Owning an Oberhasli Goat

This Swiss dairy breed brings a lot more than just milk to the table.

Photo by Flickr/Jean

If you’re a cheese lover, or a hiker, you’re sure to become a fan of the Oberhasli goat. In the mountainous regions of Switzerland where the breed originated, they’re known as gemsfarbige gebirgsziege, or “chamois-colored goat,” in reference to their dominant chamois color pattern. Chamois, or chamoisee, is described as a reddish-brown with a black belly, black legs up to the knee, a black stripe along each side of the face, a black muzzle, and a black stripe along the back to the tail. Beyond their striking looks, Oberhaslis have earned a reputation for their steady milk production, calm demeanor, and quality packing abilities, resulting in a loyal following of this versatile breed.

Registration, Recovery, and Recognition

The Oberhasli arrived in the United States in the early 1900s, and most of today’s stock can be traced to an importation in 1936 by Dr. H.O. Pence of Kansas City, Missouri. The breed was called “Swiss Alpine” at the time, and its registration was included in the American Alpine studbook until 1979, when the American Dairy Goat Association granted the breed its own studbook. The name “Oberhasli” was officially adopted at that time, and the breed’s numbers have steadily improved since. Currently, The Livestock Conservancy lists the Oberhasli as “recovering” on its Conservation Priority List, as the breed’s numbers have been improving globally.

Photo by Jeannette Beranger

In the past, the Oberhasli was split into two categories: a naturally polled (born hornless) type and a horned type. The polled Brienzer-Oberhasli came from an area near Brienz, Switzerland. One of the earliest mentions of this type was in an 1892 dairy show in Bern, Switzerland, where 70 bucks were recognized for their quality and consistency. The second type is the horned Bünder, which came from Graubünden (also known as Grisons), Switzerland. In 1936, both types were combined into one breed within the Swiss studbook. However, some people still breed the two separately.

Photo by Jeannette Beranger

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