Toggenburgs are a durable breed, having stood the test of time. Known as the oldest breed of dairy goats, the Toggs originated in the Toggenburg Valley of Switzerland. According to research, this is the oldest registered breed of any animal in the world, a herd book having been established in Switzerland in the 1600s. They were also the first imported purebreds to arrive in the U.S. in 1893.
Tim, Mary, Kara and Callie Schmidt, Eagle Creek Farms, Hawarden, Iowa, own and show some top quality Toggenburg does, including GCH Schmidt/ECF Snow White 3*M AT1368344P. Sire: GCH Little*Creek LCWT Snowbuck +B. Dam: GCH Schmidt/ECF Orchid of Truth DHI:01-10 232d 1749m 55f 53p. Snow White is the oldest of their Orchid daughters and shows a nice blending of Orchid’s extreme udder attachment and the long body type that Snowbuck throws. Shown by Kara Schmidt. (See their story on page 12.)
Medium size, average weight 120 pounds; does standing 26” at the withers, bucks 28” at the withers.
Hair: Short, from sleek to shaggy coat. Bucks are known for a pronounced beard.
Color: Fawn to chocolate
Markings: White ears with dark spot in the middle, two white stripes down the face from above each eye to the muzzle, hind legs white from hocks to hooves, forelegs white from knees downward with a dark band below the knee; a white triangle on either side of the tail, a white spot may be present at root of wattles or in that area if no wattles are present. Varying degrees of cream makings instead of pure white acceptable, but not desirable.
Ears: Erect and stand forward on the head.
Facial structure: Long but not Roman. Often naturally polled.
Temperament: Slightly high strung, perhaps more than other breeds
I often think of a Toggenburg when I remember the book, Heidi. Goats were very common to the Swiss Alps region and were forever immortalized in this quaint story. In one particular chapter of the book, the Grandfather is making his cheese by the fire. He states, “Open the window and let the wind do its worst,” leading the reader to the assumption the cheese was of a particularly fragrant variety. Many of the Alpine cheeses were first made with goat milk, as goats adapted to the mountainous regions and spotty grazing conditions. Alpine cheese varieties are typically a cooked curd cheese made in a large wheel, and aged for a period of 60 days to several years. Stories have it the reason behind producing cheese in large wheels, was to facilitate moving it down the mountainside, which does appear to be quite plausible. Although the goat population of Switzerland has reportedly dropped drastically, goats are still popular with small farmers and figures from 1999 show production at 245 tons, annually. The flavor of the Toggenburg’s milk is slightly more stringent than other goat’s milk. In a mixed herd, the milk commingles with the various breed flavor profiles and adds a distinct edge to cheese. This can be quite desirable and take a bland cheese to another level.
Toggenburg milk typically has a fat content of 3.2-3.7%. ADGA statistics from 2006 show average production to be at 2253 pounds of milk, with 3.2% fat and 2.7% protein. Average lactation period 257 days.
1 Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats, J. Belanger, Storey Books, 2001, p 10.
2 Breeds of livestock, Toggenburg goats, ansi.okstate.edu
3 Heidi, Johanna Spyri, Random House, 1986 edition
4 Figures from Purdue University