Dairy Goat Breeds

Kris Wetherbee discusses the various physical descriptions of dairy goat breeds available for your homestead.

Alpine

Alpine dairy goat.

PHOTO: RICK WETHERBEE

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Learn about the different types of dairy goat breeds available for your homestead. 

Dairy Goat Breeds

You can recognize Alpine goats by their upright ears and long necks. This medium-to-large, hardy breed also milks well. Their coats are two-toned, with black and white the most common colors.

Oberhaslis have distinctive coloration, and are usually bay (reddish brown) with black markings or sometimes completely black. A beautiful medium-to-small breed, Oberhaslis don’t produce quite as much milk as the other breeds.

Saanens are commonly referred to as the Holstein of the goat world. Noted as heavy milkers, they are often the breed used in commercial dairies. One of the larger breeds, amiable Saanens are usually all white.

Toggenburg coat colors range from fawn to deep chocolate. A medium-size breed known for long lactations, their inquisitive nature can sometimes become quite challenging.

LaManchas are unique from the other breeds in that they have no visible external ears. (The ears are actually just very small.) Another well-known trait is their calm and gentle nature. Also noted as a good milker, this larger breed comes in many colors.

Several characteristics distinguish Nubians from other dairy breeds: They have floppy ears, a convex, Roman nose and an energetic disposition some say is just plain stubborn. Another large breed with myriad coat colors, Nubians are known as the Jerseys of the goat world for producing milk with high butterfat content.

Native to West Africa, the Nigerian Dwarf dairy goat has a straight nose, upright ears, and a soft short to medium coat. The breed's smaller size — mature does weigh between 50 and 70 pounds — friendly personality and variation in coat color (any color combination is acceptable in the breed standard) make Nigerians very appealing.