20 Best Goat Breeds: A Beginner's Guide for Milk & Meat Goats

Get the best goat breed for your homestead and you’ll be set for years. Milk goats, meat goats and dual purposed goats are all compared in the following easy-to-use guide.

A great goat breeds directory for beginners! Get the best goat breed for your homestead and you’ll be set for years. Milk goats, meat goats and dual purposed goats are all compared in the following easy-to-use guide. 

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links, meaning I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. Read the full disclosure here.

What Do You Want From Your Goat?

There are many things a goat can provide your family. Figure out exactly what you want from your goat and you'll be better prepared to choose a breed. Some reasons you might get goats are for:


  • Milk
  • Meat
  • Fibers 
  • Pets

No matter what you’re in the market for, there’s a goat that fits your category.

(Except maybe a few traits all goats have in common like being stubborn on occasion, or possibly nibbling on your cloths. :-) ) 

Goat Breed Categories

I’m summing goat breeds into four basic categories. Most goats will fall into one if not more of the following groups. If you find a breed that falls into two of the categories below we call these dual purposed breeds. 

What Are "Dual Purposed" Goat Breeds?

Often times no the holistic homestead, we are looking for animals that will meet not just one but several of our needs. For example, if I can buy a goat breed that’s good for milk AND meat, or meat AND fiber, I’m getting more for my money and time than if I were to have two separate herds to meet my needs.

The other way you can bridge this problem, is to get two breeds and mix them. 

For example, I like the milk goat breeds that we own (Nubian and Saanen/La Mancha mixes). We will raise and eat their offspring and we love meat. However, they are kinda small and we aren’t able to harvest much off of them. 

One way we could get more meat would be to get a big meat goat to breed with our milking does. Then we can keep lots of milk coming in and have the potential of more meat on the offspring we raise. We could even add a meat goat doe to the mix and then we’ll have some full-blooded meat goats in our herd as well.

Delving Deeper

Although goats can be categorized into milk and meat breeds, there is always some overlap. 

We harvest the meat off of our milk goat's offspring that we can’t sell. They have less meat for sure, but there is still a little meat on them and it’s yummy!

Also, just because a goat breed is known for its meat doesn’t always mean you can’t milk them. They won’t give you as much, but with some breeds or individuals you may still find it’s worthwhile. 

20 Best Goat Breeds

Dairy Goat Breeds

Get the best goat breed for your homestead and you’ll be set for years. Milk goats, meat goats and dual purposed goats are all compared in the following easy-to-use guide.LaMancha-Saanen mix.

1. Saanen

Known as the Holstein of the dairy goats, Saanens are arguably the highest producing milk goat. 

Their milk fat content is about 3-4% and they give an average of 2,500 pounds (about 312.5 gallons) in 305 days. 

Why Pounds?

Dairy goat (and cow) owners many times weigh their milk instead of measuring it. The reason is because the amount of fat and other solids in the milk varies a lot depending on the goat breed, age, diet and time into lactation.

Early in lactation the doe is producing more fat and solids than later in her lactation. This makes sense cause she has young kids that need more nourishment to get started than later on as they learn to eat on their own and eventually are weaned. 

Conversion

Here's an approximate conversion of pounds to cups. The reason it's just a close guess is because the milk fat and solids vary, but this is close.

1 pound of milk = about 1 pint

8 pounds of milk = about 1 gallon

2. Nubian

If Saanens are the Holsteins of the cow world, than you might compare Nubians to Jerseys — a tad less milk that's creamier and tastier. 

Milk fat content is about 5%. On average they give 1,795 pounds (about 224 gallons) in 305 days. However, their are some higher producing individuals which can give a fair amount more than the average. 

3. LaMancha

The oddest thing about this goat is it looks as if it has no ears! There's no mistaking a LaMancha. 

The average butterfat content is 4.2%. They give an average of 2,231 pounds (about 279 gallons) of milk. 

Get the best goat breed for your homestead and you’ll be set for years. Milk goats, meat goats and dual purposed goats are all compared in the following easy-to-use guide.LaMancha-Saanen mixes. These goats produce a lot of milk for our family.

4. French Alpine

This breed developed in the Alps (hence it's name) and was imported into the United States in 1920. 

The average fat content is 3.2%. They give an average of 2,439 pounds (305 gallons) of milk a year.

