When a goat is in its prime milk producing years, it can produce up to 8 pounds of milk per day. That is the equivalent of about 5 quarts of milk. Although the breed of goat helps to determine exact production levels, how the milk is used by the operator is very similar throughout the country.
About 75% of dairy goat operations take the milk from does to feed goat kids. About 67% of the operations keep some of the milk for home consumption as well.
Most operations prefer to carry goats for meat production instead of dairy, with all regions except the Northeast having 50% of operations stating meat as their primary production need. 43% of dairy goat operations do belong to a national association or club, while 26% belong to either a local or state association.
About 1 in 10 facilities that produce goat milk also participate in the Dairy Herd Improvement Association.
Interesting Dairy Goat Industry Statistics
#1. About 10% of goat operations that are located in the United States are primarily focused on dairy production About 14% of all goat operations produced milk for the retail market in the past 12 months. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#2. About 20% of operations in the Northeast keep goats for dairy production, compared to just 4.6% of goat operations in the Southeast of the United States. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#3. When an operation has 10+ goats who are producing milk, the average annual milk production for each doe is just under 1,400 pounds. 45% of dairy goat operations had production yields of 1,500 pounds per doe or more. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#4. There are about 373,000 milk goats currently in the United States, which is a population figure that has remained steady since 2016. Wisconsin has the largest population of dairy goats, with 44,000 head. California has a population of 41,000 head, while Iowa has 30,000 head. (NASS)
#5. In 2012, sheep and goat milk brought in $92.2 million in sales, which was 33% higher than sales figures from 2007. Producers reported a 15% increase in sales in 2014. (WTOP)
#6. There are 6 major dairy goat breeds founds in the United States: Alpine, LaMancha, Nubia, Oberhasli, Saanen, and Toggenburg. The average lactation period for all breeds is 284 days, with peak production occurring about 4-6 weeks after kidding. (Penn State Extension)
#7. Saanen goats provide the most milk, averaging over 2,500 pounds per lactation, with a production range of up to 5,490 pounds. (Penn State Extension)
#8. Only 16.8% of dairy goat operations said that a source of income was their most important reason for raising goats. For small operations, over half of all farms rated their primary reason for raising goats as enjoyment. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#9. 47% of dairy goat operations with 10+ goats have cultivated pasture for their animals to use. About 28% of operations used a fenced, uncultivated pasture for their animals. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#10. 70% of dairy goat operations do not milk their goats in a specific order, despite recommendations that young goats be milked before old goats to prevent issues with clinical mastitis. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#11. 90% of small operators in the dairy goat industry milk their animals by hand. 83% of operations with 10+ goats also milk their goats by hand. Despite these figures, 55% of does in the United States are milked by a machine in a parlor. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#12. 25% of dairy goat operations milk the animals once per day. 65% say that they milk twice per day. 80% of large operations say that 2+ milkings per day is required. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#13. During a 12-month study funded by the U.S. government, 20% of dairy goat operations dealt with at least one incidence of mastitis or udder inflammation. As the herd size grow, the risks of mastitis increase. 52% of large operations experienced at least one incidence of mastitis or udder inflammation over the same time period. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#14. Only 1 out of 10 dairy goat operations monitor their bulk tank somatic cell counts, which are the number of white blood cells and secretory cells per milliliter in a pooled milk sample. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#15. 43% of dairy goat operations do not use a premilking teat preparation as part of the milking process. Udder washes and disinfectants are not used by this group either. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#16. Unpasteurized milk (28%) is more likely to be marketed by dairy goat operations than pasteurized milk products (22%). (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#17. 72% of dairy goat operations say that they have sold their milk to a locak cheese production company, receiving a premium for high protein content, out-of-season milk, and low bacteria count. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#18. 51% of dairy goat operations will heat-treat the colostrum before feeding it to their goat kids. Only 47% of meat goat operations follow the same process. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#19. Only 15% of operations with 10+ goats decided to add more goats to their farm over the past 12 months. Part of the reason for this issue is an increased need to test new goats for arthritis encephalitis and brucellosis. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#20. 100% of very small operations in the dairy goat industry sell their milk products to the general public. Only 40% of large operations did the same thing. 70% of large operators will work with a dealer, wholesaler, or processor instead. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Dairy Goat Industry Trends and Analysis
There are many advantages that goat milk provides over cow milk when considering a dairy product. Goat milk is lower in cholesterol, lower in calories, and lower in fat. It is also higher in calcium when compared to cow milk. It takes about 90% longer to digest cow milk compared to goat milk, which makes it easier for people who have dairy allergies.
A dairy goat operation can run with about 10 goats per acre, compared to cattle operations which require about 1 cow per acre. That means a small operation of just 2 acres, with goats in their prime, could produce up to 20 gallons of milk per day.
As more people look for natural, organic, or healthier dairy options, goat milk is a reasonable alternative. It is affordable, readily available, with a flavor profile that is similar to traditional dairy products. Over the next 5 years, as more people seek out dairy alternatives, the dairy goat industry looks to continue growing at a rate of about 4% each year.