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In the British Goat Society's Year Book for 1943, Mr. H. E. Jeffery stated in an important article on the British Alpine:
"Of the recognized breeds of goats in Great Britain the British Alpine has the greatest claim to being the product of our goat breeders, for it is built upon the fewest imported stock of a similar type."

 
Click on the questions  below if you would like to know more ...

   
What are the main characteristics of the British Alpine Breed?
Broadwater FalineThe British Alpine should have a black coat with white "Swiss" markings on its head, legs and around its tail. The correct distribution of black and white markings is best illustrated with a photograph. The female's short, shiny, black coat set into relief by the contrasting white markings  makes it a most attractive breed. 
Both sexes should be rangy,  without becoming coarse. 
The rangy frame of the breed makes it well suited to browsing, and it does well on a bulky fibrous diet.
 
Males are larger and heavier than the females. Forequarters and hindquarters should be strong with very good bone.  The male should stand foursquare and have plenty of length and depth in the body. He should be wide from the front and rear, both when standing and walking. The feet should be sound and pasterns strong. The shoulders should be clean and neat. The hair is usually longer and coarser than that of the female, and facial stripes can become indistinct in mature males. He should retain  a masculine appearance and general air of quality. 
The BA tends to be an active breed, but has big variations in temperament. It is a difficult breed to establish a strain that breeds true by mating like to like continually. Patient out crossing to correct developing faults has been widely practiced in the past, and it is this that probably brings in some of the variations one finds in the breed. The photo gallery illustrates this point.
The BA milks as well as any of the other major breeds in the UK (see data), and has a reputation for milk with a very pleasant taste. The breed also "runs through" very well i.e. milks well for a second year without having to kid.


 
How old is the British Alpine Breed and how was it developed?
The British Alpine breed, although first recognized and established in England at the beginning of the last century, is of varied and largely unknown genetic origin.

There were black and white goats in England, which had been produced by introducing genes from black Anglo Nubians into Toggenburg goats (and of course the native goats in Great Britain).  

Sedgemere Faith The female goat that has been given the distinction of being the founder of the British Alpine breed is Sedgmere Faith which was imported in 1903 from the Paris Zoo (see photo - left). 

Sedgemere Faith, who carried a white blaze on her head in addition to the black and white "Swiss" markings, was the first goat recorded as having given a gallon of milk in 24 hours in public. 

Three other black and white female goats were imported at the same time, but these had very little effect. 

They were originally thought to be of the Sandgau breed (Alsace), but similar goats have been identified in Switzerland as similar to the Bunder-Strahlenziege breed. 

It was through Faith's sons, when mated to an imported Toggenburg male, that important progress was made. The frequency of black and white goats increased. The combination of high yield and attractive appearance lead to the increase and popularity of the breed.

Two male goats, which have been attributed with contributing to the establishment of this spectacular ebony black goat with white Swiss markings, were Ch. Leases Lucky Steyne (a grandson of Sedgemere Faith, out of a white goat Ch. Leazes Eve) and Ch. Prophet of Bashley (who traces back to Lucky Steyne on his dam's side and imported Toggenburgs on his sires side).

What yield can be expected from a British Alpine milker?
Since 1995 it has been possible to analyze the performances of each breed of goat in BGS recognized milking trials conducted over a 24 hour period. A few goats attended over 10 trials but many attended one or two. The average is between three and four per goat. The data below is for British Alpines.

The data has high credibility since it is obtained in public and under test conditions. The tests are carried out between May and October, and some goats will have kidded more than 365 days.

 Year   Entries 

 Avg.yield 
Kg.

 Avg.BF 
%

 Avg.PR 
%

         

2012

189

3.79

   

2011

 

 

   

2010

 

 

   

2009

 

 

   

2008

 

 

   

2007

 

 

   

2006

229

4.20

3.55  2.65

2005

245

4.40

3.71  2.69

2004

221

4.00

3.81  2.75

2003

209

4.05

 3.73 2.68

2002

37

3.95

3.56  2.76

2001

 

 

   

2000

343

4.36

3.73 2.68
1999 459 4.59 3.78 2.68
1998 470 4.40 3.74 2.69
1997 493 4.15 3.90 2.72
1996 476 4.23 3.68 2.68
1995 460 4.25 3.76 2.67

