Are you planning to enter the world of homesteading with a four-legged friend? If you prefer to raise animals like goats over poultry birds, we are with you because they offer milk and meat the best of both worlds. But how can you choose the best goat breeds for homesteading?
We know you’re excited, but come to think of it. There are more than 300 distinct goat breeds in the world. And choosing between something unfamiliar to you is a great challenge.
So, to help you out, we compiled:
- A list of the best goat breed for homesteading
- Factors you need to consider when choosing a goat breed
- And the answer to the most commonly asked questions about homesteading goats
So, let’s jump right into it.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Goat Breeds for Homesteading
Before taking up homesteading with goats, there are some factors you need to consider. We sorted out the things that will help you make the right choice and fulfill your goals below.
1. Goal and Purpose of Your Goat
Each goat breed has different characteristics that make them better at a particular job. Some are excellent milk producers, while others are more suitable for meat production.
Others are better at weed management.
So, to ensure you choose the right goat breed, you need to determine what its purpose will be in your homestead.
You also need to ask yourself why you’re keeping and raising goats.
- Do you want to have extra cash by selling your goats and dairy products?
- Would you like to do a home-based business?
- Do you want to promote a specific breed through a breeding program and registry?
- Or do you just want to be self-sufficient and meet your family’s needs?
These questions are crucial in choosing the best goat breed for homesteading.
2. The Size You Prefer
It’s also essential to consider what size of goat you prefer.
Of course, if you want more meat, you’ll go with large meat goats that are around 250 lbs or more rather than miniature goats weighing approximately 60 lbs.
You may also have to handle or move your goat in medical emergencies, so you need to know what size you are comfortable at.
However, you must understand that a small goat breed can also be powerful.
But they’re easier to lift and fit into a large dog kennel and place in the back of a car or truck than large goats because you may need a trailer to haul them.
3. The Land or Feed That is Available
Most goat breeds are foragers who love grazing or browsing in leafy weeds, shrubby plants, and trees. They can even climb on sloped, rocky terrains that other livestock can’t access.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t thrive in a pasture or dry area. Goats can as long as there’s enough supplemental feed like hay or alfalfa grass and some loose minerals to ensure they’re healthy and receive proper nutrition.
4. The Temperament of The Goat
Some goats are calm and docile, while others can be aggressive and unfriendly towards children. That’s why you need to know the temperament of your chosen breed.
Not all goats in the same species have the same personality, but knowing their nature is helpful.
After realizing the purpose and preferences with a homestead goat, let’s get right into the goat breeds you can choose from.
Best Goat Breeds for Homesteading
Here are some of the best goat breeds for homesteading. We categorized them to help you determine what to choose depending on your needs. Let’s start with the dual-purpose species — the best goats for milk and meat production.
Best Dual Purpose Goat Breeds for Homesteading
If you’re a new homesteader and you need a goat that’s low maintenance but provides quality meat and milk, here are the homesteading goats for you.
1. Pygmy Goats
These dual-purpose goats are among the best goat breeds for homesteaders that provide quality milk and goat.
They may have small stature, but these adorable creatures can produce as much milk as standard dairy producers like Nubian.
On top of that, their milk contains 4.5% to 11% butterfat, making them ideal for creating butter and cheese.
Pygmy goats also have a muscular physique.
That’s why they’re an excellent choice for meat production despite their size. Additionally, this breed can also work and excel in weed-eating tasks.
Pygmy goats can also pass as pets, and they’re generally affordable and suitable even for small acreages. So homesteaders can never go wrong with this breed.
Temperament: Docile and intelligent
Gallons of milk produced per day: half gallon
Color: Light/white caramel, medium, dark and dark red caramel, silver or light agouti, and other shades of agouti
Lactation days: 180
Butterfat content: 4.5% to over 11%
Weight: Females are about 35 to 50 pounds while males weigh around 40 to 60 pounds
- Long milk shelf life
- High butterfat content
- Disease resistant and hardy
- Minimal feed requirements
- Easy to handle and transport
- Vocal tendencies
- Need boredom busters
- Small, hard-to-milk teats
2. Nubian Goats
This goat breed is also popular among homesteaders because it’s not just the best goats for meat but also milk production.
With 4.9%+ butterfat content, this goat breed can, without a doubt, shine in the cheese and ice cream department.
