Toggenburg goats, Toggenburgers, or Toggs are known to be one among the oldest dairy goat breeds. In fact, some may even claim that they are definitely the oldest recognized and purest of Swiss dairy breed. Also, a Toggenburg herd book was first registered sometime in the 1600s. However, the breed only ever got recognized internationally in the 1890s. Toggenburgers hail from the Toggenburg region of the Canton of St. Gallen in Northeastern Switzerland over 300 years ago.
Raising Toggenburg goats is as easy as raising a pet. Like a lot of goat breeds, Toggenburg goats are typically gentle and quiet. However, as a dairy goat breed, it is important to be critical about the ways these goats are taken care of. For instance, their diet should be full of nutrients for proper growth, development, and high-quality milk production. They should be mainly fed with greens, but with occasional grain mixes, corn treats, vitamins, and minerals.
Moreover, to keep Toggenburgers healthy and disease-free, they should also be regularly dewormed and vaccinated. These should be done starting on their sixth to eight weeks, and then annually. In addition, Toggenburgers’ health should be maintained in a clean, well-ventilated, leak-free, and draft-free housing. It’s essential they have a space to play and exercise in their housing if pastures are not accessible.
Moderate milk producers as they are, Toggenburg goats have great potential for producing huge amounts of high-quality milk per year. In fact, there is a 5,750 pounds world record for a Toggenburg milk production in a single year. It only ever takes great care to raise productive Toggs. Hence, this article provides a comprehensive overview of properly raising Toggenburg goats.
The breed is a medium-size one, smaller than other Alpine breeds, but of similar weight of at least 55 kg. Usually, a Togg doe weighs at least 55 kg, while a buck will weigh at least 75 kg. The does can also grow around 75 cm tall, and the bucks, 85 cm tall at the withers. Their coats are medium-length with base colors varying from light fawn to dark chocolate. Their hind legs are characteristically white, sometimes cream, from hocks to hooves, and their forelegs, white from knees downward. Sometimes, a dark line or band below each of their knees is present. They also have a white triangle on either side of their short tails and a white spot at the wattles. Wattles are small rudimentary nubs of skin on either side of the neck. Also, Togg does’ udders are well-developed, high, globular, and well-attached.
In general, Toggenburg goats are also physically distinct from their facial markings. These are two white lines that start over each eye down to the muzzle. They have a general Swiss marked outline with diverse dilutions. They have a typically long facial structure, but not of Roman type. Also, they have uniquely white ears with a dark spot in the middle, are erect and stand forward on the head. Their eyes are rather rectangular than round, which have excellent night vision. Moreover, they do not have teeth in their upper front jaw. They also usually have beards, both bucks and does, but bucks have more pronounced ones.
Behavior-wise, Toggenburg goats are gentle, friendly, and quiet, which makes them wonderful pets for families. However, treating them too much like a pet can be detrimental to their development. Hence, it is wiser to balance treating them as pets and as farm animals. In addition, Toggs are habitually very inquisitive and curious and tend to be a bit more high-strung than other goat breeds. They are also considered a very hardy goat breed, which makes for their good performance during cooler weather.
HEALTH AND DIET
It is very important to feed Toggenburg goats with good-quality, nutritious food. As a dairy goat breed, the Toggs require for both grains and green foods. However, it is also important to note that they generally require more greens than grains. Other than that, they also require some vitamins and minerals. Hence, one may opt to contact a veterinary doctor for a recommendation of these. Also, a good supply of fresh and clean water is a must as per their demand.
Like most goat breeds, Toggenburg goats should ideally be fed about four times a day for muscle buildup. However, twice a day feeding schedule may also suffice with a few treats every now and then.
As the Alpine goats and other dairy goat breeds, Toggs should ideally not be fed with leftover food. Instead, regular fresh food feeding is advised. Below is a list of food to feed Toggenburg goats:
Shrubs, Grasses, and Small Trees in Ranges, Pastures, or Woodlands
Access to ranges, pastures, or the woods means no-cost, nutritious goat food. Greens are basically a goat’s main diet. However, Toggs’ diet should not only be entirely of fresh grass as it may cause bloating, which can be harmful.
Hay is a good nutrient source and is handy during winter when the goats do not have access to a range or pasture. It contains a significant amount of protein, vitamins, minerals, and calcium essential for kidding does. A quantity of two to four pounds of hay is required for each goat a day. Hay can be stored in a manger for less waste and for easy access for the goats.