The best individual performance of a British Alpine each year was as follows (as measured by total points gained i.e. yield, fat %, protein %, and time since the start of  the lactation):

  Year    Name of goat 

 Yield 
Kg

 Avg.BF 
%

 Avg.PR 
%

 Points 

2012

Biblin Zinnia Q* 5.15 5.90 3.14 26.68

2011

         

2010

         

2009

         

2008

         

2007

         

2006

         

2005

         

2004

         

2003

         

2002

         

2001

         

2000

Hayley Chorley Q*3  8.25 4.44 2.31 33.00
1999 Hayley Blackshadow Q*2  7.30 5.31 2.54 32.51
1998 Broadwater Pineapple *2   7.45 3.82 2.73 28.64
1997 Pridham Pikey Q*2 8.80 4.04 2.59 34.33
1996 Pridham Pikey Q*2 (RT) 8.00 4.28 2.75 35.31
1995 Pridham Pikey Q*2  7.95 4.69 2.35 32.27
RT means running through i.e. kidded more than 365 days.


What are the Breed Standards of the British Alpine ?
General points that describe a good dairy goat are of paramount importance. 
  • The most important consideration in the female is dairy quality. 
  • The head should be neat and fine, with jaws meeting evenly. The eyes should be full, bright and alert.
  • The neck should be long and slender, blending neatly into the shoulders, which should be fine and not coarse or lumpy. 
  • The chest should be deep and full. Feet should be sound and not misshapen, with pasterns strong. 
  • Front legs should be straight, with a good width between them.
  • Rear hocks should be wide apart when viewed from the rear - especially when walking. From the side the rear legs should not be neither too straight  nor too curved.
  • The back should be straight from shoulders to hips, with a slight slope from hips to tail. The ribs should be well sprung and the whole body should be wedge shaped when viewed from the side or looking along the goat's back.
  • The goat's skin should be supple with fine, short and soft hair.
  • The udder should be wide and deep, firmly attached to the body over a wide area at both the rear and at the front. Teats should be well defined from the udder, a comfortable size for hand milking, slightly tapering and pointing downwards.
Specific points (as defined in the British Goat Society Breeds booklet) apply to the British Alpine, in addition to the above:
  • Head:  Facial line straight or slightly dished. With or without tassels.
  • Body: Large and rangy.
  • Skin: Fine and supple.
  • Coat:  Black with Swiss markings. i.e. broad white facial stripes from above the eyes to the muzzle and white edge and underside to the ears. White legs below the knees and hocks, also white on rump and on and about the tail.
  • Male coat: May be longer than on females especially on face, shoulders and hind legs.
Departures from General or Specific points in the Breed Standards are penalised by judges according to degree, and slight variations are permissible.


What are the key dates in the history of the British Alpine ?
  • 1911 The Pytchley Herd of British Alpines, established by Mrs. Soames, was the first BA herd.
  • 1918 Mrs. Abbey bought a BA type goatling,  Preference from Miss Pope (Bashley Herd). This plus the purchase of Prophet of Bashley formed the basis of the Didgemere Herd. The most influential BA herd of all time was thus founded. Mrs. Abbey kept careful records and applied the principles of  line breeding extensively in her herd.
  • 1919 The BGS described BA's as a distinct breed and set up a committee to formulate the breed standards.
  • 1920 Recognized shows first held separate classes for BA's
  • 1925 BGS opened the BA section of the Herd book. For entry into the section the goat had to be (a) eligible for registration in the British Section of the Herd Book and (b) passed, by a BGS Judge, as conforming to type after it reached the age of six months.
  • 1925 BA No.1 was registered - Cobalt Clarissa from Dorset. She was bred by a Didgemere sire.
  • 1935 Entry in the BA section was made on breeding only, inspection was abandoned. At the same time a British Alpine Register was formed for goats grading up to BA that were certified as being of the correct type by the breeder.
  • 1943 The BA Register was abandoned, with entry into the BA section depended on the same grading up criteria as other breeds.
  • 1979 British Alpine Breed Society was formed.
  • 1986 Publication of the first BA Handbook by the Society.
  • 1991 Publication of Volume Two of the BA Handbook.
  • 2001 The Society's web site was launched.