The Toggenburg is yet another ancient Swiss dairy goat that has enjoyed success wherever it has traveled. This breed took its name from the Toggenburg region in the eastern part of its native country and has been known there for centuries. It has been registered and recorded since the 1600s, but definitely traces back considerably further.
The Togg, as the breed is commonly known, began to spread across the world in the late 1800s, reaching England in the first half of the 1880s. The American population is descended from the Toggenburgs of England, the first four goats having arrived in Ohio from the latter country in 1893.
More importations to the United States followed. By 1921, there was a solid foundation and registration of the breed began, giving the Togg the distinction of being the first goat breed registered in our country. Its dairy qualities and its regular appearance at state fairs gained it further notoriety, which it has enjoyed in America ever since.
The modern Toggenburg has been bred for greater size. However, for those who prefer a smaller goat, the Miniature Toggenburg has been created through the introduction of Nigerian Dwarf blood.
The Togg is strictly a dairy breed best suited to fluid milk production. Its milk has low butterfat levels, so it is less desirable than other breeds for making value-added dairy products such as butter and cheese. However, when placed in a herd of goats of other breeds, it will contribute to cheese production by adding a strong but sweet flavor to the finished product.
The Miniature Toggenburg may be slightly more versatile due to the higher butterfat and protein content of its milk.
The Toggenburg is not lacking in personality. While perfectly friendly and affectionate, it is a free spirit with a cantankerous streak. It is not above domineering people and other goats, and has been known to tackle a coyote and win. It is always on the lookout for something exciting to do and seems to spend a good part of its day finding new ways to escape.
Overall, the Togg is built to last. It is constitutionally hardy, structurally sound, and dispositionally tough. Be aware, however, that it is best adapted to cooler climates and may suffer somewhat in the heat.
Pat Coleby’s experience suggests that the Toggenburg may have higher copper requirements than other breeds. A copper deficiency will initially present itself by a bleached coat.
Finally, a note on breeding Mini Toggs: Because this version of the breed is very scarce, some goat-keepers like to raise their own by crossbreeding a standard Toggenburg with a Nigerian Dwarf. Keep in mind that the dwarf goat used to produced this cross needs to be a buck—breeding a full-sized Toggenburg buck to a diminutive Nigerian Dwarf doe is a recipe for disaster.
- Suitability for cool climates.
- Some level of resistance to predators (always play it safe with good fencing, however).
- Natural foraging instinct.
- Low feed requirements.
- Easy kidding.
- Strong mothering instincts.
- Long lactations, lasting from 18 to 20 months.
- High milk production.
- Sweet milk flavor when not allowed to consume aromatic weeds.
- Scarcity of Miniature Toggs.
- Difficult temperament for beginners to handle.
- Considerable ability as an escape artist.
- Reduced heat tolerance.
- Low butterfat levels (higher in the miniature version).