Meet Taz. He’s our Toggenburg buckling. He was born March 20, 2011 at Moser River, NS and joined our croft on June 18th. He has a great disposition and lovable manners thanks to his former owners, Valerie and Brian Mosher.
Valerie and Brian live on Shalebrook Acres (http://www.shalebrookacres.ca/) and raise goats, chickens and Berkshire pigs. Patrolling their farm and protecting their livestock are two beautiful Turkish Kangals, a breed of dog I’d never heard of or seen until I met the Moshers. Drop by their website and see what’s happening on the tranquil Eastern Shore.
Toggenburg goats are originally from Switzerland and were named after the area where the breed originated, the Toggenburg Valley. They are the original mountain goat and the oldest known dairy goat in the world. They have also been used as pack animals.
Compared to other goats, they’re a medium size. They have a low butterfat content of 2 to 3% (one source states 3.7%) in their milk. Though they produce a moderate amount of milk per day, they are known for long lactations. They range in colour from light fawn to dark chocolate with white markings for highlights. Both male and female grow beards, horns and wattles (small nubs of skin covered in hair on either side of the neck). Their short tail is usually upright and when they bound away, they look very much like a white-tail deer on the run.
Why did I choose a Toggenburg goat?
Heritage: When I began my croft, I decided to choose heritage animals, otherwise known as animals that have been around a century or two or three. Older breeds are more genetically diverse, are natural breeders and are less likely to need veterinarian attention. Toggs, as the goats are known, have been raised domestically for centuries, so they became a possibility early in the selection process.
Size: I didn’t want a goat that was too big to handle. Being new to raising livestock, I wanted something I could manage. On the other hand, I didn’t want a small goat. When I saw a picture of a Toggenburg, it looked to be the right size for me.
Milk: On several web pages, I read the praises of Toggenburg milk. Of course, everyone likes their milk a little different or they wouldn’t sell skim, 1%, 2%, whole and chocolate milk in stores. However, my first thoughts were that I wouldn’t drink the milk, just turn it into yoghurt and ice cream and soap, so the actual taste of the milk wasn’t that important. Then I tried Toggenburg milk and had to agree with everyone who bragged about it; it was delicious.
Hardy to Maritime weather: A hundred years ago, before power took charge of everything, animals slept in unheated barns. Sometimes those barns were drafty. Sometimes they were just logs piled up to protect the livestock from bitter cold winds.
Not wanting to throw money out the window on heating a barn, I looked for an animal which could survive a cold winter in Nova Scotia without the luxury of heat. To their advantage, they’d have more than a stack of logs to keep them warm and I’d do what I could to keep the draft out. Toggenburgs are from the Swiss Alps, so winter is in their genes. Many websites state they do great in cooler climates.
Temperament: I didn’t want to have to watch my back, carry a stick or keep my young kids away from any animal on the farm, so every animal that lives here has to be nice or at least non-aggressive. Toggs are supposed to be friendly and gentle, making them great family animals. Still, I understand during rutting season, the bucks will need their space.
Toggenburg Goat Specs
Baby Goat: Kid
Castrated Male: Wether
Average lifespan: 15 to 20 years (milkers as low as 10 years)
Average height, Male: 90 cm (one site states: 28 inches at the withers)
Average height, Female: 79 cm (one site states: 26 inches at the withers)
Average weight, Male: 130 to 160 pounds
Average weight, female: 110 to 120 pounds
Breeding Time: In the fall
Gestation: 145 to 153 days (about five months). Does make excellent mothers and have few problems giving birth.
Number of kids: One (usually for first time mothers) and up to four (for older does)
Milk: 2.8% to 3.7% fat content and 2.8% protein
Average Lactation Period: 257 days
Amount of milk per day: 2 to 4 litres
Colouration: light fawn to dark chocolate with white markings