What Does Goat’s Milk Taste Like?

What does goat’s milk taste like? I’ve been asking myself this question for a year now. Despite having several friends that raise dairy goats, I’d yet to try it.

man milking an alpine goat by hand
man milking an alpine goat by hand

When I finally gave it a try, I found that:

Goat’s milk has a taste that isn’t that different from whole cow’s milk. It is creamy, sweet, though some say it tastes goaty, and has an earthy, grassy flavor.

One factor that may affect the flavor is the fat content of the milk, with higher fat content producing a nicer flavor.

However, there are all kinds of factors that can impact the taste of goat milk. While freshness and goat breed are the two most important, there are many other variables that can change how good a goat’s milk tastes. Regardless, I found it to be quite delicious!

What Makes Goat’s Milk Taste “Goaty”?

Much of my intial hesitation about trying goat’s milk came from a worry that goat’s milk would taste bad or even not necessarily bad but “goaty.”

“Goaty” milk is naturally sweet and clean-tasting with no strong aftertaste. However, it is not handled properly, it can develop an odd flavor. Goat’s milk has a high amount of lactic acid, which can multiply rapidly in warm temperatures over the course of just a few days.

Store goat’s milk at temperatures higher than 38 degrees (for a point of reference, most refrigerators are programmed to run at 45 degrees) and you’ll find that the lactic acid increases and you will get a stronger tasting goat’s milk.

The trick to producing goat’s milk that is not goaty is to get it cold within 15 minutes of milking and store it at a temperature of less than 38 degrees. It will stay sweet for up to a month.

Filtration is Essential

You also need to filter the milk. This is essential when you are milking any kind of animal. There will be all kinds of “goodies” in that pail after milking, including some leaves, bugs, dirt, and goat hair.

Milk filters will help get all that dirt and debris out of your milk and make it taste a lot better (and safer) too. You can use a milk filter when you are milking or filter the milk out afterward – but whatever you choose, this is absolutely essential.

Getting it cold is essential too – the longer the milk is kept warm, the more “goaty” a taste it will have.

Environmental and Housing Conditions

Another reason why goat’s milk might taste goaty might have to do with your housing. Goats produce extremely strong pheromones.

When does are housed close together with bucks, they can be affected by their odor and their hormones can change the flavor of the milk. Therefore, you m ay want to consider separating the two groups if you notice a strong, musky flavor in the milk.

This can vary depending on the individual goat and even on the day – so again, you may need to do some experimentation to find a system that works well for you.

While it’s important to pay close attention to the environment in which you raise your goats at all times, it’s especially important if you are raising dairy goats. Goats that live in dirty environments, particularly those that are bedded on dirty straw, will produce off-flavored milk.

The ideal environment for your goats is one that’s big enough for them to play, eat, and explore. These enclosures should be kept clean – kept free of manure and anything else that may cause or spread diseases.

Diet and Health Conditions are also a Factor

The diet of your goats can also affect the flavor of their milk, as it can with all mammals. There are certain foods that will make the milk taste odd. For example, wild onions, ragweed, and soy can all impart unique flavors into the milk – some of which are good and some of which are definitely not.

You should ensure that you have the proper feed and hay as well as a good water source at hand.

Even health conditions can affect the flavor of goat’s milk. If your does are sick from viruses, low-grade infections, or other issues that you may not even notice if your does are not showing symptoms, it can affect the taste of the milk.

Mastitis is one issue that is usually noticed and can really affect the taste of the milk. Although mastitis is more common in commercial-grade dairy goats than on smaller family dairies, it can still cause serious issues as there are unique physical and chemical reactions that occur in the milk and make it taste poorly.

Luckily, mastitis is easy to prevent if you pay attention to the sanitation conditions and diet of your goats. Make sure your goats that are kept in shelters with clean hay – shelters that are regularly swept out to minimize the spread of disease.

What is the Difference Between Cow’s Milk and Goat’s Milk?

There are several key differences between cow and goat milk. First of all, goat gets its rich flavor from the presence of both medium-and short-chain fatty acids, which are known for giving the milk its earthy, somewhat grassy (but in a good way!) flavor. As humans, we are sensitive to these fatty acids, since we can detect them in concentrations that are as low as 5 parts per million.

Goat’s milk doesn’t produce cream that rises to the top in a process known as flocculation. Instead, it stays mixed.

Goat’s milk also contains less casein than cow’s milk, which makes it softer and more filled with moisture. Therefore, it is not as good as cow’s milk for melting. When it’s heated, it crumbles since the proteins are so tightly bound.

