Unlike most domestic geese which are descendants of the Greylag goose, Chinese and African breeds with their distinctive rounded knob on their heads, are descendants of the Asiatic Swan goose, reflected in their Latin name Anser Cygnoides. The first recorded poultry show in 1845 had classes for “Knobbed or Asiatic Geese” so they must have reached Britain by this time, the early years of Queen Victoria's reign. Possibly they, like so many duck breeds, had arrived via the powerful and large Dutch East India Company which brought so many breeds of poultry to different parts of the world. Melchior d'Hondecoeter was well known in the nineteenth century for his bird paintings and Chinese geese are included in his subjects.
The breed underwent a bit of a resurgence in the 1930s when enthusiasm for breeding utility birds (egg and meat production) was at its highest. The famous Reginald Appleyard was one of its fans and he recorded that Chinese geese lay 60 eggs a year and even reach up to 100 which is very high for goose egg production. The book, Utility Poultry Farming for Australasia in 1908 also acknowledged egg production of 50-60 eggs a year. In mid 1930s there were the ornamental bird and the smaller American utility strain. Christopher Marler was instrumental in importing the American strain in the 1970s. They are found world wide now. They can also be known as Knobbed geese, Hong Kong and Chinese Swan goose. It is humbling to think that these birds have obviously lived alongside people for many centuries.
The Chinese is a very active breed who likes to have a lot to do to keep busy. They are not known for flying but can range large distances, though beware as they can be taken quite easily by an adult fox. They can be described as “chatty” birds or “noisy” depending on your views, but bear in mind that they have been kept for centuries as guard geese and so they do let you and everyone else know when someone or something is about. Possibly not ideal if you have close neighbours who are not fans of geese.
They are very elegant geese, upright and with a long swan like neck. The White Chinese are pure white with blue eyes and orange / yellow legs and orange bill and knob. The brown or grey Chinese have a dark stripe from the crown of the head down the back of the neck. The body and thighs are brown to a light brown/grey and the underbody is white. They have orange feet which sometimes has brown markings.
This is a light goose breed.
Chinese Geece are reasonably easy to source although good exhibition strains are rarer.
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