PHOTO: Rachelsie Farm, Inc.
Heidi Strawn
February 4, 2011

Use: Oberhasli produce a sweet-tasting milk with a butterfat content of around 3.5 to 4 percent. Their docile, quiet temperaments and medium size make them a wonderful breed for the farm dairy and for showing. With their striking looks, they also have plenty of appeal as lovely pets and bramble mowers. Powerful rear legs help the Oberhasli excel as a pack goat, with the proper training.

History: Once known as the Swiss Alpine, the Oberhasli originated in Switzerland (Oberhasli is a district of Bern, Switzerland); it may be one of the oldest established breeds in that country. These goats arrived in the U.S. during the early 1900s and for some time were registered as a subgroup of the French Alpine. In 1980 the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) opened an Oberhasli herd book. American and purebred classifications exist. Today the Oberhasli ranks as the least numerous of the dairy goat breeds recognized by the ADGA. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy describes their status as recovering, meaning the breed still needs monitoring.

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Conformation: Strong and graceful, the Oberhasli could be mistaken for a deer from a distance. This breed flaunts a gorgeous coat of light red to deep red bay with black trim, including black muzzle, face stripes, legs, and dorsal stripe. This pattern is called chamois or by the French word chamoisee. Bucks may have solid black faces and their black dorsal stripes possess long, bristly hair that gives it a ridged look. Does may be entirely black (but black bucks are not allowed), and a few white hairs are permitted. The breed has a straight face and low-set, upright ears that give it an alert air. Oberhasli does should be 28 inches and above at the withers and weigh 120 pounds or more. Bucks; 30 inches and 150 pounds or more. This hardy breed has an affectionate, mellow disposition.

Special Considerations/Notes: Oberhaslis are active, vigorous goats that require sturdy fencing to keep them confined. Strong for their size, an uncooperative goat can be a handful at hoof trimming or deworming time! Like other Swiss breeds, they tolerate cold weather well, growing a thick coat come winter. Another Swiss trait: both bucks and does can sometimes be born with wattles, hair-covered skin flaps that dangle from their throats and seem to have no present-day function. Since this breed is still somewhat uncommon in the United States, you might have to do some searching to find production-tested stock.

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  • Keep your coop secure all night and open only during daylight.

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