Just like cow’s milk, though, goat’s milk can be rich, sweet, and creamy, with a mild taste. The breed of the goat can impact the flavor of the milk, just as it can with cows. Nigerian Dwarf Goats, for instance, produce milk that is high in butterfat (up to 10%), while others produce milk that is significantly lower in butterfat. Therefore, both the consistency and flavor of goat’s milk can vary widely.

But even still, that’s much higher than typical cow milk, which is usually only three to four percent butterfat. There are some breeds of cows, like Jerseys and Ayrshires, that produce milk up to 8% butterfat.

How Does Goat Breed Affect the Taste of Goat’s Milk?

As you might expect, this is the biggest difference in goat milk flavors is how much butterfat exists. This is wholly dependent on breed. Goats that produce milk at 10% butterfat will offer milk that is similar to the cow milk half-and-half you might buy at the grocery store, while a goat that produces milk with just 2% butterfat will be similar to 2% cow milk from the grocery store.

The goats with the highest butterfat content in their milk are, again, Nigerian Dwarf Goats. Nubian goats come in next, at around 4.6% butterfat. Toggenburg, Saanen, Oberhasli, LaMancha, and Alpine goats all have around 3% to 3.5% butterfat.

Beyond butterfat, there are some other differences in goat milk flavors, too. Alpine goats, for example, have a lot of variation between the does. It’s worth it for you to find the does that you like the flavor from the most and to keep playing around until you find the ones that work the best for you.

La Manchas are more consistent. They produce milk that is sweet tasting and mild. Oberhaslis offer stronger tasting milk. These goats, bred in Switzerland, produce milk that’s actually at a higher demand here than cow’s milk. Nubians also produce sweet-tasting milk while Toggenburgs, also bred in Switzerland, offer stronger-tasting milk.

If you’re after a milk that’s the closest to your 1% breakfast cereal milk, you’ll want to go with Saanens. These goats produce milk at a lower butterfat content, around 2%, which yields a milk that some people consider watery and bland.

Finally, Nigerian Dwarf Goats were bred for people who love cream – if you’re one of those people, you’ll love these goats.

How Much Milk Does a Goat Produce?

Milk production can vary widely among goats of different breeds – and even among individuals. On average, one dairy doe will produce a minimum of 2.7 liters of milk per day. She can produce between 660 and 1800 liters of milk in one 305 day lactation cycle.

Keep in mind that the age of the goat as well as its breed will play a major role in how much milk you get, as will your technique and skill in milking.

Where to Find Goat’s Milk

With over 65% of the world’s population drinking goat’s milk, it’s kind of odd that more people in the United States don’t consume it. It’s easy to care for goats and while milking is a daily chore, it’s one that many people grow to love. It only takes about 20 minutes a day to milk goats and it’s a great way to get some fresh air and interact with your animals.

But if you aren’t ready to raise your own goats, you still have options for finding local goat’s milk for sale. The best option? Visit a local dairy and see what they have for sale. You can do a quick Google search to find one in your area or you can use Real Milk Finder to find local dairies in your area.

You could also search local ads or on Craigslist to find goat’s milk for sale. I always recommend visiting the dairy so you can make sure that you approve of the cleanliness and living quarters of the farm.

Now, you can also buy canned goat’s milk at the grocery store, but this is not something I would recommend. This is where you run into people thinking that goat’s milk can taste goaty – when you buy it from the store, it often does have an odd flavor.

On-farm goat’s milk is truly the best! Fresh goat’s milk will always be far superior to that of the refrigerated grocery store variety.

There are some people that claim that pasteurization will affect the flavor of the goat’s milk. Now, the jury is still out on raw milk and its assorted benefits, and I won’t try to steer you one way or the other. However, what I do know is that pasteurization is one reason why grocery store goat’s milk can taste different from the stuff you drink at home.

Pasteurization, as beneficial as it can be, kills many of the bacteria, live enzymes, and nutrients in the milk when it heats the milk to high temperatures. Not only that, but all the other “processing” of grocery store goat’s milk can affect its flavor, too, like added steroids, medicines, and antibiotics, a swell as the sheer time it takes to process, package, and transport the milk to its ultimate destination on the grocery store shelves.

Goat’s Milk: It’s Better Than You Think!

So for all of you who were wondering what goat’s milk tastes like, it’s good. And you don’t have to acquire a taste for it. At least, this was our experience. And this is coming from a city girl, who has never in her life had goat’s milk, and doesn’t even like goat milk cheese.

