White, but in the U.K. the Grey Saddleback is the most common and the Standardized colour. First Standardized in 1997 British Poultry Standards.

Pomeranian

Roman

Supposedly the breed of geese which saved Ancient Rome from a night-time attack by the Gauls. The geese heard the enemy, and the noise the geese made alerted the guards and the Roman citadel was saved. The Roman is a small cobby goose and was first introduced into U.K. at the beginning of the 20th century. Standardized in 1982 edition of the British Poultry Standards. The Roman also occurs in a Crested form.

Roman

Sebastopol

The Sebastopol takes its name from the Black Sea port of the same name. They were introduced into the U.K. by the diplomat Lord Dufferin in 1860, when he was sent to sort out problems in countries surrounding the Black Sea. Sebastopol geese occur widely in these areas and around the Danube and its tributaries.

The Sebastopol is unique, and instantly recognizable in that it has curled, soft quilled feathers. There are two forms of the Sebastopol, the Smooth Breasted, which has normal feathers on head, neck, breast and abdomen, with long curled feathers trailing from wings, back and tail. The Curly Breasted has a more pronounced curl to the feathers, which also cover the breast and abdomen, as well as the back, wings and tail. The Curly Breasted was Standardized in the U.K. as “Frizzle”  in 1982 and the Smooth Breasted in 1997.

Sebastopol

Shetland

This is a small, hardy auto-sexing breed from Britain’s most northerly isles. The breed is a very old breed and was used locally by crofters to reduce the burden of liver fluke that was rife in the wet, marshy land, liver fluke being the enemy of livestock, especially sheep. The geese lay a clutch of eggs before sitting, laying up to 20 when managed well and they make a meaty carcase.

Shetland

Skane

The Skane Goose or Skaneges (Swedish) is descended from birds (probably Pomeranian types) brought home from Germany by Swedish soldiers in the 1700s. These birds were mixed with other Swedish breeds and the Skane was the result. Primarily adopted as the farmers’ goose, they mature within 6 months in time for the national “Goose Day” on November 10th. The Skane Goose has fine meat qualities (skin and meat white), is very easy to fatten, fast growing and robust. It has a lovely temperament. It lays few eggs (weight 150 g) and is strongly inclined to sit.

Skane

Steinbacher

Often known as a fighting goose, the Steinbacher is probably no more aggressive than any other breed, especially in the breeding season, when all ganders will protect their group. They come from the local geese of Thuringia crossed with Chinese at the end of the 19th century, and developed into a distinct breed described in “Thuringer Geflugelzuchter”, which was standardized in Germany in 1932, but it did not appear in the British Poultry Standards until 1997. It has rapidly grown in popularity in the U.K. due to the blue and lavender colour varieties, which are found in this country. In Europe it is available in grey, blue, lavender cream and buff varieties.

Steinbacher

Toulouse

As suggested by its name the Toulouse originated and was developed in the Toulouse region of France. It was bred for meat and was also famous for the production of pate de foie gras. A large, heavy bird was the result of all this breeding for meat and because of this the Toulouse became sought after, being brought to the U.K. in the early 1840s, by the then President of the Zoological Society, the 13th Earl of Derby.The Toulouse and Embden were the first breeds of geese to be standardized in the U.K. in 1865. The Toulouse was also exported to the U.S.A., and British and American breeders were responsible for further increasing the size of the breed and accentuating some of its features to produce a bird which has a slightly different appearance from European bred Toulouse.

Toulouse

West of England

A dual coloured farmyard goose, mainly developed in the West of England.

West of England