Goats Milk
A dairy Products with Special Properties?

~ February 2002 No.142 ~

In many developed countries the consumption of traditional cows milk is plateauing or even declining, even though milk and related dairy products are very good sources of calcium and protein. However, a very fast growing product in the dairy case these days is goats milk. It has been estimated that, on a world wide basis, there are more people who drink the milk of goats than of any other single animal. Over 440 million goats (world wide) produce an estimated 4.8 million tons of milk consumed mostly locally, or processed into various types of cheeses. Goats milk has a long way to go to catch up to cows milk, but there may be several reasons why consumers are turning to goats milk.

Goats milk has a reputation as being a highly digestible dairy product. This is due in part to the composition and structure of the lipid (fat) portion of goats milk and in part to the way the protein in goats milk reacts in the stomach as it starts to be digested. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of goats milk is its hypo-allergenicity properties. It has often been found that infants that are not able to tolerate mothers milk or cows milk are able to eat goats milk. It is estimated that up to 7.5 % of infants are not able to eat cows milk. It is not clear at this time why goats milk can be eaten by these sensitive children, but it may be due to the structure of the milk proteins found in goats milk. The amino acid content of goats milk differs from that of cows milk and this may be one reason why goats milk is an alternative for cows milk intolerant babies.

The goat industry in North America is a very small one at the present time. However, the ability of small farms to produce "organic" goats milk together with research into the unique composition and properties of goats milk mean that this dairy product may become more in demand in the future.

Common Breeds of Goats

Nubian Goat
Other name(s): Anglo-Nubian Goat;
Anglo-Nubians; Lop-Eared Goat
Scientific name: Capra aegagrus hircus
Country / Place of origin: England
History: The Nubian or Anglo-Nubian Goat was developed in England by crossing native British milking goats (Old English Milch and Zariby) with Nubian breeds supposedly from the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, Egypt, Russia, or India. Their warm climate heritage accounts for their longer breeding season than other dairy goats

Saanen Goat
Other name(s): Saanen Dairy Goat
Scientific name: Capra aegagrus hircus
Country / Place of origin: Switzerland
History: Saanen Goats are considered the largest of the dairy breeds, and were developed in the Saanen Valley in Switzerland. The Saanen breed also produces the most milk on average, and tends to have a lower butterfat content, about 2.5% - 3.5% on average. A Saanen doe produces around an average of 1 gallon a day. As with Alpines, Saanen Goats are commonly used for commercial milking

Toggenburg Goat
Other name(s): Toggenburger; Togg; Toggs
Scientific name: Capra aegagrus hircus
Country / Place of origin: Switzerland
History: The Toggenburg Goat originated in the Toggenburg valley in Switzerland, and is one of the oldest known dairy goat breeds. The Toggenburg is a hardy mountain breed and performs best in cooler conditions. They are noted for their excellent udder development and high milk production, and have an average fat test of 3.7%.

LaMancha Goat
Other name(s): American Lamancha; La Mancha Goat
Scientific name: Capra aegagrus hircus
Country / Place of origin: United States
History: The LaMancha Goat was developed in the United States from a short eared breed of dairy and meat goat from Spain called the Murciana

Oberhasli Goat
Other name(s): Swiss Alpine
Scientific name: Capra aegagrus hircus
Country / Place of origin: Originated in the Swiss Alps.
History: In 1936, H. O. Pence imported five Chamois Colored Goats from Switzerland to the United States; all purebred Oberhasli in the USA descend from these.[1] Until the 1970s these animals were registered as Swiss Alpines.

Alpine Goat
Other name(s): French–Alpine Goat; Alpine Chamoisée; Alpine Dairy Goat
Scientific name: Capra aegagrus hircus
Country / Place of origin: Switzerland, France
History: The Alpine Goat originated in the French and Swiss Alps. It is a hardy, agile and productive dairy goat breed which was especially appreciated by French breeders. Between 1910 and 1920, the Alpine Goat was integrated into many French herds, and in 1930 the breed was formalized in France with the creation of a stud book for the “Alpine Chamoisée”.

Differences Between Cows milk and goats milk **
Digestibility - goats milk considered more easily digested
Milk fat globule - smaller in goats milk than cows milk
Calcium content - higher in goats milk than cows milk
Iron content - lower in goats milk than cows milk
Vitamin C content - about the same in both milks
Vitamin D content - about the same in both milks
Short chain fatty acid content - higher in goats milk than cows milk
** the composition of goats milk and cows milk varies with breed, season of the year and composition of diet

Other articles on milk §

Milk in the news

toc