More than 300 different goat breeds are roaming in pastures around the globe.
They are dairy goats, meat goats, fiber goats, and miniature goat breeds that are all heralded for their various benefits around and offerings.
There is no right or wrong goat breed to keep.
But, discovering the best goat breed to suit your needs and space requires due diligence … and sometimes a little trial and error.
Goats especially independent animals are among the easiest keepers in the livestock world.
Even during the winter months, a goat herd can browse on dead leaves, twigs, and scant underbrush to fulfill most of their dietary needs.
Which is a great cost saver because even mini breeds are voracious eaters.
They do not graze like cattle or horses.
Keeping Different Goat Breeds and Why You Would Want To
The first question to ask yourself before delving into which goat breed might be right for you is to fully grasp what you expect of the herd once the animals are unloaded on the homestead.
Narrowing your potential goat purchases down to just a handful of breeds that best suit your needs.
This will help you make a wise choice with a slimmer chance of leading to a waste of money and epic herd failure on your homestead.
If you simply want farm pets that the children can take to the fair for 4-H projects and to task with grass “cutting” and weeding duties, whether or not they are known to be quality milkers or meat goats.
While all goat breeds can be milked or harvested for meat, some are better at providing those specific items than others.
Dual Purpose Goat Breeds
A goat breed that is dual purpose may be the best fit for your homestead if the animals are being purchased simply for personal milk and meat use.
Some dual-purpose breeds can be found at a less expensive price than breeds that are known to excel at either milking or meat production.
If you just like goats and want to earn extra money on the homestead by breeding them, the type of breed you purchase will matter perhaps more greatly than you think.
Learn the goat market in your area and the most popular 4-H breeds to ensure you raise what folks are eager to buy and will pay enough to cover husbandry costs.
There are only a few specific breeds of fiber goats and miniature goats.
With one fiber goat mini breed.
Depending on your region’s goat market, these goat breeds are often more expensive and difficult to find than others.
Top 16 Goat Breeds For Homesteading
Nigerian Goat Breeds
If you are a small acreage homesteader, a miniature goat breed may be ideal.
Nigerian goat breeds are known as dairy goats and can produce up to 1 quart of sweet butterfat-rich milk per day.
Nigerian dwarf goats are intelligent (I free range mine) docile, and very friendly.
They are a great goat to purchase to both clear brushes and to use as a 4-H project animal for young children.
They breed up to four times per year, making Billies and nannies of this breed an excellent choice to grow a herd quickly and to make some extra money selling kids.
This miniature goat breed is known as a meat goat but is a fairly good milker.
Crossbreeding with Nigerian dwarf goats has become so common the kids of such breeding operations may soon have an official breed classification.
Pygmy goats are intelligent (I free range them also) and incredibly social and easy to handle.
These are hardy mini breeds that often live up to 15 years.
This goat breed is often at the top of all dairy keepers.
They are docile and hardy goat that also produces a nice quality of meat.
A Nubian nanny goat can produce one to one and a half gallons of sweet butterfat milk daily.
Their distinctive floppy ears make them one of the most easily recognizable goat breeds in the United States.
Pygora Goat Breeds
These miniature goats stem from cross-breeding between Angora goats and Pygmy goats.
They are fiber goats and the smallest of all goat breeds.
Do not let their small stature and dainty physique fool you.
Pygora is a hardy goat breed that also produces nice sweet milk.
Angora goats are expensive and difficult to find in most locations, making Pygora an economical fiber goat choice for many homesteaders.
This is one of (if not the) most popular meat goat breeds in America.
Boer goats are such a stocky and sturdy goat breed they were once used as pack animals.
Once a goat of this breed matures it typically weighs between 175 to 275 pounds – with Billies and male wethers weighing the most.
This dairy goat breed can produce up to two gallons of milk on a daily basis.
It has a higher butterfat count that Nubians, but the high percentage does not make it as suitable for cheese as the other famed dairy goat breed.
