How to Choose the Best Goat Milk Breed for You

Friend and faithful reader Salena, the beautiful, glamorous truck driver behind one of my favorite reads The Daily Rant, recently sent me an email entitled “Goat Crazy.” She explained how she can’t even look through magazines anymore without checking out things that mention goats.

Pasqualina and Pinta take that as a huge compliment!

Pinta and her favorite part of the hay

Pinta and her favorite part of the hay

Salena sent along this page from the October 2010 edition of Country Living:

Country Living "Ask a Country Vet" October 2010

October 2010 Country Living

A reader had asked what the best goat breed for milk is, and the answer is, of course, the lovely Saanen (pictured above). You know, like Millie over at Eden Hills?

Toggenburgs are also mentioned as great, but to be honest, I’ve never heard of them, so how great can they be? Just kidding. Hah! Get it? Kidding! Ahem. They’re actually one of the oldest, most reliable dairy breeds around, but I don’t hear of many people who actually have them.

La Manchas are good for milk too, according to the article, especially to double as pets because they have such “sweet dispositions,” and Nubians are excellent cheese producers because their milk has lots of butterfat; La Manchas also have high butterfat content, whereas Saanens tend to have low butterfat — but again, Saanens produce lots and lots of milk, so if you’re not particularly keen on cheesemaking, you might not care about butterfat.

Regarding size, Saanens and Nubians are large while La Manchas are medium-sized; and remember you can also consider a small dairy goat breed like the Nigerian Dwarf — adorable, great milk producers, and queens of the butterfat competition to boot.

So, if you’re looking for a dairy goat (well, at least two because you know the goaties don’t like to be alone), it really depends on your specific needs. Some things to consider include but are not limited to the following:

  • What you intend to do with the milk;
  • Whether you want the goats for companionship as well as for production;
  • How big you want your goats;
  • How much time, space, and money you have to care for the goats.

Of course, you can keep a dairy goat as a pet and never breed her for milk at all — in which case your list of considerations will be shorter.

If you just want a pet goat as a companion, though, you might consider getting a wether, a castrated male. Well, two! Not only are they friendly, fun, and not smelly like uncastrated males (sorry, bucks, it’s the truth), but you also may be saving them from being butchered, the fate of many male kids.

What else should potential dairy goat caretakers think about?

If you have dairy goats, what breed do you have and why?

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3 Responses to “How to Choose the Best Goat Milk Breed for You”
  1. 11.18.2010

    Yes! Yes! Saanens are the best. We make lots of milk and we are sweet and smart. Thanks so much for the shout out.

    My pleasure Millie; you earned it!


  2. 11.23.2010

    After owning Toggenburgs, Alpines and Nubians, I prefer the Nigerians. They give enough sweet candy milk for me. They are small and easy to handle and also the babies,a by-product of all that milk, are easy to sell. They are also super colorful. With that said though the most popular Nigerian on the farm is the same color as a Saanen.
    I also have a Mini-Mancha…gotta love an earless goat!

    Great info, goatgirl! Thank you for sharing 🙂


  3. Bruce

    I raised a Toggenburg, just one and her kid. She was a delight to have and play with, very social and the best milk I’ve ever had. Her teats were very small as it was her first freshening but other than that she was very easy to deal with. Cutting her hooves was a snap, getting her onto her milk-stand was never an issue. I intend to raise goats again and they will be Togs.


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