You can also find miniature Nubians ideal for small-scale homesteaders with limited acreage.
This breed is friendly and curious and loves to have interaction with humans. However, they can be loud when they’re dissatisfied, and neighbors will surely hear them.
So, we suggest keeping water, food, and shelter accessible at all times to silence them.
The other challenge of raising Nubian goats is having higher caloric and nutritional needs to support their milk production. It’s challenging to keep them in good shape because of that.
Temperament: Friendly but noisy drama queens
Gallons of milk produced per day: 1
Lactation days: 288
Butterfat content: 4.9% or more
Size: They stand at a minimum of 30 inches high
Weight: Mature Nubians usually weigh between 100 and 250 pounds.
- Higher protein and butterfat content
- Heat tolerant
- Prolific mothers
- Heavy muscling
- Few health problems
- Loud, complaining voices
- Excellent escape artist
- Susceptible to frostbite ears
3. Nigerian Dwarf
Now the next entry in our best goat breeds for homesteading list is, as its name suggests, a miniature one.
The Nigerian Dwarf is still a rare breed in the United States, with only around 3,500 registered.
They appear to be not in danger and are growing in popularity among backyard homesteaders around the country.
The Nigerian Dwarf is an excellent alternative for homesteaders who want to produce their milk.
Because of its size and disposition, it is suited for elderly homesteaders, families with young children, and those with limited land access.
Nigerian dwarf milk is high in butterfat. That’s why it is suitable for drinking and producing cheese and butter.
Nigerian Dwarf bucks are usually active, playful, friendly, and simple to manage when it comes to people.
They are pretty aggressive against stray dogs and other potential threats. So, take extra precautions to keep your herd safe.
Temperament: Docile, gentle gregarious, aggressive if threatened
Gallons of milk produced per day: Half gallon
Lactation days: 305
Butterfat content: 6% to 10%
Size: Does are 22.5 inches tall while bucks are about 23.5 inches
Weight: 75 pounds
- Low feed requirements
- Ideal for tiny acreages
- Highest butterfat content
- Excellent maternal instincts
- Can conceive 3 to 4 kids at a time
- Good at escaping
- Most goats were used as pets instead of dairy animals
Best Dairy Goat Breeds for Homesteading
You probably noticed that the previous breeds we mentioned could only produce half to 1 gallon of milk.
If you want a breed that will provide you with more to sell dairy products, these are other options for you.
This breed is hailed as the Queen of Milk because they’re the most productive dairy goat breed, and their milk is lower in fat than other breeds.
They’re one of the best goat breeds for homesteaders who need lots of milk.
However, the downside is the lack of butterfat in their milk, making it less creamy.
They’re large and heavy, but these goats are generally easy to handle because of their friendly and quiet nature.
Yet you need to consider if you have enough space for them.
There’s a miniature version of them, and they’ll be a better option if you don’t have enough space.
The advantage of the smaller version of Saanen is their milk contains higher butterfat because of their Nigerian dwarf background. So, you can enjoy creamier milk from them.
You’ll know if it’s a Saanen goat if it has short, fine hair, white or cream color, ears that are erect and pointing forward, and a straight or dished face.
Temperament: Sweet, friendly, and calm
Gallons of milk produced per day: 1.5 to 3 gallons for between 150 to 300 days
Color: All white or light cream
Height: Does are at least 30 inches tall, while bucks are about 32 inches in height.
Weight: Saanen does weigh around 135 pounds, while bucks weigh about 170 pounds.
Butterfat content: 3%
- Produces 1.5 to 3 gallons of milk
- Easy to handle
- Friendly, calm, and quiet
- Low butterfat
- Less creamy milk
- Heavy and requires more space
This breed is also productive and one of the best goat breeds for homesteaders. Like Saanen goats, they’re also cold-hardy because they originated from Switzerland.
It’s among the top choice for milk production and is famous among homesteaders.
It can produce about the same milk as the Saanen, but it has a slightly higher butterfat content.
This breed is proven gentle and friendly towards its owners, and it’s available in various colors.
Temperament: Friendly, gentle
Gallons of milk produced per day: 1 to 2 gallons
Size: Mature Alpine goats stand at 76 centimeters tall.