Mini Alpine Goats
The mini alpine goat is actually a cross breed. It is a cross between an alpine goat female and a nigerian dwarf buck.
Just like the actual Alpine goat, it is also bred for dairy.
Just because it is considered a mini goat, does not mean it’s very small. The mini alpine goat can grow to about 70ish pounds compared to the normal size of an alpine goat.
Now, normally you would think that the crossbreed of a goat takes the best genes of both parents.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In fact, it could turn out to be the opposite.
This crossbreed is still in experimentation and we don’t know the full repercussions of breeding these two goat breeds together.
Tennessee Goat Breeds
This goat breed is likely more familiar to most people by its common nickname – “fainting goats.”
They do not actually faint but merely drop to the ground for less than a minute when they are startled due to a genetic defect.
The so-called fainting is not painful for the Tennessee goat breed.
These goats were traditionally raised for their meat but are more often kept now as farm pets.
This is yet another quality dairy goat breed.
They are equally well known for their mild demeanor and intelligence.
Their unusually small ears for their body size make the LaMancha goat breed both distinctive and easy to identify.
Spanish Goat Breeds
This meat goat breed is most frequently kept in the southern region of America.
They are exceptionally hardy in hot climates and when living in rugged terrain.
Spanish goats are known for their calm personality, are not overtly social creatures, and produced an exceptionally tender and moist cut of meat.
Goats of this breed are known to be perhaps the hardiest you can purchase. They thrive in rugged and cold climates but appear to adapt well in all but tropical regions.
Kiko goats are top-quality meat goats and often sell for less than the more broadly popular Boer goats.
Brush Goat Breeds
If you are looking for a brush clearing goat that will roam around the homestead throughout the winter to find its own food and not shy away from traversing rugged terrain, the Brush goat breed has a lot to offer.
This dual-purpose goat breed is also commonly referred to as hill goats, wood goats, brier goats, and native goats.
This dairy goat breed originated in Switzerland.
Oberhasli goats average one and a half gallons of milk daily.
The milk is incredibly rich and creamy and boasts a 3.5 percent butterfat content.
If you are seeking a small goat that still produces a large amount of milk, the Oberhasli breed might be a perfect fit.
Meat from this goat breed can be a little dry but still has a great flavor.
This dairy goat breed not only produces one gallon of milk with a two-and-a-half percent butterfat content daily, but they are also superb breeders and slightly above-average meat goats.
Saanen goats are known to be quite docile, independent browsers, and intelligent livestock.
Rangeland Goat Breeds
This goat breed hails from Australia – making it exceptionally hot weather and rugged terrain hardy. Rangeland goats are raised for their meat.
They are great independent browsers even during times of drought and in sparsely forested areas.
This goat breed is a bit aloof but friendly and has an excellent breeding rate.
Rangeland goats are not as commonly available in many regions of the United States as Boer goats and are often cross-bred with the Stella meat goat peers to develop an even larger and stockier goat breed.
Black Bengal Goat Breeds
This is a rare breed in America but if you can find goats of this breed, definitely consider purchasing them.
These Bangladesh natives are perhaps the best browsing goat breed in existence making them inexpensive to feed and great for brush clearing and being harvested for their meat.
Black Bengals only mate twice a year but throwing twins and even triplets are not uncommon.
Sable Goat Breeds
This dairy goat breed can be considered dual-purpose because it also offers flavorful and moist meat.
They hail from Saanen, making the Sable goat significantly hot climate hardy.
They are an intelligent goat breed that is docile.
Goat Breeds and My Final Thoughts
Always consider the space you will be able to offer for both a goat barn and pen or browsing areas.
If you do not free-range your goat breeds they can be tied out and allowed to browse to fulfill as much of their dietary needs in the most natural way possible while saving you both money and time from a feeding perspective.
Discovering the pros and cons and traditional uses of each breed of goats you are considering.
Some goat breeds are better escape artists than others, some require lots of room to roam, and others are prone to hardiness regardless of climate.
See related post below:
Learn more about keeping goats as pets
Read about Goat Diseases And Sickness
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