The African goose is a larger relative of the Chinese goose. Both breeds are thought to have developed from the wild swan goose which they closely resemble. African geese are highly regarded as a table bird.
Origin: Asia – not Africa
Colours: as per below, eg Brown, but also available overseas in White and Buff.
Eggs: are large, weighing 141 - 226 grams (5-8 ounces), and hatch in 30-32 days.
* Is there any use for the dewlap? In dewlapped cattle such as Brahmin and Red Sindhi (tropical breeds) the dewlap is thought to aid cooling (large surface area). Possibly it serves the same purpose for the African goose.
* Does the dewlap come from crossing with a Toulouse? Megg Miller's research of eighteenth and nineteenth century literature (see references) suggests that although the African was probably well known in Europe towards the end of the 1700s, until the early twentieth century it was called many different names. Fanciers and goose farmers in the UK largely ignored them in favour of the Embden and Toulouse. In contrast the Americans embraced the African enthusiastically and American poultry writers in the 1850s were referring to African geese.
Most goose experts now believe that the dewlap has not come from cross-breeding with the Toulouse, as some have claimed. Early 19th century illustrations show Africans with a dewlap at least 50 years before Toulouse breeders developed the dewlap in that breed. Oscar Grow claims that crosses with the Toulouse were probably made for the opposite reason, '…as at the time the African appeared, very few Toulouse had appreciable dewlaps; nor did they display them in a pronounced form until after the African had been standardized.'
Miller, Megg. African Geese. Australasian Poultry, Vol. 12, No. 2.
* When does the dewlap grow? Some individuals don't get the dewlap until over 18 months old, whilst others might develop one at 6 months. The dewlap runs down from the bill into the neck
- They should have a large body, clean underneath, ie the paunch should not touch the ground.
- Make sure they are only 30 degrees above the horizontal.
- Should have a large knob and as big a dewlap as you can find.
- They should not have a keel or baggy paunch
How to improve your flock:
- Select the fastest growing goslings for future breeding.
- Always look for massive features (even in their first year they should have large, coarse heads and thick necks) and carriage 30 to 40 degrees.
- Head should be large and broad between the eyes
- Knob should be as wide as the head
- Older females especially when laying will often have low-hung paunches and show some indication of a keel. But all males and young females should be keel-less and only a moderately full abdomen. Selecting for this should maintain the breed's fame as a lean meat bird.
- Africans with tails held in line with the back or lower often indicate physical weakness and infertility.
- Avoid young geese of too refined type, otherwise the flock will eventually revert to the Chinese breed type (small and slender rather than massive and meaty).
- Avoid young geese that have already developed a pronounced dewlap. Africans do not grow the dewlap as fast as Toulouse and it will not fully develop until aged about three years.
They can be kept on grass if very lush and succulent but with our Africans being on the small side, they need all the help they can get to grow to their full potential and in most cases should get supplementary feed. Using a mix of layer pellets, whole and cracked corn, wheat and a little bit of milo grain.
Pure specimens are very difficult to find. Many have been seen around that are just Toulouse-Chinese crosses. This breed needs all the support it can get in Australia, so if you are thinking of taking on a goose breed, consider the African. You will almost certainly have to be prepared to start with less than excellent stock and gradually work to improve your flock.
CARRIAGE: Reasonably upright.
TYPE - Body large, long, carried moderately upright. Stern round, full, free from bagginess. Back broad, moderately long, flat. Breast full, well rounded, and carried moderately upright, without keel. Wings large, strong, smoothly folded against sides. Tail well elevated.
HEAD - Broad, deep and large. Dewlap large, heavy, smooth; lower edges regularly curved and extending from lower mandible to below juncture of neck and throat. Bill rather large, stout at base. Knob large, broad as the head, protruding slightly forward from front of skull at upper mandible. Eyes large.
NECK - Long and nicely arched; throat with well- developed dewlap.
LEGS AND FEET - Lower thighs short and stout. Shanks of medium length. Toes straight connected by web.
Gander and Goose: Head light brown. Neck: very light ashy brown with distinct broad, dark brown stripe down centre of the back of the neck and extending its entire length. Front of neck under mandible very light ashy brown, gradually becoming lighter in colour until past the dewlap where it is almost cream in colour, then gradually deepening in colour as it approaches the breast. Breast: very light ashy brown shading to a lighter colour under the body. Body: a lighter shade than the breast, gradually becoming lighter as it approaches the fluff, which is so light as to approach white. Sides of body ashy brown, each feather edged with a lighter shade. Lower thighs: upper part similar to sides of body, ashy brown edged with a lighter shade; lower part similar in colour to underpart of body. Back ashy brown. Wing bow: ashy brown, slightly edged with a lighter shade. Coverts: ashy brown, distinctly edged with a lighter shade. Primaries dark slate. Primary coverts light slate. Secondaries: dark slate, distinm edged with a lighter shade approaching white. Tail: ashy brown heavily laced with a shade approach
white, tail coverts white. Bill and knob black. Eyes dark brown. Legs and webs dark orange.
Gander 7.25 - 9.10 kg
Goose 6.35 - 8.15kg
SCALE OF POINTS
Colour and markings 10
Legs and Feet 5
Head and Throat 15
General Carriage 15
Tail and paunch 10
Lack of dewlap. Lack of knob. White in coloured plumage.
from the Australian Poultry Standard, 1st Edition, page 169 - permission Trevor Hunt
Ashtons Waterfowl: http://www.ashtonwaterfowl.net/african_geese.htm
Rare Breed Trust of Australia: http://www.rbta.org/africangeese.htm