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The Development of the British Toggenburg

The British Toggenburg was founded upon the initial use of imported Toggenburg goats mated to cross-bred goats of mixed Swiss origins. It is a breed “made” in the UK and is quite different from the pure Toggenburg.

The BGS opened a section in the Herd Book for the British Toggenburg in 1925. Initially registration required an inspection by two BGS judges, when the goats were older than 6 months, to agree that the goat conformed to type (in addition to qualifying for normal Herd Book registration).

A British Toggenburg Register was formed in 1936, with the owner certifying agreement with type. At the same time a BT section in the Herd book was formed with numbers starting at B.T.1000 - admission solely on pedigree, with no inspection required. There was an opportunity to breed up into the BT section from the B.T.R.

In 1943 the B.T.R. was dropped and the present situation was established - but still with the chance of breeding up (now from the British section). Pure Toggenburgs could be used at any stage in breeding as equivalent to having used a BT.

The foundation goats bred prior to official recognition of the breed used pure Toggenburg males imported between 1884 and 1897 (the males were used only if it was thought that they would produce improvements in the indigenous stock – not just because they were imported!). The males were used on some of the best stock available at the time i.e. Prize Record goats. It was the “British” element in the genetic makeup i.e. crossing the best lines, irrespective of breed, that led to the greatest improvements.

The breed that emerged had similar markings to the pure Toggenburg, but was larger, milked better, had shorter coats and a wider range of colours. The range of colour was from light fawn to dark chocolate, but retained the white Swiss markings.

After the opening of the BT section in the Herd Book, and during the 1930’s and 1940’s, important developments took place. The most influential herds were Bashley (Miss Pope), Westons (Miss Chamberlain), Bitterne (Mrs Barnaby), Raydon (Mrs Campbell Rutter), Didgemere (Mrs Abbey), Leazes (Mrs Straker), Webb (Miss Gresley-Hall), Petersfield (Mrs Carlyle Bell), and Cornish (Mr Morcomb). The herds are linked in many places.

During and after the Second World War the most influential herds have been the Sandhurst Herd (Mrs Clarkson); the Tamar Herd (Mrs Paine) and the Chessetts Herd (Mrs Macnamara). A much clearer formation of “breed type” was established during this period.

All three breeders concentrated on breeding productive goats, with good udders, dairy quality and of moderate size. All three herds drew on Bittern, Westons and Petersfield bloodlines (and on each other). Another Herd making a significant contribution was the Northmoor Herd of Mrs Frankland. Mrs Macnamara used Northmoor males in establishing her herd. Since the Tamar’s and Sandhurst’s used the Chessetts’ the Northmoor's influenced those herds too (although diluted by that time). All three herds have had a profound effect on the emergence of the modern British Toggenburg.

The Tamar herd had the greatest numbers of the “big three” and had several bloodlines. These had different qualities, the female lines were kept separate but Mrs Painealso blended the lines together.

None of the “big three” directly used pure Toggenburgs with any success.

In recent years (late 1980’s onwards) there has been some successful use of pure Toggenburgs by Mrs Scourfield (Maybourne Herd). Ch. Maybourne Ruth (sire SM Broughby Charles), and SM Ch. Maybourne Tim and Maybourne Tasha Br.Ch. (sire Broughby Simon ex. SM Broughby Charles) have pure Toggenburg sires. M.Tasha went on to produce Ch. Maybourne Thistle. The Toggenburg influence can be seen in some of the photographs in the Gallery.

Another interbreed Champion, Tetherdown Carousel (Mrs Tyler) had a pure Toggenburg sire (Meadowlark Romalis) - see gallery. Other leading breeders have drawn heavily on the foundations laid by the “big three”, with occasional outcrosses to British blood (just as they did).

A most important aspect of improving the British Toggenburg is to breed up from cross-bred or unregistered goats and gain entry to the British Toggenburg section of the Herd Book. Goats with a registration number that starts with HB, FB, SR or IR are called British and could be at different stages of this process.

A goat can be registered in the British Toggenburg section of the Herd Book if its parents and grandparents are entered in the Herd Book and its great-grandparents in the Herd Book or Foundation Book . (For the British Toggenburg none of these ancestors shall be entered in the Anglo-Nubian Section)and
both sire and dam are entered in the BT Section (each could have a HB parent)
One parent is entered in the BT Section and the other is entered in the Toggenburg Section.
The dam is entered in this Section and has been inseminated with imported semen from a male recognised by the Committee as Toggenburg.
One parent is entered in the BT Section or the Toggenburg Section and three grandparents and the sire or dam of the fourth grandparent are entered in this Section and/or the Toggenburg Section.

For more details consult: BGS Year Book for 1945 The British Toggenburg by H. E. Jeffery, pp 31 to 34.

BGS Year Book for 1954 Genetic History of the British Toggenburg Goat by I. L. Mason, pp 10 to 16

BGS Year Book for 1954 Breeds by H. E. Jeffery pages 63 to 75

British Toggenburg Society Handbook The History of the British Toggenburg Breed by A. Morrey pp 29 to 49 Grading up or breeding back to British Toggenburg by C. Peck pp 25 to28