Sunday, March 13, 2011

Classic Roman Geese

Originally posted by John Metzer on Sat, Jan 15, 2011 @ 05:07 PM 

I was given an opportunity the other day that I couldn't pass up.
Most people are familiar with Roman Tufted geese, a smaller white goose with a tuft of feathers on their head. But more common in Europe is the Plain Headed Roman goose – without the tuft. These geese are one of the oldest breeds of domestic geese. Their origin is disputed but their claim to fame was the saving of Rome from the Gauls. The story is the squawking of their Roman geese awakened the soldiers to the advancing Gauls and preserved the city of Rome.


Roman geese are some of the smaller domestic geese, with males typically weighing about 12 pounds and females about 10 pounds. Records indicate they were a fairly prolific goose (50-65 eggs per season) but with dwindling numbers and breeding for show qualities only, the breed has lost some of its productivity.
Being smaller, though, they are an active breed that will do well in small pens and in large pastures. I can visualize the beauty of a flock of these smaller, white geese strewn across a green pasture. Being smaller, they will eat less, can tolerate less space and will leave less manure behind. The 1982 Standard describes them as "active, alert, docile rather than defiant."  For a comparison of other goose breeds you can go to our comparison chart on our website.

Patiently waiting in the box.

Dave Holderread imported a small flock of these Plain Headed Roman geese from Canada in 1995. In his effort to simplify his breeding program, he sold his last breeders to Dana McGuire two years ago. Dana realized she could not keep her geese and offered them to me two weeks ago. Arrangements were made and she mailed them to me last Wednesday by Express Mail and they arrived Friday morning in wonderful shape.

As you may know, geese are very curious, intelligent birds. We built the pen for our new geese inside a larger Embden pen and immediately the Embden came over to see who their new neighbors were. Hopefully they were being welcomed to Metzer Farms. However, I was told a fight did break out through a common fence and the Roman made a much larger Embden gander take off in retreat. The Roman was probably a little cranky after its long journey.


What could be a worse name than Plain Headed Roman? Dana also thought it was a poor name and decided to rename them Classic Romans. I think this is a great name, with implications of their classic Roman ancestry. Unless you can come up with a better name, their name is now Classic Roman geese.

We will not be selling any Classic Roman geese this year as we want to expand our small flock (five males and four females) so hopefully we can offer them in 2012. In addition, I will be mating three of the males to some White Chinese geese. I want to test the resulting crossbred birds as a smaller, high quality meat bird.


So let us see how Dimitri, Celestine, Bonnie, Barnabie, Ferdinand, Phoenix, Obidiah, Abigale and Elanor do on our farm. I will keep you posted.

24 comments:

  1. Oh, I inquire about buying a pair of these from Holderreads this year! When you are ready to sell goslings, I want some!

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  2. I love the name "Classic Roman" No wonder I loved them, as we breed classical horses too - the Andalusian or ideal horse of Rome:)

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  3. Any updates on the classic or the crosses with Chinese?

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  4. We didn't try the cross this year. We will set up a small pen this winter in preparation for next spring's breeding season.

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  5. Are you still planning on offering this breed for sale in 2012? and if so will they be sold as sexed pairs? I would love to have a pair or two as well as a few other breeds you offer.

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  6. Yes, we will be selling limited quantities of these birds in 2012 in pairs or straight run. Thank you.

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  7. When do you start taking orders for the 2012 season?

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  8. In January of next year.

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  9. I just happened to find this blog, John! Thanks for the update!
    It will be a delight to see what you do with them!

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  10. I bought two pair of Classic Roman Geese from you, and they are just gorgeous. They are also full of personality. We have them for protecting our ducks and chickens that free range. They have already chased off a full grown Labrador, and I suspect a coyote. We have had no losses of our flocks since getting the Romans. They are so protective over their friends, yet sweet to me and my family. They always come to greet us when we come home and will follow us down the driveway when we leave. They look like swans from a distance. They keep themselves very clean. You can sex link or auto sex these at hatch and during their whole life. The girls are darker at hatch and have patches of grey as they get older. The boys are solid white. Thank you for preserving so many breeds of waterfowl.

    Chris S.

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  11. Want to obtain some adult or gosling Classic Roman geese, was saddened to hear Holderreads doesn't breed them any longer, was delighted to see that Metzer's now has breeders. Willing to purchase adult or goslings, will they be available 2014?

    Thanks
    Jeff

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  12. Yes, we expect to offer them in 2014.

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    1. I don't see any prices for the Classic Romans, I'd like to order a dozen or more goslings.

      Thanks
      Jeff

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    2. For 2014 they will be same as Pilgrim geese. $19.95 per gosling for 1-15 and $17.75 for 16+. Thank you.

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  13. I'd like to order two pairs! Do I order by phone only?

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    1. Yes, you need to order the Classic Roman by phoning us (800-424-7755). Thank you.

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  14. Do you sell hatching eggs?

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    1. We sell duck hatching eggs but not goose hatching eggs. Fertility varies widely with geese and it is harder to hatch their eggs so we do not sell their eggs for hatching.

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  15. My duck has bumblefoot, and I raise my birds organically. Is there any way to heal the bird naturally? Is bumblefoot fatal?

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    1. I don't know what limits you have by raising them organically but I would suggest you lance the swelling and clean it with iodine. I believe iodine should be considered organic. Otherwise I would lance it and then clean with some other accepted disinfectant. Bumblefoot is usually not fatal.

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  16. Will you be offering these again?

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    1. Yes, we show some hatching and available for shipping on June 22. If you have an interest, call us at 800-424-7755. Thank you.

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  17. The Holderread site makes a distinction between orange-billed "classic" Romans as you call them, and pinkish billed tufteds, as different breeds. I realize only tufteds are in the American standard at this time, but I would like to breed to the standard Dave references; is there a (european?) standard available?

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    1. I don't believe there is a US standard for Classic Romans. As we do not showing ourselves, you would need to contact a judge. You can find judges and more information on exhibition poultry at www.amerpoultryassn.com Good luck!

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