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How Much Milk Does a Goat Produce Per day? Guide by Breed

Milk production is a must if you want your homestead to be sustainable. However, it’s not always practical to have cows on your farm because they need lots of pasture and space. So this makes goats a good alternative when it comes to producing milk. But just exactly how much milk can you expect from a goat each day?

A dairy goat produces about three quarts of milk per day. This figure will change depending on the breed because some goat breeds produce more milk than others. Overall, it takes 5 to 10 goats to produce the same amount of milk as one cow.

If you’re thinking about getting dairy goats for your homestead, you should choose the breed depending on how much milk you’ll need. And to help you understand the different goat breeds and their milk production, we’ll take an in-depth look at the subject below.

Best Goat Breeds for Milk

There are over 500 different goat breeds. And if you want to keep goats for their milk, you must choose the right breed. So below, we’ve listed the best goat breeds for milk. They’re in alphabetical order.

Alpine

These large goats come from the lush Swiss Alps and they’re renowned for their prolific, high-quality milk production. Alpine goats are tough and hardy and they cope well in many different climates. As well as this, they have a good reputation when it comes to health.

Angora

These goats come from the Angora region of Turkey. They’re bred mostly for their distinctive fleece known as mohair. Because of their thick coats, Angora goats don’t do well in cold, damp climates. These goats don’t usually twin, and they have quite a low milk production. But the milk they do produce is very high in butterfat.

Boer

South African Boer goats are usually bred for their meat. This is because they grow quickly, even when they don’t have access to a lush diet. This makes them very hardy, adaptable goats. Even though they’re bred for their meat they’re also moderate milk producers.

Kiko

The Kiko goat is from New Zealand, and it’s primarily bred for meat. This is because, just like the Boer, it grows quickly on little sustenance. And as well as this they’ll usually produce twins. Kiko goats are very confident and friendly, and they cope well in hot and tropical climates. They produce a moderate amount of milk.

Lamancha

The Lamancha goat comes from Oregon in the USA and it is a cross between the Spanish goat and the Nubian. They’re hardy goats that will live happily in most climates. And they have a moderate to high level of milk production. Lamancha goats are well known for their excellent temperaments and their unique gopher or elf ears.

Nigerian Dwarf Goat

The Nigerian Dwarf is a miniature goat which means they’re very cute and don’t take up a lot of space. Because of their size, they don’t produce an awful lot of milk. But the milk they do produce is very high in buttermilk and protein compared to other breeds. Nigerian Dwarf goats are friendly and they’re particularly good around small children.

Nubian

Nubian goats come from England, and they’re used for their milk and meat. They have a longer breeding season than most goats and they do better in warm to moderate climates. Nubians are quite large, but they don’t produce large quantities of milk, but their milk is very high in butterfat.

Oberhasli

The Oberhasli is another hardy Swiss mountain goat with medium to high milk production. These medium-sized goats are very strong, but they’re calm with a sensible disposition. Oberhasli goats are recognizable for their unique black and tan coats which are known as “chamoisee”.

Image of a pygmy goat in a farm.

Pygmy

These miniature goats from Africa are famous for their friendly personalities. They’re hardy, and adapt well to all climates and pastures, and they’re disease and parasite-resistant. Pygmy goats produce rich, high-quality milk. But due to their size, they only produce small quantities.

Saanen

Saanen goats come from the Saanen valley in Switzerland and they’re one of the best dairy goats around. As well as being friendly and placid, this breed produces the most milk and has a long lactation period. But because they’re from the mountains, Saanen goats are quite sensitive to heat and sunlight, so they cope better in cooler climates.

Spanish

These goats have a long history in the USA. They were bred from goats that came over during the Spanish conquests. This means that they’re well adapted to suit all climates in the USA. Spanish goats are moderate to high milk producers and they cope well on poor pasture.

Tennessee Fainting Goats

Tennessee Fainting Goats are aptly named after their myotonic condition. This means that when they’re scared, their limbs will lock-up which can also make them faint. Tennessee Fainting Goats are moderate milk producers, they make excellent mothers and will thrive in all climates.

