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Which Breed of Dairy Goat is Best for Your Homestead?

Updated on May 17, 2012
Cute little baby!
Cute little baby! | Source

© Copyright 2011 Cindy Murdoch (homesteadbound)

As I study further about what animals to add to a homestead, I often stop to consider whether to add the mischievous little character that we all know as the goat. This guy has quite a reputation to uphold! Cartoons depict him eating tin cans, and butting anyone who happens to bend over anywhere in his vicinity. Almost anyone would be willing to share with you how they have heard that fencing will not keep them in. If you watch the following video, you will see why that might be rumored.

If I had not seen this behavior with my own eyes, I would find it hard to believe. It’s amazing how they can jump from branch to branch. This video demonstrates their browsing behavior, preferring leaves and small branches to grass. It is one of the reasons that goats’ milk is more nutritious than cows’ milk.

Other than health reasons, why would a person consider using a goat for milk production instead of a cow? Since a goat is smaller, less pasture space is required, and they are easier to handle. It is much easier to persuade a goat to do something he doesn’t want to than it is a cow! When in my teens, I had a cow step on my foot, and stop. No matter how much I pushed and shoved or screamed and yelled, the cow was not moving until she was ready.

There are six breeds of goats that are recognized by the American Dairy Goat Association. Let’s look at each of these breeds. Here they are listed in alphabetical order.

Alpine Goat
Alpine Goat | Source

Alpine

The Alpine is considered to be one of the Swiss breeds. It is a medium to large breed of dairy goat with upright ears. They can be found in almost any color or combination of colors. They are considered to be good milkers (3 or more liters of milk per day) with a 10 month lactation period. It is a popular breed and adapts well to any climate.

LaMancha Goat
LaMancha Goat | Source

LaMancha

The LaMancha is believed to be of Spanish origin but was developed in California. It has a very interesting appearance. Its ears are so small that it appears that it does not have any. Its ears are often referred to as gopher ears or elf ears. It can be found in almost any color or combination of colors. The LaMancha is a medium sized breed. It is very hardy and strong. Many people have found them to be calm and gentle. It is a good dairy breed, but produces slightly less milk than the Swiss breeds with a lactation period of 10 months.

Nubian Goat
Nubian Goat | Source

Nubian

The Nubian was developed as a dual purpose animal in England. It has been breed to produce both milk and meat. It has long, floppy ears, and can be found to be almost any color or combination of colors. It is one of the larger breeds of dairy goats, and has been found to be more stubborn than most. Its milk has a higher protein content and more butter fat than other dairy goats. The Nubian is known for having multiple births with 3 or 4 kids being common. The Nubian is more heat tolerant and less cold tolerant. It is believed that its ears may have something to do with this characteristic. Its bleat makes it sound as if it's always complaining! The Nubian is the most popular breed of goat in North America. Its milk production is less than the Swiss breeds averaging 2.5 liters per day with a lactation period of 10 months.

Oberhasli Goats
Oberhasli Goats | Source

Oberhasli

The Oberhasli, also a Swiss dairy goat, is medium in size. It is a color known as Chamois (a bay color ranging in color from light to a deep red bay). It also has a black stripe down its back, black udder and belly, with legs that are black below the knees and hocks, and having a head that can be almost entirely black. The females may also be solid black.

Saanen Goat
Saanen Goat | Source

Saanen

The Saanen is considered to be the Holstein of the dairy goat breeds. It is also one of the Swiss breeds and is the largest of the dairy goat breeds. It is usually pure white to light cream in color helping them to tolerate heat better than some of the other breeds, but do well in almost any environment. The Saanen will produce 3 liters of milk over a 10 month lactation period. (I have talked to individuals who have had a Saanen that continued to lactate indefinitely as long as they continued to milk her.) The Saanen holds the world record of dairy goat milk production, averaging approximately 10 liters of milk/day over a 10 month period!

Toggenburg Goat
Toggenburg Goat | Source

Toggenburg

The Toggenburg is thought to be the oldest and purest of the Swiss breeds. Its coat can be any shade of brown with white ears and white lower legs. It will also have two white stripes down the sides of its face, and has white on its tail. The Toggenburg is fairly large and has a shaggy coat. It has no problem averaging 3 liters of milk per day over a 10 month lactation period, but many have been known to produce 4-6 liters per day.

She made that look easy didn't she? And I milked my first goat this weekend and it was indeed that easy!


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© Copyright 2011 Cindy Murdoch (homesteadbound)


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Comments: "Which Breed of Dairy Goat is Best for Your Homestead?"

