The Sebastopol goose originated in southeastern Europe, with sources pointing to the region around the Black Sea. They were named after Sebastopol, a Russian city from which they were imported to the US. In Germany, the birds have been known as “Strupp Guns” or “Lockengans” which means “unkempt goose” or “curl goose” due to the frizzled appearance of their feathers. The breed was developed from wild Graylag geese, which are native to Europe, and was recognized by The American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection in 1938.
The Sebastopol is readily identified by its feathers: long, soft-quilled, curling feathers drape elegantly from its wings, body, and tail. This modification in plumage is an example of breeding for a specific trait. Whenever a domestic animal is selected for an unusual characteristic, great care must be taken to ensure that the vigor and fertility of breeding stock aren’t overlooked. The primary selection criteria should be health and adequate size, then well-curled breast feathers, flexible flight feathers, and back and tail plumes that are long, broad, and spiraled. Avoid using breeding stock with crooked toes and “slipped wings.”
The white variety of the Sebastopol is best known. Both males and females have pure white feathers that contrast with their bright blue eyes and orange bills and feet. Juveniles often have traces of gray. There are also gray and buff color varieties.
Sebastopols are medium-sized geese, with ganders weighing 14 lbs. and geese weighing 12 lbs. when mature. They have prominent eyes, slightly arched necks, keelless breasts, and large, rounded heads. The head’s plumage and that of the upper two-thirds of the neck is normal; the breast and underbody feathers are elongated and well-curled. The soft, fluffy feathers of the back, wings, and tail have flexible shafts, are attractively spiraled, and are so long that they nearly touch the ground. The curled feathers prevent flight, and they don’t like to wander and are slow-moving which makes them easier to confine.
Sebastopol geese are moderate layers, producing 25-35 large, white eggs annually. They are broody and good mothers and can be used as adoptive parents for goslings of their own or other breeds. Ganders can be mated with one to four geese. Fertility problems can sometimes be helped by clipping the long plumes of the back and tail and the feathers around the vent.
To keep Sebastopols looking good, clean water for swimming should be made available. They have webbed feet and are good swimmers. While they’re hardy and can be raised successfully in cold climates, it’s a good idea to provide more protection during wet, cold, and windy weather than normally afforded to other breeds, as their loose-fitting feathers don’t provide as much warmth, nor do they shed water as well.
This attractive, friendly breed has a quiet and pleasant disposition, are excellent foragers, fatten easily, and they make gentle pets as they are more on the shy side than aggressive like some other goose breeds. They are a dual-purpose and ornamental breed and can be used to keep the grass short where they are raised. Sebastopols produce good quality meat for roasting.
For more information about Sebastopol geese and their history, download an article by Jonathan M. Thompson.
Did you know:
The Livestock Conservancy is America’s leading organization working to save over 150 heritage breeds from extinction. We rely on the support of our members, grants, and donations from the public to raise the $700,000 a year needed to maintain our conservation work with rare breeds of farm animals. Click here to learn how you can help.