Weight: They weigh around 125 to 135 pounds
Butterfat content: 3.5%
Lactation days: 288
- Ease of milking
- Sweet nature
- Less space needed
- Very energetic and can quickly cross goat fences
- High feed requirements
3. Toggenburg Goats
This breed is one of the oldest dairy goat breeds in the US, but it’s originally from Switzerland, just like the previous breeds.
Toggenburg goats have short hair coats and a ‘badger’ face characterized by a straight face with two white stripes from their muzzle to their eyes and poll.
They’re moderate in production, and their milk only has 2 to 3 percent butterfat, which is relatively low, which means their milk is less creamy.
However, Toggenburg goats are gentle and intelligent, and because of their long winter coat, they can produce milk even in cooler months.
Gallons of milk produced per day: 1 to 2 gallons
Color: Light fawn to dark chocolate
Height: Mature males stand at 75 cm while females are about 70 cm.
Weight: Males are about 154 lbs, while females weigh around 120 lbs.
Butterfat content: 2 to 3.1%
Lactation days: 288
- Intelligent goats
- Cold hardy breed
- High milk production
- Sweet milk flavor
- Low feed requirements
- Low in butterfat (miniatures have higher levels)
- Reduced heat tolerance
Another tough Swiss mountain goat with medium to high milk output is the Oberhasli. These medium-sized goats are powerful, yet they’re also calm and sensible.
Oberhasli goats are recognizable because of their distinctive “chamois” black and tan coats. Some Oberhasli’s hides are entirely black!
However, the majority are bay with black markings, standing roughly 28 inches tall and weighing between 120 and 150 pounds.
This breed is medium in size, with a solid and active demeanor.
The milk fat level of Oberhasli is higher than that of Saanen or Alpine! Their milk is excellent for making dairy products such as yogurt and ricotta.
Temperament: Calm and sensible
Gallons of milk produced per day: 1 – 1 and a half
Color: bay(brownish) body, black feet, and underbelly
Butterfat content: 3.7%
Lactation days: 290
Height: Oberhasli males are approximately 30 inches tall, while females stand at least 28 inches.
Weight: Females Oberhasli weigh around 120 pounds, but males are 30 pounds heavier.
- Stable disposition
- Adaptable to different climates
- Sweet milk flavor
- Vocal tendencies
- Good at escaping
5. LaMancha Goat
These goats are also productive in the milk department. In fact, you can get milk from them every day without them drying up.
That’s why it’s one of the best goat breeds for homesteaders looking for high milk yield.
They are easily identifiable due to the absence of their “ears.” If the breed character of Mini-Manchas is real, they are comparable.
Anything more than “gopher ears” is prohibited under the criterion.
Inquisitive and loveable, easygoing and cooperative, LaMancha has an excellent demeanor.
Even though those small gopher ears are almost impenetrable to frostbite, they produce a lot of wax and contain folds that accumulate dirt and residues.
And it can develop into an ear infection if left ignored.
But this breed is also generally hardy and healthy and not susceptible to common goat diseases.
Temperament: Sweet and quiet
Gallons of milk produced per day: 1
Butterfat content: 3.2%
Lactation days: 288
Height: 24 to 28 inches tall
Weight: Male LaMancha goats are about 165 pounds, while the females are approximately 130 pounds.
- Not prone to health problems
- Adaptable to harsh climates
- Mild milk flavor
- Weird appearance
- Special hygiene requirements
Best Goat Breeds for Homesteaders Looking for More Meat
If you’re looking to have extra cash or start a business by selling goat meats, here are the best goat breeds for meat you can choose from.
These goats will also suit you if you have to feed a large family.
1. Boer Goats
This breed is a popular meat goat choice in the US because of its fast growth rate and hardiness. They’re the largest goat breed with an excellent growth rate and may gain more than 0.4 pounds per day.
It can vary depending on the feedlot conditions, but they’re in demand because they grow fast and produce desirable carcasses.
Boer goats are among the most popular goats in the US today, even with homesteaders, and they’re recognizable due to their red or brownish heads and red portions on their necks.
This breed often sports a white coat, but some have large patches of color or spots all over their bodies and heads.
Similar to Nubian goats, this breed possesses long, drooping ears.
Boer does are usually good mothers who can raise their kids well with limited human assistance.
Their size may vary depending on their genetics and body structure, but this breed usually reaches its market weight as early as 3 to 6 months of age.
