The Toulouse (Heavy Goose class) is a heavy breed of goose originally developed for meat and liver production. The American Poultry Association (APA) recognizes the Toulouse in two varieties, the Gray, which is the original variety, and the Buff.
Old Gander: 26 lbs.
Goose: 20 lbs.
Young Gander: 20 lbs.
Young Goose: 16 lbs.
The Toulouse at one time was considered an excellent meat breed. It is in the heavy class and along with the Embden possesses the largest standard weights of any breed of goose. The Toulouse is a massive and imposing breed of goose. The head is large, oval-shaped and wide with a dewlap that stretches from the bottom of the jaw, at the junction of the bill and throat, and attaches to the neck. The body of the bird is wide, long, and very deep. The breast is wide, prominent and smoothly attaches to the keel which nearly drags the ground. This keel runs in a smooth unbroken line to the legs. The stern of the Toulouse is deep and square and should have two well-balanced lobes. The overall impression is of a large, deep, rectangular bird. Another unique feature of the Toulouse is that the feathers of the back should have a ruffled appearance rather than being smooth like most other breeds of geese.
In color, the gray Toulouse is an even soft gray with each feather of the back and flanks being edged with near white, with the rump being white. The Buff Toulouse should be an even shade of buff with each feather of the back and flank edged with nearly white, the rump is also white. The bill, legs, and feet of both varieties are orange and the eyes are brown.
Gray recognized in 1874
The breed takes its name from the city of Toulouse in southern France. The geese in the vicinity of this city were famous for size and productivity since the beginning of the nineteenth century, but whether these qualities were recent developments or characteristics of the local geese of this area from much earlier times is unknown. Though known by repute in England as early as 1810, Toulouse geese were not imported into that country until about 1840, when the Earl of Derby imported them to add to his poultry collection at Knowsley.
So far as can be learned from available records, Toulouse was first shown in America at Albany, New York, in 1856. This relatively late date of importation makes the Toulouse the latest of the “improved” breeds to be brought here, the other “improved” breeds being the Embden, African, and Chinese. From first acquaintance with it, the breed strongly attracted American fanciers and breeders and it soon became the most popular of the improved breeds.
Toulouse was originally bred for fast growth and for liver production, and are still bred and raised commercially in Europe primarily for pate de foi gras production. Additionally, Toulouse geese are and have always been known as prolific egg producers. Reports of up to 50-60 eggs per season are not uncommon. For this reason, in early America, and in England female Toulouse were often used to cross on Embden ganders with the resulting offspring then used for market geese. This cross would produce more goslings with lighter colored feathers and better carcass traits.
Today’s standard Toulouse, as bred for exhibition, was developed in England. These exhibition Toulouse which later became the standard Toulouse are characterized by large size, deep keels, and dewlaps. The plumage of the Toulouse is somewhat loose-fitting which often makes the birds look even larger than they actually weigh.
Buff Recognized in 1977
The Buff Toulouse is said to have been produced from pure Toulouse stock by a Mr. Paul Lofland of Oregon. Since the first Buff Toulouse has been developed it is probable that the American Buff goose was crossed in with some strains of both Buff and Gray Toulouse to further establish the buff variety.
When looking to buy Toulouse geese buyers need to take some caution as to what they buy and where they buy it. Many so-called “Toulouse” in America are not the true standard type, but rather a smaller version that does not have the characteristic keel and dewlap. The only similarity between a standard Toulouse goose and what many hatcheries sell as “Toulouse” is the color. When looking for a true Toulouse it is best to go to a reputable breeder and be sure the stock is of good size and has the characteristic keel and dewlap. When choosing breeding stock be sure to avoid birds with shallow and narrow heads, small dewlaps, narrow bodies, or under-developed keels. Keep in mind, however, that Toulouse takes a few years to fully develop. Young Toulouse often have smaller dewlaps and less developed keels compared to mature specimens. Color faults to avoid include white feathers under and around the bill or indistinct white edging on the flanks and back. In Buff Toulouse avoid geese that are an uneven shade of buff. Also, pay attention to the bill and leg color. Avoid birds with pinkish shading on the legs or bills. The dark color in the bills of mature specimens (over one-year-old) is a serious fault. However, most young Toulouse will show dark pigment on the tip of the bill. This is normal and usually disappears with age.
Caution needs to be taken when feeding Toulouse geese, as well as other heavy breeds, as they will get too fat if their diet is not watched. This can lead to a multitude of fertility and egg production problems. Many breeders restrict feed intake of their geese before the breeding season so that they lose body fat. This has a big impact on the appearance of the bird, as the keel will shrink some. As far as temperament goes the Toulouse is a very docile, quiet bird and not prone to aggressive behavior, except during breeding season where such behavior is normal for any breed of goose.
Toulouse are very good egg layers and it is possible to produce a lot of offspring from one mating in one season’s time. Toulouse are best mated in pairs or trios as the ganders are not particularly active breeders when compared to the medium and lightweight breeds. Though good fertility can be achieved on land, it sometimes enhances fertility if they do have the chance to mate in water. They are average foragers and like to graze but do not wander very far from where they eat and live. This could be advantageous for those who wish to let their geese roam but don’t have a lot of space for their birds or who have close neighbors.
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