In this epic guide, we’re going to brainstorm the best dairy goat breeds and the best goats for milk!
But first, there are a few things all homesteaders need to know about the best milking goat breed.
Did you know that more goat milk is consumed worldwide than any other type, including cow’s milk? Some people prefer the taste of goat’s milk over the alternatives, but that’s not the only reason that up to 65% to 72% of consumed dairy milk comes from goats!
Goats are more resilient and easier to keep than cows, making them perfect for homesteaders. Goats can survive hot, arid conditions, as well as cold, frosty ones – all the while maintaining a steady supply of healthy milk. You can’t lose!
Although goat milk still contains lactose, it usually has a lower concentration than cow’s milk. So, goat milk may be better for those with mild lactose intolerance – and some lactose intolerant babies. It also has numerous (rumored) health benefits, although not all of them are scientifically proven.
Also – raw goat’s milk has a reputation for promoting healthy digestion – but, there isn’t much scientific data for those claims. (Nevertheless, many swear that goat‘s milk is the best and makes them feel great. I agree!)
Goat milk also contains 170 calories and 9 grams of protein per cup – so you get nourishing energy and strength to help tackle your homesteading tasks and chores.
There’s one more benefit of goat milk that trumps them all. I’m talking about the taste. Goat milk is wildly tasty!
Although we’re not milking our goats at present, when we did, we discovered that goat milk tastes delicious, fresh and that it’s both thicker and creamier than cow milk or plant milk!
I’d always believed that goat milk would have a distinctively goaty flavor, but I’ve since discovered that this only occurs if the milk gets incorrectly handled or is allowed to age.
The creamy texture of goat’s milk comes from its high percentage of buttermilk. Yum! Also – the creaminess varies from breed to breed. Finally, various dairy goat breeds produce different amounts of milk per day, making some more productive than others.
If you’re thinking of getting dairy goats, these factors will no doubt influence your decision.
You’ll also want to bear in mind the characteristics of each dairy breed, including how easy they are to handle, how noisy they are, how much space you need, and how much your goats need to eat! (They get hungry!)
Without further ado, let’s look at the seven best breeds of dairy goat and see who takes the top spot as the Queen of Milk.
Dairy Goat Breeds That Are the Best Goats for Milk
# 1 – Saanen
The Saanen is the Queen of Milk, capable of producing 1.5 to 3 gallons of milk every day for between 150 to 300 days.
Not only is it the most productive dairy breed, but its milk is also lower in fat than that of other breeds. The Saanen is among the heftiest dairy goat breeds.
But, don’t worry!
They’re generally friendly, quiet, and easy to handle, so although you need a reasonable amount of space to accommodate them, you don’t have to worry about them annoying the neighbors. Larger breeds like the Saanen are also more versatile. They’re perfect for meat production, as well as milk.
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# 2 – Alpine
The second most productive of all the dairy goat breeds is the Alpine goat. Like the Saanen, the Alpine originated in Switzerland so, they’re more suited to colder climates.
A generally quiet breed, the Alpine comes in various colors and patterns. They’re also known for their resilience, curiosity, and friendly nature.
Alpine milk has a high butterfat and protein content, so it’s ideal for making goat cheeses and ice cream, especially if you’re getting over a gallon of the stuff a day!
Alpine goats, especially the wethers, also make excellent pack animals and can be used as meat goats if you can bear to slaughter them.
(Once you get to know them – you’ll want to keep them!)
# 3 – Toggenburg
The Toggenburg was the first registered dairy goat breed in the United States, arriving from the UK in 1893 and becoming registered in 1921.
Toggenburg goats originated in Switzerland, however, and take their name from the idyllic valley of Toggenburg. Ranging in color from light fawn to dark chocolate, the Toggenburg is a good-natured breed.
They’re known for their intelligence and gentle demeanor. Like many of the other Swiss goat breeds, the Toggenburg grows a long winter coat. Their coat extends their milk production into the cooler months, with the average doe producing between one to two gallons of milk per day.
