This is a very French breed, developed for meat in the south of the country and in particular for pate de foie gras. The Earl of Derby imported it to the UK in the 1840s and as a result it was shown at the first record Poultry Show in 1845. It was standardised in the UK in 1865. In 1885 William Cook described the Toulouse as a 'splendid breed'. Many farmers called them the 'grey goose'. It is possible that they were the traditional Christmas goose of Christmas Carol fame. There were two types of Toulouse, the exhibition and the utility but today it is more likely you will find the exhibition variety as purpose bred commercial geese have superseded the Toulouse.
It is a stately goose that needs to be active to be fit. But they should not be worried by more active geese as they can get frightened and worried by this. They need handling when young to produce a confident adult and they need plenty of , grass and green food and water. The land needs to be well drained as their large feet can churn it up. This breed needs good management and plenty of quiet observation. As their feathering is quite loose, watch out for fly strike around the vent (bottom) – this is where a fly lays their eggs and maggots eat into the flesh. It's also not particularly waterproof so shelter is needed at all times.
There are three colours, Grey, Buff and White. In the Grey the feathers are edged with white or fawn and the body is white underneath, in Buff, the markings are the same and for White it is pure white all over with blue eyes (the Grey and Buff have brown eyes). All three have orange or pinkish legs.
The head is very large and the neck has a pendulous dewlap which extends in folds. The body is long, broad and deep supported on short legs. It is a magnificent large bird in appearance that has a great dignity.
It is a heavy breed.
Buying a good example of a Toulouse takes some research – beware that for a smaller example of the Toulouse you are not buying a grey cross bred.
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