Goats are amazing creatures, providing us with wonderfully creamy milk and a fantastic healthy source of red meat. The meat of a goat tastes similar to mutton but is less fatty. The goat's milk is less acidic than cows and has smaller fat globules, making it easier to digest. Goat milk is the most commonly drunk milk in the world. There are also dubious claims that goat meat is the most eaten meat on the planet, but this is thought to be untrue.
Goat meat has been eaten for centuries in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean. Also, Spain and some Eastern Bloc countries consume surprisingly large amounts of goat meat too. It is thought that this came about from killing the male goats as they didn’t produce milk and were, therefore, surplus to requirement.
This undemanding animal is extremely versatile and can be cheap to feed as it will happily clear your land of unwanted shrubs and bushes and provide you with a fantastic source of protein with a wonderful taste. The biggest problem when keeping goats is literally “keeping” them! They can be great escape artists, so beware!
What is the Difference Between Dairy Goats & Meat Goats?
There are many different breeds of goats, some of them geared at milk production, and others bred for their meat. There are even hybrid breeds that are great for both!
Meat Goat tend to be larger in size and more muscly than milk breeds, so you get more meat per animal. They also tend to be shorter and stockier with tighter udders.
On the other hand, dairy goats have larger udders and longer legs to facilitate the udders, keeping them higher off the ground and from catching on bushes and shrubs. Milk breeds have higher body fat levels, which help with better reproduction/birth rates and higher milk production.
Best Dairy Goat Breeds
The best breeds for producing milk are the Saanen, Alpine, Oberhasli, Toggenburg, La Mancha and Nubian.
Here is a table showing how much milk they produce, along with the fat content of each breed’s milk:
As you can see, they can produce amazing amounts of wonderfully sweet and creamy nutritious milk. The Nubians may not produce as much volume, but their milk has a higher nutritional value. This list is by no means exhaustive as you can milk any type of goat (except a male!), but these are the most commonly bred dairy goats as they produce the highest milk yield.
There is one other goat worth mentioning in this category: the very cute Nigerian Dwarf Goat. The milk produced by this miniature breed is incredibly sweet and rich, having a 6-10% buttermilk content. They can also produce up to 2 quarts per day! Not bad, given this little guy’s average height of 18” and approx. 75lbs body weight.
If you have never had goat’s milk, it can take some time getting used to as it tends to have a slightly stronger taste than cow’s milk.
It is often suggested as an alternative to cow’s milk for people with allergies, as it is far easier to digest. So if you do have allergies, maybe give the humble goat a try, and it really only takes few days to adapt to the taste.
Best Meat Goat Breeds
Although you can eat any goat, the most common ones bred specifically for meat are generally larger than dairy goats. Here is a table showing the best meat breeds and their average adult weight:
Adult Weight Buck (Lbs)
You can see that there is a substantial amount of meat to be harvested from one of these, making them profitable breeds. Some meat goat breeds have also been bred to reproduce more often, making them more profitable.
Best Goat Breed for Both Milk and Meat
Some goats are bred for both milk and meat. Few of these have been created by cross-breeding certain original species, but some of them are just naturally good for both purposes, such as the Nubian.
Kinder goats are a fairly new hybrid in America, established from breeding Pygmy Bucks with Nubian does. This produced a good-sized, hardy, and meaty goat that produces wonderfully creamy milk with a 5%+ fat content.
Which Tastes Best – Buck or Doe?
As mentioned above, goat meat tastes quite similar to mutton, which has a slightly stronger lamb-like taste for someone who hasn’t tried it.
Does goat meat taste different depending on whether it has come from the buck (male) or the doe (female)?
Generally speaking, with any animal, the female will always contain more fat. Think hen vs. rooster. The higher fat levels are there to regulate hormones and, therefore, reproduction.
It is the same with us, humans. Females will always “naturally” have higher fat levels for this very same reason.
So how does this affect meat flavor?
The male animal will always have higher lean tissue (muscle), which is the meat that we eat. Without the additional fat levels that most females have, the meat can seem tougher, drier, and have a slightly stronger flavor. This, of course, can be desirable to a lot of people, but some prefer a milder taste and softer texture.
If you have eaten a rooster, you know that they are stronger-tasting, have darker meat, and are slightly stringier in texture. It is often suggested to slow cook tougher meat from bucks to tenderize those muscle (meat) fibers.
Also commonly known as Cabrito (Spanish), the young goat also provides amazing meat. It is incredibly tender and can be a little fatty but is delicious when roasted. It is commonly eaten in South America, Spain, and Italy.
It would be great to see more goats in the stores as it really is a wonderful meat, with lower fat levels than other domestic breeds of cattle and a greater nutritional profile.
Whichever goats you may be deciding to keep, they are wonderfully rewarding creatures, not only for their milk and meat. They have great personalities and character traits, with some breeds being friendlier than others, so be sure to do your homework.