Toggenburg

Toggenburg goats come from the Toggenburg Valley in Switzerland. They are one of the oldest known dairy goat breeds. These are sturdy, vigorous, high-producing milk goats. And just like with most alpine breeds, they prefer to live in cooler climates.

How Many Gallons of Milk Does a Goat Produce Per Day?

On average, a goat will produce around 3 quarts of a gallon per day. However, this amount can vary greatly depending on the goat’s breed. Pygmy goats will produce ½ a gallon per day for example, while a Saanen can produce up to 3 gallons.

As well as this, some goats will go on producing milk longer than others. So when you’re choosing dairy goats, it’s good to know about the lactation period of the different breeds too. So take a look at our table below to get a clearer idea about how many gallons of milk goats produce each day.

image of two brown and black alpine goats eating grass

This is How Much Milk Goats Produce Per Day

Different goat breeds will produce varying amounts of milk, based on their genetics and history.

Here are how the various breeds produce on average. Individual mileage may vary. There will be a table below, too, though it’s easier viewed on a larger screen (like on a desktop or laptop computer, though it’s also viewable if you turn a mobile screen or tablet sideways).

But just in case you don’t want to turn your mobile device sideways, here’s the information by breed listed alphabetically before the table.

Alpine

  • Gallons per day: 1 – 2
  • Liters per day: 3.8 – 7.5
  • Lactation days: 288
  • Butterfat content: 3.3%

Angora

  • Gallons per day: ½ – 1
  • Liters per day: 2.9 – 3.8
  • Lactation days: 180

Boer

  • Gallons per day: ½ – 1
  • Liters per day: 2.9 – 3.8
  • Lactation days: 180

Lamancha

  • Gallons per day: 1
  • Liters per day: 3.8
  • Lactation days: 288
  • Butterfat content: 3.2%

Kiko

  • Gallons per day: ½ – 1
  • Liters per day: 2.9 – 3.8
  • Lactation days: 180

Nigerian Dwarf Goat

  • Gallons per day: ½
  • Liters per day: 1.9
  • Lactation days: 305
  • Butterfat content: 6.4%

Nubian

  • Gallons per day: 1
  • Liters per day: 3.8
  • Lactation days: 288
  • Butterfat content: 4.9%

Oberhasli

  • Gallons per day: 1 – 1 ½
  • Liters per day: 3.8-5.7
  • Lactation days: 290
  • Butterfat content: 3.7%

Pygmy

  • Gallons per day: ½
  • Liters per day: 2.9 – 3.8
  • Lactation days: 180

Saanan

  • Gallons per day: 1½ – 3
  • Liters per day: 5.7 – 11
  • Lactation days: 290
  • Butterfat content: 3.3%

Spanish

  • Gallons per day: 1 – 1 ½
  • Liters per day: 3.8-5.7
  • Lactation days: 284

Tennessee Fainting Goat

  • Gallons per day: 1
  • Liters per day: 3.8
  • Lactation days: 150

Toggenburg

  • Gallons per day: 1 ½ – 2
  • Liters per day: 5.7 – 7.6
  • Lactation days: 288
  • Butterfat content: 3.1%

If you’d like to see this data in a table, here it is. If you’re on a mobile device, you may want to turn your phone sideways to see this properly.

Goat Breed Gallons Per Day Liters Per Day  Lactation Days
Saanan1 ½  – 3 5.7  – 11 290
Alpine1 – 23.8 –  7.5288
Toggenburg 1 ½  – 2 5.7 – 7.6288
Oberhasli 1 – 1 ½ 3.8 – 5.7290
Spanish 1 – 1 ½3.8 – 5.7284
Lamancha13.8288
Nubian13.8288
Tennessee Fainting Goats 13.8150
Boer½  – 12.9 – 3.8180 
Kiko½  – 12.9 – 3.8180
Angora½ – 12.9 – 3.8180
Nigerian Dwarf Goat ½ 1.9305
Pygmy ½1.9180

How Many Gallons of Milk Does a Goat Produce Per Year?

