There are several types of miniature goats that are ideal for hobby farms and homesteads. One such type is the miniature Alpine goat (often just called a mini Alpine), which is a cross between an Alpine goat female (doe) and a Nigerian dwarf goat male (buck). Like the Nigerian dwarf goat, this is a dairy breed, i.e., made for producing milk, but its size is roughly halfway between the Nigerian dwarf goat and a standard goat in size. Despite this smaller size, it produces nearly as much milk as a full-sized goat.
Mini Alpines are renowned for having calm, loving, sweet personalities; these goats also have a reputation for being somewhat "hard-headed," so be aware that you might find either one of, or a mixture of, those personalities in your mini Alpines!
According to the Miniature Dairy Goat Association (MDGA):
The Mini-Alpine is an alert, gracefully hardy animal that adapts and thrives in any climate while maintaining good health and excellent production. The straight or slightly dished face and fine, narrow, erect ears gives it a clean appearance. . . Maximum height: Does 28 inches, Bucks 29 inches.
There are several different color patterns found on the mini Alpine including:
- Sundgau: This type is black with white secondary markings.
- Chamoise: This type is predominantly brown or bay color, with black markings on the face, feet, legs, and on the dorsal stripe down the back.
- Two-tone Chamoise: This type has light front quarters with brown or gray hindquarters.
Advantages of a Mini Alpine
One obvious advantage is that the mini Alpine requires less space and less feed than a full-sized Alpine goat, while still producing almost as much milk. Mini Alpines have had the Nigerian dwarf gene bred into them, so they produce twins, triplets, and quads more easily than full-sized Alpines.
The Genetics of a Mini Alpine
The mini Alpine is a very new, somewhat experimental breed of goat, so you cannot breed these animals to each other the way you do an older breed. This is a first-generation cross derived by breeding a Nigerian dwarf with a full-sized Alpine. In general, a breed that is a first-generation cross of two purebreds may exhibit hybrid vigor—meaning they are stronger and more resilient than either parent—but they can also exhibit the worst characteristics of both parents. Health can also be unpredictable with first generation crosses; if you plan to breed mini Alpines, you must be familiar with multi-generational breeding programs to ensure that you keep the quality you want in your herd.
Buying a Mini Alpine
You need to be careful buying from breeders, as mini Alpines have become very popular and not all breeders are breeding carefully and thoughtfully. Some are breeding the goats more for looks, cuteness, and their suitability as pets than for their milk or meat production quality.
That said, these goats are very popular among homesteaders and small-scale farmers who have found or purchased good foundation stock for parents and bred them themselves. Mini Alpines are a breed to consider if you want dairy goats. Just beware that the "best of both worlds" promise that they seem to have may not always be fulfilled in practice.