Dairy Goat Facts

This page is dedicated to Castle-Pine Weasels Sally.  We lost Sally in May 2004.  She is greatly missed as our herd queen and for her excellent milk production.

Goats along with dogs, were the first animals to be domesticated.  They were carried on sailing ships for fresh milk by early explorers.  Today, worldwide, there is more goat milk drunk than cow milk.

There are six breeds of dairy goats; Alpine, Lamancha, Nubian, Oberhasli, Saanen, and Toggenburg.  These is also one miniature breed, the Pygmy.

Alpines, Oberhaslis, Saanens, and Toggenburgs originated in Switzerland and the French Alps, and are referred to as Swiss breeds.  Swiss breeds are identified by their upright ears.  Nubians came from a mixture of Asian, African, and European breeds.  LaManchas developed in the United States from Spanish breeds.

Nubians average less milk than the other large breeds.  LaManchas, Saanens, and Oberhasli are the highest yielding breeds, with Alpine and Toggenburg's production falling between them and Nubians.

While all Swiss breeds adapt well to cold climates, Toggenburgs adapt the best to extreme cold without a drop in milk production.

Alpines can be a variety of colors.  In general, the front quarters are one color and the hindquarters another.

LaManchas can be nearly any color.  Their most identifiable feature are their ears.  LaManchas have little or no ears.  Ears one inch high or less are called gopher ears and ears one inch to two inches in height are elf ears.

Nubians are characterized by long, wide, pendulous ears and a Roman nose.  They may be any solid color or have a pattern.

Oberhaslis come in shades of bay with black markings.  They are one of the oldest established breeds in Switzerland.  There are few of them in the United States resulting in a problem with inbreeding.

Saanens are all white, sometimes a light cream color.  Any other color, usually black, sometimes with white markings, is called a Sable.

Toggenburgs are the smallest of the Swiss breeds.  Their color is solid shades of brown, varying from fawn to dark chocolate, with distinct white markings on the face and legs.

The female dairy goat is a doe; the male, a buck; a castrated male, a wether; the young, kids.  Bucks have a strong musk-like order, especially during breeding season.  Which is between later summer and early winter.  Does have no odor at any time.  Their life span is eight to twelve years.  Goats are gentle and intelligent.  They have a strong herd instinct and prefer companionship of a least one other goat.  A goat herd is led by the herd queen.  Usually, the oldest, most experienced doe.

Goats are curious and agile.  Requiring well built fences and gates with 'goat proof' latches to contain them.  Fencing is also important to protect them predators.

Goats are finicky eaters, though due to their curiosity, they will investigate new items by sniffing and nibbling.  They will quickly refuse anything that is dirty or distasteful.

The gestation period for goats is five months.  Twins are very common, with triplets not being unusual.

With dairy goats, it's best to remove the kid from the doe and hand raise or 'bottle raise' the kids.  The three main reasons are; the kids become well oriented to people, it prevents damage to the doe's udder from the kid(s) suckling, and allows for pasteurizing the milk before feeding to prevent possible spread of disease from the doe to the kid(s).

There is not much difference between the taste of properly handled goat milk and cow milk.  Goat milk is naturally homogenized, meaning the cream is mixed in and does not readily separate out.  Goat milk is white than whole cow milk.  The fat globules in goat milk are smaller than those in cow milk and the curd is softer and smaller, making digestion easier.  It also has a better acid buffering ability than cow milk.  For these reasons the nutrients in goat milk are easily obtained.   Goat milk lacks the protein b-lactoglobin, which is found in cow milk and the main stimulant of allergic reactions.  Thus, some with this type of allergy may be able to tolerate goat milk.  Goat milk can be used for drinking, cooking and baking, and body products.

Because goat milk is easily digestible it make the ideal milk replacers for babies, calves, foals, etc.  Commercial milk replacers are harder to digest, which can lead to more problems with diarrhea or scouring.

If you have any questions about goats please contact us:  madeinwyomng@nannykidfarm.com

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