Alpine goats are a medium- to large-sized goats that are known for their good milking ability. They don’t have set colors or markings and they are quite common. You can buy different types of Alpines, but you must know what to look for. You also need to know how to properly take care of them.
In this comprehensive guide, we will give you all the information you will need to get started with this breed. Here, you will find what they prefer to eat, how to take care of them and many other useful tips.
Alpine Goat Uses
Alpine goats are primarily dairy goats. They are known for their rich dairy production, high-quality milk output, long lactation, and mild temper. Their milk has a relatively low-fat content and an average fat percent.
It is packed full of protein but has more sugar than most goat milk. Their milk is healthier than other goat’s milk since it has such low levels of fat content. It is a popular choice for milk, ice-cream, cheese, and soap.
This breed is one of the top goat dairy producers in the world, putting it above other dairy breeds. The goats can be milked about six weeks after puberty, although the optimal weight for the best dairy production is about 135 pounds. Alpines will continue to produce high- quality milk if they receive proper nutrition, reproductive management, and disease control. Farmers must also keep in mind that proper milking procedures are essential.
Once the goat has been milked, the milk must immediately be chilled. Warm milk allows bacteria to grow, causing the milk to spoil faster. Remember, there are several factors that contribute to optimal milking conditions.
If the goats do not feel safe or are disturbed in any way, they will stop producing quality milk which would result in a loss for the farmer. With proper nutrition and care, however, Alpines can produce some of the best goat’s milk in the world.
Alpine Goat Origins
Goats were among the first animals domesticated by man. Archaeologists have found goat bones carbon dated back 15,000 years. These goats would have been the Pashang goats from which all other goats are descended. Some of these Pashang goats migrated to the Alps where they became expert climbers.
Alpine goats have a keen sense of direction, can survive in arid conditions, and have a perfect sense of balance. Early Europeans started breeding their ideal goats by mixing in characteristics that they liked.
Their sense of balance and docile demeanor made them perfect for sea voyages. By the 1700’s, they were being transported all over the world to supply meat and milk to sailors. Today, these goats are found in almost every region and climate in the world. Alpines were introduced to America early on, but the turning point came during the 1904 World’s Fair, after which they became a sought-after breed due to their unique characteristics.
American farmers began cross-breeding their Alpines which led to a bit of a shift in the goat’s history. Nowadays, you can purchase a purebred Alpine which is the Alpine that has come directly from the Alps or is descended through a pure Alpine lineage.
You can also get an American Alpine which has other genetic influences. These goats have all the same characteristics as purebred Alpines, but they may have less standard markings or conformation.
Alpine Goat Characteristics
Alpines are a medium to large size breed with males growing to about 32 inches and females to about 30 inches at the withers. Their hair ranges from short to medium and they come in a variety of colors.
They have a hardy nature and can adapt to any climate with ease, making them a versatile animal to farm with and explains why they thrive all over the world. They have a straight profile and erect ears; they have also been described as alert and graceful.
Alpine goats are the only breed with erect ears that come in all colors and combinations of colors. Alpines are ready to breed at about 4-5 months of age for bucks and 5-6 months for does.
The ideal breeding weight for does is about 75-80 pounds, so it is suggested that you wait until the doe is heavy enough before breeding. Their gestation lasts for about 150 days. Alpines are very fertile and tend to have twins, although singles, triplets and quintuplets are not uncommon.
This breed is renowned for being mild tempered and docile, but they are highly curious. Like most goats they are independent and strong willed; thankfully they also tend to be very friendly.
Alpine Goat Price
The cost of raising and breeding a goat does not end with just buying the goat. You can get a proper doe from between $100-$300, although some breeders might ask for more depending on the goat itself. If you would like to breed with Alpines, you will need to buy an Alpine which has been properly bred.
Before you buy the goat, you must get the space ready for the goat. Since goats are herd animals by nature, you must be sure to buy more than one. A lonely goat is a frustrated goat; this would be bad for the milk and for your peace of mind.
You must look at the price of fencing and how much it would cost to erect a sturdy structure for the goats to live in. You will also need a place to milk the goats. Goats can live off normal feed, but they prefer a lot of variety. You need to factor in the cost of food, alfalfa pellets and the occasional treat; although, most times you could just give them a treat from the garden.
