Steinbacher geese were developed in the early 20th century in the German state of Thuringia, where they’re known as Steinbacher Kampfgänse (Steinbacher Fighting Goose) from both eastern and western varieties of geese. The breed’s origins aren’t well documented, but most sources point to a cross between Chinese and various local German geese. A cross with the Russian Tula is also likely. The breed was admitted to the German Poultry Standards in 1932 and the U.K. Domestic Waterfowl Standards in 1997.
While originally developed as a fighting breed, most have calm dispositions toward humans and other geese. They’re often described as “confident.” The breed retains good mothering instincts but lay rates vary widely among strains, with some being poor. They have a distinctive orange bill with a black bean at the end, black “lipstick” lining the bill edges, and an orange ring around the eyes.
The goslings hatch with pure black bills, legs, and feet and change to the desired color as they mature. In Germany, these geese exhibit many color variations, including grey, blue, buff, and cream. The blue variety was accepted to the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection in 2011. They’ve been advertised as monogamous, but many breeders report otherwise. Additionally, they have been advertised as needing a special diet, but many breeders also disagree.
The paunch develops in the females after they first lay and is single-lobed. Once formed, it never diminishes. “There is some [international] controversy over the most desirable paunch for the Steinbacher. It is generally agreed that in young birds, that there be little sign of a paunch. In older birds or females after they have layed, the German Standard specifies a single lobed paunch while the British Standard calls for a double-lobed paunch. Since the breed originated in Germany, I would think that a single lobed paunch in older birds would reflect what the original foundation stock possessed. In terms of weight ranges, the German Standard calls for old birds to be in the 15 to 17 pounds. range while the British Standard specifies weights from 13 to 16 pounds.” – American Waterfowl Judge, Mr. Lou Horton
They were first imported to the United States from Germany in 2004 by Mr. and Mrs. Krebs of Steinbacher Poultry Farm in Michigan, and are a conservation priority for The Livestock Conservancy because they’re globally endangered, despite being a relatively recent import. They’re very popular with the public at shows due to their attractive color and outgoing personality with people. There is often a crowd of people gathered around their cages.
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.