I get this question second only to, ‘Don’t goats eat everything?’
This is going to sound like a strange opening sentence to my argument that goat milk is great, but, I don’t like drinking goats milk! To be fair though, I don’t drink milk no matter where it comes from. I have tried cow’s milk from the supermarket, cow’s milk raw, fresh from the farm, soy, rice and almond. So maybe I’m not the best judge. My kids(the human variety) however love milk (except soy) and say goats milk is the BEST! They would drink it by the gallon if I let them:) And that is a very good thing for several reasons.
Firstly, goats are easy to keep, unlike what you have probably heard. They make very little mess as long as they are in a well fenced yard. I use deer fencing over post and rail. If they do get out, which mine never do, they will strip the bark off your fruit trees and eat your lilies and any other yummy looking flower:)
Secondly, compared to the cow’s milk most North American’s drink, goats milk is definitely the better option for multiple reasons. A goat eats way less than a cow. The average cow eats 100lbs of feed per day and over 50 gallons of water. Compare that with goats at an average of 1-3lbs of grain feed and 4-8lbs of hay. Two small buckets, filled twice with fresh water twice a day is enough for my 5 goats. Then add in the amount of space you need for both. Raised humanely a cow should have at least 2 acres of good pasture and 60 square feet of barn space per animal. I keep five goats on a 1/4 acres with walks to browse daily when weather permits. They need 8 square feet of barn space at night. Mine do with a smaller space now, which in our cold climate works well. Goats need their feet trimmed every 6 weeks(depending on the terrain) and worming if you agree with the practice. At least you don’t have to trim cow hooves! One last thing on maintenance, have you seen the size of a cow patty? There is just no comparison between that and the almost dainty nearly odorless droppings of a goat. The waste from a commercial cow dairy is staggering and the cost to our environment is devastating.
Thirdly, goats milk is better for you. I’m sure you have heard that it is easier to digest, but this is why. Goat milk has a more easily digestible fat and protein content than cow milk. Goat milk can successfully replace cow milk in diets of those who are allergic to cow milk. This is because 1-in-10 people who are allergic to the major protein of cow’s milk, alpha S1 casein protein, can tolerate goat milk and human milk because both lack this offending protein. It is more easily digestible because of the casein curd, which is both softer and smaller than that produced by cow milk. The smaller and softer the curd, the more easily accepted by the human digestive system. I know several cases where cow milk intolerant kids have switched to goats milk without problems.
I will admit that there are disadvantages to goat milk. Because the fat content is lower and the curds smaller it is very hard to make butter or collect the cream. I have found that the yogurt isn’t as thick or tasty as other yogurt. Also, you don’t get nearly as much milk from goats. The average goat in full production will give about 6-12lbs of milk per day with a cow giving abut 5 times that much, but honestly what family needs as much as 60lbs of milk per day? Obviously, if you have the space and the wish to produce for more than just your family then a cow makes sense (sort of), but for most of us that just isn’t the case. Two goats give my family of eight enough milk to drink and make cheese with some to spare.
Lastly, they are just abut the cutest animals alive. Once you have held a newborn goat, you will be smitten for life!