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25 Best Dairy Goat Breeds - Goats for Milk

Sherry grew up watching her uncle raise turtles, fish, goats, and chickens in his backyard. She brought home a goat last year.

Most Popular Goat Breeds for Milk

Most Popular Goat Breeds for Milk

Goat's milk is easy to get and is a richer food since it has more fat, protein, and minerals than cow's milk. Goat milk has less lactose and casein which seems to be the reason for its increasing demand among people with lactose intolerance and cow milk allergy. However, it is important to note that even goat's milk might not be suitable for these people.

There are around 570 goat breeds in the world, but only 69 of those are truly identified as "dairy breeds". The remaining are either meat breeds or fibre-producing ones. It is important to choose a true dairy breed if you are solely interested in milk because although meat breeds can also produce milk, the quality and quantity cannot even be compared.

Milk goats are leaner and usually have a calmer composure than meat breeds. They produce milk in high quantity. They generally require more supplemental feed during lactation period to maintain milk production.

Best Dairy Goats in the World

  1. Saanen
  2. Alpine
  3. Anglo-Nubian
  4. Toggenburg
  5. Sable
  6. Poitevine
  7. Nordic
  8. Malaguena
  9. Chamoisee
  10. Murciana-Granadina
  11. Appenzell
  12. Malaguena

How to Choose the Best Milk Goat Breed?

Among dairy breeds found globally, those found in tropical regions have lower milk yield due to their lower genetic potential and prevailing environmental factors than their temperate counterparts.

Farmers and breeders happen to import high yielding exotic breeds of goats under suboptimal conditions as a substitute to less productive local breeds or for upgrading purposes. However, exotic breeds perform better in their regions of origin. Normally, farmers cross dairy goats with local goats to get a goat that produces more quantity of milk and at the same time can adapt to local conditions.

If you live in a temperate region, you are good to select a dairy breed you like. But, those living in a tropical country would either have to select a local breed that produces milk in good quantity or have a breeder help you find one.

Popular Dairy Goat Breeds By Region

  • Includes US, Switzerland, India, Spain, Italy, Turkey, France, Portugal, Norway and Cyprus

Dairy Goats in the US

1. US Saanen

  • Milk yield: 2015 pounds
  • Lactation length: 292/year
  • Fat content: High
  • Average lifespan: 10-15 years

Saanen is widely known as the world’s highest milk-producing milk. The breed first originated in Switzerland. Because of its great milk productivity, it was exported to various parts of the world in the 1990s. Present-day Saanens in the US are descendants of some of the best quality Saanens from their first arrival to the states.

These goats have proved to be widely adaptable in the US ever since. The does weigh anywhere between 110 and 200 pounds, whereas the bucks weigh between 175 and 265 pounds.

2. US Toggenburg

  • Milk yield: 1620-1920 pounds
  • Lactation days: 292/year
  • Fat content: High
  • Lifespan: 8 to 12 years

Toggenburg is the oldest breed of dairy goats in the United States. It is a breed originating from the Toggenburg valley in Switzerland. The colour of goats is brown to grey with white legs and white around the base of the tail. They are polled and have short, erect ears. The males weigh around 145 pounds and female weigh around 100 pounds.

3. Alpine

  • Milk yield: 1915 pounds
  • Lactation days: 288/year
  • Fat content: High
  • Lifespan: 8 to 13 years

Alpine is another of the main Swiss dairy breeds in terms of milk production and distribution around the world. It can be considered as the best milking goat after Saanen. The breed has many colours and forms distinctly separate breeds of which American Alpine is one. The bucks weigh between 175 and 220 pounds, whereas the does weigh between 135 and 200 pounds.

4. LaMancha

  • Milk yield: 1670 pounds
  • Lactation days: 288/year
  • Fat content: High
  • Life expectancy: 7 to 10 years

La Mancha is the only dairy breed developed in the US. They are easily identifiable because of their distinctively short ear pinnae. Does weight around 130 pounds and bucks around 155 pounds.

5. Nubian

  • Milk yield: 1565 pounds
  • Lactation days: 288/year
  • Fat content: High
  • Life expectancy: 10-15 years

In the USA, the Nubians are recognized as a single purpose dairy breed with excellent milk productivity. Male Nubians weigh up to 310 pounds and female alpines weigh up to 240 pounds.

