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15 Best Goat Breeds For Milk Production (with Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove

July 4, 2021

Goat milk contains more protein and calcium than cow’s milk. It also enables the human body to better absorb a host of nutrients from other food and drink, so it enhances your overall dietary efficiency.

It also has a distinct flavor, usually described as being earthy. For some, the milk may be too rich and the flavor too unique, but many people enjoy it.

What’s more, goat’s milk makes great-tasting cheese and its fat concentration also makes it ideal for Greek yogurt and ice cream. Away from the fridge, goat’s milk has become popular as a soap base, a lotion, and can even be used to make candles.

If you are looking to create tasty recipes, or nourishing soap and lotions, you will need a good supply of goat’s milk, which means choosing the best goat breed for milk production. Consider the average volume of milk the goat produces, how easily they can be convinced to produce, how long they will produce for, and whether they are available and suitable for rearing in your area.

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Gallons Per Day

The average volume of milk that a goat breed produces is given in gallons per day, but it should be noted that there are no guarantees. The actual amount that your goats produce will depend on many factors. You could end up with a Saanen, which is widely regarded as the most prolific milker, that yields next to no milk.

milk
Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay

Fat Percentage

The other measure you should consider is the percent of the milk that is fat. Cow milk usually contains 3% to 4%, naturally, and goat’s milk has a similar concentration. The difference is that goat’s milk has a higher concentration of medium-chain fatty acids, which are used as energy and are not stored as fat.

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Best Goat Breeds for Milk Production

Below, we have detailed 15 of the best goat breeds for milk production but remember that the amount of milk is not the only important factor. Ensure that you can offer comfortable living conditions and that you choose a breed suitable for living in your climate. You may also want to consider the characteristics and temperament of the goat, especially if they will be mixing with other breeds, other animals, and people.

1. Saanen

Production: 2 ½ gallons/day

Butterfat: 3%

The Saanen is a Swiss goat breed that is famed for its milk production, as well as its size. The billy can weigh as much as 200 pounds, and the breed is considered friendly and can be kept as a pet while their meat and milk production make them ideal as a dairy goat breed.

Saanen goat
Image Credit: ChristianNawroth, Wikimedia Commons

 

2. Nigerian Dwarf

Production: ½ gallon/day

Butterfat: 6% – 10%

With the Saanen, we had a large 200-pound breed, and with the Nigerian Dwarf, we have gone from one extreme to the other. This Dwarf breed weighs in at around 50 pounds. While it may only produce a good half a gallon a day, the Nigerian Dwarf offers milk with a very high butterfat content, and its size means that you can keep more of them. They are also friendly and get on great with children.

Nigerian Dwarf
Image Credit: Jmkarohl, Wikimedia Commons

3. Alpine

Production: 2 gallons/day

Butterfat: 3.5%

The Alpine is a large breed, roughly the same stature as that of the Saanen. Developed in the Alps, these goats are hardy and do well in cold climates. They are gentle and they will produce milk almost all year round.

Alpine goat
Image Credit: Gary Crossey, Wikimedia Commons

4. Anglo-Nubian

Production: 1 gallon/day

Butterfat: 5%

The Anglo-Nubian, or Nubian, is a distinctive looking goat with a curved nose and floppy ears. It offers approximately 1 gallon of milk a day, and it has been described as being rich and sweet. The goats are medium to large, have a lot of energy, and can be very loud. Their temperament means they might not be suitable for hobby breeders or first-time owners.

Anglo Nubians
Image Credit: NTU – Brackenhurst, Flickr

5. LaMancha

Production: 1 gallon/day

Butterfat: 4%

The LaMancha breed was developed in the USA in the 1930s. The goat is around medium size, with bucks reaching 125 pounds and does tipping the scales at slightly less than this. The elf eared variant of the LaMancha produces milk with a very high fat content indeed.

LaMancha goat
Image Credit: David Goehring, Flickr

6. Toggenburg

Production: 2 gallons/day

Butterfat: 3.7%

This medium-sized breed is described as being the oldest dairy breed. The Toggenburg is a spirited goat, which means that it could be too high maintenance for novice owners. However, they do produce a good volume of milk, up to 2 gallons per day, and it has a moderate butterfat content of 3.7%, so is suitable for those that don’t want the high fat content produced by breeds like the Nubian.