On average a goat will produce around 233 gallons of milk each year (which is around 2000lbs). But again, this will all depend on the breed and lactation period.

So taking into account the lactation period, this is roughly how much milk goats produce each year, according to their breed.

Goat breedGallons per year
Saanan435 – 870
Toggenburg 432 – 576
Alpine288 – 576
Oberhasli290 – 435
Spanish284 – 426
Nubian288
Lamancha288
Boer90 – 180
Kiko90 – 180
Angora90 – 180
Pygmy152.5
Nigerian Dwarf152.5
Tennessee Fainting Goats150

Why is Goats Milk Measured in Pounds Instead of Volume?

Milk is often measured in pounds instead of volume because pounds and ounces are easier to add up than pints, cups, and tablespoons. As well as this, milk is sometimes foamy so measuring by weight is much more accurate.

When it comes to measuring milk in pounds, the general conversion is 8.6lb equals one gallon of milk.  

How to Get A Goat To Produce Milk

If you want a goat to produce milk then she needs to become pregnant. So this means if you don’t have an uncastrated male goat, you’ll have to find a mate for her. As well as this, you must have a plan for the kids. Do you have the space to keep them for example?  

If you have plenty of space, you can keep the kids as part of your herd. And it’s a good idea to castrate the males once they’ve matured. This is because it’s not practical to have uncastrated males (bucks) on a small homestead. Alternatively, you can sell the kids to local farmers or use them for meat.

If you want to milk all year round, you’ll need at least two mature female goats. Because in between pregnancies, your goat will need some time off from milking. As well as this, you must stick to a milking schedule if you want your goat to keep producing milk.

Got more questions about getting goats to produce milk? Read this article next: Can Goats Produce Milk Without Being Pregnant?

Image showing hands while milking goat on a daylight

How Often Do You Milk a Goat?

If you want your goat to keep producing milk then you must milk her regularly. When the kids are still drinking from her, you should milk her once a day. But when the kids are weaned you need to milk your goat twice a day, ideally at 12-hour intervals.

From around two weeks old, once the kids are eating some solids, you can separate them from their mother overnight. This gives the doe’s udder a chance to fill with milk. And you should milk her first thing in the morning before you reunite her with her kids, who can then have access to her milk all day long.

Milking Tips

Your goat needs lots of nutrition to produce milk. So you must give her adequate grains and high-quality pasture or forage. You can feed concentrated food once or twice a day. And if you do this when you’re milking, it creates a distraction and will keep your doe calm for the session.

When you’re milking you must follow good hygiene practices. So this means your hands must be clean as well as your goat’s udder and any equipment that you use. And you should clean everything thoroughly after milking.

As well as this, you should chill the milk as soon as you’ve finished. This will prevent harmful bacteria from forming. And if you plan on selling your milk products to the public, you must follow local regulations and guidelines.

Have a pregnant goat? Make sure you read this article, too: Should You Milk a Pregnant Goat? What You Need to Know.

Bottle Fed Kids

A female goat has enough milk for her owner and her kids to enjoy. However, some breeders prefer to remove the kids and bottle feed them so that they can use all the milk themselves. If you want to raise your kids on the bottle, make sure they get their mother’s colostrum, the “first milk” which is full of nutrients and antibodies.

As well as this, it’s better for the kid’s health and development if they can drink their mother’s milk for 10 to 14 days until you start them on a milk replacer.

Got more questions on bottle-fed kids? Read this article next: Baby Goat Refusing The Bottle? Here’s What to Do.

How Long Do Goats Produce Milk?

After kidding, the average dairy goat will produce milk for up to ten months. But the lactation period will vary among the different breeds. When a goat stops producing milk, this is known as drying off.

A goat should have at least two months off from milking before she has a new baby. This allows her to build up a good supply of milk and colostrum for the new little ones. As well as this, she needs the energy to help the pregnancy through the last stages of development, rather than for producing milk.

This is why you need at least two milking does on your homestead if you want to milk all year round. You can plan their pregnancies to occur around two months apart. When you stagger the pregnancies, you won’t have a two-month dry period without milk.

