Dairy goats can be the perfect fit for the homesteader. They are smaller than dairy cattle, and they eat less, too.
Trying to decide what breed will meet your needs? Let’s look at five common dairy goat breeds that are prized on the homestead for various reasons.
The Nubian is a larger framed goat with floppy ears. Developed in Great Britain, these goats are from African and Middle Eastern stock, so they can tolerate high temperatures. Nubians are known for their rich creamy milk.
They are also very vocal goats. At weaning or breeding time they can drive you crazy bleating incessantly — not to mention that neighbors may be complaining.
Initially called the Swiss Alpine, the Oberhasli was developed in Switzerland. These medium-sized goats are calm and gentle in disposition. Wethers are said to make fine pack animals.
The milk from Oberhaslis is very similar to whole cow’s milk that you buy at the grocery, although a bit sweeter.
If you are concerned that your family will not like goat’s milk, Oberhasli may be the breed for you.
The LaMancha was developed entirely in the United States. Easily recognizable by their tiny, almost non-existent ears, these goats are said to make great pets. They are popular among goat owners for their milking qualities and docile nature.
4. Nigerian Dwarf
The Nigerian dwarf is a miniature breed that produces a good amount of milk for its size. Many owners report a half-gallon a day from these goats. Their milk is reportedly rich, creamy and sweet. At less than two-feet tall, Nigerian dwarfs are great for set-ups where size and space are considerations.
Often called the Holstein of dairy goats, the Saanen is known for producing large quantities of milk — on average, one to two gallons per day. Saanen milk is low in butterfat and less flavorful when compared to other breeds.
They are the largest in size of the standard dairy breeds. These goats are readily available, being one of the most popular for commercial operations.
Some Final Considerations
Dairy goats are a great way to add milk, butter, cheese and soap to the homestead. Before you purchase one, research the breeds you like to narrow down your choices.
When it comes to milk flavor and qualities, you’ll find conflicting information on the Internet. Your best bet is to ask to sample the milk from any goat you are considering purchasing.
For instance, I read an article once that said Oberhasli milk tends to be pungent. I have personally owned many Oberhasli goats and have never had milk that was pungent. Many first-time tasters of goat milk were pleasantly surprised at how closely it resembled grocery store whole cow’s milk.
Milk flavor can be affected by different factors, including the goat’s diet, hormones triggered by the presence of male goats, and milk-handling procedures from the time it hits the pail until you consume it.
Consider adding a dairy goat or two to your homestead. They can be a valuable asset and lots of fun!
What is your favorite dairy goat? What would you add to the list? Share your suggestions in the section below: