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. 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 flavor.
However, there are all kinds of factors that can impact how the taste of goat’s 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!
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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 developed 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.
You also need to filter the milk. This is essentially 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.
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 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.
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’s 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!!
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.