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    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Eiddwen - Goats are so much fun and are so cute! Thanks for the votes, and for stopping by. Hope you have a great weekend.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 

      6 years ago from Wales

      Oh how I have always loved goats,ever since I was small a little old man who lived just down the road kept them and used to allow me to see them and stroke each one before I set off for home again.

      I have to vote an up u and away for ho,one.

      Take care and enjoy the rest of your day.

      Eddy.

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      6 years ago from Texas

      The dwarf ones are really cute. Goats have very interesting personalities. They have such a playful nature.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      6 years ago

      Thank you Cindy...That is good information to know..I think the babies are so cute..I was looking at the dwarf ones as well..

      Take care and thank you

      Sunnie

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      6 years ago from Texas

      When I attended a homesteading class near Waco late last year, I was able to milk a Saanen. She was very calm and gentle. They did recommend that unless you were going to have a least 6 goats that you might not want to get a Billy. They are a lot of trouble. So that is something to consider, if you have somewhere where you are able to take your goat to get her impregnated, or have someone around who can do artificial insemination. Your vet could help with this last bit. But obviously, this would only be important if you were looking to milk, or have kids. I hope your dreams are able to come true.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      6 years ago

      Hello Cindy

      I am in the first stages of trying to convince my husband about buying a couple goats. We have six chickens that we adore but still not sure..I have an acre but have made it our little homestead farm. We grow many of our vegetables and then the chickens..Thank you for a very useful hub. Look forward to reading more.

      Sunnie

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      7 years ago from Texas

      stephaniedas - They are very easy to fall in love with. I hope we are both able to get our goats. Thanks for stopping by!

    • stephaniedas profile image

      Stephanie Das 

      7 years ago from Miami, US

      Nice hub! I like the way it is written and I love the content! Last year I had one of my first encounters with goats, and I feel in love with them. They were very playful and affectionate. I didn't know anything about the breeds, but I can say that when I settle down, I plan on getting a few goats because they seem like wonderful pets. Good luck, I hope you get your goat and milk from her. Voted up :)

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      7 years ago from Texas

      lindsy - I would probably think about calling it Cutie Pie but my husband would probably veto that. So then I would consider Cupcake, Spicy or Dewdrop and see what kind of personality it had and chose one of those three. What would you name it if it were yours?

    • lindsy lohan222 profile image

      lindsy lohan222 

      7 years ago from no where

      awww well if it was yours what would you name it if you owned it?

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      7 years ago from Texas

      lindsy lohan222 - that first baby is really, really cute, and unfortunately it is not mine. Just a picture I found on flickr that I feel in love with. As far as age goes, it is probably around 2 weeks.

      I do wish it were mine!

    • lindsy lohan222 profile image

      lindsy lohan222 

      7 years ago from no where

      oh well then i will try and make more understanding im sorry:

      well that goat is it yours and also does it have a name, age, birth, mother, and dad oh yeah and favs for it?

      ~~lindsy lohan :)

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Pollyannalana - It really is scary when you think about our foods and what are being done to them. I am worried about the new GMO foods that will be used more and more. It might be amazing we are all sick all of the time. Thanks so much for stopping by once more!

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 

      7 years ago from US

      I know what you mean, I trust little of anything anymore! I would love to be self sufficient! Good luck to you.

      Polly

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      7 years ago from Texas

      How fortunate to have been to Greece. That is one of those romantic spots for me - one of those spots that just causes me to sigh when I see pictures because I long to be there in person.

      As for the foot, that was 40 years ago and I have suffered no ill affects. I'm sure it hurt for a while at the time. But what I remember most about that incident is being frustrated that I couldn't get her to move. It's not fun being at the mercy of something so large.

      Thanks for stopping by and for the votes.

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 

      7 years ago from Sweden

      The Saanen goat on the picture looks very much the same as the goats that roam around the thyme covered hills here in Greece.

      This was a great hub and it was fun to learn about the different goat breeds.

      Voted up and interesting!

      Oh, by the way! I certainly hope your foot is ok?

      Sannel

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      7 years ago from Texas

      lindsy lohan222- I'm not sure I understand the question?

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Yes, Pollyannalana, the butter is also more healthy. I'm looking forward to the time when I can have a goat or cow of my own and know what has gone into the animal and know that the product coming out will be more healthy. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 

      7 years ago from US

      Great info, I had a mama and baby goat a few years back and it is true about the goat butting, I found out a couple of times! Strange the baby goat was pretty big and it didn't, maybe it has something to do with having kids. Wish I had thought to try some goat milk. What I am hearing about cows milk, well, that you buy, has me off it now for quite awhile. How about goat butter? I guess it is good too?

    • lindsy lohan222 profile image

      lindsy lohan222 

      7 years ago from no where

      awww what is its name and is it a boy or a girl?

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