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# 4 – Oberhasli
The Oberhasli descended from a breed of dairy goats known as Chamois Colored Goats.
They were introduced to the US in 1936 and registered with the American Dairy Goat Association as Swiss Alpine goats originally. The Oberhasli is lighter and more uniform in color.
Some Oberhasli does have entirely black hides! But – most are bay with black markings, stand around 28 inches tall with a bodyweight of approximately 120 to 150 pounds.
The Oberhasli milk has a higher milk fat content than either the Saanen or the Alpine! Their milk rocks for dairy products like yogurt and ricotta.
# 5 – LaMancha
The LaMancha and the Mini LaMancha are known for their quantity of milk, friendly temperaments, and tiny (adorable) ears.
The miniature breed is a cross of the standard-sized LaMancha and the Dwarf Nigerian. Standing between 24 and 28 inches tall, the Mini LaMancha requires less space than our top dairy goat breeds but produces enough milk to keep a small family happy and healthy.
Their tiny ears are a sight to behold. But where do these goats come from exactly? The answer isn’t 100% clear!
We can’t find a reliable reference citing the precise LaMancha lineage. However, we know modern LaMancha goats developed in Oregon, USA.
We’ve also read from several reliable sources that LaMancha goats may descend from short-eared goats of Spanish origin. If that’s true, then how did the Spanish goats get to America in the first place? Britannica Encyclopedia mentions that Spanish missionaries may have brought the short-eared goats from Spain.
So – are modern-day LaMancha goats direct descendants of Spanish short-eared goats?
(We read another scholarly publication From AgCon Search citing how modern LaMancha goats descended from the goats brought to America by Spanish clergy and explorers in the 17th century. So while the lineage of LaMancha goats is tricky to prove with 100% certainty, we have reason to believe that their forebears are of Spanish descent.)
# 6 – Anglo-Nubian
The Anglo-Nubian is a British breed of goat that, while not as productive as some of our other top dairy breeds, has gained popularity due to its ability to thrive in hot conditions.
Anglo-Nubian goats tend to carry more weight than the Swiss breeds, making them suitable for meat and dairy.
With their long, floppy ears, Anglo-Nubians have a distinctive appearance! They’re generally known as a friendly and sociable – yet irritatingly noisy breed of dairy goat.
# 7 – Nigerian Dwarf
As far as I’m concerned? I’ve saved the best dairy goat for last! But that’s because I own some Nigerian Dwarf cross breeds and, therefore, naturally believe they’re better than the rest!
Although small in size, Nigerian Dwarf goats have massive personalities and high milk production. They can also produce up to six babies at a time, although the most I’ve seen is three.
Although they can be noisy and have a flair for escapology, they’re also quirky and entertaining. Nigerian Dwarf goats produce creamy milk that’s high in butterfat and ideal for almost every type of dairy product you can imagine, ranging from cheese and fudge to soap and lip balm.
Expert Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Dairy Goats
If you’re new to the world of dairy goat breeds and if you’re trying to find the best goats for milk – then you’ll probably have loads of questions.
Hopefully, the following helps!
Best Milking Goat and Dairy Goat Breeds? Our Final Tips!
You don’t need a tremendous amount of land to raise and milk dairy goats, especially not when miniature breeds like the Mini LaMancha and Nigerian Dwarf can produce up to half a gallon of milk per day.
When choosing the right dairy goat breed for your homestead, consider why you want the milk? If it’s because your children are addicted to ice cream, then you might want to opt for a herd of Alpines, but if you wish to make soap, then the Saanen or Dwarf Nigerian is a better option.
Space is also a factor and, if you’re limited in that department, a miniature breed is more suitable. If you’ve got a large homestead but have neighbors close by, a quieter breed like the Saanen or Alpine will be more appropriate than the vocal Dwarf Nigerians and Nubians.
There’s such a wide variety of dairy goat breeds that finding the best one for your homestead shouldn’t be too challenging, especially not now you’ve read this!
If you have any fun stories or tales about raising goats – please share them.
And thanks again for reading this dairy goat breeds guide.
Have a great day.
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