Which Goat Is Right for You? - Modern Farmer

Which Goat Is Right for You?

All goats are great, which is the best goat for you?

The downy-eared petting zoo favorite is having its moment: Earlier this year a viral video of goats hollering in eerily human tones (“Goats Yelling Like Humans”) racked up millions of pageviews. In Japan, Amazon has even given goats-cum-lawnmowers their own employee ID cards to wear while they munch grass. And cities across the U.S. are relaxing regulations so urbanites can raise them. But before you rush out to the goat store, know this: These mischievous animals are escape artists who like to climb. Can’t find your goat? Check on top of the minivan.

Read on to find the goat of your dreams.



The large Saanen goats are the most productive dairy goat breed – one of them yields between 1 and 3 gallons of milk each day. (Unfortunately for fans of rich, soft goat cheeses, the butterfat content of Saanen milk is low, at the most 3 percent, similar to store-bought, low-fat milk.) Saanens have been domesticated for centuries, but will still have the occasional headbutting contest for dominance.



Remember Biosphere 2? Eight people locked themselves inside a closed ecological system in the Arizona desert for two years during the 1990s in a Noah’s Ark-style experiment – and they brought several African Pygmy goats with them. These goats were selected for their efficient rate of biomass conversion – their ability to change otherwise indigestible weeds and grasses into delicious milk and meat. When cabin fever set in at Biosphere 2, the humans feuded, but the Pygmies remained magnanimous.


Oberhasli, or Swiss Alpine goats, are a favorite among urban farmers for their small size, sweet milk and kind temperaments. The dogs of the goat world, they are quiet and companionable. But that doesn’t mean they won’t go on the lam. With powerful hind legs, Oberhasli can easily bound over a fence or to the top of a car, so it’s best to keep them behind a high barrier. And to avoid damage to family, property or other goats, it is common practice to “disbud” (remove the horns with a hot iron) soon after birth.



For a low-maintenance, high-fat milker, try an Anglo-Nubian. These quiet animals, once taught, will present themselves to be milked, according to the U.K.’s Anglo-Nubian Goat Society.


Elegant, silky-haired Pashmina goats have roamed the Tibetan plateau for thousands of years. During the cold, high-altitude winters, they grow a thick, downy fleece. When they molt in the springtime their wool is spun and woven into shawls, scarves and sweaters. Unfortunately for most of the world’s population, this goat is not easy to capture: It travels in wild herds in Mongolia, India and other parts of Asia.




Do you lack land but still want cheese and soap? Consider a sweet-natured Nigerian Dwarf, which is about half the size of a normal goat and on average produces just a few pints of milk per day. They can even be trained to walk on a leash.



As a farmer will tell you, goats aren’t raised for meat much because it takes them so long to “size up.” While a year-old Boer, at about 40 pounds, yields a good deal of meat, most goats need an extra season of grazing. Unlike other lean, athletic goats, Boer goats were originally bred in South Africa in the early 1900s specifically for meat production. Kids size up after a season and mature bucks can reach up to 300 pounds. Australia’s cultivation of Boers has made it the world’s No. 1 exporter of goat meat.



Want to impress your friends? Get an Arapawa. Arapawa Goat Breeders-USA claims the once-feral creatures, originally from New Zealand, came to America in 1994 and that only 15 owners are currently registered.

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3 years ago

My name is Zoe and I really enjoy your articles if you squint you could even say that I am an avid farmer myself.
Love You guys – Zoe Markle and the goats