Grain Feed Mixes
These add to more proteins, vitamins, and minerals. These could also be handy during bad weather when the goats cannot go out to forage or browse. However, one should not overfeed goats with these as they cause to make the goats fat. In fact, they may even cause illness and even death in the worst case. These should be stored in metal or plastic containers or buckets for waste reduction.
Corn or corn chips are good food treats. However, one should only treat goats with these in small quantities.
Vitamins and Minerals
It is nice to consult a veterinary doctor for advice, whether which vitamins and minerals are good supplements for the goats’ diet. Vitamins and minerals make sure to fill up the goats’ guts of an abundance of nutrients necessary for excellent growth and development.
Other than their diet, Toggs should also be dewormed and vaccinated so that they are kept healthy and free of illness. Kids at their 6 to 8 weeks of age may already be dewormed and vaccinated, and then boosted in 4 weeks. After that, goats may be vaccinated once yearly.
The common worms that prey on goats are hookworms, bloodworms, and a different species, which can be particularly harmful, known as coccidia. These parasites can cause different types of health problems. These health problems may be reproductive failures, weight loss, poor hair growth, and even death. Also, one should watch out for Tetanus and Cocci, especially for young kids. A fecal test that shows a high rate of cocci, over 200 per gram, requires quick action. One should immediately approach a veterinary doctor in this type of case.
If a Togg is noticeably weak or sick, as for most goat breeds, it should be immediately isolated and sent to the vet.
LOCATION, SHELTER, FENCING, AND BEDDING
Generally, goats do not need a lot of attention. What they need is a big space where they can run around and have access to plenty of food. Hence, it is ideal that a Toggenburg farm has access to ranges, pastures, or the woods. As mentioned, it shall make up for no-cost goat feeding.
Moreover, as a dairy breed, a Toggenburg farm should ideally be away from loud noises or distractions. This is necessary, especially when milking as loud noises can be detrimental for the milking process and the milk’s taste. Bad odor is also another thing that can spoil the milk product.
Toggenburg goats, as mentioned, are of a very hardy breed. However, they do need good shelter for protection from the elements. To accommodate their medium size, a 12 square feet shelter space may be required for each Togg. However, a good additional playing space shall be needed if the plan is to raise them in a stall-fed system. Also, if the goat harm has no access to ranges or pastures, the shelter shall have enough space for exercise. Ideally, though, the exercise should be done outdoors, if possible.
A simple structure shall suffice for a Toggenburg shelter. One should make sure that the door or the opening is facing away from the prevailing winds. Also, the structure should ideally be raised above the ground. It should be made in such a way that it can easily be cleaned because goats tend to be hygienic creatures. Also, a good ventilation system should be installed to ensure the flow of sufficient air and light inside. However, the ventilation should not make the structure drafty, as well. A well-ventilated shelter prevents diseases from striking the goats. Moreover, goats should be kept dry. Hence, the shelter should have no leaks to make sure that the goats have somewhere dry to sleep in.
Pregnant and/or lactating Togg does will require for a separate shelter. It should be a solid building, necessarily for winter or colder weather. The building may be divided using livestock panels to create separate pens for different groups of does and kids. However, different does can kid at different times in the same space or pen. But space should strictly be cleaned and sanitized before a new doe is placed for another kidding.
Furthermore, a goat shelter shall contain not only the goats, but also farm equipment, goat food, and bedding. Having a food and water storage space will keep the food and water clean and waste-free.
Like most of the other goat breeds, Toggenburg goats are good jumpers. They can jump over five feet high. They can also be quite stubborn. For instance, if they spot a good grass beyond the fence, they will do their best to go for it. They will either jump over the fence or crawl under it. Hence, a sturdy and significantly high fence should be built and maintained around the perimeter of the goat farm. A good fence shall also keep the goats safe from predators such as dogs, coyotes, foxes, bears, and the like.
Aside from the perimeter fencing, cross fencing is also ideal within the area for the separation of the goats. This fence should separate the bucks from the does and the weaned kids from the does. Keeping the bucks away from does prevents unplanned breeding. A cross fencing can either be a temporary or a permanent one. It can be constructed out of poly tape or wire, electric netting, or high-tensile wire.
