Goat Breeds: How to Choose the Best One

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Goat breeds are typically one of the most popular animals you’ll see on a farm.

It’s not surprising, too, since they can produce not only milk but also delicious meat for the entire family.

Many farm-owners also find that these animals make fantastic companions, as long as you can find the right breed that’s perfect for you.

Goat Breeds

With over 210 breeds of goats in the world, this guide will help you to make the best decision for your farm, whether you need milk production, meat production, or a friendly pet.

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Best Goats for Meat

Goat meat can be highly nutritious, although it’s one of the lesser popular varieties in North America.

With its ability to nourish your family without being too fatty or packed with calories, it can be a fantastic addition to your daily diet.

However, not all goats are ideal for meat production; some are better used for dairy, and others are ideal for pure companionship.

Boer Goats

Boer goats are considerably more substantial than the wide variety of other goats on this list.

This is what makes them the perfect choice for meat, as their bodies can get up to 300 pounds.

This species was initially bred in South Africa and is still one of the best goats for meat in that area today.

Not to mention, they also have an incredible fertility rate, which makes them easy to breed.

Most often, you’ll find that these goats will come in a variety of colors, including black, red, brown, or white, with different types of marking.

Pros:

  • Docile
  • Disease resistant
  • Ideal for hot and dry climates
  • Matures in 90 days
  • Bucks grow up to 340 pounds

Cons:

  • High feed needs
  • Susceptible to parasites

Spanish Goats

If you’re on the hunt for a low-maintenance goat breed, Spanish is a fantastic option as they have relatively low needs.

Bred initially in Spain and then brought to the United States via Mexico, this breed is very well-known for meat production.

What’s more, their breeding patterns are sustained throughout the year.

You’ll find that Spanish goats were most prevalent for meat during the ’80s, and they are easy to spot thanks to their long and twisted horns.

Although Spanish goats were the primary source of goat meat in the past, they have since been replaced by Boer goats, though they have a new purpose.

If you need assistance with dealing with highly invasive brush plants, like buckthorn, Spanish goats are a fantastic addition to your farm.

Pros:

  • Produces savory meats
  • Resistance to parasites and diseases
  • Multi-purpose
  • Ideal for brush-clearing
  • Breeds out-of-season

Cons:

  • Does not produce milk
  • Difficult to manage

Kiko Goats

Kiko goats have gained popularity through their ability to thrive in less-than-ideal conditions.

They can grow large in a limited amount of time, similar to Boer goats.

This breed was initially introduced in New Zealand and brought to the United States in the ‘90s because of their ability to produce large amounts of meat.

Unlike some other breeds, Kiko produces delicious milk as well as hearty meat that you can use to your advantage.

Also, they are an excellent choice for farms with other animals, such as sheep, as they eat away the rough terrain.

Some farmers find that this breed is also one of the more economical ones, especially if you were to compare them to Boer goats.

You’ll find they prefer lower-quality grazing territory.

They require far less maintenance than other goat breeds, which can make them an excellent choice for beginners.

Pros:

  • Delicious meat
  • Quickly adapts to poor climate
  • Requires minimal maintenance
  • Great for breeding

Cons:

  • Difficult to manage
  • Very large and powerful
  • Prone to disease

Kalahari Goats

One thing to be said about Kalahari goats is that they are particularly beautiful to look at.

This is especially true if you were to compare them to some of the more traditional meat-friendly breeds.

With a body that is ideal for dealing with hot temperatures, these South African-bred goats produce lean and delicious meat.

This meat is far more tender and easy on the stomach than meats from other breeds.

Another reason as to why you should consider having some on your farm is because they are immune to most goat-related diseases, making them a very durable and reliable breed.

Kalahari is also known to breed at a consistent schedule, even if out of breeding season.

On average, you’re likely to see up to three kids every two years.

Overall, their body size is long and tall, though they can be bred with heartier breeds to increase their overall body size.

Pros:

  • Kids grow quickly
  • Highly heat resistant
  • Less susceptible to disease
  • Highly adaptable and resilient

Cons:

  • Hard to acquire
  • Could be temperamental

Best Goats for Milk

When it comes to finding the best milking goats, you’re going to want to consider breeds that have the most delicious production that can be used to drink or to make cheese.

Although some goat breeds technically produce some milk, you’re going to want to opt for varieties that make a lot.

In this way, you can take full advantage of having them on your farm.

As with the ideal goats for meat, the best dairy goats will contribute to the resourcefulness of your farm with limited disadvantages.

Alpine Goats

On average, Alpine goats can produce up to two gallons of milk.

That is more than enough for the average farm, especially if you have more than one goat on your property.

