The Kholmogorskoye geese of Russia’s Vladimirskiy region, one of the most valuable old Russian breeds, were domesticated by the population of the Central Black Earth Zone, around central Russia’s eastern European borders. Moreover, at one point Kholmogor geese were common in the regions of Chernihiv, Voronezh, Kursk, Tambov and the southern part of Oryol, as well as in the northern part of Volgograd, Rostov, Kharkiv and Sumy regions. At present, unfortunately, Kholmogory geese exist in small quantities, mainly raised by fancier breeders. Though Kholmogorskoye have exceptionally high acclimatization abilities and can be bred and raised in any part of Russia, there is not currently a sufficiently large breeding herd that would be purposeful for repopulating the breed.
Kholmogorskoye geese are perfectly adapted to their local conditions. They are large, with a massive body, big head, a forehead ‘lump’ (swelling of the frontal bone) and a skin fold under the beak (called a ‘purse’). The plumage of these geese can be white, gray or speckled, but the most valuable is the white variety. The beak and legs of the geese are a yellow-orange color. They have a long neck and broad chest, and can reach near-adult weight in 6 months. Kholmogorskoye geese have high quality meat, are fast growing and well fattened and provide relatively large eggs. The average weight of ganders is 10.8 kg ganders, and 6-7.5 kg for geese. Kholmogorskoye geese lay an average of 20-25 eggs annually, with the best laying hens giving 40 or more eggs of 170-200 g each. Hatching quality is high, and the geese are very good at incubating their eggs. Young geese are fast growing, well acclimated and give a large amount of high-quality meat, fat, feathers and down. A sixty-day old goose will reach a live weight of 4.0-4.5 kg. These geese have a calm disposition and get along well in large herds. Breeding work with the Holmogorskoj breed offers great opportunities to enhance Kholmogorskoyes’ productive qualities.
Once, Kholmogory geese were widely spread throughout eastern central Russia, but now they have become a rare breed. Their decline may be due to a few reasons. Kholmogorskoye geese were originally considered a game goose or a breed for amateurs. Low reproductive rates were considered a disadvantage (even in exchange for the Kholmogorskoyes’ larger average size). In an attempt to gain the best combination of these two features, conventional poultry farmers were tempted to mix Kholmogory geese with other breeds to increase egg production and increase the size of the average bird. Therefore, Kholmogorskoye geese have been used to create new breed groups, such as the Vladimir, Solnechnogorskaya and Lindovskie. The result is an original breed that is confused and blurred — a simple yard bird. The loss of the purebred Kholmogory geese means the loss of the strong genetics and qualities that gave rise to those modern and promising industrial breeds.