The West of England goose is a rare or heritage domestic breed of goose originating from the southern portion of England that includes Devon and Cornwall. This medium-sized nearly all-white goose breed is auto-sexing which means you can easily tell a dame (female) from a gander (male) immediately upon hatching by the patches of gray on the bill as opposed to the plain light orange of the male.

These striking white geese with gray markings are primarily raised for meat production although they’re also raised to produce eggs. These medium-sized geese are hearty and birds that grow quickly. The females usually weigh around 14 pounds while the ganders can weigh in at around 18-20 pounds.

divider-birdQuick Facts about the West of England Goose

West of England geese
West of England geese (Image Credit: Baselbonsai, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Breed Name:West of England Goose
Place of Origin:England
Uses:Meat and eggs
Gander (Male) Size:18-20 pounds
Dame (Female) Size:14 pounds
Color:White (ganders), white with gray markings (dames)
Lifespan:15-20 years
Climate Tolerance:Moderate climates
Egg Productivity:20-50 eggs per year
Rarity:Rare

West of England Goose Origins

Auto-sexing “common geese” have been recorded in Great Britain for many centuries with some photographs in existence dating back to the mid-1800s that appear to show the West of England goose. There is very little documented history available on this rare breed of geese but the birds were widely exhibited at shows starting in the 1970s.

It wasn’t until 1999 that the British Waterfowl Association decided to standardize the West of England goose. While this goose breed has a vague history, it’s likely the auto-sexing attributes of the West of England goose were developed over hundreds of years without any influences coming from foreign breeds. Today, the West of England goose is on the Rare Breed Survival Trust (RBST) watchlist as a priority breed. This uncommon goose is one of just four standardized British indigenous breeds, making it very rare indeed.

Characteristics

West of England geese are easy to tame and work with. With their calm temperament, mostly white bodies, blue eyes, and orange bills, these medium-sized geese are beautiful and fun birds to raise. That is if you can get your hands on some!

It’s odd that this once-common English farmyard goose is so difficult to find today. While many people claim they have West of England geese for sale, most of these birds are not pure stock. This breed has all the attributes of a farm goose as it’s hearty, a good forager, and a keen grazer that’s able to easily convert common grass to meat. This is a quiet, even-tempered goose that won’t cause problems on a farm and one that produces 20 to 50 eggs per year. Like other geese, West of England geese can disturb neighbors with their honking, but they’re watchful birds that will keep guard over their property, alerting you to anything that’s out of the ordinary.

When breeding West of England geese, farmers enjoy the fact that these geese are calm and trusting around people. It’s also appreciated that male and female West of England geese will readily rear their young without needing much help from humans.

Uses

Some people keep West of England geese as backyard pets because of the pleasant, docile nature of these geese. These geese get along well with people and don’t cause trouble with chickens, ducks, or other geese.

For the most part, West of England geese are raised for meat and egg production. There are even people who raise these geese for their white downy feathers.

Appearance & Varieties

The ganders of this species are all-white although they can have traces of gray on their backs or rumps. The dames have a gray saddle marking on the back and patches of gray on the thighs. The head and neck are gray and white. Both males and females have blue eyes, orange bills, and orangish-pink legs. Considering the West of England goose is not bred widely, it’s important to ensure you’re buying genuine stock as many goose breeds have white ganders. If you are planning on building an entire breeding program with West of England geese, the whole program will fail if you have a gander that does not carry the auto-sexing gene.

Population/Distribution/Habitat

As a rare goose breed originally found across the lower portion of England, West of England geese can be found on farms in the UK, Europe, and even the United States. When purchasing these geese, people know it’s important to get the birds from clean, award-winning bloodlines to ensure they’ll be raising and/or breeding 100% West of England geese.

Are West of England Geese Good for Small-Scale Farming?

West of England geese make excellent candidates for small-scale farming. A big advantage of raising West of England geese is that it’s easy to tell the females from the males from the moment of hatch because they’re auto-sexing. Otherwise, it’s notoriously difficult to properly sex geese. Because West of England geese are calm in temperament, these birds become friendly toward people when given enough contact with humans. They’re also hearty birds that can live in moderate climates.

Like all domestic geese, West of England geese are fun and relatively easy to keep. They’re also cheap to feed as you won’t have to spend much money on goose food because they’re natural foragers that are great at controlling grass and weed growth.

divider-birdConclusion

The mostly white West of England goose is a rare heritage breed that has an unclear history. As an auto-sexing goose that’s calm and friendly, this breed makes an excellent candidate for a small-scale farm. It’s a hearty goose that requires little human intervention when it comes to feeding and raising its young.

If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a pair of West of England geese, take great care when breeding your birds so you can help preserve and build upon this beautiful breed!


Featured Image Credit: Alison Taylor, Shutterstock