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British Alpine Goat

Nicole Cosgrove

The British Alpine goat is a domestic goat that is bred mainly for its milk production. It was bred from several other breeds including the Toggenburg and has the same markings as this Swiss breed. It is a popular milking goat because it produces a large volume of milk and has extended lactations, adding up to a sizeable amount of milk every year.

Although hardy animals, the British Alpine does tend to fare best in cooler climates and may not perform well in tropical or hot environments. Especially popular in the UK and Australia, British Alpine goats are best when kept as free-range stock, rather than as indoor goats.

As a pet, the British Alpine can be considered challenging, because he is individual and somewhat mischievous: one for the experienced enthusiast, rather than the inexperienced novice.

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Quick Facts about British Alpine Goats

Species Name: British Alpine Goat
Family: Alpine Goat
Best For: Milk Production
Milk Per Day: 2 gallons/day
Milk Fat Content: 3.5%
Climate: Cooler
Temperament: Mischievous
Color Form: Black With White Markings
Lifespan: 8 to 12 years
Size: Large (170 pounds)
Farming Preference: Free-Range

British Alpine Goat Overview

The British Alpine goat was first bred by crossing native English goats with the Toggenburg and Nubian goats. First introduced in the early 1900s, the breed became popular for its milk production. As well as producing up to 2 gallons per day, the British Alpine lactates even during the cold winter months and can lactate for two years without having to give birth again.

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Image Credit: OLU, Wikimedia Commons

Although developed in Britain, the breed has become popular in Australia, where it was first introduced in 1958. At that time, only a small number of the animal could be imported because of quarantine regulations and it wasn’t until later that numbers began to increase.

Along with the Saanen and Anglo Nubian breeds, the British Alpine is one of the most popular in Australia, especially thanks to its hardy nature, its love of free-range farming conditions, and its milk-producing capability.

How Much Do British Alpine Goats Cost?

The British Alpine goat costs $300, although you can pay more for exhibition and show standard goats. You should also expect to pay around $1 per day to feed the goat, and because this breed can be quite spirited, you may need to find toys and other items to help keep your British Alpine entertained and busy.

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Typical Behavior & Temperament

Preferring free-range to indoor rearing, the British Alpine is an energetic breed that likes to roam and enjoys burning off its energy. If space is limited, consider a different breed. The British Alpine is also a spirited individual and it is a difficult breed to keep as a pet unless you are an experienced goat keeper. It will not usually be aggressive, but the breed can be mischievous, which could lead to problems with other goats, animals, and even some people.

Appearance & Varieties

As an ancestor of the Swiss Toggenburg breed, the British Alpine adopts the same Swiss markings. This means that a typical example will be black with white Swiss markings, so will have white around the frame of the face, ears, bottom the tail, bottom, and legs. He is a big breed, reaching a height of 95cm for bucks and weighing as much as 170 pounds.

Standards dictate that the goat should have a square jaw. Eyes should be well separated and the nostrils wide. They should have a distinct neck that is long and slim, and the body should be a wedge shape. The British Alpine has a barrel-like chest but is not a fat goat, and it should have a straight back from shoulder to hip.

The buck tends to be larger than the doe, has coarser hair, and has a thicker neck.

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How to Take Care of British Alpines

Habitat And Care

Dairy goats like the British Alpine breed are useful and functional animals. This particular breed is renowned for its milk production and to ensure that you get the most milk of the best quality, you will need to ensure that you keep your goats in optimal condition. Easy to care for and feed, goats are a good option for a small farmer, can be kept at a homestead, and some make very good pets, too.

The British Alpine can produce as much as 2 gallons of milk every day and they will continue to do so typically for around 18 months after giving birth. They will even produce during the cold weather.

Preferred Habitat

Preferring a free-range setting, the British Alpine still needs a shelter. This can be a proper shed, but this outdoorsy goat may prefer an A-frame located in a safe and secure paddock. Avoid cement floors, in general, and provide straw as a bedding material for your goats.

All goats are skilled escapologists, and the character of the British Alpine means that he will soon learn how to escape from the smallest hole in a fence, so you must ensure that their paddock or field is fully secure.

Diet

Although dairy goats do like to graze, they also need roughage, concentrates, bushes, weeds, and scrub, to fulfill their dietary needs and to provide enough variety in their diet. If you are keeping milking does, you will need to provide 1.5kg of hay a day, potentially even more if they are heavy milk producers.

Other Requirements

You should also provide a mineral block. They will need a source of clean drinking water, as well, and many keepers offer an ongoing source of cider vinegar.

Finally, you will need to trim your goat’s hooves. Get footrot shears and a rasp. Start at a young age to get the goats used to it because it can be difficult to convince an old goat to accept the practice.

Do British Alpine Goats Get Along with Other Pets?

The British Alpine is known to be a spirited goat, but he is not usually aggressive. He can get along with other goats, and as long as he is kept in free-range conditions, he should not attack or hassle your other goats. However, he is described as being mischievous, and this could be seen as being aggressive. The British Alpine is not an ideal choice for first-time novices but is ideal for those looking for hardy milk producers.

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What to Feed Your British Alpine Goats

Like most other dairy breeds, the British Alpine requires a healthy diet and will benefit from variety in its diet. Although they have a reputation for eating anything from plants and flowers to washing and clothing, goats will not eat anything. They will not usually eat poor quality hay and they won’t forage for food that has dropped on the floor.

Your goat will enjoy grazing on good grass, but it will also need good quality hay. A lactating doe will need about 1.5kg of lucerne hay every day. If you have a heavy producing doe, she may require even more hay.

You should also feed concentrates. Start feeding at a young age, because it can take some time for goats to accept this type of food.

Keeping Your British Alpine Healthy

A healthy goat needs a good paddock and decent shelter. They also need a regular and balanced diet. Trimming their hooves ensures that they are comfortable while walking.

Milk Production

As a prolific milk-producing goat, the British Alpine is most commonly kept for this reason. A single doe can produce up to 2 gallons of milk per day, with an average 3.5% fat content. Ensure that your British Alpine is happy if you want to ensure good milk production.

The milk can be used as milk, for making cheese and butter and other dairy products, and for making items like candles and soap. Once a doe gives birth, she will start to lactate and produce milk. She will continue to do this for a period of up to nearly two years, which is longer than a lot of other breeds.

The British Alpine is also renowned for her ability to lactate even during the cold winter months. Your goat can produce milk all year round, and she will produce a large volume of it.

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Are British Alpines Suitable For You?

The British Alpine goat is a dairy goat that is popular for its milk production capabilities. As well as producing a large volume of 3.5% fat milk, it will produce all-year-round, including in the cold months, and can lactate for up to two years without undergoing a freshening.

The goat itself is a lively and energetic goat that can be a little mischievous and highly spirited. It prefers living free-range, rather than indoors, and has most of the same dietary requirements as other breeds of dairy goat. This means feeding good quality hay along with other ingredients to ensure a balanced and healthy diet.

For all of its benefits, the spirited nature of the British Alpine means that it may not be suitable for first-time or novice owners, and its tendency to wander means that it might not make a great homestead pet.


Featured Image Credit: Gerhard Elsner, Wikimedia Commons

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.