Cotton Patch Geese: How I Rescued These Historic Weeder Geese

Tom Walker found a few gaggles that were fairly representative of the breed. He has carefully selected and maintained these historic weeder geese, saving them from the brink of extinction.

Reader Contribution by Tom T. Walker
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When I was a kid in southwestern Arkansas during the Great Depression of the 1930s, I became fascinated by the small autosexing geese that were everywhere. They were amazingly beautiful. Each was quite independent but was, at the same time, closely attached to the other geese of its gaggle, as a flock of geese is called. It was understood that a gander (a male goose) and a goose (a female goose) mated for life. The two worked as a team in perpetuating their kind.

Apparently, the geese that I knew as a kid had no official breed name. If they had a breed name, I never heard the name used. No name was needed because they were the only kind of geese in the area. During migration, wild geese flew over and occasionally a gaggle would stop for a short time, but they didn’t stay.

Typical of most of the southern part of the United States, my area was cotton country. Grass grew in abundance in the cotton fields and, in keeping with long tradition, cotton farmers used geese to eat that grass. Geese were cheap labor for keeping the cotton fields clean, and they can weed other crops, such as corn and strawberries, too. Cotton fields were typically referred to as cotton patches; so, we present-day fanciers of this common goose have dubbed it the Cotton Patch goose. Apparently, this goose is the goose with the pink bill and feet that was brought to the American Colonies by the English in the early 1600s. The breed is autosexing in that its gender is evidenced by its color at the time of hatch (males are yellow as goslings, females are gray).

There are two varieties. When they are adults, the ganders of both varieties are basically white with blue eyes — “basically white” because usually the ganders have some gray on their wings, tails, backs and shanks. Females of the solid variety are basically dove-gray/brown with some white markings while the females of the saddleback variety are basically white with a dove-gray/brown saddle over their backs and wings, and they have dove-gray/brown leg shanks and heads. The eyes of the solid females are brown while the eyes of the saddleback female may be either brown or blue.

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