But please know that fresh goat’s milk is way better than anything you can buy in the store. After the first day, the milk starts taking on a stronger flavor, and the longer it sits, the stronger it tastes. What you could buy in the store is not even comparable to fresh goat’s milk. Just so you know.

I am incredibly encouraged. Now that I know I like goat’s milk, I know that it would be worth it to get goat’s for milking eventually. We really don’t have room for a cow, and goats are so much cheaper to maintain. Now I can’t wait to have my own milking goats!!

29 thoughts on “What Does Goat’s Milk Taste Like?”

  1. Kathy, I’m so glad to read your comments likening goats milk products to cheese! I can’t stand the taste of lamb and unfortunately can’t eat goat’s milk cheese because of the overwhelming flavour of whatever it is that I don’t like in lamb. I thought I was crazy until I spoke to a cheese maker who confirmed that there is a particular food element/acid (I can’t remember exactly) contained in both. Until now I have never hear of anyone else who picks up on the similar tastes!

    • I just purchased a quart of fresh goat milk at the market. It is store bought, so not as fresh as from a just milked goat. I like the taste when I first take a sip. But after I swallow it I notice a particularly gamy taste. It’s hard to describe, but it’s like a barn yard under-taste. I put some Ovaltine in it and tried again. But that taste won’t go away. I hate to throw it out. It was $5. per quart. Where I live, that’s equal to the cost of 2 gallons of cows milk.

  2. I decided to try Goat milk tonight. I was shocked how much I could taste the flavor of lamb in it. I cannot think of cooking with it if I am going to have the flavor of lamb in it. I like lamb. Lamb is one of my favorite meats. I just don’t prefer to drink it. I can’t imagine making fudge with goat milk if it will make my fudge taste like lamb.

    I keep reading where people say that when they drink goats milk they say they cannot taste any kind of flavor in it. It amazes me. Did I buy the wrong kind of goat milk?

    What brand do you encourage people to drink?
    the brand I tried is
    Meyenberg (since 1934) Goat Milk.

    I had a glass with my dinner. I cooked pork chops. I tell you the truth! The lamby (or goaty) taste in the milk kept fighting my pork chop. I will definitely drink the goat milk with a lamb chop…then the battle won’t be so strong.

    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you.

    • Kathy,

      LOL… the problem is that you weren’t drinking fresh goat’s milk. After it’s about two days old, it begins taking on a strong flavor. If you want good goat’s milk you’ll need to find somebody who sells fresh milk daily. Or get your own milk goat 😉 Any store-bought milk will have a goaty flavor. Sorry!! Don’t give up on goat’s milk though! It really is good fresh 🙂

    • I recently bought Meyenberg brand goat milk and it is horrible in taste. I decided to stick to Mt.Capra whole goat milk it is delicious. My daughter has been on it since baby.

  3. We have nubians. Our milk tastes good but there is a pretty goaty after taste. I’m thinking that maybe if we daily clean up the manure that it might help.

  4. Hi. My sister and I have Togs and have had them for several years. We have tried to drink the milk several times and it has a twangy/sour taste. I have therefore only used it for soapmaking. They used to get soda crackers and bread for a treat, but now they only get bread because we thought that the crackers could be causing the fowl taste…That wasn’t it.

    Then my sister stopped giving them medicated sweet feed, with the same idea in mind….That doesn’t seem to be the problem either.

    I tried pasturizing it today…Holy Cow, it got worse.

    Is it just the type of goats we have? It just tastes bad….

    • Hi, Sharon! Yes, it’s the breed of goat you have. Toggenburg milk is usually used for anything BUT the milk! You might want to try the Nubian or Nigerian breeds.

  5. Good to know. We would really like to get milking goats too, but I was really nervous about the taste. I have trouble choking down the store bought goats milk in front of my kids and don’t want to show ungratefulness. I look forward to making cheese, ice cream, yogurt… the whole gamut of milk treats. I just started making it at home with store bought cows milk. When I calculated out the prices, only yogurt, yogurt cheese, and sour cream where an economical endevour. Cheese and butter cost more to make at home from store bought milk. But one day…. we can have all that for cheap. God bless.