Maximum Weight: Mature Boer can weigh between 190 to 230 pounds, while bucks can be anywhere between 200 to 340 pounds.
Coat Color: White with red/brown head and portions of their neck, while others are painted (have large spots on their body)
Temperament: Docile and gentle
- Fast growth rate
- High fertility
- Large, sturdy frame
- Produce desirable carcasses
- Can be susceptible to internal parasites when used in United States’ warmer and humid regions
2. Kiko Goats
Kiko goats are swiftly gaining popularity among homesteaders and farmers in the Southern United States, where parasite rates are more significant due to the warm, moist climate.
They don’t rely much on their humans, and they’re pretty good at rearing their children and thrive in harsh environments with few resources.
Meat goat farmers and homesteaders are increasingly turning to “Genemaster” goats, a hybrid between Boers and Kikos.
These meat goats are part of one of the hardiest breeds available.
They only introduced them to America in the 1990s from their native New Zealand.
Kiko goats are significantly less expensive than Boer goats, yet they produce approximately identical quantities and meat quality.
Maximum Weight: Adult bucks weigh around 250–300 lb. (113–136 kg); while does are somewhere between 100–180 lb. (45–82 kg); kids 60–90 lb.
Coat Color: Solid white or cream with black hues
Temperament: Active, alert, but calm and easygoing
- Aggressive foragers
- Resistant to parasites
- Less prone to foot-rot problems
- Prolific and tolerant of rustic conditions
- Challenging to manage for beginners
3. Tennessee Goat
This breed hailed from Myotonic goats is commonly called “fainting goat” because of myotonia congenita. It’s a neuromuscular condition that occurs when they’re startled.
Basically, their muscles experience prolonged contraction, become rigid and stiff, and cause them to faint.
Stiffness can vary in each goat, but it’s not a faint related to the nervous system but instead a muscular phenomenon.
Also, it doesn’t make Tennessee goats much more prone to predators than other breeds, though, because it only lasts for a few seconds.
These goats are pretty dense and muscled. That’s why they’re among the best goat breeds for homesteaders looking for more meat.
They feature concave facial features with a more prominent and horizontal ear than Swiss breeds yet tinier and less drooping than Nubians and Spanish.
Most of this breed have horns and short hair. These goats are prolific breeders, and Tennessee are excellent mothers who can raise their kids without human assistance.
Some even become pregnant every six months and give birth to twins or triplets.
Maximum Weight: 60 to 175 pounds, depending on the variability
Coat Color: Combinations include black and white, solid tan, all white, tan and white, and black and roan.
Temperament: Spirited but gentle, calm, and affectionate
- High reproductive rate
- Heavily muscled
- Comes in various colors
- Fainting phenomenon – It does not make them more prone to predators, and it’s unique.
- Smaller than Boer goats
4. Spanish Goat
This meat goat breed is also popular among homesteaders because they’re tolerant of challenging conditions and kid easily.
Spanish are long-living and prolific, and they have enough milk for their kid’s moderate growth rate.
Thanks to their moist and tender meat and hardiness, Spanish goats are one of the best goat breeds for homesteaders.
They boast a medium yet stocky build with large and twisted horns.
These animals can also forage well in a brush-like environment, and that’s how they got the nickname “scrub goats” and “brush goats.” But despite the name, it’s mainly used for meat production.
Maximum Weight: Adult goats weigh around 60 to 125 lbs, but others grow to 200 pounds.
Coat Color: Can be any color found in goats
- Hardy and tolerant of parasites
- Moist, tender meat
- Stocky build
- Great climbers and jumpers; therefore, you need to put up at least 4 feet tall fencing.
5. Rangeland Goat
This next entry also deserves a spot on this list of the best goat breeds for homesteaders because of their meat.
This breed originated from Australia and accounted for about 90% of the country’s goat meat production.
They’re so hardy and robust, and they can quickly adapt and thrive in any climate. This goat breed is also easy to keep and maintain since it doesn’t need shearing, crutching, or mulesing.
Rangeland goats are tall and wide stature with medium-sized, hanging ears and short hair.
Maximum Weight: 52 to 72 lbs
Coat Color: Black, brown, white, or a combination of various colors
Temperament: Aloof but friendly
- Excellent breeding rate
- Hardy in different water types
- Tends to be aloof at first
Best Fiber Goat Breeds for Homesteading
If you’re looking for a breed that can provide you with fibers clothing, we have the suggestions for you.