Alpines need to be groomed every now and then. They also need to be taken for their shots. The prices of these factors differ from region to region, so be sure to look around to get the best value for your money.
Alpine Goat Breeders
Now that you have a clear idea of what you should be doing with an Alpine, you might be eager to rush out to buy your own pair. Before you do that, you need to know what to look for.
Unfortunately, not everyone selling goats is honest, so you need to be aware of what to look for before you buy an animal.
Alpines tend to be large animals, but they are never coarse. A proper Alpine will stand tall and graceful; they also have soft fur which ranges from medium to short. Their ears are always alert and upright, and they tend to be a bit narrow in shape. Alpines come in all colors and color variations, and their colors are usually described in French. A mature Alpine doe should be at least 30 inches tall and weigh at least 135 pounds. A buck should be at least 32 inches tall and weigh about 160 pounds.
If the goat seems a bit bad-tempered or shy, this is a bad sign. Alpines are naturally friendly and curious; a change in temperament could be an indication of disease. Feel free to ask the seller any question. A reputable seller should know what they are talking about and will not try to hide details.
Raising Alpine Goats
The next step would be to prepare an area for them to roam.
Goats require special attention, especially when they are pregnant or being milked. Try not to raise them around other farm animals. If you are just starting out, start with about two goats before expanding your herd or else they might be too much for you to handle. Never let your Alpines eat leftover feed, so be sure to feed them regularly with fresh food. Alpines need to be dewormed, so remember to ask your vet about deworming medicine. If you notice that one of your Alpines is sick, isolate them immediately and call the vet.
Breeding Alpine Goat
Alpines are prolific breeders and are known to give birth to twins or even quintuplets. There are several factors to consider before you can begin breeding with your goats.
If you want to use mass mating techniques, then the standard ratio is 1 buck per 25 does. If you are breeding with different ages, then keep the older goats away from the younger mates.
When the time comes to breed your Alpines, keep the male in a small shady enclosure during the day, especially if you live in a hot climate. Give him small dosages of growing supplements. Put the male with the females for the night; this technique works well for breeders, especially if you put the animals in a pen at night.
Artificial insemination is also an option, but it would be best to contact your local animal husbandry for more information. The breeding season depends on where you live and in your climate. Before you begin breeding, it might be a good idea to consult fellow goat farmers in the area or your local veterinarian.
Age and body mass also need to be considered, it is better to wait for the doe to reach the ideal weight rather than a certain month. Feed and nutrition also play a key role, so make sure that their feeding schedule is benefiting your Alpines.
Alpine Goat Shelters
All goats are hardy creatures, but they do need a good shelter to protect them from the elements. Toggenburg goats do better in colder climates but they need somewhere warm to spend the night.
A simple structure should be able to do the trick, and you should make sure that the door or opening is facing away from the prevailing winds.
Goats need to be kept dry, so make sure that there are no leaks in the structure. Be on guard for leaks and always make sure that your goats have somewhere dry to sleep.
The structure needs to be ventilated without being drafty, since a well-ventilated space prevents many different diseases. Goats are hygienic creatures, so their pen will need to be cleaned daily.
Your Toggenburg goat will thrive in a clean environment. If you plan on selling your goat milk, then the shelter will need to meet specific requirements.
Goats are easy to milk, but they do not like loud noises or distractions when you are milking them. It is better to keep the goats away from other animals when you milk them.
Loud noises are also detrimental to the milking process. That is why it would be better to build the shelter away from roads or any factories. When you build the shelter, be sure to give your goats some form of bedding and change it regularly.
Bedding is especially important if your doe is about to give birth because she needs to be as comfortable as possible when she gives birth.
Alpine goats are prolific dairy animals who have a rich history. They need to be kept happy and well-fed, but in return they will give you protein-rich milk that has a very healthy low-fat content.
They are docile animals which should not be startled or made to feel unsafe. Although they are very friendly, it is important to remember that they are farm animals and not pets. If you treat them like a pet, it will have a negative impact on their overall development.