6. Oberhasli

  • Milk yield: 1600 pounds
  • Lactation days: 288/year
  • Fat content: High
  • Lifespan: 8-12 years

The American Oberhasli is chamois coloured, solid brown with black dorsal marking, face, belly, feet and legs. The Oberhasli is a medium-sized breed with bucks weigh around 150 pounds and does near 120 pounds.

The popularity of goat milk products such as cheese, butter, yoghurt, and kefir is increasing every day.

The popularity of goat milk products such as cheese, butter, yoghurt, and kefir is increasing every day.

Switzerland

1. Saanen

  • Milk yield: 1640 pounds
  • Lactation days: 282/year
  • Fat content: High
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years

Saanen is the most reputable dairy goat breed in the world. It is native to the Saanen Valley of Switzerland. The goats produce a high milk yield with average butterfat content. The average weight of males is 175-200 pounds and the female is 150 pounds.

2. Toggenburg

  • Milk yield: 1620 pounds
  • Lactation days: 285/year
  • Fat content: Medium-High
  • Lifespan: 8 to 12 years

Toggenburg goats are among the oldest and most popular dairy breeds. The doe weighs around 120 pounds while the buck may weigh more than 200 pounds.

3. Chamoisee

  • Milk yield: 1565 pounds
  • Lactation days: 278/year
  • Fat content: High

Swiss Chamoisee or American Alpine is the breed next popular to Saanen among dairy goats. They have a unique colour and pattern combination making them quite distinctive. Colour and pattern may include white, grey, black and cou clair, cou blanc, sundgau and spotted. Males weigh up to 180 pounds and female weigh around 132 pounds.

4. Appenzell

  • Milk yield: 1480 pounds
  • Fat content: Medium-High
  • Lactation days: 278/year

Appenzell is a rare breed of domestic goats from Switzerland. The goat was listed under the endangered status by the FAO. The goats are medium-sized with male goats weighing about 140 pounds and females about 100 pounds.

Spain

1. Murciana Granadina

  • Milk yield: 1355-2000 pounds
  • Fat content: Medium-High
  • Lactation days: 257-270/year

This breed is a combination of mahogany-coloured Murciana and the black Granadina. Because of their high milk production and ability to breed any time of the year, they are largely exported to South and Central America. Females can weigh up to 110 pounds and male goats can weigh up to 135 pounds.

2. Malaguena

  • Milk yield: 1320 pounds
  • Lactation days: 255-260/year
  • Fat content: Medium-High

This is one of several Spanish breeds valued for high milk yield. The breed is medium-sized and has a light red coloured medium-sized coat.

3. Canaria

  • Milk yield: 1435 pounds
  • Lactation days: 255/year
  • Fat content: High

Canaria goats are very hardy with good mothering ability. They are mainly found on the Canary Islands in Spain. The goats are dual-purpose milk and meat goats. Their ability to resist diseases that are common in most goats make them a good choice for those looking for a dual-purpose breed.

4. Guadarrama

  • Milk yield: 1210 pounds
  • Lactation days: 210/year
  • Fat content: Medium

Guadarrama mountain goats belong to Madrid. The breed is rare and known to be at the risk of extinction. The goats are dual-purpose with good milk-producing ability.

India

1. Barbari

  • Milk yield: 250-342 pounds
  • Lactation days: 160-190/days
  • Fat content: Low
  • Life span: 14-17 years

Barbari is a small to medium-sized goat breed found in India and Pakistan. They are very popular for the excellent quality of meat. But they are also used for milk in the Asian countries. The goats have white coloured hair with tan spots over their body. The does weigh about 50 to 80 pounds while bucks weigh about 80 to 100 pounds.

2. Beetal

  • Milk yield: 440 pounds
  • Lactation days: 198/year
  • Fat content: Low
  • Life span: 12-15 years

Beetal is considered as a dual-purpose breed for its remarkable meat production alongside milk yield. This Indian dairy breed was derived from the Jamnapuri breed of goats. The goats are tall with both sexes having medium-sized horns. The adult female weighs around 100 to 132 pounds and adult male weight up to 188 pounds.