1. Pygora Goats
This breed is a mix of Pygmy and Angora goats, and it is muscular but docile, making it an excellent pet.
It’s the only fiber goat breed developed in America designed to produce fine fibers.
Temperament: Alert, friendly yet curious
Weight: Males is about 75-95 pounds, while the average is somewhere between 64 to 75 pounds
2. Cashmere Goats
Cashmere goats produce cashmere fiber, as you might expect from their name.
They have a thicker outer covering of hair, known as “guard hair,” than the soft, desirable hair underneath.
Temperament: Wary but calm
Weight: Male goats weigh between 85 pounds, while female counterparts weigh about 60 pounds.
3. Angora Goats
Angora goats are distinguished by their thick, lengthy fleece. Their hair is sometimes referred to as “mohair.”
The secondary hair of these medium-sized goats is usually lustrous and grows at a rate of roughly one inch per month.
Temperament: Relaxed, docile, friendly
Weight: 180 to 225 pounds if the maximum weight
FAQ About Goats and Homesteading
What are the best goats for homesteading?
Nubian Goats is one of the best goat breeds for homesteading because it offers milk and meat. You can keep female Nubian goats for milking after giving birth and raise the male kids for meat.
Their milk has the highest milk butterfat percentage among all full-sized dairy goats. That’s why it’s rich and creamy.
But there’s a breed that can beat it in terms of the creaminess of milk — the Nigerian dwarfs.
They may be miniature, but they’re the indisputable dairy goats with the highest butterfat level.
What is the easiest goat breed to raise?
Saanen goats are the easiest to raise because of their easygoing and calm temperament. They are the giant breed of dairy goats and second to Alpine goats in milk production.
This breed is so productive in the milk department that they can produce between 1 and 3 gallons of milk per day.
Are goats good for homesteading?
Goats are perfect for homesteading since these animals can provide delicious, high-quality milk and meat simultaneously.
Aside from that, they are an excellent source of fiber, and they can serve as a livestock companion.
Are goats self-sufficient?
Goats are usually self-sufficient as long as they have space to forage and eat.
However, if you’re living in urban areas or you only have a suburban yard, they’ll do well if you feed them with quality goat feed daily.
These animals like to gorge on weeds, grass, hays, grains, and vegetation.
What is the best goat for clearing land?
One of the best goats for clearing brush is Alpine goats because they can reach higher branches. They’re aggressive eaters who will climb trees to get what they want.
However, Boer goats can graze and clear brush faster, and they’re also hardy.
What are the best animals for a homestead?
Poultry birds like chickens are the easiest to raise on the homestead. The second that comes after them are ducks. Both offer nutritious eggs and meat.
Goats are also a popular choice among homesteaders because they provide meat, milk, and fiber and create cheese by themselves.
They are delightful animals that can be a headache sometimes but are worth sacrificing for.
How many goats do you need to be self-sufficient?
You need to have at least two goats because these creatures don’t do well when alone.
A family of four will only need to milk at least one goat, but having two dairy goats will allow you to share your products with others.
What is the best dual-purpose goat?
Nubian is a dual-purpose goat breed that is excellent in producing milk and meat. Their males can weigh around 175 pounds, and they’re often used for meat because of their large stature.
But there’s also another breed competing with them – the Sables. These goats offer flavorful and moist meat, and they’re intelligent and docile.
Furthermore, they’re hot-hardy because they hail from Saanen.
Best Goat Breeds for Homesteading Summary
So, that wraps the list of the best goat breeds for homesteading.
To sum it up, the Boer goats, Tennessee, Spanish, Rangeland, and Kiko goats are the best goat breeds for meat.
As for homesteaders looking for more milk for their dairy products, Saanen, Alpine, Toggenburg, Oberhasli, and LaMancha goats are the more suitable option. However, their milk has low butterfat and protein.
Therefore it’s less creamy and tasty than those produced by Pygmy, Nubians, and Nigerians dwarfs.
The latter breeds are the best dual-purpose goat breeds that provide quality meat and lots of creamy milk. So, overall they’re the best goat breeds for homesteading.
So, which homesteading goats are you interested in? We can’t wait to know it, so comment it down below.
READ NEXT: The Goat Breed Guide
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