Goats for Milk, Meat and More

Learn about the many goat breeds and their use as dairy, meat, fiber and transport animals.

| June/July 1992

Goat breeds fall into one or more of the following categories: dairy, fiber, meat or transport. We've compiled a guide to help you get the most good out of your goat.

Dairy Goats

Handled properly, goat milk is indistinguishable from cow milk. Some people who are sensitive to cow milk find goat milk easier to digest.

Dairy breeds fall into three categories: Swiss, tropical, and miniature. The first two average 1,800 pounds (900 quarts) per year, the latter about a quarter of that.

The Swiss breeds — Alpine, Oberhasli, Saanen, and Toggenburg — are relatively calm animals with upright ears. They do well in cool climates. The tropical breeds — LaMancha and Nubian — are better at handling hot weather. LaManchas (which have tiny ears or none at all) are known for their laid-back personalities. By contrast, floppy-eared Nubians are definitely more energetic ...

The Nigerian Dwarf, a miniature dairy breed, gets along nicely on small lots. It is ideal for anyone who can't use the copious amounts of milk produced by larger goats. Instead of milking with your whole hand, be prepared to milk a Dwarf with two fingers and a thumb.

Dairy goats require a clean area in which to be milked. It may be part of the goat barn or a corner of a garage, mud room, or laundry room. A milkstand raises the does to comfortable milking height (about 12 inches) and holds them in place. Other equipment includes a stainless steel milk pail, a dairy scale to weigh the milk, a strainer with milk filters, and glass storage jars.

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