Scientific Name: Capra hircus hircus toggenburg
This goat is the oldest registered dairy goat breed in the United States.
Male goats are referred to as bucks while female goats are does and their young are called kids. The gestation period is five months and females primarily give birth to twins, although single and triplet births are not uncommon.
STATUS: Not endangered.
HABITAT: Toggenburgs come from the Toggenburg Valley of Switzerland. They live in pastures and prefer cooler climates. Most American domesticated Toggenburg goats also live in pastures but are often housed in barns or some kind of shelter when not in the fields.
DIET: These goats are “browsers,” which means they consistently eat almost every plant that is near to them. They usually eat twigs from bushes and can peel the bark off trees. Toggenburgs are specifically fond of leaves, hay, and vegetation. They can also live off of shrubs and woody plants more easily than most domestic animals.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: The does are longer than they are tall and are very wide. Their average height is 26” or more at the withers, which is the highest point on the back, on the ridge between their shoulder blades. The females usually weigh around 120 lbs. The bucks are usually 28” or more at withers and weigh 160 pounds or more. Toggenburgs are cloven hoofed, meaning they are even-toed and have pads on the bottom of their hooves. They also have skin appendages that hang at the neck that are called “bells.” Their coloring ranges from dark chocolate to light fawn. Distinct white markings can be found around the ears with white stripes going down each side of the face from above their eyes to their white muzzles. Their hair also tends to be longer than other breeds of goats.
Chewing the Cud
It takes two steps for this goat to digest its food. Toggenburg goats have a stomach with four chambers, and in these chambers the food is mixed with saliva and is separated into either solid or liquid material. The liquid continues to move through the stomach while the solids are clumped together to form a solid mass called cud. The cud is then regurgitated by the goat and once again mixed with saliva and broken down to a much smaller size. The particles can then be moved down into another chamber where it is more easily digested by the goat. This eating process is called ruminating and is used by cattle, goats, sheep, giraffes, and most animals that have hoofed feet with an even number of toes.