5. Toggenburg

These are the oldest registered breed in the world dating back to the 1600s. They arrived in the US in 1893 and have always been a popular breed.

Their milk is 3% butterfat. They produce and average of 2,302 pounds (about 288 gallons) of milk a year.

6. Oberhasli

This breed is known for its friendly demeanor and a great milk supply. They originated in Switzerland and are now one of the top dairy goat breeds in the United States.

The average butterfat content is 3.7%. They produce an average of 2,208 pounds (about 276 gallons) of milk a year.

7. Nigerian Dwarf

Although once considered a novelty, these dwarf goats actually make great milkers. Many in this breed have teats that are just as large as full size goats and are just as easy to milk. 

The average milk production is about a quart a day (over a 305-day lactation). 

Note: Make sure if you want on for milk that you purchase from a breeder who is raising milkers. Nigerian Dwarfs that are bred for pet very well may not make good milkers.

Get the best goat breed for your homestead and you’ll be set for years. Milk goats, meat goats and dual purposed goats are all compared in the following easy-to-use guide.

Meat Goat Breeds

8. Boer

This breed is big and muscular. Males can grow up to 300 pounds and are one of the most popular meat breeds. A quality meat breed choice.

9. Spanish

Originally bred in Spain, these goats made their way to Mexico and from there they came into the US. This is a low maintenance breed. They became more popular for meat more recently in the 1980s.

10. Rangeland

Another common goat breed raised for meat. 90% of goat meat raised comes from this breed. These goats are commonly found in the location they originated in, Australia. They do well in dry locations and are a low maintenance choice. 

11. Kalahari

Sometimes called the Kalahari Red this breed can mostly be found in South Africa and are therefore very able to withstand hot and dry weather conditions. They are a hardy breed when it comes to parasites and diseases that are often found in that area. 

The meat is said to be more tender and is also more lean than other goat meats. 

12. Kiko

This is a new breed created in the 1980s in New Zealand. They were bred to be a more adaptable, hardy meat goat. They are very low maintenance and can survive most conditions. They weigh more, are good mothers (and milk producers), and have lean meat. 

Get the best goat breed for your homestead and you’ll be set for years. Milk goats, meat goats and dual purposed goats are all compared in the following easy-to-use guide.

13. Nubian

Also listed above with the milk goats, this is a larger breed which doubles nicely as a meat goat. 

The males can weigh up to 175 pounds. Sometimes this is bred with a bore for even larger goats (AKA more meat).

14. Myotonic

Also known as "fainting goat" this breed will fall over and look paralyzed for a few seconds and for this reason many like to keep them as pets. 

However, Myotonics are a great meat breed and were primarily used for this purpose in the past.

The Myotonic goat is friendly and easy to manage. They are a smaller meat breed growing about 25 inches tall with a weight around 174 pounds. 

15. Black Bengal

Meat and their coat (which the farmers sell) are the most valuable parts of this breed as it does not produce much milk. They are good breeders and can give birth twice and year to 2-3 kids. They do well feeding on natural resources.  

Fiber Goat Breeds

16. Angora

Named after the location they originated from in Turkey, these goats have become popular recently. They are raised primarily for their quality mohair, but also they make good meat goats. 

17. Cashmere

This breed has become valued for its high quality fibers and the large amounts they produce.

18. Nigora

This goat is a good dual purposed breed and can be raised for both fibers and milk. They are small to medium in size and can come in many colors. 

Pet Goat Breeds

19. Fainting Goats

Funny to watch, these goats fall over and freeze up for a few seconds if you startle them. This breed doubles as a great meat goat.

20. Pygmy

This is a common miniature breed that many raise as a pet. They're cute and tiny. :-)


Get the best goat breed for your homestead and you’ll be set for years. Milk goats, meat goats and dual purposed goats are all compared in the following easy-to-use guide.

Have fun picking out your best goat breeds! :-)

Soli Deo Gloria!  (Glory Be to God Alone!)

~ Julia

Hi! I'm Julia. I live in Arizona on 2.5 acres, with HOT summers, lots of cacti and amazing sunsets! A sinner saved by grace first and foremost, I'm also a homeschool graduate living with my family at home and serving the King, Jesus Christ, above all. Read more -->


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