Aside from a solid building, bedding is also necessary for pregnant does, especially those that are about to give birth. A doe needs to be as comfortable as possible during birthing. However, bedding shall also be of use for other goats beside the does. For instance, during winter, layered up bedding will provide warmth. Also, bedding makes for easier waste muck out. It should be changed regularly, for instance, once a month during the summer.
Bedding can be of any type as the following:
It is less dusty and can be eaten by the goats if fresh. Also, it is cheap and easy to store as it comes in bales.
Similarly, it is less dusty and can be eaten if fresh. It is also easy to store as it, in the same way, comes in bales as well.
This is handy in areas with little rain. For storage, it may be conveniently kept outside.
- Wood chips or pellets
These are effective in absorbing urine and odor. However, they may be too hard and maybe uncomfortable for the goats. They may also be relatively expensive.
Toggenburg goats breed well. One mature Togg buck can mate with 25 to 35 does, suitable for a mass mating technique. Moreover, a Togg buck reaches puberty between its fourth and eight months. A doe, on the other hand, reaches puberty at seven to ten months. However, there is an ideal weight that should be met by a doe in order to be called up for breeding. The weight should be around 75 pounds, but it is best to consult a veterinarian or a goat breeder.
Generally, natural breeding is practiced for Toggenburg farms rather than artificial breeding. The beginning of the mating season is a period called a “rut.” This is when bucks begin to court does. In this period, a very foul and musky odor emerges from the bucks. The bucks also begin fighting with each other.
A doe will be ready for mating when she goes into “estrus” or heat. Most breeds have only about 21 days of estrus. Hence, one should pay attention when a Togg doe starts giving off signs of being in estrus. Usually, a doe becoming more temperamental is a sign of this. Also, she may have some sort of discharge and will have a swollen rear end. She may also wag her tail a lot, which is a sure sign that she is in estrus or is about to be in it. Moreover, if a doe is interested in a buck, she urinates in front of the buck. Then, the mating shall begin.
As the Alpine and other goat breeds, older Toggs should be kept away from the younger ones if one plans on breeding with different ages. When it is time to start breeding, the bucks should be kept in a small, shady, and warm enclosure during the day. They will also need small dosages of growing supplements. During the night, a buck may then be placed with a doe in pen.
MILKING AND PRODUCTION
As mentioned, pregnant or kidding Toggs or goats in general, require more attention. They need to be placed in a warm solid building with comfortable bedding to lie down. Also, they should be separated from other farm animals. It is also important to keep them away from loud noises or distractions, as it can be detrimental to the milking process. Furthermore, the kidding shelter should be free of bad odor as it can also spoil the milk taste.
Toggenburg does need to be pregnant to start producing milk. However, they are prolific breeders; hence, they can keep producing continuously. Their milk is relatively low in butterfat content at about 3% fat and 2.7% protein. Moreover, their breed is of moderate milk producers. They have an annual average milk production of between 1,500 to 1,600 pounds. However, there exists a 5,750 pounds world record for a Toggenburg milk production in a single year.
As most of the dairy goats milk, Togg milk should be filtered and chilled right away after getting it from the doe. This is if the intention of milking is for human consumption. The temperature for the milk’s storage should be 4.4 degrees Celsius in order to prevent the excessive growth of bacteria. Bacteria grow in warm temperatures, which will cause the milk to spoil. The shelf life of refrigerated milk is about three to four weeks. However, if frozen, it may last for four or five weeks. Besides, a good veterinary or health record is also necessary if the milk is intended to be sold.
How much does a Toggenburg goat cost?
Usually, it costs up to $300 to purchase a pedigree kid. However, the amount may be different on a case-by-case basis and from region to region. Kids are generally cheaper than mature goats. Bucks, on the other hand, are generally more expensive. However, it is important to take note that purchasing kids means waiting for about a year until the goats become productive. In contrast, if one purchases already a mature Toggs, then he or she may dive into production and breeding relatively quicker.
What are the pointers in purchasing Toggenburg goats?
As for all types of goat purchases, one should always check the goats’ eyes. Goats have typically bright eyes that make them look lively and friendly. Hence, if they have dull eyes, it indicates that they are sick. Also, if a Togg is somewhat shy or withdrawn, then it might not be quite at best health. Next, one may check the manure as well upon choosing a goat for purchase. A healthy one passes firm pellets; otherwise, the goat might not be healthy. Lastly, one should check whether there are lumps, as these may indicate something worse and contagious. If unnoticed, a goat with abscesses may infect the entire herd.