When you think of goats, does the image of a white-faced, bearded creature with horns come to mind? That’s an Alpine goat!
While their coats and facial features can differ from breed to breed, Alpine goats are one of the most popular breeds for both meat and dairy production.
Here’s everything you need to know about this majestic breed.
Alpine Goat Breed History
Goats have held a special place in human history for thousands of years. But it was not until 12,000 to 15,000 years ago that goats were truly regarded as part of our communities.
Archaeologists studying ancient caves have discovered bones of domesticated goats alongside those of humans—including one goat with an old fracture that could only have healed under human protection.
This evidence suggests that man adopted these creatures into their family long before other animals were domesticated.
From the Persian goat “Pashang” came the hardy Alpine Goats, which are still raised in the European Alps today, as well as in Northern America and New Zealand.
Why Alpine Goats Are Considered the Best Livestock Animals
The Alpine goat is truly a masterpiece of evolution. Despite their adaptation to living on steep mountain slopes, they have an even temperament and good health.
Although the Alpine goat is part of the oldest known breed of dairy goats, its ability to adapt and balance and its friendly nature during transport helped to make it popular with early European fishermen and travelers.
The need for nourishment on voyages meant that sea captains would often leave a pair of goats on islands they stopped at along their shipping routes trusting in the power of the breed’s adaptability.
These actions meant Alpines now exist in nearly all climates and can be found around the world as one of the most popular farm animal breeds.
Their ability to thrive in changing climates, coupled with their resilience to stay healthy, has made them a popular choice in both the agricultural and pet trade realms.
It is undisputed that their hardiness has its origin deep in the Alpine Mountains, where they were selectively bred for milk production and purely aesthetic qualities such as coat color.
Therefore, thousands of years of hard work from European goat herders have obtained one of the best livestock animals in the world today: The Alpine goat.
What Are the Different Breeds of Alpine Goats?
There are a few types of Alpine goats to be aware of.
French Alpines are acknowledged as the original type of Alpine goats taken from the French Alps. They have a notable temperament for their gentle and docile nature, alongside standard markings and features.
British Alpines originated after further genetic influence, being brought to Europe via other breeds.
Rock Alpines were developed more recently in Australia and New Zealand, with selection based on production traits like milk yield and body size as well as harder-wearing conformation due to rougher terrain in these countries.
Meanwhile, American Alpines closely reflect French Alpines, but with the addition of genes from other breeds during their introduction in the States. They often remain with the same temperament yet may present with less standard markings or conformation specifics.
Alpine Goat Description
Alpine goats are an excellent choice for those needing a robust, dependable dairy animal.
This medium to large-sized breed of domestic goat is known for its strong milking ability and originated in the French Alps.
Physical Traits of Alpine Goats
When fully grown, does reach a weight of around 61kg (135lbs) and measure 76 cm (30 in) high at the shoulder.
Alpine Goats are incredibly hardy animals that can thrive in virtually any climate. With their short to medium-length hair, alertly graceful posture, and straight profile, they stand out among goat breeds.
Not only are they well adapted to varying climates, but they also come in a variety of colors with both single- and multi-colored coats. Males have pronounced beards while the ears of the Alpine are medium-sized, erect, and fine-textured.
Alpine Goats come in a range of stunning colors, each pattern offering its own unique beauty. Varieties include creamy white cou blanc, light golden cou clair, black cou noir, pied (mixture of white and black), creamy chamoisee, two-tone chamoisee and broken chamoisee.
One of the most captivating colors is ‘sundgau’, which has an array of variously sized spots on a chocolate brown background.
These resilient goats have an admittedly unique look; there’s no mistaking them for any other breed!
Because of their intelligence, curiosity, and pleasant temperaments, Alpine goats make good companions for humans.
However, due to coat color requirements set by the American Dairy Goat Association, all-white or Toggenburg patterned individuals are disfavored.
Though they begin reaching sexual maturity at four to five months and five to six months, respectively for buck and doe kids, it is not recommended that doe kids be bred until they reach 75-80 pounds.
A typical gestation period lasts anywhere from 145-155 days, with multiple births being common.
Not only are these animals heavy milkers, but the milk produced can be used to make an array of different dairy products, including butter, cheese, soaps, and ice creams—perfect for the commercial production scene as well as homesteading situations alike.
Why Should You Raise Alpine Goats?
Alpine goats are beautiful, powerful, and gentle animals that can be a great addition to your property.
They require far less acreage and less care than other goat breeds, making them an ideal choice if you’re looking for a friendly companion animal as well as some extra milk or meat.
Let’s take a closer look at why you should raise some of these beautiful animals!
Milk production is an important factor to consider when choosing a goat breed for the purpose of dairy. Among the top-producing breeds include Alpine, Saanen, and Toggenburg goats.
Alpines stand out due to their low-fat content levels, despite having similar body weight at maturity as Nubians, another type of goat which produces less milk with more fat content.
The Alpine goat is a well-known fixture in the dairy industry thanks to its rich milk yields and desirable temperament.
