Alpine vs. Mini Alpine? - Homesteading Today
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Old 11/02/10, 09:37 AM
mammabooh's Avatar
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Alpine vs. Mini Alpine?

My plan is to get a couple of Alpine goats in the spring (we are FINALLY almost done putting up our fence!). I'd like to have at least two does so that I can always have one in milk. We don't drink much milk, but I plan to make yogurt, cheese, butter, fudge, soap...all kinds of goodies. Anyway, I see that some of you have Mini Alpines, but I haven't been able to find much information on-line about them. In the past, I was planning to get Nigerian Dwarfs, but read all sorts of horror stories about them being escape artists. So...I'm torn. I like the idea of a small goat because they eat less and produce less, but I do have what I not-so-lovingly refer to as "man hands" and I don't know about milking those tiny teats!

Sorry for the rambling!!! Anyway, can any of you that have experience with Alpines and Minis give me some guidance?

AND...if I do decide on Minis, is there anywhere near Northeastern Ohio where I can find some?

P.S. If I'm reading right, a 1st generation Mini Alpine is just one who has been born from crossing an Alpine with a Nigerian Dwarf, right?

Thanks!

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Old 11/02/10, 09:56 AM
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I have french alpines and love them. I've also had American Alpines, and loved those even more. My current FF doe has easy to milk teats and what seems to be a beautiful udder coming in. Her dam milked 10lbs per day or so. She's not anywhere near that as a FF (peaking at a little over a 1/2 gallon), but considering I bought her 4 days before she kidded with a single small buck kid, and she refused to eat for the first 5 days of lactation, I think she did OK. Next year I hope to LA both of my girls, and put them on DHIR. I also hope to buy my first alpine buck and maybe start thinking about AI for improvement.

As for having 'extra' milk, that's usually not the case. 'extra' milk is great for growing out many other animals on the farm. Pigs, calves, chicks, chickens, turkeys, ducks - all get some of that 'extra' milk.

I have issues for several reasons about 'mini' goats. Too often, I find, they are bred for 'blue eyes' or for the sole purpose of producing tiny, cute, pet goats with no thought put into production. Too many people don't milk their minis, IMO. This leads to a LOT of tiny teats, poor attachments, and the 'coarse' curse of the nigerians. Coarse is a way to describe an animal the opposite of dairy qualities. They're SUPPOSED to look like tiny alpines, NOT like pygmies.

That being said, I have seen a couple nigerians I wouldn't mind having. 98% of them, though, you couldn't pay me to take. I know a lot of people like them, but they need more work, IMO, than what their oddly high pricetags indicate. Too many people price on fancy colors or blue eyes, or charge 300.00 for their 'pet bred' doeling. If I were to buy nigies, I'd look at DHIR records, udder on the parents and grandparents, and LA scores... and of course disease testing papers. A non-disease tested goat isn't worth a dime to me.

Likely, if you want mini alpines, you'll have to make them yourself. I don't see many good breeders out there. Even less of those breeders are on DHIR proving their animals worth.

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Old 11/02/10, 10:14 AM
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I have nigerian dwarves and got two alpine does about a month ago... the plan is to make some mini-alpines. First, I love my NDs. Mine are from great milking lines, although I do get a random 'bad udder' (poor attachment) every now and then (but teat size and production are there and we do it for the milk, so I keep them around if I like their personality - the poor attachment hasn't carried through in subsequent generations yet). (ETA: we do not sell goats - other than pet wethers upon special request - so I do not feel I am doing the breed a dis-service by not culling. I buy quality bucks to eliminate the 'bad udder' in my herd). I have no fencing problems with the NDs. I have field fence (square holes, not welded) that is about 4ft high and wooden posts. Since I got the alpines now, I can now knowingly comment on how the NDs differ from other breeds... MAN ARE THEY LOUD compared to my alpines. I guess I never really noticed. The NDs always remind us when it is feeding time and if they are out of hay or something, they will let you know. I've hardly heard a peep out of the alpines! The alpines are certainly more capable of jumping fences and seem to enjoy climbing more than my NDs. I have a bunch of wire wheels and pallets out there and the alpines are constantly on top of them (and anything else they can get their front feet on). They have yet to jump my fence despite the fact that they easily could. The alpines are also considerably more difficult to handle... mine are very friendly and lead well, but if they want to go, they will pull you where a ND cannot. They also eat WAY more. The 2 alpine does eat more than 6 NDs. I'm thinking mini-alpines are probably where it is at provided they get the best of both breeds

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Last edited by Jay27; 11/02/10 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 11/02/10, 11:58 AM
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I have two Alpines, and they have wonderful easy teats to milk. The Mini-Alpine is due this spring as a FF, and I think she's going to have good teats like her dam.

ALL goats are escape artists. It's just ND are smaller and springier.

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Old 11/02/10, 12:21 PM
 
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I have a mini mancha and she is very sweet. she is the most talkative of all my goats. But, she isn't as small as a nigerian she would be in between the size of a standard la mancha and a nigerian. In fact, we have a nigerian buck in with her right now and she is bigger than he is. But, she is beautiful and put out about two quarts of really rich creamy milk last season. She does have really small teats though, I have to use a pump on her. But, she is unique though I have known other minis whose teats are just fine to milk. But I also have small hands.

