The Twentse goose is a landrace type of goose similar, yet taller, than its ancestor, the Greylag goose (Anser anser). The white or pied colored Twentse goose is a multi-purpose breed (used for weeding, meat, eggs, down and feathers, fat and guarding) with unique regional characteristics such as the blue-eyed pied variety and early egg laying (in the late summer and early autumn). As a consequence, the tender meat of young goslings was available for traditional December dishes. It used to be common practice to consume young goslings when the wing feathers started to grow; the so-called quill goslings (in Dutch pennekuikens). The males weigh about 5.5 kg and females 4.5 kg. Feathers were once plucked up to four times a year; although white down feathers were better valued than colored down, colored animals were found to be stronger.
Although landrace geese were common across northwest Europe during the late medieval period, most regional breeds are now extinct. The Twentse goose survived, along with just a few other breeds: the Groninger goose, the Noord-Holland goose, the Zuidenaar goose and the Maas goose. Based on historic documents, goose-keeping proved to be more important locally than poultry-keeping. Young girls herded flocks of geese and the annual goose markets are still remembered in various names of streets and squares in Twentse and Achterhoek. Moreover, early regional law described thoughtfully the amount of geese to be kept by whom and under which conditions, including the penalties for breaking these laws.
The vast majority of geese in the Twente and Achterhoek regions were kept between 1800 and 1940. Around 30,000-40,000 geese were traded annually, particularly to England, with a maximum of 60,000 geese traded in 1887.
With the outbreak of the First World War the geese trade to England collapsed completely, never to recover.
In the years 1920s and 30s, on the advice of the Dutch State poultry consultant Mr. P.J. van Wijk, the Twentse Goose was interbred with the heavier Lithuanian goose breed to reflect the desires of the lively German export market. Very soon after the Second World War the geese breeding business in the Netherlands nearly collapsed. Until the mid-1960s, on a much smaller scale, there were still geese fattened in Twente and traded in the region for Christmas roast.
Around the year 2000, the last remaining Twentse goose were put into a breeding and selection program supported by the Dutch Rare Breed Society and the Dutch Domestic Waterfowl Breeding Society. In 2015, about 40 keepers and 15 breeders kept approximately 125 animals, and several geese have found new keepers in the nearby area of Bentheim, in Germany. Today, although the Twentse goose is kept by several breeders across the Netherlands, the bulk of the population can be found in the area of origin in the east of the Netherlands towards the German border: Twente, The Achterhoek and up into Drenthe.
Area of production
Twente, Achterhoek and up into Drenthe, province of Overijssel.
7666 LK Fleringen
7137 HN Lievelde
E.A. De Poel
7475 PN Markelo
9363 XA Marum
B-3930 Hamont (BELGIE)
H&J Van Vliet
9863 TE Doezum
7495 SH Ambt-Delden