The Alpine goat breed originated in the European Alps mountain range through natural selection thousands of years ago for its agility and excellent sense of balance which allows it to live on steep mountainous terrains.
Since then, the breed has been bred for its milk production and choice of colours.
Alpines have historically been dairy animals as they have one of the highest annual milk outputs. The average milk yield for an alpine is of 2,266 Ibs/lactation, a milk fat percentage of 3.4, butterfat content of 3.5 per cent and milk protein percentage of 2.9.
Alpines are usually medium to large in size and have a variety of colours and markings which are described by French names including Chamoisee, Cou Blanc and Cou Noir. The breed is characterised by a straight face, short to medium-length hair and upright ears. The breed is also very popular due to its adaptability to any climate and its calm nature.
A mature doe weighs at least 135 pounds and a mature buck weighs at least 170 pounds. Bucks often have long hair along their spines and a pronounced beard.
The name Saanen comes from the Saanen valley in Switzerland where selective breeding of goats took place.
The Saanen goat is an excellent dairy goat producing around 2,577 Ibs/lactation a year with an average milkfat content of 3.3 per cent, butterfat content of 3.5 per cent and milk protein of 2.9 per cent.
According to the Iowa Dairy Goat Association, the Saanen holds the world record for milk production at over 6600 lbs in 305 days.
Saanen's are the largest of the dairy goats with mature does weighing around 135 pounds or more and bucks around 170 pounds.
As well as a being characterised by a mild temperament, Saanen's are recognised by their short fine white/cream coloured coat, straight or dished shaped head and erect forward-pointing ears.
The Golden Guernsey originated from the Bailiwick of Guernsey in the Channel Islands. The breed is likely to have evolved from the Oberhasli and Syrian breeds
In the 1960's, Golden Guernsey's were brought to the UK and further breeding created the British Guernsey, which is slightly larger and heavier.
Golden Guernsey's are characterised by their light to dark golden coloured coats which are medium to long in length. The head is straight or dished and the ears are erect.
Golden Guernsey's are smaller than many of the other British dairy breeds and have a milk protein percentage of 2.81, butterfat of 3.72 per cent and a daily milk yield of 3.16kg.
As very docile animals with a modest milk yield, they are ideal for smallholder farming.
Golden Guernsey goats are now registered as a rare breed.
The Boer goat originated in South Africa and became a registered breed in 1959. The Boer goat resulted from the cross-breeding of native South African goats and various European and Asian goats for a muscular meaty goat with good body conformation and fast growth rate.
Bred for its meat, the Boer goat is large, stocky and muscular with bucks reaching around 150 Kg and does 100 Kg.
Boers adapt well to hot dry climates and have a good resistance to disease.
The breed is also characterised by a short coat and long floppy ears and are white and red in colour (white body and red head and shoulders).
Although they have a considerable growth of wool on their faces, it is seldom extensive enough to cause wool blindness. The fine wool fibers of fleeces are beautifully crimped.
Through selective mating and crossing with other breeds, the Merino has served extensively as foundation stock in the creation of many useful breeds and strains of sheep.
New York State 4-H Meat Goat Project Fact Sheet
As one of the oldest goat breeds, the Nubian originated from the Nubian Desert in North Africa.
However, present day Nubian goats originated in the UK in 1893 through the breeding of English goats with exotic long eared goats from the Middle East, Africa and India. These cross-bred animals became known as Anglo-Nubians.
The Nubian breed has been developed as both a dairy and meat animal and is more adapted to living in warmer environments rather than cold.
Nubians tend to be larger than other dairy goats and have a distinctive round 'roman' nose and long floppy ears.
They are also energetic and vocal animals that come in a variety of colour combinations and have a short glossy coat.
Unlike other dairy goats, Nubians provide good winter milk production as they breed out of season. Their butterfat content is also very high at around 4.6 per cent, making it a good choice for cheese and ice cream production.
On average, does produce around 1.820 Ibs/lactation with an average milkfat content of 4.9 per cent and milk protein of 3.7 per cent.
The La Mancha goat is a North American goat breed which is thought to have originated on the West Coast of the US in the 1930's, but its ancestors are thought to be of Spanish origin.
Bred as a dairy goat, does produce around 2,100 pounds of milk annually, have a milk protein content of 3.2 per cent, butterfat content of 3.9 per cent and have an average milkfat content of four per cent.
The goat is easily recognised by its very small ears which are rounded and shorter than two inches.
La Mancha goats are hardy, calm animals of a medium size with a short coat and come in a variety of colour combinations.