  6. I did a milk test on a goat milk hater, who swore he abhorred goat milk & could instantly tell the difference in cow & goat milk. We milked a cow & a goat at the time & set both milks before him to try. He swore up & down the cow’s milk was definitely the goat’s milk & the goat’s was the cow’s. Asked him to make sure, to try again, & again he affirmed his first reaction. We had a big laugh when we told him he liked the goat’s milk & not the cow’s. He said it must have been that the cow’s milk was not pasteurized. ‘ahem..’ I do love goat’s milk, but it can get bad in mating season when the buck gets that ‘ode de’ amore’ that his girls find irresistible. If you want milk that taste like the nasty canned goat’s milk from the store, that is what you’ll get when he rubs his nasty smell all over your milking doe. It is best to keep him in his own pen away from her except for that magical day when she needs him for mating. Cherve is the easiest cheese to make & the favorite of my children.

  7. Hi goat lovers. I saved one from slaughter many years ago. Her name was Daisy. When I called her she answered me!! I am now looking for small acreage in rural Pa. not far from Homestead type people. ANY help in locating such will be GREATLY appreciated. I need room for my dogs, which are now mainly an Italian Pointing breed, and an English herding and ratting breed, both of which are friendly. The Rotties are now my companions and protectors of 55 years. They have saved my life at least twice and prevented my house from burning down. I intend to have poultry, rabbits, a food garden, fruit trees ( and many other kinds), goats and my dogs. Goats are a must for me as I am lactose intolerant. I’m sure the reason cows milk is sweeter is because of the lactose, which is a form of sugar, nes pas?

  8. Glad to read this post. I had goat cheese once at a nice eatery, I really liked it! Then I tried buying some and it all tasted like dirty socks smell to me LOL. I read several blogs of people that raise goats, as we do as well :O). I have not milked our goats to date. I may soon though. More than for drinking I would love to find I liked home made goat cheese! That is what I would do with the milk.

  9. Hi to everyone. I actually bought milk goats 9 years ago without knowing whether we would like the milk or not! We did, of course, so that worked out, fortunately. Just a warning–the goats and the milk are addictive hobbies!

    There’s so much to learn when you first start. Last year I started the website http://www.everything-goat-milk.com to help people understand the benefits and uses of goat milk, because I remember how hard it was to find all the information I needed. I hope it can help all those starting out.

    By the way, everyone is right on target about getting the milk cold fast. If you’re really serious about having the best tasting milk, the best way I found for smaller amounts is to use an ice cream freezer. I could cool my milk to 40 degrees (from pasteurization temperature) in 20 minutes or less, which is Grade A standard–and everyone loved the taste.

  10. We have tried goat milk from Kroger’s and it was nasty. However,we have our own goats we milk and it is great! How you handle it helps a lot too! The fresh stuff is so good tasting!

  11. We started milking for the first time this year two. I have a pygmy mix that we have owned for 5 years but finally this year decided to try the milking thing. Her milk is so creamy and sweet, anyone who tries it loves it. I think everyone needs their very own milk supply in their back yard :). The going out of town part can be tricky but as long as you have someone coming over to take care of animals already what is a few extra minutes to milk? There are alot of people that are interested in it and might be willing to learn how to milk. Though if I didn’t have someone to milk while we are out of town I would not do it.

  12. We had also considered getting some milk goats for a while, then heard we will never get to have a family vacation, so laments a family who does it. They take them separately. So, while our children are so young we struggle with the thought. But desperate times call for desperate measures, right? For now we’re thinking meat goats. But now again I have a new interest. Thank you.

  13. We recently bought goats and in my research I learned that different breeds give different “flavors.” Some, like Toggenburgs often give a stronger milk. But then, these were bred for cheesemaking. Those with higher fat content are said to be the tastiest.

  14. My sister has a milking herd, with Nubians, LaManchas, and Nigerian Dwarfs. She’s a huge fan of Nubians. And yes, the taste of the milk has something to do with having the bucks in with the does. You’re gonna have to come up one day and play!

    The lady just down the street from me had a few nannies, and put up a sign in her yard. Just a few weeks later, she had to buy another entire herd to keep up with demand. I bought some from her to nurse the baby kittens I found under the house back to health. They didn’t touch the pasteurized, canned milk I gave them. But they fought over the fresh milk.

    Logan loves fresh goat milk and cheese, and we actually froze some orange dream goat cheese last night from Daddy’s Girl Dairy in Yadkinville and ate it like ice cream. Yum-o. I love the blueberry and cinnamon cheese on my bagel, too.

    All that to say – get a goat! I will, as soon as my fence is up. Keep us updated!

  15. Thank you for posting this Kendra! We are planning on getting milk goats next spring but I’ve been worried about actually trying it, afraid I would not like it. The pasteurized, less fresh goat milk I’ve tried made me gag because of the goaty aftertaste. I’m relieved to hear your experience and read the other comments. Bring on the goats!

