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Goat Breeds

This is the first in a series of posts over the next few weeks detailing some of the more popular breeds of certain livestock types and their traits.  These posts are courtesy of Skyhorse Publishing and their editorial team which was kind enough to let me publish excerpts (with credit) from their books.  These livestock excerpts are all from The Homesteading Handbook by Abigail R. Gehring.

Saanen—Originally from Switzerland,
these goats are completely white, have
short hair, and sometimes have horns.
Goats of this breed are wonderful milk
Toggenburg—Originally from Switzerland,
these goats are brown with white
facial, ear, and leg stripes; have straight
noses; may have horns; and have short
hair. This breed is very popular in the
United States. These goats are good milk
producers in the summer and winter seasons
and survive well in both temperate
and tropical climates.
Alpine—Originally from Switzerland, these
goats may have horns, are short haired, and
are usually white and black in color. They
are also good producers of milk.
Anglo-Nubian—A cross between native
English goats and Indian and Nubian
breeds, these goats have droopy ears, spiral
horns, and short hair. They are quite
tall and do best in warmer climates. They
do not produce as
much milk, though
it is much higher in
fat than other goats’.
They are the most
popular breed of
goat in the United
LaMancha—A cross between Spanish
Murciana and Swiss and Nubian breeds,
these goats are extremely adaptable,
have straight noses, short hair, may have
horns, and do not
have external ears.
They are not as
good milk producers
as the Saanen
and Toggenburg
breeds, and their
milk fat content is
much higher.
Pygmy—Originally from Africa and the
Caribbean, these dwarfed goats thrive in
hotter climates. For their size, they are relatively
good producers of milk.

9 comments to Goat Breeds

  • GoneWithTheWind

    A serious question. Why goats? I see goats and for the most part they seem rather useless. I am aware they give milk which to me means I must be home once or twice a day or get someone to babysit them all the time. I have had goat cheese and I suppose it’s edible but hardly great. I am aware that some people eat goat. I wouldn’t be opposed to eating goat meat but seriously goat meat over pork, beef or lamb??? I can also understand that some people may have an unusual attraction to them like the old people you see holding a dog while trying to drive. But for someone who doesn’t want to make cheese or drink goat milk why goats?

  • I’ll answer you with a show. This week is goat week. Next week, I’ll move on to something you might find more appetizing!

    Additionally if you haven’t (and it sounds like you haven’t) tried goat meat then I really recommend you try it. Its called caprito by the way.


  • saberwardogs

    well the milk is not like cows milk it is even good for lactose intolerant people. they eat almost anything and are cheap to keep.they take a lot less room to keep then a can also make butter from the milk. They also make up most of the worlds meat supply from Africa to the middle east and on to Asia along with the balkans

  • Good info Saber. I forgot about butter – DUH! on me.


  • GoneWithTheWind

    In Mexico the meat is called Chevron or something like that and I suspect I have eaten it from street vendors in Tijuana. I have had goat cheese too. But the question remains, why keep goats? This isn’t Africa or Asia. I can buy goat cheese at Safeway if I want it and I can buy any meat I want. I’m not trying to be arguementative I’m simply wondering. When I do see goats typically they are not being milked or kept for meat they are just there in much the same way people keep keep a llama.

  • Jason


    I did an episode on the benefits. Honestly they aren’t for everyone so I don’t expect everyone to agree. I’d certainly take a nice ribeye over chevon if I had the choice but in that vein its like asking why raise pigs? I guess everyone has a preference. If I had a 200 acre ranch in Oklahoma I’d raise cattle but I have 4 acres in Kentucky infested with wild rose and sweet gum trees. I can find their benefit but they won’t fit everyone.


  • GoneWithTheWind

    Pigs are awesome for producing large amounts of good meat and I love pork. I have heard that some people use goats to keep the brush down but if you have a small property that should take a month or two, what then? I can certainly understand owning a goat or two or three like you might own dogs, kind of like pets. I was truely trying to understand it. A lot of goats out there and most aren’t being milked or eaten they are just there day after day and month after month.

  • Just to throw my two cents in to those who have never had a goat then you don’t know what you are missing. I have raised everything and used to be a HUGE horse person. I started out with 2 goats and absolutely fell in love with them. I now have a herd of 60 and no I do not eat them nor will I sell them to anyone that I think might want to eat them. Mine are beautiful fun loving animals that I like almost as much as my dogs and way more than my horses. Horses never made me a penny but they sure can put you in the poor house. I sold out of horses and just raise goats. I do milk them and I have made cheese. I show them and sell them to breeders and 4H kids to enjoy. They will clear woods and love vines, poison ivy, kudzu etc. They are not cheap to keep or feed if you have a program like I do. I spend a lot on mixing my own feed and supplements to make sure they produce the most milk. However they make enough off selling the kids each year to more than pay for their feed and hay so all I have invested in them is my time. Since I enjoy them so much that is not a big deal in my opinion. If you have never watched baby goats running and jumping then you don’t know what you are missing. My husband (who is not a goat lover like I am) has commented that watching the kids in the pasture in the spring is much more entertaining than anything on t.v. Mine are all named and most will follow you like a dog. I breed mine to be small, colorful, and am breeding for polled and blue eyes this year. I am always happy to have visitors to my farm that are truly interested in learning about goats.

    • Jason


      Thanks for stopping by. I put up a link to your site in case anyone has any questions or wants to take a look at your operation.

      I look forward to working with you soon and will let you know when the fencing is ready!


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