Have you been looking to get started with owning dairy goats, but you’re not entirely sure where to look? There are numerous breeds of dairy goats available, which can make deciding between them a little tricky. However, this doesn’t have to be the end of the road for your goat-owning journey. As such, we’ve outlined some of the best dairy goats for beginners to help you discover a little more about whether you’re ready to welcome a dairy goat to your homestead or smallholding. A quick spoiler: call us biased in your will, but we think you should consider it!
What are the Best Dairy Goats for Beginners?
Since every goat keeper has different aims and requirements for their goats, there’s no single goat breed that’s ideal for everyone. However, we’ve come up with three of the best dairy goats for beginners as follows to help you decide which one suits your unique requirements best.
Don’t forget: every dairy goat breed needs slightly different care. Before you get your new dairy goats, we also recommend ensuring you have everything ready and in place for them, such as housing, milking equipment or stands, feeders, and the like. You’ll also need to keep several dairy goats, as goats should never be kept alone for extended durations of time.
Best Dairy Goats for Beginners (Milk Volume): Saanens
When you think of a dairy goat, in most cases, you’ll likely think of a big, clean-cut white nanny with a large udder and a bright, curious look about her. If this is the case for you, then you’re probably thinking about Saanen goats (or Saanen-type goats).
And this is for a good reason: indeed, Saanens are among the highest-producing dairy goats in the world. As such, a Saanen could be the way to go if you’re looking for a dairy goat that can produce high volumes of milk for your household.
Saanen nannies are often incredibly efficient in converting food into milk, producing around 2 to 3 gallons of milk daily. That equates to around 7 to 11 liters of milk – some dairy cattle only produce roughly twice that! As such, the exceptional efficiency of well-bred Saanens is clearly hard to beat, so you won’t be thirsty with a few Saanen nannies on the homestead.
However, it’s worth remembering that Saanens will often need a lot more additional supplemental feed to maintain this high level of production. Their milk is also lower in milk fats than some other breeds, which may make it less appealing if it’s the milk quality you’re looking for.
Best Dairy Goats for Beginners (Milk Fats): Nubians
Nubians are often hard to beat if you’re looking for exceptional milk fat and protein content from your new homestead goat. They’re still efficient but can’t often rival the huge quantities produced by Saanen nannies. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a nanny for the homestead, you may not need quite as milky a nanny anyway – in which case, investing in a Saanen nanny may be wasteful.
However, they more than make up for this, considering the amazing quality of their milk. In fact, many Nubian nannies will be able to produce exceptionally rich milk in suitable volumes for standard homestead use.
Typically, a good Nubian nanny will be able to produce around 2/3 of the milk of a Saanen nanny. Nubians could be ideal if you’re happy with around one to two gallons of delicious milk per day (and a highly friendly backyard goat).
It’s also worth considering that Nubians are also considered a dual-purpose goat breed. As such, you should be able to get some meat from a Nubian kid for your freezer; however, they’re most effective when crossed with a meat goat breed, producing an often large-framed, fast-growing kid.
Best Dairy Goats for Beginners (Ease of Care): Nigerian Dwarfs
If you’re looking for an easy-to-care-for dairy goat, Nigerian Dwarfs might be ideal. They are a very small goat breed compared to the other dairy breeds on this list, which makes them generally easier to look after. Plus, they’re also easier to keep in many cases, thanks to their small size; this can make feeding and housing Nigerian Dwarves much easier for a new goat keeper.
Nigerian Dwarves typically produce several liters of milk per day, or around half a gallon. Their milk is also comparably creamy as a Nubian’s (sometimes even slightly more), making them an excellent option for personal use. However, it’s worth remembering that Nigerian Dwarf kids will be less suited to meat production since their small frame means they can’t often be crossed with a meat breed.
Don’t be fooled, though – as is the case for any goat, Nigerian Dwarves can still absolutely be troublemakers. However, they’re loveable additions to the family smallholding if you’re looking for an animal that can provide a couple of liters of milk per day for your household.
Other Goat Breeds for First-Time Dairy Goat Owners
The above three options are all brilliant choices for the best dairy goats for beginners. However, they’re far from the only goat breeds out there, and the choice really comes down to personal preference in most cases. For example, Golden Guernseys, Toggenburgs, La Manchas, Guernseys, Alpines, Oberhaslis, and the like can all be great choices.
Don’t forget, though – you can technically still milk other breeds of goat if you’re in a pinch. However, breeds that are not dedicated to milk production may produce a much more modest amount of milk, so this is well worth considering before making your final decision.
If you’ve been looking to get started with owning your very own small herd of dairy goats, it’s always important to ensure you’ve chosen a suitable breed that will “do the job,” as it were. However, not all dairy goats are necessarily ideal choices for new goat breeders or goat keepers. As such, we hope today’s guide will have given you some ideas on the best dairy goats for beginners; this might just allow you to start your new homesteading dream with goats once and for all.