  16. We bought a LaManche milk goat a few years ago, with all intentions of milking her. After she freshened this year, I bought some goat’s milk from Kroger, to try it before milking her. It tasted like a goat smells. I sold my LaManche 2 weekends ago.
    This past Saturday, I had a call from a lady who purchased a goat from me. She found two goats for FREE from a local guy and called me after she picked them up. She asked if I wanted the larger goat, a Nubian milking goat, for FREE. I took her. After reading about the Nubian goats, their milk is supposed to be creamier and contain more milk/butter fat for a better taste. I am keeping this little beauty now.

  17. I’ve raised Nubian dairy goats for years now and love them dearly! I’ve also discovered that I LOVE Nigerian Dwarf goats as well. We were given two this past spring and have fallen in love with their sweet nature. Goats milk is SO incredibly good for you too, raw that is. As long as it’s handled safely, your doe is clean, the area you milk in is clean and the milking equipment is clean. The key, we’ve found, to sweet tasting goats milk is to get it cold FAST! In the hot summer months, we milk onto a zipper sandwich bag filled with ice to get it colder faster. I make yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, several kinds of cheeses, buttermilk and kefir with my goats milk. So glad you had a good experience with the milk! Goats are so much fun….but are, at times, harder than a dairy cow in that they have a few more issues than cows do at times. They are fairly easy to handle though. Nubians have more spirit than other breeds…attitude, really. 🙂 But that is why we love them!

  18. We have had milk goats now for eight years and we love our goats.Currently we are only milking one and my 11 year old son takes care of that.It works out well.
    A few years back one of our relatives made a big deal about how they would be able to taste the difference between a goat and a cows milk and we laughed when we watched this same person pour a glass of what he thought was cows milk and guzzle it down.:)It was soooo funny.:)He still to this day does not believe that he would not know the difference.:)

  19. My family drinks goats milk. The only difference I can tell is that it’s not quite as sweet, but other than that I can tell no difference. And yes it’s MUCH better for you than store bought milk. I am so glad you liked it. =)

  20. Oh!! I get so excited talking about goat’s milk! I am a fairly new goat owner- we have only been milking since May of this year. I am in LOVE with them! It was such a great addition to our homestead.
    I had never had goat’s milk until I drank some from ours, and my thoughts were the same as yours, Kendra. It’s really no different than cow’s milk! I know if it’s handled poorly, it can taste goaty, but ours is fantastic! And I’ve already converted several of my skeptical friends. 🙂
    Mona- we just made ice cream this weekend with it- so fun. And I also love not having to buy expensive cream in order to make ice cream. So far I’ve also made yogurt, mozzarella, and farmer’s cheese with it. My husband likes a ice cold chocolate “frappe” every night. (just blend ice cubes, cocoa, splash of vanilla, raw milk, and little sugar).

    I would highly recommend dairy goats to any homesteader. I’m going to be sooo sad when I dry them up this winter. And just like Mona, we have chickens and horses too and the milking routine really doesn’t add much onto my morning chores. Wow, sorry to ramble, but I just love my raw goat milk!:)

  21. I am so excited for you! We are just getting into it, too. We bought 3 Nubians this spring as kids, so we should be in milk next Feb-Mar. We got them from a neighbor that has really been helpful in teaching me about how to properly care for them. I help her milk several times a week, it’s really pretty relaxing. I have also experimented with different pasteurization techniques. Milk tastes better pasteurized at 140 for 30 minutes than at 165 for 15 seconds. It is even better raw, but I like a the peace of mind for feeding it to my children. I say goats are a great option for family milk also because they don’t get that big. I wouldn’t want small kids in a field full of 1500 lb cows, but a few 150-175 lb goats are a bit less intimidating. Nubians are called the “jersey” of the goat world because they produce milk with a higher fat content, where Saanen’s give more milk with less milkfat.

  22. I keep two bucks with my eleven does and have no strong goaty flavored milk….I let a neighbor taste my goat milk Sunday and they like you were pleasantly surprised….

  23. My friend just got two baby goats, they both died with two months…apparently they ate something they shouldnt have. She spent a lot of money on them. So make sure there pen is strong and nothing toxic to goats… (such as railroad ties) are around.

  24. I hear that the “goaty” flavor comes from the milking doe being near the buck. They pee on themselves and just being near the does gives the milk a musky flavor. Interesting, huh? ; )


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