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Old 11/02/10, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mygoat View Post
I have issues for several reasons about 'mini' goats. Too often, I find, they are bred for 'blue eyes' or for the sole purpose of producing tiny, cute, pet goats with no thought put into production. Too many people don't milk their minis, IMO. This leads to a LOT of tiny teats, poor attachments, and the 'coarse' curse of the nigerians. Coarse is a way to describe an animal the opposite of dairy qualities. They're SUPPOSED to look like tiny alpines, NOT like pygmies.
.
Thanks Mygoat. Articulates why, in the end, we shy'd away from the Nigerians. As newbies, we simply wouldn't have had the knowledge to discern a good dairy animal from a good pet animal, even if we were given copies of their heritage.

I'm a little confused about what you mean by "course." Would an animal opposite dairy be a breed set aside for pet or meat? (pygmies an example of both), thus a term meaning muscular or well built, or is it a negative term indicating an animal that has less dairy characteristics than it should have?

We're pretty happy with our Kinders, a breed originated from pygmy/nubian cross as we all know, but has been better managed for milk and not (yet) "mini'd down for cuteness". I'd imagine they might exhibit quite a bit of this "course" then? Yes? There are aspects of the Kinder we don't like much, such as the barrel midsection, but every breed has it's pros & cons.

Just curious MammahBoo - why a mini? Because of the amount of milk? I can tell you that when I offer our chickens the extra milk or curds, it lasts for about a nanosecond, then is gone, so yes, there's always a place for the extra if you have the time.
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Old 11/02/10, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LFRJ View Post
Just curious MammahBoo - why a mini? Because of the amount of milk? I can tell you that when I offer our chickens the extra milk or curds, it lasts for about a nanosecond, then is gone, so yes, there's always a place for the extra if you have the time.
The amount of milk and the amount of feed are my two reasons...and, I suppose, the wear and tear on the fence.

Here's another question...if I were to get regular-sized Alpines and found that they produced too much milk for us, could I reduce production with feed (I mean, by giving them less grain), or would that not work? I know that probably sounds crazy to some people to WANT to reduce production, but I'm just sort of thinking here... I want to feed them as efficiently (cheaply) as possible and still have them be healthy.

And another question...how many of you do once-a-day milking?
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Old 11/02/10, 02:55 PM
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I go to once a day milking in the winter.

Coarse looking dairy goats would have more muscle, meat, and bone mass.

Do not assume that Minis are less wear and tear on a fence. They rub back and forth just as much and stand with their front hooves on the fence, too.

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Old 11/02/10, 03:32 PM
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I have Nigerians and I've never heard other breeders talk about them being escape artists. Mine are pretty easy on fences. Granted the babies can get through cattle panels but thats really not much of an issue.

And just because you get a bigger breed doesn't mean you are going to get any better of a milker if you haven't taken the time to educate yourself on what to look for.

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Old 11/02/10, 03:57 PM
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Had alpines and sold them. They ate way too much. The three nigerians keep good body condition on less then what one alpine ate and struggled to keep weight on. A lamancha may be a good choice, they are smaller then alpines, bigger then nigies. I dont know but maybe they eat less then the alpines. The alpines were bossy, hard to work with too. Pretty animals but too hard headed for my liking.

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Old 11/02/10, 04:35 PM
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Yes, alpines ARE hard headed... in general. Mine are ditzy airbrained critters right now. Very, very sweet - just not the sharpest. EVERY change is a hazard, or so they think. I don't know if it's because my does are still young, but they havent' been very hard headed yet... And they are QUIET.

As for not keeping weight on - that's likely from their extremely high production. Most swiss breeds stay 'thin' because of their extremely high production. They put it in the bucket, and their body condition will decrease over the course of their lactation. This 'thin' look is the ideal dairy character that swiss breeds - alpines in particular - excell in. Dairy animals of all breeds will always ideally be angular and 'thin' in appearance. Nothing's uglier to me than a fat dairy goat - it means they're not producing enough or are being grossly, grossly overfed.

So yes, they WILL produce more and will require more feed than, say, a nigie. A nigie doesn't need less feed for an equal amount of milk, though - it's just they produce less in general and therefore eat less, too. If you keep their kids on them and/or milk 1x per day, though, they will likely give you adequate but not excessive amounts of milk.

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  #12  
Old 11/02/10, 06:46 PM
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I love Nigerians, and would love to have some. I'm deterred because I have VERY long fingers and I think it would be a stretch for me to milk a teat smaller than my full sized gals.

I love my Alpine and Saanen. My Alpine has somewhat of an attitude, but it's towards the Saanen. She's very calm, easy around my kids, and QUIET. I can't wait until both of my girls are in milk because we go through all of my Saanens milk as drinking milk. I want "extra" to make cheese and soap too!

There are some great mini breeders out there (in fact, I'm pretty sure there's a herd or two of good milking line nigerians in Ohio, but I could be wrong). But consider what you need out of your goats and go from there.

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