Have you thought about adding goats to your homestead? Would you like to raise them for dairy? Meat? Fiber? Or maybe you want to raise them for pasture management? Do you know what breed would best suits your needs? With over 200+ goat breeds, your choices can be a little overwhelming. Let us help you pick the best goat breed for you and your homestead.
Which Breed Is Right for You?
Many goats are dual-purpose, meaning they are raise for more than one function. For instance, some breeds are good for both dailr and meat, or meat and fiber, or fiber and land management. However, there are three main different classifications of goats, dairy, meat, and fiber goats. Each breed of goat has its own area where they shine. Depending on your needs or goals for your goats, it will help you determine the breed of goat you will want to raise.
Another key point to mention about goats, goats are browsers and foragers not grazers like cows and sheep. They do wonders at keeping the brush at bay but not so much at mowing the lawn. In addition to being foragers, goats are herd animals so they need to be with other goats. You should always raise more than one goat, they need a buddy.
Top Dairy Goat Breeds
Dairy goats are a wonderful alternative to cows for a smaller-scale dairy operation. They require less space and feed than their beef counterparts but still offer the benefits of milk, cheese, butter, and more. Outside of the United States, goat-milk is the primary source of milk for consumption over any other dairy animals.
Although all healthy female goats can produce milk, only certain breeds are considered dairy breeds by the American Dairy Goat Association. Those recognized dairy breeds are Alpine, LaMancha, Nigerian Dwarf, Nubian, Oberhasli, Saanen, Sable, and Toggenburg. The chosen dairy breeds are capable of producing enough milk for their own offspring and sharing with humans.
There are seven full-size dairy breeds and one mini breed, all vary in size and in milk production. Before buying a specific breed for dairy production, make sure to research that specific breed so you know what to look for when purchasing.
Does can stay in milk (meaning they can produce milk) between 275-305 days a year provided they have proper nutrition and health care.
In alphabetical order
- Alpine- Large goat heavy milker
- LaMancha- Medium goat heavy milker
- Nigerian Dwarf- Small goat light milker
- Nubian-Large Goat med-heavy milker
- Oberhasli – Medium goat heavy milker
- Sannen- Medium goat heavy milker
- Sable- Medium Goat heavy milker
- Toggenburg- Large goat med-heavy milker
Nigerian Dwarf Goats
If you’re looking for a small dairy goat breed, the Nigerian Dwarf Goat is what you want. We raise Nigerian Dwarf Goats and are registered breeders here in East Tennessee. We choose this breed because we had a small piece of property and wanted something easy to handle.
If you have a small homestead or are looking for a good starter dairy breed, NGD’s is what you want. If you want something higher in milk production I suggest going with one of the larger dairy breeds like Nubian or Alpines for example. I have friends that raise all the different breeds I’ve mentioned and they each have qualities they love.
Considering a small dairy breed like the Nigerian Dwarf Goats? If so, then my article Top 9 Reasons Why You Don’t Want Nigerian Dwarf Goats is a must-read. Don’t worry, I’m not here to crush your goat dreams, I actually want you to be a happy successful goat owner, trust me.
Top Meat Goat Breeds
Goat meat is heavily consumed throughout the world and its popularity is steadily rising in the United States. Goat meat is leaner than any other red meat and lower in cholesterol. Since the United States imports over 50% of its goat meat from other countries, goat meat production is a viable business to look into.
- Boer Goats
- Kiko Goats
Top Fiber Goat Breeds
If you’ve ever worked with fine fibers then you will certainly appreciate the importance of raising fiber goats. Fiber goats refer to goat breeds that are raised for their fiber (fur) rather than milk or meat. Cashmere and Mohair fibers are used in some of the finest fabrics for thousands of years. Goats that produce fiber are another way to monetize your goat herd and work towards a sustainable lifestyle. When considering raising fiber livestock one would instantly think of sheep, however, goats produce natural fibers that are a renewable resource, durable, warmer than sheep wool, not to mention beautiful.
The demand for these fine fibers has always exceeded their supply. If you’re looking for a decent way to monetize your homestead, consider adding some fiber goats.
- Angora Goats
- Changthangi or Pashmina Goats
- Cashmere Goats
Before You Buy Goats
Owning goats (or any livestock) is a HUGE commitment. Animal husbandry is not something that should be taken lightly or something that one should jump into. Say goodbye to vacations, sleeping in, nights on the town, fancy shoes and manicured lawns.
On the other side, goats are a great way to become more self-sufficient. If you’re ready to add goats to your farm or homestead, check out our tips Goats for Sale, 10 things you MUST know before buying goats.
Which Goat Breed Is Best For You?
We covered the top goat breeds for dairy, meat, and fiber in this article but there is so much more to learn. Based on the little bit of information I’ve been able to share, think about what type of goat you want for your homestead and research breeds that will fit that criteria. Look for breeders in your area that are registered with the goat association or contact the local farm vet for referrals. In my personal opinion, I would avoid livestock auctions and I would encourage a farm visit of the breeder you are wanting to purchase from.
As I mentioned above, we are registered Nigerian Dwarf Goat breeders however, we are looking at adding breeds from heavier milk producers to meet our dairy needs. There are so many wonderful breeds of goats available, find the one that fits your farm and family the best.
The Beginner’s Guide To Raising Goats
If you would like to learn more about raising goats such as how to care for them, the type of housing they need, what to feed goats, and more- check out my newly release book on Amazon, The Beginner’s Guide To Raising Goats. Not to mention, you can always reach out to me by email, on MeWe or our Facebook page.