ABOUT TOGGENBURG MILK GOATS (Part 1)
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Toggenburg Dairy Goat: Oldest Breed
There are 6 recognized breeds of dairy goats in the United States: Toggenburg, Alpine, Saanen, LaMancha, Nubian and Oberhasli.
Toggenburg milk goats are from the Toggenburg Valley of Switzerland at Obertoggenburg. They are the oldest known dairy goat breed with a herd book started in Switzerland in the 1600s.
A popular breed, they have been exported throughout the world and arrived in the United States in 1893. Toggs, as they are nicknamed, perform best in cooler climates especially in mountainous areas. They are hardy and productive.
Breed Characteristics: FriendlyI love Toggenburgs. They are easy to handle and friendly. They stand still for milking especially if you give them some grain. If given a lot of attention when young, a doe will come to you every time she sees you. They make good pets.
Toggenburgs are medium size, sturdy, robust, vigorous, spirited and alert. Slightly smaller than other Alpine breeds such as the Saanen, does weigh at least 120 pounds and bucks weigh at least 160 pounds.
Does are 26 inches at the withers and bucks are 28 inches. Withers is the highest part of the back, at the base of the neck above the shoulders.
The fur of the Toggenburg (Togenburg) is silky. It can be any length with the males usually having longer fur than the females. They have a shaggier coat than most other dairy goats.
The ears are erect and carried forward. Facial lines may be dished or straight, never roman. They may be horned or polled (no horns). They are well proportioned with strong backline straight to the hips.
The photo to the right is a 1 week old kid.
Coloring, Markings and WattlesThe Toggenburg's color is typically Swiss with solid varying from light fawn to dark chocolate with no preference for any shade.
They have distinct white markings: white ears with a dark spot in middle; two white stripes down the face from above each eye to the muzzle; hind legs white from hocks to hooves; forelegs white from knees downward with a dark line below the knee acceptable; a white triangle on either side of the tail.
Accepted coloring varies slightly in different countries.
Some goats have wattles. Wattles are hair-covered pieces of skin hanging from the throat on both sides. See below photo. Goats with and without wattles are accepted in shows.
Breeding Season and BirthToggenburg goats usually breed in the fall. The gestation period is 145 to 153 days (about 5 months). Togs have few problems when giving birth. Most of the time you go out to the barn or field, and there they are- some cute kids.
I carry the kids to the barn with the mother following. The first day I keep them in the barn with the mother. Then after that, they go outside with the rest of the herd if the weather is warm enough.
Bucklings can be fertile at as young as 7 weeks of age. Bucks are able to be used for service as young as 3 months and are definitely ready by 7 or 8 months.
Does can be bred at 7-8 months of age if they have reached a mature size. Some breeders wait until they are 1 year or older. Waiting is better since the doe has more time to develop properly.
Usually only one kid is born for a first time mother. But after that does usually have two kids and rarely 3 kids. Toggenburgs are excellent mothers. They are attentive to their babies, sniffing and nuzzling them. They stand still while a kid nurses.
Below on the right is a photo of 3 kids about 1 week old.
Great Milk ProductionDoes have excellent udder development and good milk production with an average fat level of 3.5 percent and 2.8 percent protein.
The average milk from a doe is 1968-2303 pounds a year which averages to 5.4-6.3 pounds a day if milked for 365 days. Milk weighs 8.6 pounds per gallon. So that's .68 gallons (a little less than 3 quarts) a day on average.
The average lactation (milk production) period for a Toggenburg goat is 257 days (8 1/2 months). Toggenburg does yield more milk if they are allowed to free range and have a good diet.
From 1968 to 1978 the records of the Dairy Herd Improvement program (DHI) showed similar milk production for Saanen, Alpine and Toggenburg goats. Nubian and LaMancha had lower milk yields. Average fat percentages in Toggenburg, Alpine and Saanen goat milk were the same. Nubian goats had the highest fat percentage.
More About Toggenburg Milk Goats- Part 2: "Caring for Goats", "Average Cost", and "Goat Book".
For size comparison, the person (Nancy) in the above photo is 5'8". The photo on the left is the buck. The photo on the right is a male and female. Notice how much taller the male goat is.
Cows Save Life of Man in Scotland
In the 1990s a Scottish farmer was attacked by a bull and knocked unconscious. Nearby was his herd of dairy cows. They made a circle around him and protected him from the bull. The bull attacked and killed one cow and injured others. But they held their ground until some people came to help the man. The man lived.
Why did they do this? The man said that he and his wife loved their cows. Each cow had a name and was treated with love and respect. They were like his family. The couple loved their cows, and their cows loved them. They were protecting someone they loved.
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