Oberhasli the Swiss Alpine

Reader Contribution by Carrie Miller and Miller Micro Farm
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Also known as the Oberhasli Brienzer, the Oberhasli is a dairy breed developed in Bern, Freiburg, Glarus, and Graubunden Switzerland.

Mabel and Izzabella munching in the pasture. 

Oberhasli goats were first imported to the United States in the early 1900s, though it was not until 1936 that purebred herds were established and maintained. The breed was initially named the Swiss Alpine, but in 1977, the breed name was changed to Oberhasli. They have a friendly, gentle, and sweet disposition.

Mature goats are considered medium in size. Bucks range in height from 30–34″, and does 28–32″, with weights of 100–150 pounds. The does are a dependable source of milk, known for their sweet light tasting milk, which has a wonderful amount of cream. The milk can be used for so many things including; baking, cooking, and simply drinking. Producing butter, ice-cream, yogurt, soaps, and even lotions are just a few other great options. Bucks and wethers are often used as pack animals, because of their strength and calm demeanor. They also make great 4-H projects!

Gizmo (4 yrs old) with daughter Izzabella (8 weeks old)

The breed’s color pattern is called chamoisee, a gorgeous brown almost red tinted coat. Black highlights are the standard, the black runs down their spines and part of their legs. Black stripping is also noted upon their face. A few white hairs are commonly found upon the top of their head, but watch out too many white hairs will disqualify them from the bred standard. Pure black colored Oberhasli are also found, although not considered optimal. The females can still be registered as an American Oberhasli, but the black bucks will only be experimental. A third color only known as chestnut has recently started popping up around the Oberhasli circle. They are absolutely gorgeous! All the same beautiful coloring as the original chamoisee, yet they are missing all the black highlighting. The ADGA does not recognize the chestnut coloring thus far, but hopefully that will change in the near future.

Izzabella playing amounts the stumps.  

There are two major distinguishing types amongst the Oberhasli breed, Pure and American. American simply means that the goat has met the criteria for the standards of breed. Pure means the goat has never been bred to an American Oberhasli, strictly to pure Swiss lines. It is more difficult to find purebreds as well as harder to find an unrelated pure male to breed them with. Yet, when you do, wow are they gorgeous!

J.J (1 yr old doe) and her new friend Zoey (4 weeks old)

According to The Livestock Conservancy, the Oberhasli has come a long way. Once considered endangered they have moved all the way up to protected. The circle of Oberhasli breeders have worked very hard to publicize the breed, making them more known around the goat world. Many breeders have worked diligently at breeding only amazing top quality Obers. With that being said the breed also tends to come with a hefty price tag.

I believe some of the breeders have begun to lose a bit of focus. The focus should be breeding these gorgeous creatures to conserve the old Heritage breed. Not asking thousands of dollars per goat, it’s unrealistic for many. I do understand the show world is very different than the dairy industry. Yet, I have seen black male Obers that are unable to be registered in the Ober class going for $500-$1000! What? They can only be registered as experimental! So, you must wait like three or four generations for the offspring to even be considered for true registration. Then when these “breeders” don’t get the price they want out of them, they ship them off to the sale barn. It’s very sad. 

Mabel our 2 yr old First Freshener. 

The breed is an amazing dairy goat. I myself have six Obers, I love each and every one. I tend to buy the “imperfect does” from the show people who want them “perfect”. Ok so maybe the doe has a bit too much black coloring, our a teat which is not perfectly centered, or it has “improper” body structure; really? I often wonder if each of these breeders were judged as harshly on their imperfections, how they would feel. Are they blonde enough? Are they at their optimal weight by doctor’s standards? Are their teats of perfect shape and size? But it’s ok the “imperfects” come stay here on our farm, where life is simple and easy. They munch and graze in the pasture or lay amongst the chickens in the barn. Once dusk falls they then are found curled up in their secure barn with all the top-quality hay they can eat. Obers are an amazing breed so look them up, research, and see if they fit your needs.

Sweet Ginger (4 yrs old) chilling in the barn on a rainy day.

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