Are you interested in adding dairy goats to your homestead or adding more breeds to your existing herd? Alpine goats are my absolute favorite of all the breeds we have tried and I think they will always remain a part of our homestead vision. We currently have 2 alpine does and they are so incredibly sweet, they live for attention and are so gentle and aware around my toddler. We are having the hardest time deciding between which Alpine bucklings to choose from to keep for a herd sire because they are both just as lovely as the does… just stinkier.
History of the Breed
This breed, as the name suggests, formed in the Alps. Many fans of the breed comment on the agility and graceful nature of these goats due to their origins on steep slopes in the mountains. Alpines were brought to the United States in 1922 from France, and commonly are referred to as French Alpine due to the divergence in lines that split historically. With their 100 year history in this country they are the second most popular breed, registration-wise that is, for homestead to commercial production.
The Alpine has erect ears and a straight nose. They have short/medium hair that can come in many colors and patterns. Does typically are around 130 lbs and bucks can be 170 lbs with a height measured to their withers of around 30 in and 32 in respectively. They are leaner than other dairy breeds like the bulky Nubian. Beards are common in bucks and does can have them as well depending on the line, wattles are common. They are seasonal breeders like most other dairy goats and have curved horns and are rarely polled.
In the homesteading community I see a fair amount of mini alpines as well. These are Alpines that have been mixed with Nigerian Dwarf, most commonly an Alpine doe with a Nigerian Dwarf buck or from generations of minis.
When it comes to personality, this breed, with its long history of a symbiotic relationship with humans and selective breeding, is a winner. Their curious and friendly temperament makes them, in general, easy and safe to work with. Mine have always had distinct personalities that can sometimes be stubborn and too smart when they see the hoof trimmers but they are the most social with my family and always greet guests enthusiastically.
This productive dairy goat is known for being hardy and adaptable. They are easy to consider for homestead use in any climate and in general are healthy. In my experience in all of the Alpine does I have had, they have been harder keepers compared to other breeds where I have to make sure they get some extra calories when their dairy production is so intense that its hard to keep a lot of weight on.
So Are they for you?
What is holding you back from adding this breed? Due to their popularity and the accessibility of reputable breeder registry though American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA), it is likely you will be able to find a local farm/breeder who could also serve as a mentor as you learn about this breed. They are herd animals so you would need to make sure you have at least two does or a wether as a companion. They are a standard breed so if space is an issue you could consider the mini version or smaller.
If you are brand new to goats or dairy goats, getting an older Alpine that has been well socialized and already had a couple seasons of milking could be a great option. Could be an ideal way to learn with such a special breed as your teacher.
Please let me know if you have questions or what other breeds you are considering so I can help you make a more informed decision!