The Orobica goat has impressive horns that twist to the sides and a long-haired coat in varying colors (gray, beige, black, brown or dappled). The most common combination is black-gray in the hind quarters with a white-beige front.
The exact history of this breed is unclear, but the most reliable theory is that it originated in the Gerola Valley, in the province of Sondrio. Over time, the area’s geographical isolation has encouraged more diversification compared to other goat breeds, and the breed’s hardiness has allowed it to adapt well to the hard-to-reach mountain pastures.
Orobica goats were once raised by all the families. Now they can be found in the pastures of the Orobie Alps and Alpine and prealpine areas in the provinces of Sondrio, Bergamo and Lecco.
The breed is farmed for its milk and its meat. The milk is used to make traditional raw-milk cheeses like Valsassina Formagìn (a small cylinder of slightly acidified cheese eaten after three days), Valtellina Matuscin (a flattened cylinder, curdled with rennet, aged for at least a month) and Val Brembana Robiola (rectangular, made using the same technique as stracchino). At the end of their useful life, the goats’ meat is often cured, making, for example, the classic Violino.
In recent decades, the introduction of other goat breeds — more productive in terms of both meat and milk— has drastically reduced the number of Orobica animals. And many farmers have abandoned the mountain life, leaving the pastures unattended and unkempt.
The Presidium involves those few farmers who still follow traditional methods, involving spring-autumn pasturing and summer grazing in the mountains and allowing the animals to access outdoor spaces during the winter.
During the summer grazing season, many of them collect goats from other local families and take these communal herds up to the pastures.
The project’s aim is to increase the number of farmers, because it is only thanks to their work that it will be possible to save the breed from extinction and maintain the mountain pastures.
Orobie Alps and surrounding prealpine areas in the province of Sondrio (Gerola Valley), Lecco (Valsassina, Valvarrone and eastern Alto Lario) and Bergamo (Upper Brembana Valley)
Associazione produttori formaggi di capra orobica, Lenna (Bg), Località Fienili, tel. +39 335 6612046 / +39 333 4107453 / +39 348 2831436, email@example.com