Male La Mancha goats are around 30 inches in height and 165 pounds in weight. Females tend to be about 28 inches in height and weigh around 130 pounds.
The Toggenburg is one of the oldest dairy goat breeds originating from the Toggenburg Valley in Switzerland.
Toggenburg tend to be sturdy and of a medium size with a short fine coat, although some fringing does occur.
Bucks usually stand around 34 to 38 inches in height and weigh 150 to 200 pounds. Does are slightly smaller at 30-32 inches in height and weigh 125 pounds and up.
Colour varies from light grey/fawn to a medium brown. The breed also has distinct white Swiss markings which include white markings on the face, legs and around the base of the tail.
Toggenburg goats are friendly, hardy and perform best in cooler conditions. They are noted for their excellent udder development and high milk production.
With longer than average lactations, does produce around 2,115 Ibs/lactation of milk and have modest milk fat and milk protein percentages of 3.2 and 2.7 respectively. Butterfat is around 3.7 per cent.
The Oberhasli is one of the oldest dairy goat breeds which originated in Switzerland.
Often referred to as a 'pretty' goat, the Oberhasli is medium in size and red/brown in colour with black markings in a chamoisee pattern. They are also hornless.
Oberhasli's are characterised as being strong and agile animals that tolerate cooler climates well.
They are also good milkers producing around 2,146 Ibs/lactation, with a milk fat percentage of 3.9 and milk protein of 2.9 per cent. Average butterfat is around 2.5 to 3.5 per cent.
Mature bucks weigh around 150 pounds and does, around 120 pounds.
Nigerian Dwarfs are miniature dairy goats of West African origin.
Although they produce less milk and meat than full sized dairy goats, they produce enough for backyard farming - usually around 750 pounds a year- with high average butterfat content of around five to 10 per cent.
The breed has a short to medium length soft coat that comes in a variety of colour and marking combinations and a similar body conformation to larger goats.
Nigerian Dwarfs can easily be distinguished from pygmy goats by their body shape as they tend to be similar in shape to a dairy goat whereas pygmies are stockier and rounder-bellied.
Bucks usually stand at around 20 inches in height and does are slightly smaller at 19 inches. Does usually weigh around 30 to 50 pounds and bucks 35 to 60 pounds.
Nigerian Dwarfs are also often kept as pets due to their small size and friendly nature.
The Myotonic breed of goat is indigenous to the US and is bred for its meat.
Also called the Tennessee Meat Goat, the Myotonic's true origin is still a mystery. There are two main theories though as to where these goats came from. One is from Canadian ancestors in 1880 and the other is that the breed developed through a mutation that resulted in a recessive gene.
The name Myotonic comes from the condition which these goats have. The condition causes their leg muscles to lock up whenever they are frightened or excited, causing them to fall over.
The Myotonic breed are large framed, heavy rumped, deep chested and not very agile.
Although the breed can occur in a variety of colour combinations, they tend to be black and white in colour.
As well as being a meat goat, the does also have respectable milk production.
The American Livestock Breed Conservancy has now placed this breed of goat on its "rare" list, with an estimated world population of under 10,000.
The Kiko is a New Zealand breed of goat that has been purposely created for its meat through the selective breeding of wild goats with Saanen and Nubian (dairy) goats. This was followed by further cross-breeding and by 1986 the Kiko breed was established. The name Kiko also comes from the Maori word for meat/flesh.
A couple named Garrick and Anne Batten from Nelson in the South Island developed the breed and have continued to control the breed ever since.
Kikos were first exported to the US in the 1990's and there are now a number of Kiko breeders in the country.
Kiko goat's tend to be white in colour, due to their Saanen ancestors, are hardy animals that do well in a temperate climate and have high feed conversion rates.
Due to their dairy goat ancestors, they are also adequate milk producers and are popular due to their good resistance to parasites and illness.
The Kiko goat is now registered as a rare breed in New Zealand.
The Angora breed originated in the district of Angora in Turkey and dates back prior to early biblical history.
The breed is used primarily for its mohair wool which is usually shorn twice a year. The Angora goats' carcasses are also sometimes sold for meat.
Angora goats are characterised by their long thick woolly coat, which grows in ringlets. The goats' ears are long and drooping and both male and female angora goats have horns.
Although angoras are excellent grazers, making them suitable for a variety of terrains, they are more susceptible to parasites and are weaker at birth than most other goats and sheep.
They are also susceptible to cold wet weather after shearing.
Angora Goat Image