PHOTO: iStock/Thinkstock
Heidi Strawn
February 4, 2011

Use: Toggenburgs are marvelous dairy goats. A Toggenburg doe, GCH Western-Acres Zephyr Rosemary, currently holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for giving 9,110 pounds of milk amounting to nearly 1,140 gallons in 365 days. Many Toggenburg does “milk through” without re-breeding each year; lactations of 18 to 20 months are fairly common. Toggenburg wethers make sturdy, hard-working and amiable harness and pack goats.

History: The Swiss developed Toggenburg goats about 300 years ago in the Toggenburg Valley of the canton of St. Gallen in northeast Switzerland. Its supporters call it the oldest and purest of Swiss goats. Toggenburgs, called “Toggs” by those who know and love them, reached England by 1882, where, in 1905, it became the first recognized dairy breed in Great Britain. Four Toggs came to America by way of England in 1883; Toggenburgs were subsequently imported in greater numbers than any other dairy goat breed. One well-known Togg advocate was Lilian Sandburg, wife of poet Carl Sandburg, who raised Chikaming-prefixed Toggenburgs, Saanens, and Nubians at the family’s farm in Flat Rock, North Carolina. In 1960, one of Mrs. Sandburg’s does, Jennifer II, broke the world Toggenburg record for milk production by producing 5,750 pounds of milk in a single year.

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Conformation: Toggenburgs are medium to large dairy goats; mature bucks stand 34 to 38 inches tall and weigh 150 to 200 pounds; does measure 30-32 inches, weighing 125 pounds and up. Togg base colors range from light fawn to darkest chocolate but all Toggs have the same markings: white ears with a dark spot in middle of each ear; two white stripes down their faces from above each eye to their muzzles; their hind legs are white from hocks to hooves and their forelegs white from knees downward (a dark lien or band below each knee is acceptable); a white triangle on both sides of their tails; and a white spot at the root of their wattles or in that area if no wattles are present. Varying degrees of cream markings instead of pure white are acceptable. Toggs have medium-length coats; straight or dished faces; alert, upright ears; and high, globular, well-attached udders (Toggs dominate the “Best Udder” classes at American Dairy Goat Association shows).

Special Considerations/Notes: Like the other Swiss dairy breeds, Toggs do best in cooler climates. They’re easy kidders and good mothers, fine foragers, alert, and affectionate. A myth prevails that Toggs give off-flavored milk but this simply isn’t so. Milk from properly managed Toggenburg goats is sweet and tasty and when you keep Toggs, there is always plenty of it!

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