Image of a white goat looking at the camera

Milking Through

To save on the hassle of having to find homes for babies each year, some goat owners will “milk their goat through”. This means they won’t mate their goat, instead, they just keep on milking them through to the next breeding season.

Not all goats can be milked through, it depends a lot on the breed. High-producing goats such as Saanens are better at milking through than low production ones such as Angoras.

Milking through can be a good way to save your goats the stress of breeding each season. But on the other hand, some people believe it’s necessary to let goats have a rest from milking each year.  Additionally, it could be bad for your goat’s health to be fed high-quality grains for milk production all year round.

Drying Up

When you want your goat to stop producing milk, you must go through a process called drying up. And to do this, over the space of around two weeks, you should gradually reduce your doe’s concentrated food rations, as well as the quality of the hay or pasture. This way she won’t be getting the nutrition she needs to produce milk.

At the same time, you should stop milking, because the more you milk your doe, the more she’ll produce. You can stop milking her abruptly from one day to the next. Or do it gradually over the space of a week or two.

When it comes to drying up, there’s always a risk of mastitis, a painful udder infection. So if you notice any redness, painful swelling, or discharge around the udder during drying up, you should seek veterinary advice.

Conclusion

Using dairy goats is a great way to produce milk on your homestead. And as well as providing rich milk, they’re also a pleasure to have around. The main thing to remember is to choose a goat breed that suits your milk needs. And make sure that you feed your dairy goats high-quality food so that they can produce rich, healthy milk for you to enjoy.

As you continue planning (or dreaming) about goats, make sure your read this article on milking goats the easier way. Learn from my experience and save your wrists!

Cite this article as: “How Much Milk Does a Goat Produce Per day? Guide by Breed.” Backyard Homestead HQ, 6 October 2021, backyardhomesteadhq.com/how-much-milk-does-a-goat-produce-per-day-guide-by-breed/.

Resources

It’s important to learn from your own experience, but it’s also smart to learn from others. These are the sources used in this article and in our personal research to be more informed as homesteaders. 🙂

  • “ADGA Breed Standards.” American Dairy Goat Association – ADGA, 30 Nov. 2020, adga.org/breed-standards.
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension System. “Milk Care – Dairy Goats and Sheep.” Alabama Cooperative Extension System, 3 Oct. 2019, www.aces.edu/blog/topics/sheep-goats/milk-care-dairy-goats-and-sheep.
  • American Dairy Goat Association. “Breed Averages.” American Dairy Goat Association – ADGA, 26 May 2020, adga.org/knowledgebase/breed-averages.
  • Bentley, Jennifer. “Colostrum Management for the Dairy Goat Kid.” Iowa State University Extension, www.extension.iastate.edu/dairyteam/files/page/files/DairyGoatColostrumManagementFactsheet.pdf.
  • “Dairy Goats.” GICA, 7 June 2019, www.goatindustrycouncil.com.au/goats-in-australia/dairy-goats.
  • “Dairy Goats – The American Goat Federation.” American Goat Federation, americangoatfederation.org/breeds-of-goats-2/dairy-goats. Accessed 6 Oct. 2021.
  • “Introduction to Dairy Goat Farming for Small Landholders | Agriculture and Food.” Australia Agriculture and Food, www.agric.wa.gov.au/small-landholders-western-australia/introduction-dairy-goat-farming-small-landholders?nopaging=1. Accessed 6 Oct. 2021.
  • “Getting Started With the Best Goats for Milk.” Backyard Goats, 27 Sept. 2021, backyardgoats.iamcountryside.com/home-dairy/a-beginners-guide-to-the-best-goats-for-milk.
  • Potts, C. G. “Milk Goats.” Google Books, books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=XWuvibwhQM8C&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=related:Yyv3Z6nc99IJ:scholar.google.com/&ots=32jyKmg0Rp&sig=O9OI0XBy9CTUsRgKoieOTAvGPE8&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed 6 Oct. 2021.
  • “Questions on Milking Through Is Anybody Doing It? (Goats Forum at Permies).” Permies Forum, permies.com/t/47929/Questions-Milking. Accessed 6 Oct. 2021.