I remember this goat being called a Swiss Alpine when I was a child, but it is now known as Oberhasli, which is more fun to say, but more difficult to spell.
A pretty brown goat, the Oberhasli produces a surprisingly large amount of milk for so small a goat. They are also well liked as pack animals, because they are sturdy and very strong for their size.
Oberhaslis are also a good choice if you need a dual purpose goat in a smaller size, or if you need one that is quieter than a Nubian. Their milk is midline for butterfat content, compared to other full sized goats.
The one complaint we hear about them is that their udder has fairly short teats, which makes it difficult to milk them. They are a three fingered milker, and this is difficult for some people to manage.
- Type - Milk, or dual purpose, and Pack
- Size - Medium
- Production Capacity - High milk production and meat production for smaller size.
- Special Features - Surdy and strong body.
- Best for Farms - Good option for dairy or dual purpose on smallish farms or for individuals who want a smaller goat for ease of handling.
- Eggs, Milk, Meat Features - Median milkfat percentage, lower protein.
- Other Products - Some market for sale as pack animals, if trained.
- Historic or Contemporary Significance - Longstanding goat breed in the US, though it has gone under other names.
- Housing and Space Requirement - Slightly less than a large size goat, but this breed loves climbing objects.
- Regional Adaptations - Well adapted to a range of conditions.
- Feed Requirement - One of the more feed efficient goats, due to their smaller size but higher milk output. They appreciate varied forage.
- Other Considerations - Distinctive color and markings makes this breed easy to recognize, but it is also frequently crossed with other breeds.
A NOTE ABOUT GOATS:
Dairy goats and meat goats are two very different things in most cases, though the kids from dairy goats are often wethered and used for meat.
Meat goats have a heavier carcass, but do not produce much milk. They will produce enough to nurse twins or triplets, but do not produce for an extended period of time and will dry up quickly.
Generally dairy goats require some extra feed - either grain, or sprouted grain - to produce well. All breeds are not equal in this, and higher producing breeds are often fairly feed inefficient, requiring a LOT more grain to produce a little more milk.
There is no such thing as a true dual purpose goat, they always tend to be stronger in dairy when they are classed as dual purpose.
For the purposes of listing here, weed eating is not sufficient reason to warrant a listing. Wethers are not classed here as utility animals, except for meat production, because keeping an animal just so it can eat is kind of silly, when keeping a milker or regularly replacing the wether so you can produce meat is a much wiser use of resources (yes, even scrub brush is a resource).
I am not a fan of meat goats, though many people are. Goat meat must be aged prior to consumption, to break down the muscle fibers or it is fairly tough. My sister, who raised meat goats, recommended freezing the meat for at least a month, and stated that this will work in lieu of aging the meat.
When comparing breeds, remember that top producing breeds rarely produce that heavily. They generally produce much less than they are advertised to produce. A few quarts of milk per day is considered to be good average output for a milk goat, and 1-2 is more realistic, because they do not produce heavily for an extended period of time, and their milk production will wax and wane as they go into heat, breed, and then building up again after they kid.
To keep good milk production through the year, you need more than one goat, and they need to be bred at different times. Those breeds that are NOT seasonal have an advantage here, because you can stagger the breeding more, and maintain a more consistent production through the year. The disadvantage to breeds that are not seasonal breeders is that they will go into heat a few months after they birth (or sooner), and plague you once a month or so with a heat cycle that will slightly reduce their milk supply for a day or two and set them to bawling.
Mini breeds usually give only 1-2 cups per milking, and while they can fit into smaller spaces, they are also much more difficult to milk - they are so small that hand milking is extremely difficult. Some full sized breeds are more difficult to milk for the same reasons.
Milking machines have attachments that are available for standard size, and miniature goats. But a milking maching is a significant investment, and they do not tend to strip out the animals well. Milk production tends to decline more than it does with hand milking, unless they are stripped out manually after using the machine.
Many sources for care of goats will recommend birthing kits, and suggest that goats require a lot of intervention for successful birthing. This is not so. Only those breeds that have been sloppily bred, or breeds like Lamanchas that have more birthing problems than other breeds will require intervention on a regular basis. NEVER EVER assist a goat with a birth (do NOT try to "pull" the kid), unless the goat is obviously in trouble, and has been laboring without progress for more than a couple of hours. Forcing a birth can cause damage to the uterus and connective tissues in a doe, increases the likelihood of uterine prolapse, and can compromise her ability to birth naturally in the future.
I grew up with goats, and know the routines with trimming hooves, disbudding, milking, and birthing. I have also milked cows, and given the choice, prefer a cow to several goats to supply the need for milk in our home. This in part because of the nature of goat's milk, because I really like to make butter! But in a small space situation, I'd do goats again in a heartbeat.
If a farm has sufficient space for a cow, they are much easier to care for to produce larger amounts of milk. But in small spaces, goats can be kept on less than an acre of land without stressing the land as much.
We have listed only those breeds which we feel have strong utility function, no outstanding issues with birthing or genetic problems, and which can actually be obtained (some types of goat are in closed herds and are not able to be purchased by small farmers).