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The Alpine is a breed of goat known scientifically as Capra hircus. There are two distinct kinds of Alpine goat — the French and the British. British Alpine goats date back to one Swiss female goat residing in the Paris Zoo in 1903. French goats originated in the Alps and were brought to America from France in 1920, while the British type was developed in Great Britain. The Alps is a large chain of mountains in Europe; both types are known for their ample milk production.
Alpine goats produce more milk than regular Swiss goats; they're also larger in size. Male French Alpines have a line of hair along the spine as well as a prominent beard on the chin. Otherwise, the French Alpine goat has short hair. The color and pattern possibilities for French Alpines are wide, as they range from any multi-colored combinations of black, gray, fawn, red, brown and white. If white occurs in the French Alpine, it's called a broken pattern.
French Alpine coat patterns may feature white markings on black or multi-colors. The two-toned coat pattern is a mix of light and dark neutrals that is lighter on the front of the animal. British Alpines are often black, but may feature white or gray patterns. The main difference in looks from the French Alpine goat is that the British version has a taller, thinner body type and more limited colors.
British Alpines have long legs and are known to be good jumpers; their coats are typically quite glossy in texture. Like their French counterparts, British goats are short-haired with the males having longer hair. First brought to Australia in 1958, the British Alpine goat later became common in New Zealand. It's elegant build is from the Saanen goat line from the valley in Switzerland of the same name. The British Alpine's markings are genetically linked to the Toggenburg goat, which is named for another Swiss valley.
Both types are generally considered easy-to-care-for dairy animals. They require a shelter protected from the weather and harsh temperatures. British Alpines especially require low humidity geographical climates. The goat breed raised on farms typically needs a good supply of rodent-free dry hay; sometimes Alpines are fed corn or other grains. The pens need to be kept clean and shoveled and, a few times a year, an Alpine goat should be brushed, bathed and have its hooves trimmed.