Emden: The Emden was developed in Germany and the Netherlands and is the
most common commercial goose breed. They are typically white with orange
bills and feet and blue eyes. They grow rapidly, which makes them large meattype geese. When mature, the gander (male goose) can weigh close to 30
pounds. They make excellent barnyard alarms, as they can be protective of their
territory and flock. They can be aggressive, especially ganders protecting their
flocks, so small children and pets should be watched when around a flock. Male
Emden goslings have a lighter grey down than the female goslings. The goose
can lay up to 40 eggs during the breeding season. It is also a good breed for a
crossbreeding program as these geese mature early, are good foragers for food,
and the females are good mothers.
Toulouse: The Toulouse is a large breed and can weigh up to 25 pounds. It is
noted for its cold tolerance and is a popular breed in the Midwest, though it has
its origins in France. The Toulouse breed has dark gray feathers on its back,
lighter grey feathers on its breast, and white stomach feathers. It has a dewlap or
flap of skin hanging under its lower jaw and a bulky body. The Toulouse was
bred in France to produce foie gras. As such, it is not as good a forager as other
geese breeds and does well when confined to a pen. The goslings also mature
slower than other breeds. The goose lays about 35 eggs per year and is a good
mother. However, they can be clumsy and break eggs if the nest is not well
Chinese: This breed is the smallest of domestic geese. They have been called
Swan Geese, as they carry their body upright (similar to swans). They are
distinctive geese because they have a knob at the base of their beak. The knob on
the male is larger than the female. Chinese geese come in two colors: brown and
white. The white variety has a more attractive carcass, as their pinfeathers are
not as noticeable. Another added trait is they make excellent weeders; they eat
weeds from vegetable crops without causing much damage to the vegetables due
to their smaller size and better agility at moving. Female Chinese geese will lay
50 to 60 eggs during the breeding season (February through June). The Chinese goose makes a good guard goose for the farmstead.
African: The African goose is related to the Chinese goose, but it is a much
larger breed. It has a distinctive knob on its forehead near the bill and a dewlap.
It is about the same size and weight as the Emden breed, and ganders can weigh
close to 30 pounds. The colored variety of African has brown top feathers and a
lighter underbelly. The White African variety has white feathers and orange bill,
knob, legs, and feet. Despite its name, it does not come from Africa, but its
origin is murky. A mature gander weighs 22 to 24 pounds while a mature female
weighs 18 to 20 pounds. They can start breeding their first year and can produce
eggs for many years. They lay around 35 to 40 eggs a year.
Pilgrim: The Pilgrim goose breed was developed in Iowa but might have had
origins in colonial America. They can be easily sexed from their feather
coloring; adult males have mostly white feathers while females have gray
feathers. This trait is called auto-sexing. Even when a day old, the breed can be
sexed on color: male goslings are gray-yellow with light bills and female
goslings are olive-gray with dark bills. This is a medium-sized breed, with
mature males weighing 14 to 15 pounds. It is also a calmer breed than most of
the goose breeds but will still sound an alarm at perceived signs of danger. They
are good foragers and good mothers. The female lays 35 to 40 eggs each year.
Sebastopol: This unique breed has blue eyes and curly, twisted feathers that are
usually white. Due to their unique feathers, they should have bathing water
available to keep their feathers clean. Because of their feather pattern, they are
more susceptible to chilling. Unlike other geese, water does not roll off the
feathers. They are a gentle breed of goose and are not aggressive. This makes
them more susceptible to predation. Females can lay about 40 eggs a year and
will brood the eggs of other geese. In fact, they may steal eggs from other nests
and roll them into their own. Female goslings have darker down than the males.
Ganders weigh around 14 pounds, and females average about 11 pounds.