Goats are fun. They're social. And they provide milk and meat to your homestead. But picking out what goat is right for you is an important first step. Start by asking yourself what you'll be using it for. A pet? Milk? Meat? Clearing brush?
Here, I'll go over some popular dairy goat breeds and what makes them champions.
When selecting a dairy goat for the homestead, the first thing you need to consider is the climate. If you pick a cold weather goat for a hot area, you'll likely get little milk. The same can be said for hot weather goats in cold climates. Try to pick a goat from your zone.
For your reference, cow milk has a 3-4% butter fat ratio.
After that, things to consider include: Size, Milk Quantity, Milk Quality, Demeanor.
Milk Yield: Moderate
Flavor: Creamy rich 5% butterfat.
Demeanor: pleasant temperaments but very vocal. They bleat non-stop especially during weaning and breeding seasons.
Nubian Goats produce a milk that is high in protein and butterfat. This makes it perfect for all kinds of dairy products. Due to their large size and build, they can serve as a dual-purpose meat goat as well. They do make decent pets and brush mowers.
They are smart, friendly and easy to train. They are talented at escaping any enclosure (ahem, they're still goats) and tolerates hot weather well. They need plenty of fresh water especially during milking.
In cold climates, watch the floppy ears for signs of frostbite. Nubians are long-living and prone to twins, triplets, and quadruplets. Due to a long breeding season, they can produce milk year round.
Milk Yield: Moderate
Flavor: Very similar to cow milk from a store 3.5-4%
Demeanor: calm demeanor and less fearful.
Perfect for use on the trails as pack animals, oberhasli are mountain dwellers from Switzerland. Very gentle they are mainly dairy goats as they produce 1/2 to 1 1/2 gallons of milk per day. Even though they are from the mountains, they can function in all climate conditions. For the best milk, avoid extreme heat however.
If your family is apprehensive about drinking goat milk, this is the perfect goat as the milk is slightly sweeter than the cow milk you'd buy from the store. This is the perfect transition goat to get your family off the store milk and onto the good stuff.
These goats may not look it but their powerful back legs will get them out of weak enclosures so be sure to lock it up tight if you want to keep your goats around.
Milk Yield: Moderate
Flavor: higher fat content 4%
Demeanor: Great as pets. Docile nature. Quiet, Calm.
If you see a goat with very small or missing ears, its a LaMancha. All-American native, LaMancha's are perfect milking goats. They are very quiet and compared to most goats, well-behaved. They can thrive in any climate with little to no effect on their milk. They are a sturdy animal and have a relatively high butterfat content in the milk.
Their tame, calm nature makes them a favorite for kids on 4H camps and their adaptability in all climates makes them a favorite for homesteaders.
Milk Yield: High 1/2gal per day
Flavor: High fat content 6.5%-8%+
Demeanor: Gentle and intelligent
Less than 2 feet tall on average, Nigerian Goats are pretty much the cutest looking thing you'll ever see. They are however, very noisy and can be clingy. Nigerian dwarfs are a very social breed of small goats. They breed year round giving yu access to their very rich and creamy milk any time you want it.
It is a favorite of cheese, soap and ice cream makers due to the fat content. They thrive in any climate and don't need as much space as larger goats. They are very playful however and should not be kept indoors. They live happily with other livestock as well.
Be forewarned, Nigerian dwarfs have between 3-4 kids at a time and they live for 12-14 years.
Milk Yield: High 1-2 Gal per day
Flavor: Low fat, less flavorful 3.5%
Demeanor: Calm Hardy
Commonly used in commercial goat milk operations, Saanen goats are the Holstein of dairy goats. They produce large quantities of low fat milk. They have been bred to be easily raised in large numbers for the commercial industry so they have a hardy and calm temperament.
They are the gentle giant of the goat world.
They can tolerate all climates as long as they have shade form direct sunlight. (sunburn). Saanens are also one of the more disease resistant breeds of goats. If you want a consistent dairy powerhouse that a child could raise, Saanens are the goats for you.
Written by: Page Ollice
Founder of Good Old Fashioned, Page has spent over 7 years researching off grid and sustainable living techniques to design one master project: A self reliant homestead in New Mexico that takes into account shelter, water, fuel, food, waste management, heat/cooling, and electricity. He is putting all his notes online open source for public use so that anyone can follow his plans to building their own autonomous, self-reliant homestead.
About the "Good Old Fashioned" Project
I love systems. Everything in our solar system has a cycle. Trees, Nutrients, Water, Air, Heat, Plate Tectonics, Cells, Food, Carbon, Plants, Rocks, everything.
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