However, their milk is particularly fatty, with up to three and a half percent of fat, which is quite high for any type.

You’ll love that the milk from an Alpine is not only useful for drinking.

It is also highly recommended for making ice cream, butter, and cheese for lactose-intolerant individuals.

With a highly adaptable personality and strong maternal instincts, these goats are incredibly family-oriented.

As such, they can be a phenomenal addition to your existing farm animals.

Also, as they are classified as a specific dairy breed, their milk production far outweighs other types of goat breeds.  

Pros:

  • Very friendly
  • Large dairy production
  • Easily adaptable to climate
  • Protective of family

Cons:

  • Could need to be tied down
  • High protective of offspring

Nubian Goats

Nubian goats are some of the best goats for milk that have a strikingly long history.

They were bred initially across the pond in England between 1920 and 1930, making them the most common goat to have on farms.

Compared to Alpine goats, Nubian varieties produce milk with incredibly high-fat content, which can help you to make fattier ingredients, such as butter and cheese.

Also, it’s important to note that this breed is exceptionally fertile, even after the age of 12, and is highly likely to produce twins, triplets, and quadruplets.

Nubian goats don’t produce as much milk as some others, as their average production is up to one and a half gallons.

With that said, their milk is also one of the most flavorful varieties you can get your hands on, which is why it is so ideal for making goat cheese.

They also produce their milk year-round.

Lastly, you’ll also appreciate how intelligent this breed is, which can make them a useful contribution to your farm.

Pros:

  • Incredibly fertile
  • All-purpose breed
  • Lives for many years
  • Fantastic pack animals

Cons:

  • Very noisy
  • Requires a lot of attention
  • Sensitive to cold
  • Minimal milk production

Toggenburg Goats

If you thought Nubian goats had a deep-rooted history, you’d be surprised to know that Toggenburg goats are one of the oldest breeds known to humans.

In fact, they were first noted to be seen during the 1600s.

Their iconic appearance is what makes them easy to spot among a crowd.

Toggenburg goats have a substantially large body with a relatively small head, paired with full beards and a very straight face.

Compared to a couple of the other breeds we’ve discussed this far, Toggenburg goats produce milk that is relatively low in fat (around three percent).

This could make it better for drinking than cheese or butter production.

You’ll appreciate the likelihood of these goats breeding, as they do so regularly and are easy to rely on for producing kids seasonally.

Many farm owners also love how hardy they are, which can make them useful for not only milk production but meat production, as well.

Although they are one of the most sought-after goat breeds in the world, they are not recommended for beginners.

Toggenburg goats require experience with goat handling, especially when they are pregnant.

Pros:

  • Resilient with cold temperatures
  • Strong maternal instincts
  • Up to 20 months of lactation
  • Milk is sweet and in high quantities

Cons:

  • Not ideal for beginners
  • Poor tempers
  • Likely to break out of farms

goat breeds

Nigerian Dwarf Goats

Nigerian Dwarf goats are some of the best milking goats for farm owners who don’t have a lot of space.

These goats typically grow to half the size of a regular goat.

You’ll find that this breed is typically kept on urban farms, as they don’t need a lot of space for grazing or child-rearing.

This is especially true when compared to larger goat breeds such as Boer goats.

Unfortunately, this breed only produces up to two pints of milk daily.

However, their milk is incredibly high in butterfat, which makes it substantially tastier than most other kinds you can find.

Their desirable and creamy milk contains up to six percent of butterfat, which not only helps to add to its flavor but also its rich and creamy texture.

This makes them ideal for ice cream, cheese, and different kinds of butter.

If you’re strapped for space on your farm, you’ll love how Nigerian Dwarf goats reach up to 23 inches, at most, and are a very friendly goat, which makes them fantastic for children.

However, it is a good idea to have their horns removed at a young age, as they can have a lot of power behind their horns.

Pros:

  • Family-friendly
  • Easy to maintain
  • Holds their value
  • Incredibly delicious milk

Cons:

  • Difficult to milk
  • Easily escape from fencing
  • Attractive to predators
  • Jumps very high

Oberhasli Goats

If sweet milk is what you’re looking for, Oberhasli is some of the best dairy goats to take into consideration.

Their milk has just under four percent of fat and tastes much sweeter than most.

On average, this breed can produce up to one and a half gallons of milk each day, depending on their living conditions and size, but their milk is most often used for making ice cream.

As another small variety of goats, they make fantastic partners for urban farms and smaller farms with limited space.

One thing you’re bound to love about Oberhasli goats is that they have a fantastic personality that makes them phenomenal for family-friendly environments.

