domestic goose (probably Greylag Goose x Swan Goose hybrid), Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 6th April 2007

We have taken many pictures of geese at poultry and waterfowl shows but if you have a photograph of a good example of a domestic breed in a natural setting, we would certainly be interested in hearing from you.

Arising from the Black Sea area of southeastern Europe, the Sebastopol’s claim to fame is its long, flexible feathers that curl and drape, giving the goose a rumpled look. Because of the looseness of the feathers, this domestic goose breed is less able to shed rain in wet weather or stay warm in cold weather. Varieties include white, gray, and buff plumage. Lacking webbed wing feathers, Sebastopol geese cannot fly well.

domestic goose, Whitlingham CP (Norfolk, UK), 1st Juy 2011 - the same as to the left

There are many breeds of geese to choose from, each breed has its own page where you will find pictures and any breed specific information. If you are interested in getting some geese then why not visit our section on keeping geese where you will find further information?

Domestic geese (Anser anser domesticus or Anser cygnoides domesticus) are domesticated grey geese (either greylag geese or swan geese) kept as poultry for their meat, eggs, and down feathers since ancient times.

domestic geese, Whitlingham CP (Norfolk, UK), 19th June 2011 - two birds that appear to have both Swan Goose and Greylag Goose genes

Due to the fact that domestic geese descended from the Greylag goose are effectively the same species as their wild ancestor (being a subspecies formed through domestication), escaped individuals readily breed with wild populations, resulting in the offspring sometimes resembling either one of their parents, or bearing mixed plumage with patterns of grey and white feathers.

All photos © Kevin and Jay McGowan, unless otherwise noted.

The plumage of male and female goose is usually the same. However, there are few auto-sexing goose, which are sexually dimorphic and the gender can be recognized on the first look by plumage. In general, ganders are white and females are either entirely gray, or pied gray and white.[9][10]

domestic goose (probably Greylag Goose x Swan Goose hybrid), Abberton Reservoir (Essex, UK), 21st August 2004

Faced with a white goose in the wild, many novice birdwatchers in the UK or Europe will immediately think they've found a Snow Goose. In reality, the chances are they will have found a domestic goose, an escaped farmyard (barnyard) goose. As they are often not shown in field guides, domestic geese are also the source of problems for new birders in the US, but here it's often the more naturally-coloured birds that are mistaken for White-fronted Geese.

domestic Greylag Goose, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 14th July 2007

domestic Greylag Goose (with normal Greylag Geese), Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 13th January 2007

Here is one of the young, still slightly downy on 17 August 2002.

domestic Greylag Goose, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 21st April 2007

This number is recorded as an additional security precaution.

These domestic greylag geese were present in the marina at Myers Pt., Lansing, NY on 24 Feb 2001, the same day a real Greater White-fronted Goose was off the south shore (go here to see that bird). Notice the general similarity in pattern to White-front, but a completely different shape and size. Domestic geese are bred to be big and provide a lot of meat, hence they are very bulky.

There are various named 'breeds' of domestic goose but all have descended from either Greylag Goose Anser anser or Swan Goose Anser cygnoides or both. Unlike their wild ancestors many are wholly or partially white and they often (but not always) have an abnormally large rear end.

A huge “thank you” to Rupert Stephenson, poultry photographer who has taken many photos of geese for me and inspired me to take photos of my own.

The following domestic goose was present in the Canada Goose flock off Stewart Park, Ithaca on 24 November 2000. Notice the white "front" behind the bill, but the bill is very swollen at the base.

Geese can get gizzard worm so ensure they are regularly wormed. Flubenvet is a good worming product and can be used for chickens and ducks too. They need grit to grind up the food in their gizzard. Oyster shell or normal grit is fine.

Note that even within the family the offspring vary quite a bit.  Three of the four had pink bills, but the fourth had a black one. The amount of white behind the bill varied, as did the color of the breast and the extent of the dark neck.

domestic goose (probaby Greylag Goose x Swan Goose hybrid), Burnham Norton (Norfolk, UK), 24th September 2011

Click on the link under the picture to go to the breed page.

Pictures taken with an Olympus D-450 or D-40 digital camera through a Swarovski HD80 or Swarovski AT80 spotting scope.

This is a heavy breed with a deep keel that almost touches the ground. Toulouse ganders lay 35 to 60 eggs a season. They are good broody geese, but are clumsy and may tread on eggs. Comes in buff and grey colours. A docile breed.

domestic geese (Greylag Geese and Swan Goose x Greylag Goose hybrids), Graffham Water (Cambridgeshire, UK), 24th September 2011 - the grey birds in the lower photos show mixed Greylag/Swan Goose characters

Many domestic geese show a mixture of the features I've described for Greylag and for Swan Goose - I am working on the assumption that such birds have both species in their ancestry. If anyone can validate or contradict that assumption, please let me know!

This goose was also in the flock off Union Springs, NY on 24 February 2001. It obviously is of domestic ancestry (orange legs, thick neck), but looks like a cross with a Canada Goose (dark, Canada-shaped bill, back coloring).

Domestic Goose

domestic Greylag Goose, Swanton Morley, (Norfolk, UK), 23rd February 2008

domestic (or just leucistic) Greylag Goose, Coxford (Norfolk, UK), 2nd April 2004

domestic (or just leucistic) Greylag Goose, Holkham Park, (Norfolk, UK), 22nd November 2004

Occasionally you will find a domestic goose with a thin, more natural bill size, like this one we saw in the large Canada flock off of Union Springs, NY on 24 February 2001. Its head and bill could be easily confused with those of a Snow Goose, but again this is a large, blocky goose with a thick neck.

Greylag Geese with white patches like this are usually assumed to have domestic ancestry, but this may not always be the case. Pink-footed Geese, which are not domesticated, frequently exhibit very similar examples of leucism and there is no reason to think that feral or wild Greylag Geese would not do so too.

domestic Greylag Goose, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 4th November 2007

The South African goose was bred in America. It's a large breed goose, similar in size to the Toulouse and has the beak knob of the Chinese and a dewlap. The dewlap is a floppy neck skin. It comes in the same wild swan colours as the Chinese, grey or white. Lays ten to twenty eggs a year.

domestic Greylag Goose, Caerlaverock (Dumfries & Galloway, UK), 29th December 2005

They have also been strongly selected for fecundity, with females laying up to 50 eggs per year, compared to 5–12 eggs for a wild goose.[2][3]

Domestic geese can be any color between completely gray (wild type) to completely white, but they are always big and blocky with a different bill shape.