Toggenburg
Image Credit: Teunie at Dutch Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons

7. Oberhasli

Production: 1 gallon/day

Butterfat: 3.8%

The Oberhasli is an attractive deer. They are gentle and are keen to please their humans and the rest of their pack, which means that they can make great pack goats and even pets. They also have attractive coloring, with a deep red coat and black color point. The Oberhasli produces around a gallon of milk a day, with a moderate butterfat level.

Oberhasli
Image Credit: Silverije, Wikimedia Commons

8. Sable

Production: 2 gallons/day

Butterfat: 3.5%

The Sable is a descendant of the Saanen. It is a little smaller and has a slightly lower daily production rate. They have darker skin than the Saanen, which means that they fare better in hot and sunny climates. They also have large ears, and it is the range of colors and markings that make them popular for breeding.

Sable goat
Image Credit: Tamsin Cooper, Flickr

9. Guernsey

Production: 1½ gallons/day

Butterfat: 3.7%

The Guernsey is a small to medium-sized goat. This breed is known for its gold coloring, which has earned it the nickname of the Golden Guernsey. The breed produces up to 1 ½ gallons of 3.7% milk each day, but it is currently illegal to import the breed into the USA.

Guernsey goats
Image Credit: davide ferro, Flickr

10. Poitou 

Production: 1½ gallons/day

Butterfat: 3.5%

The Poitou was bred in France and is one of the country’s most prolific milkers after the Alpine and Saanen breeds. They have dark, short hair everywhere except on their bellies, legs, and tail, all of which are covered in white hair.

Poitou goat
Image Credit: Eponimm, Wikimedia Commons

11. Nordic

Production: 1 gallon/day

Butterfat: 3.5%

The Nordic breed consists of several types of goat that are native to the Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden, and Finland. They have long hair, to help cope with the cold and intemperate conditions of the countries. Although brown is the most common color, Nordics come in other hues. They produce around a gallon a day, can be a little standoffish, and their milk is considered to have medium fat content.

Nordic goat
Image Credit: Helgi Halldórsson, Flickr

12. Malaguena

Production: 1 gallon/day

Butterfat: 4%

The Malaguena is a Spanish goat breed and is a medium-sized goat with a reasonable length coat and that produces about a gallon of milk a day.

Malaguena
Image Credit: Menesteo, Wikimedia Commons

13. American Alpine

Production: 1 gallon/day

Butterfat: 5%

The American Alpine was introduced in the early 20th Century and was created by crossing the European Alpine with varieties from the US to make larger and more hardy animals. The breed will produce up to a gallon of milk per day, but one of the reasons that the American Alpine is so prized as a milk producer is because they can produce milk for three years without having to rebreed.

American_Alpine_goat
Image Credit: Steven Walling, Wikimedia Commons

14. Murciana-Granadina

Production: 1 ½ gallons/day

Butterfat: 4%

The Murcia Granadina combines the Murciana and the Granadina breeds. There is a lot of this breed found in the USA and Canada, because their ability to breed at any time of the year coupled with their generous milk production, makes them a good choice for commercial dairy goats and for homesteaders.

Murciana-Granadina
Image Credit: DnTrotaMundos ☮, Wikimedia Commons

15. Appenzell

Production: 1 gallon/day

Butterfat: 4%

The Appenzell is a rare Swiss breed that is small to medium-sized, with does weighing up to 100 pounds and bucks up to 140. They produce approximately a gallon of milk per day and it has medium to high fat content. It has been given endangered status.

Appenzell goat
Image Credit: Moritz Schmaltz/Magnus Manske, Wikimedia Commons

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Best Goat Breeds for Milk Production

The best goat breeds for milk production are those that produce a high volume of milk. Many factors determine the average yield, including the freshening period. A goat must have given birth before it produces milk. Some goats can produce milk for around 10 months to a year before they need to give birth again: which is called freshening. Some breeds can last two years without having to rebreed while some rare breeds, including the American Alpine, can go as long as three years.

Related Read: Can Goats and Chickens Live Together?


Featured Image: Monikas_Wunderwelt, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.