With an average fat percentage of 3.4%, Alpine goats’ milk contains relatively little fat content, despite having higher sugar levels than cow’s milk.
It holds about 2.3 g of protein—slightly lower than cow’s milk but nutritionally balanced.
What sets it apart from other types of goat’s milk is that its protein content doesn’t come with an increase in fat.
All these features make it a much healthier choice than Saanen goat milk which, while having a slightly lower fat content than Alpine goat’s milk, lacks nutritional value in other areas by comparison.
RELATED: Goat Milk Benefits, Compared To Other Livestock Milk
Believe it or not, Alpine goats actually make great meat animals if you’re interested in raising your own tasty and humanely sourced food.
Alpine goats are hardy animals that are known for getting along nicely with other breeds of goats, making them easy to keep together, and raising them together can be quite enjoyable.
They are also low-maintenance animals that require minimal care, allowing them to roam freely in wide open spaces and large pastures, leading to their only source of nutrition being natural food sources such as grass and forage found there.
Alpine Goats Are Great Companions
Alpine goats are ideal for small-scale farmers because they require minimal maintenance and attention. These goats only need routine vaccinations and hoof trimming every few months.
Since these animals are hardy by nature, they can survive in most climates and don’t require much food compared to other breeds.
Plus, since their coats are naturally waterproof, they don’t need any additional protection from rain or snow.
Not only are alpines low-maintenance animals when it comes to caretaking, but they also make great pets.
They’re quite friendly and very curious. If given the opportunity, they will come up to humans for treats or even just a pat on the head!
What Are the Disadvantages of Alpine Goats?
Alpine goats are a hardy, gentle breed of dairy goat that has been bred for centuries. They are known for their high milk production, especially when compared to other dairy goat breeds.
But before you decide to get an Alpine goat (or two!), consider the cons of this unique breed.
Alpine goats can be quite loud. So if your neighbors aren’t fond of animals, you may want to reconsider getting this breed.
They’re also very mischievous by nature—some say they’re more like monkeys than goats!
So if you plan on raising these guys, make sure you keep an eye on them and provide plenty of toys and activities to keep them busy.
Tips for Raising Alpine Goats
Alpine goats are prized for their high milk production, and that means they need to be provided with a balanced diet full of nutrients.
Protein is especially important for Alpines, so an appropriate grain mix—usually oats with a bit of soybean meal—should be supplied at the milking stand.
Alfalfa pellets should also be provided free-choice, as this is essential for meeting calcium needs.
Apart from nutritional needs, other considerations related to goat care must also be taken into account when raising Alpines.
Since they are curious and obtainable animals, proper fencing must be secure and sturdy enough to keep them from jumping out.
Also, having some form of shelter from inclement weather or an outdoor pasture that allows your goats to run and graze freely is always recommended.
Where to Buy Alpine Goats
If you’re considering adding alpine goats to your livestock, knowing where to purchase them is a great first step.
Registered alpine bucks usually cost between $400 and $800, and registered does tend to be more affordable, ranging from about $200 to $400.
Consider looking for reputable breeders in your area, as they are usually knowledgeable about the needs of these delightful animals.
Visiting local farms can provide you with hands-on experience with Alpine goats, allowing you to make an informed purchase decision.
FAQ About Alpine Goats
Do Alpine goats jump fences?
Alpine goats are very agile and are known for their ability to climb and jump over fences.
This means that if you plan on keeping your Alpine goat in a confined area, it’s important that the fencing is tall enough and sturdy enough to keep them safely enclosed.
Are Alpine goats noisy?
While male goats—known as billies—can make loud noises during mating season (a sound called “bawling”), most female goats—known as nannies—are relatively quiet animals.
However, it’s always a good idea to check with the breeder before purchasing an Alpine goat to make sure that it is not particularly vocal.
Can you milk Alpine goats?
Although many people tend to think of dairy cows when they hear the term “milking,” there are actually many different species of animals that can be milked—from sheep and yaks to camels and even reindeer!
Among goats, the Alpine breed is one of the best for milk, cheese, and other dairy products.
Are Alpine goats hardy?
These beautiful animals were bred specifically for their hardiness in cold climates. They are able to withstand temperatures down into the single digits without difficulty.
Additionally, because they have been bred over generations for their hardiness against disease and parasites, Alpines rarely require any special care beyond basic food and shelter.
How large do Alpine goats get?
On average, adult does (females) will weigh between 80-120 lbs while bucks (males) will range from 100-150 lbs depending on diet and exercise levels.
However, in rare cases, some individuals have been known to reach weights up to 200 lbs!
So if size matters when choosing an animal for milking or other purposes, be sure to ask your breeder about potential growth rates.
Alpine Goats: Final Thoughts
Alpine goats are a popular goat breed that has spread across the world thanks to their versatile uses as dairy producers, meat animals, and even household companions!
If you’re looking for an intelligent animal with a funny personality that will provide you with delicious milk or meat, then an Alpine goat might just be your perfect pet!