Facts About Mini Alpine Goats

And what you need to know about raising them on a hobby farm.

A goat in a field

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There are several types of miniature goats that are ideal for hobby farms and homesteads. One such type is the miniature Alpine goat (often just called a mini Alpine), which is a cross between an Alpine goat female (doe) and a Nigerian dwarf goat male (buck). If you're considering getting some of these goats, here are some facts you'll want to know.

It's a Dairy Breed

Like the Nigerian dwarf goat, this is a goat bred for producing milk. It may be small—only roughly halfway in size between the Nigerian dwarf goat, which is the smallest dairy goat breed that averages 75 pounds, and an Alpine goat, which averages between 135-170 pounds—but it still manages to produce nearly as much milk as a full-sized goat.

Alpine goats hold the record in the U.S. for the most yearly milk output of any breed, so it's no surprise its offspring is a prolific producer, as well. One farmer reported long lactation periods, with a doe giving three-quarters of a gallon of milk daily for over a year after birthing her babies. Nigerian dwarf goat milk is high in butterfat and protein, so its genes make the mini Alpine's milk creamier than a standard Alpine's.

The Breed Has a Sweet Personality

Mini Alpines are renowned for having calm, loving, gentle personalities. They are highly social and interact well with family, making them good pets. These goats also have a reputation for being easy to handle, but sometimes they can be hard-headed, so be aware that you might find some of that personality trait in your mini Alpines!

It Has a Unique Appearance

According to the Miniature Dairy Goat Association (MDGA):

The Mini-Alpine is an alert, gracefully hardy animal that adapts and thrives in any climate while maintaining good health and excellent production. The straight or slightly dished face and fine, narrow, erect ears gives it a clean appearance... Maximum height: Does 28 inches, Bucks 29 inches.

There are several different and unique color patterns found on the mini Alpine, thanks to the introduction of the Nigerian gene. These include: 

  • Sundgau: Black with white secondary markings
  • Chamoise: Predominantly brown or bay color, with black markings on the face, feet, legs, and on the dorsal stripe down the back
  • Two-tone Chamoise: Light front quarters with brown or gray hindquarters
  • Cou Noir: Black neck and white hindquarters

The Breed Requires Fewer Resources 

One obvious advantage is that the mini Alpine requires less pasture, barn space, and feed than a full-sized Alpine goat, while still producing almost as much milk. (That doesn't mean they can be cramped; they should still have plenty of space in order to stay healthy and happy.) Mini Alpines have had the Nigerian dwarf gene bred into them, so they produce twins, triplets, and quads more easily than full-sized Alpines, which is a bonus for breeding.

Breeding Can Be Tricky

The mini Alpine is a very new, somewhat experimental breed of goat, so you cannot breed these animals to each other the way you do an older breed. This is a first-generation cross derived by breeding a Nigerian dwarf with a full-sized Alpine. In general, a breed that is a first-generation cross of two purebreds may exhibit hybrid vigor—meaning they are stronger and more resilient than either parent—but they can also exhibit the worst characteristics of both parents. Health can also be unpredictable with first-generation crosses; if you plan to breed mini Alpines, you must be familiar with multi-generational breeding programs to ensure that you keep the quality you want in your herd.

How to Buy a Mini Alpine

You need to be careful buying from breeders, as mini Alpines have become very popular and not all breeders are breeding carefully and thoughtfully. Some are breeding the goats more for looks, cuteness, and their suitability as pets than for their milk or meat production quality. Always look for a registered breeder.

That said, these goats are very popular among homesteaders and small-scale farmers who have found or purchased good foundation stock for parents and bred them themselves. Mini Alpines are a breed to consider if you want dairy goats. Just beware that the "best of both worlds" promise that they seem to have may not always be fulfilled in practice.