|For immediate release
10 March 2005
SPPA member locates Cotton Patch Geese
How many geese does it take to grass a cotton patch?
By Christine Heinrichs, SPPA Publicity Director, firstname.lastname@example.org,
When veteran turkey breeder Tom T. Walker of Bastrop,
Texas heard that no members of the Society for the Preservation
of Poultry Antiquities had Cotton Patch Geese, he determined
to search for them.
He launched letters to agricultural extension agents
to see what he could turn up. Most didn’t respond,
but his letter caught the attention of the director
of the University of Arkansas Extension program. He
wrote an article on Tom’s quest that was printed
in Arkansas and neighboring states. Many readers responded.
“It’s unbelievable the number of letters
and phone calls I got,” Dr. Walker said.
They told stories of herding Cotton Patch Geese from
one field to another to eat the grass and weeds, earning
spending money during the Depression. Flock owners rented
their geese, which are primarily grass-eaters, to cotton
growers along the Mississippi.
“They won’t touch the cotton,” said
Dr. Walker identified a flock of the old breed in East
Central Arkansas. They had been in the owner’s
family for years. The current owner thought they were
Pilgrim geese, and had added a Pilgrim gander to improve
He shared a trio from his flock with Dr. Walker. He
is using them as the foundation for restoring this historic
A flock owner in Mississippi has the saddle-backed
variety. Dr. Walker hopes to acquire stock from that
strain in the future.
Cotton Patch Geese have pink bills and feet, not the
orange of Pilgrims. Ganders are white with blue eyes
and touches of brown on the tail and wing feathers.
Hens are brown-gray with brown eyes.
Another strain has the brown-gray saddle-back and head
with blue eyes, the same pattern as the Old English.
“I’m convinced these are Old English Geese,
300 years removed,” said Dr. Walker.
Perhaps originally introduced in Colonial Virginia
as well as New England, the geese would have spread
across the South with their owners.
Dr. Walker looks forward to the day when DNA tests
can establish precise relationships among goose breeds.
For now, he’s excited about his discovery and
future progress. At his request, the Choctaw Tribe in
Oklahoma is searching its members for any who may have
Choctaw Geese, another variant.
Dr. Walker continues his turkey breeding projects with
Regal Reds and Spanish Blacks, with the important contribution
of his favorite hen, Senora. Although she weighs only
nine pounds, she continues to rule the poultry yard.
The new color that emerged from his experiments, Harvest
Gold, is now in its third generation.
In the course of his cross-breedings, turkeys with
the original Black-Winged Bronze variation appeared.
He has sent two of those hens to a breeder who feared
the strain would become extinct.
Those discoveries convince Mr. Walker that the Black-Winged
Bronze played a part in the development of the Regal
He sees more projects than he can find time for, especially
the development of a Black Midget. He’d be happy
to help another breeder get started with that project.
“Right here on my little old place, I’ve
got enough to have fun for another hundred years,”
he said. Dr. Walker celebrated his 78th birthday in
Join Dr. Walker and the Society for the Preservation
of Poultry Antiquities by sending $12.50 to Dr. Charles
Everett, 122 Magnolia Lane, Lugoff, SC 29078