3. Jamunapuri

  • Milk yield: 475 pounds
  • Lactation days: 220/year
  • Fat content: Low

Jamunapuri is a long-legged dairy breed that originated near Jamna river in India. It is one of the ancestors of Anglo-Nubian breed. The goats have roman noses with often undershot upper jaws. This is a unique recessive trait that makes the goat prefer browsing overgrazing. The Jamunapuri male and female goats weigh up to 145 and 200 pounds respectively.

4. Malabari

  • Milk yield: 110-440 pounds
  • Lactation days: 181-210/year

The Malabari goat breed is widely found in Southeast India. The goats are of mixed ancestry, due to crossing with dairy breeds from Northern India. They come in a wide range of colours and both sexes have horns but polled ones are also common. They are small-sized goats with males weighing up to 90 pounds and females weighing up to 70 pounds.

Italy

1. Maltese

  • Milk yield: 980 pounds
  • Lactation days: 200/year
  • Fat content: Medium

Maltese is an Italian goat breed originating from the island of Malta. The breed comes in various colours, short or long hair, but the goats found in Italy are normally white coloured with long hair. The average body weight of male and female Maltese goats is 101 and 155 pounds respectively.

2. Girgentana

  • Milk yield: 770 pounds
  • Lactation days: 200/year
  • Fat content: Medium-Low

This Italian breed of medium size has a good level of milk production and has very unique corkscrew-like long horns pointing vertically upwards.

3. Ionica

  • Milk yield: 730 pounds
  • Lactation days: 200/year
  • Fat content: Low

Ionica is another Italian breed with medium-sized body and medium level milk production. This breed is usually kept in small herds. The goats have long lop ears and no horns.

4. Garganica

  • Milk yield: 475 pounds
  • Lactation days: 200/year
  • Fat content: Low

This dual-purpose milk and meat goat is a small, hardy breed with long black hair. The face is straight with beards and has longhorns that are flat and twisted backwards.

Turkey

1. Kilis

  • Milk yield: 560 pounds
  • Lactation days: 270/year
  • Fat content: Low

Kilis breed was developed by crossbreeding the Damascus and Anatolian Black goats. They are usually black but some may be grey. They have long hair and may have horns.

France

1. Poitevine or Poitou

  • Milk yield: 1150 pounds
  • Lactation days: 230/year
  • Fat content: Medium

This French breed is of quite a recent origin. It is a medium-sized goat well adapted to temperate regions. The goats have brown to black short hair all over the body except white bellies, legs and area below the tail. After French Alpine and Saanen, Poitevine goats produce the largest quantity of milk in France.

Cyprus

1. Damascus

  • Milk yield: 1125 pounds
  • Lactation days: 255/year
  • Fat content: Medium

Damascus is the most important dairy breed for Eastern Mediterranean regions. It is a tall breed with a Roman nose and long shaggy reddish-brown hair. Long, twisted horns may be present in males while in females they may be sickle-shaped. The breed is quite prolific. Males weigh up to 190 pounds and females up to 145 pounds.

Portugal

1. Serrana

  • Milk yield: 770 pounds
  • Lactation days: 240/year
  • Fat content: Medium

Serrana is a medium-sized breed of Portugal. It is mostly kept in small herds. The goats have reddish-brown hair. Horns, beards and wattles are common in these goats.

Norway

1. Nordic

  • Milk yield: 1430 pounds
  • Lactation days: 275/year
  • Fat content: Medium

The Nordic breed includes native goats from Norway, Sweden, and Finland. The goats have long hair and may come in a variety of colours, but brown is most common. They have short legs, erect ears and sabre-shaped horns, although some may be polled.

Sources

  • Devendra, C., & Haenlein, G. F. W. (2016). Dairy Goat Breeds.
  • Solaiman, S. G. (Ed.). (2010). Goat science and production. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Haenlein, G. F. W. (2007). About the evolution of goat and sheep milk production. Small ruminant research, 68(1-2), 3-6.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Sherry Haynes

Comments

Liz Westwood from UK on August 07, 2020:

This is a fascinating article. I really appreciate the way that you have broken down the breeds by geographic locations. I was interested to find a breed from Malta in Italy.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on August 05, 2020:

This is the first informative article on goat I've read online. And very educative. Much thanks for sharing.