Still, you will not want to underestimate the power of this breed.

They can cause significant damage if wronged, which is why most breeders will remove their horns at a young age.

Pros:

  • Adaptable to weather changes
  • Quite hardy
  • Delicious and sweet milk
  • Pack animals
  • Efficient with feeding

Cons:

  • Loud
  • Easily escapes confinements
  • Low butterfat content
  • Variable production of milk

Best Goats for Pets

It can be a fantastic advantage to have an assortment of goats on your farm for meat and milk production.

Still, you might also be looking for companion animals that will be great with your kids.

Often, farm owners opt to have goats as family pets, though some breeds are better suited for this job than others.

Which goat breeds are best as pets?

When searching for the best goats for pets, you’ll want to opt for breeds with a mild temperament that will be safe for everyone in the family to be around.

Below are a few of the most popular types of domestic goats that you can have.

Pygmy Goats

Pygmy goats are also seen as some of the best milk goats in the world, and they are incredibly popular for farms that need a friendly and intelligent pet.

You’ll find that this breed is highly adaptable to most types of weather, which is what makes them ideal for living in any continent.

Much like their name suggests, these goats are substantially smaller than other breeds.

In fact, they might only get as tall as 15 inches and may only weigh up to 85 pounds.

Although they look small, they produce a substantial amount of milk, which is more than enough for a small household.

On average, you could receive up to two quarts of milk containing up to 11% butterfat daily.

Pros:

  • Fun and interactive
  • Friendly
  • Small in size
  • Produces plenty of milk

Cons:

  • Needs constant attention
  • Requires medical tests
  • Likely to escape enclosures

Mini Alpines Goats

Similar to their larger version, Alpine goats, which are known to be some of the best milk goats, Mini Alpines are also phenomenal family pets that your kids will love, especially if they are active.

This breed is well-known for its hyperactivity.

They love to prance throughout their enclosure for hours on end, which is prone to keep your whole family entertained.

They are also quite small, reaching up to 30 inches in height, but they can be hefty with body weights up to 135 pounds.

You’ll find that Mini Alpines and Pygmies have a lot in common, especially when it comes to weather resilience, as this breed is ideal for any climate.

A great tip is to remember that your Mini Alpine will do relatively anything in exchange for food, which can make it easier to train.

Pros:

  • Can be milked
  • Very friendly
  • High energy output

Cons:

  • Likely to escape enclosures
  • Can be heavy

Mini Fainting Goats

Also known as Mini Myotonics, Mini Fainting goats have boomed in popularity throughout farms across the United States thanks to their native ability to “faint” when exposed to loud sounds or surprises.

Unfortunately, this goat breed was declared as endangered in the late ‘80s.

Though, they have been regularly bred since then to maintain their population.

On average, Mini Fainting goats can get up to 25 inches tall and up to 150 pounds, depending on diet and exercise.

What makes them a fantastic addition to your farm is that they are very family-friendly and relatively simple to maintain, which is perfect for beginners.

Your children will love being able to take on the responsibility of taking care of these goats, as they are prone to be friendlier than other breeds.

It’s also important to note that Mini Fainting Goats are primarily known for meat production compared to milk production.

As a pet, though, these features might not be your primary concern.

Pros:

  • Easy to contain
  • Adapts to most environments
  • Easily bred
  • Produces tender and flavorful meat

Cons:

  • Difficult to obtain
  • Quite expensive
  • Easy prey

Mini Lamanchas Goats

As another miniature version of an existing goat breed, Mini Lamanchas are incredibly popular in farms across the United States, especially petting farms.

Their mild temperaments and herd mentality means they are far less likely to be aggressive than other types of goats.

This makes them a great addition to a family-friendly environment.

One of their most iconic traits is their ears.

They are incredibly small and barely noticeable, which is an adorable addition to their small size and limited weight.

You can find Mini Lamanchas in an assortment of color combinations, and their hair is known for being short and glossy, primarily when appropriately maintained.

As an added benefit, they produce a considerable amount of milk for their size, which can contain up to four percent of butterfat for delicious cheeses and spreads.

Pros:

  • Incredibly friendly
  • Ideal house pets
  • Very calm

Cons:

  • Highly intelligent
  • Likely to escape enclosures

Goat Breeds

There are a substantial number of goat breeds in the world for you to consider, whether you want a considerable amount of milk or meat production or a friendly family pet.

Some breeds are very versatile, offering plenty of milk and meat while having a mild temperament.

Others are better for singular tasks, depending on what you think your farm is lacking.

Overall, goats are incredibly useful animals that every farm owner should consider investing in to breathe new life into their farm. You can raise goats for profit as well.

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