Oberhasli (goat)

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Closeup of the Oberhasli's distinctive facial coloration

The Oberhasli, also known until 1978 as the Swiss Alpine, is a very old breed of dairy goat from the eponymous district of the Canton of Berne in Switzerland.[1]

Oberhasli (Oh'-bare-hoss-lee) are a color breed, meaning they must be correctly colored and marked to be registered with the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA). Does (females) may be solid black or chamoisee while bucks (males) may only be registered if they display correct chamoisee coloring, black males cannot be show because this is a sign of inbreeding. 'Chamoisee' (shawm-wah-zay') is defined as bay (medium to dark reddish brown) with black points (two black stripes starting above the eyes extending down the face to merge in a black muzzle, a black dorsal (spine) stripe, black lower legs, belly, and a medium to dark gray-skinned udder). Bucks frequently have more strongly expressed black markings through their chest and shoulders and have a black fringe of hair along their back, which is considered acceptable by the Oberhasli breed standard. The breed is about two inches shorter at the shoulder than the Saanen and Nubian breeds but is larger than the Toggenburg. Their temperament tends to be quiet and sweet-natured, but alert, with vocalizing similar to the other Swiss-origin breeds. The Oberhasli all-time record for milk production is 1997 03-00 304 4665 234/5.0 135/2.9 (1997, at age 3 years, a lactation of 304 days, totalling 4665 pounds of milk with 234 pounds of butterfat, averaging 2.9 percent butterfat, or roughly averaging a gallon and a half per day) by a doe named GCH Catoico Summer Storm 4&M registration number PB0935588, in Texas.

Note that the singular and the plural name of the breed is both Oberhasli, as in 'one Oberhasli, three Oberhasli', and the common error of describing 'Oberhaslis' is never correct.

The first Oberhasli were imported to the USA in 1906, but these goats were not bred to produce pure Oberhasli, so they were lost. [1] In 1936, Dr. H. O. Pence imported five purebred Oberhasli from Switzerland to the United States, from which all purebred Oberhasli in the USA are descended. [1] In 1978,[1] Oberhasli were accepted as a breed by the ADGA. Because of its rarity and close similarity to some of the multi-colored French Alpine dairy goats, the Oberhasli registrations were lumped with the American Alpines. One herd was maintained with records by Esther Oman, a breeder in California, and without her faithful care the breed would have perished in the USA.[citation needed]

The Oberhasli breed is growing in popularity at ADGA-sanctioned dairy goat shows (competitions ranking dairy goats based on their apparent suitability for profitably high lifetime milk production, under the ADGA's standard.) Oberhasli have been added to many dairy herds, home and commercial sized. These additions have been attributed to the increase in availability and quality of stock across the country and their docile, loving nature. Contestants in showmanship classes (competitions ranking handlers for their technique in presenting the animals for judging) are discovering their temperament is ideal for a showmanship animal.

A variation of the breed, the black Oberhasli

This breed is a good choice for a person who wants dairy goats for milk production from hardy thrifty animals, who appreciates the warm chamoisee-red/black coloration and the Swiss-type look with erect ears and straight or dished facial profile, and the docile temperament which is pleasing to work with and optimal for animal health in the group housing of the dairy herd, and wants something rarer and finer than the ordinary.

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  1. ^ a b c d Dohner, Janet Vorwald (2001), The encyclopedia of historic and endangered livestock and poultry breeds, Yale agrarian studies (illustrated ed.), Yale University Press, p. 514, ISBN 978-0-300-08880-9