They are believed to have been developed in south-eastern Europe and are a descendant of the native European Greylag goose, found along the Danube and the Black Sea.
Some say that they were imported to England just after the Crimean war in 1859 however it is documented that they originally came across the birds in the Crimea and transported them from the Russian port of Sevastopol arriving in England in 1860.
They were exhibited at the Crystal Palace Poultry show in 1860 under the name Sebastopol goose and later in Ireland in 1863 they were known as the ‘Danubian’ goose. By the turn of the 19th century they were found in all countries surrounding the Black Sea.
Germans refer to them as ‘Lokengans’ or ‘Struppgans’ meaning curl or unkempt goose respectively, and the French name them L’oie Frisse.
Sebastopols’ were originally bred for the use of their renowned and abundant, soft, curly feathers for pillows and quilts.
As a medium size goose they can be used for meat. Their egg production is relatively low, as is their fertility but they excel in their unusual beauty and are ideal for exhibition, having highly ornamental value.
Traditionally the Sebastopol goose is pure white, with young females sometimes displaying grey feathering to the rump before maturity.
In more modern times they have been crossed and can now occasionally be found as grey, buff and saddleback colour variants that typically have brown eyes, as opposed to the bright blue of the pure whites.
Classed as a medium size goose, they are found in two distinct types.
Their breasts and bodies have a full curly feathered appearance all over, giving them a more rounded or ‘ball like’ shape than the smooth breasted variant. Only their heads and necks are smooth and close feathered. Their wings have long soft curly feathers with no stiff shafts, making them incapable of flight. They sport orange shanks and feet, an orange bill, and bright blue eyes with a slender orange lining around the edge.
These are totally smooth and close feathered on the head, neck, breast and belly. The scapular, saddle/back, wing and thigh feathering should be very long, plentiful, and trail in long loose ‘waterfall like’ spiralling ribbons. The longer the better, and best examples are seen touching the ground.
An adult gander weighs in at around 5.7-7kg, and a goose at 4.5-6kg. The females lay approximately 25 to 35 eggs per year, combined with the low fertility rate, they are not the easiest to breed and are subsequently on the rare breeds ‘watch’ list.
They are a relatively quiet breed of goose with a pleasant disposition.