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Raising Goats: How to Choose a Breed

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Sadie has been an online writer for over six years. Her articles often focus on how to teach science.

Bertie, our 2 yr old Saanen doe

Bertie, our 2 yr old Saanen doe

How Do You Choose a Goat to Raise?

You have made the decision to raise goats, but before you go out and purchase one, you will have to decide on a breed that best suits your needs. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before deciding what breed of goat you would like to raise:

  • Are you wanting to raise your goats to provide milk and other dairy products for your family?
  • Are you looking for an animal to provide meat for your family or to sell?
  • Do you want a fiber animal?
  • Are you looking for a pet, with the added bonus of eating weeds?
  • How much space will you have devoted to your goats?

Once you've answered those questions, you are ready to decide on a breed to bring home. Here is a run down of some the different breeds you can choose from.

The Dairy Breeds

The following is a list of the different types of goat dairy breeds:


Saanens are the largest of the dairy breeds and are often considered the "queen of the dairy goats." They have the ability to produce a lot of milk—up to 3 gallons per day—with a low butterfat content. They are usually all white in color and very mild mannered.


The nubian goat is one of the most popular dairy goat breed, easily recognizable by its long floppy ears. Their milk is also known for its high butterfat content, which makes it excellent for cheesemaking. Nubians have a habit of being loud, so if you live on an urban farm, make sure your neighbors won't mind the noise before choosing this breed!


LaManchas are a medium sized goat, also easily recognized by its ears, or lack thereof. They have a friendly, easy going temperament and are very hardy animals. They have good milk production with a slightly higher butterfat content, making them a good choice for those wanting to make cheese and soap.


The Alpine goat is a medium to large goat that comes in many different colors. They are very hardy and do well in most climates. They are good producers and can offer a consistent production rate that other breeds cannot.


Also called the Swiss Alpine, the Oberhasli is most commonly a reddish-brown color with black markings. They are a very sweet and quiet breed with good milk production of up to two gallons a day.

Scooter and Scout, our Nubian Withers

Scooter and Scout, our Nubian Withers

The Meat Breeds

The following is a list of the major meat breeds of goat:


The Boer goat is the number one option if you want a goat for meat. They are bred for growth and reproduction and can consistently produce more muscle in less time than any other breed. They are easy to care for and often earn their keep by the amount of forage they can consume.


Kikos are a breed known for its hardiness. They can gain weight without supplemental feeding and have great reproductive health. They have shown to be adaptable to most any living situation and offer a lot of meat for the amount of money you put into them. Kikos are relatively new in the United States but are gaining in popularity.


Nubians are most known for their dairy capabilities, but also have the potential as a meat goat. Often owners breed their nubians and keep the does for milk production and the bucklings are used for meat, making them a good dual-purpose animal.

Thor, our Oberhasli buck

Thor, our Oberhasli buck

Other Breeds to Consider

There are other breeds of goat that may be more in line with your needs:


If you want a fiber animal, Angoras are a wonderful option that are sought after for their mohair. Angoras are usually sheared twice a year and can produce up to six pounds of fleece.

Nigerian Dwarf

The Nigerian Dwarf goat is a miniature breed that also happens to be a pretty good dairy goat. They produce a large amount of milk for their size with a very high butterfat content. These goats are a favorite among urban farmers with a limited amount of space to devote to goats. And due to their small stature and easygoing manners, they are a good choice for children to handle.


The Pygmy is very similar to the Nigerian Dwarf Goat, except it is more muscular and stocky. They can be used on a small homestead as a dual-purpose goat.


This is not breed specific, but many people are now crossing various breeds to make smaller versions of the larger dairy breeds, such as mini-Nubians or mini-LaManchas. This can be a good option for someone with a small space but wanting more options.

Other Points to Consider

Remember that not all goats are the same. If you want milk, of course you will need a doe. If you want pets for brush control, get a pair of withers (castrated males). Unless you plan on breeding goats I would not recommend getting a buck, and even if you are planning on breeding, I would still say to wait on buying a buck. You can often find one to rent for service. Bucks can sweet and gentle, but a buck in rut is not the animal for a new goat owner.

And last of all, please remember that goats are herd animals. They will not be happy alone. So if you plan on one, plan on two. Withers can be found rather inexpensively and are great for keeping lonely does or bucks company.

Once you've chosen your breed, find out more by reading Raising Goats: How to Care for Your Goats and Raising Goats: Breeding and Kidding.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


Destiny Hixon on April 28, 2017:

i have a ton of goats and they are about to have babies

Tori Leumas on July 10, 2015:

I have a Nubian milk goat. She is awesome and gives delicious milk and cheese. Great hub!

CarteDuJourFarms from New Brunswick, Canada on October 17, 2013:

Great article! We're planning on getting goats next spring. The only problem is deciding which breeds to choose. We want a little of everything; milk, meat, and fiber. Your information will be very helpful in making our decision. Thanks!

sadie423 (author) from North Carolina on July 09, 2012:

Madmachio- Thanks for commenting! We are swimming in milk at the moment!

Angela- Thanks for sharing!

Ellen- What a great story! Thanks for sharing it.

Etherealenigma- Glad you found it helpful! Thanks for following

Etherealenigma on July 07, 2012:

Wow. I'm not thinking of buying one in the immediate future, but definitely in the future. This is so helpful. I see that you write articles that focus more on a green living lifestyle, and I'm definitely headed in that direction, so I will be following you. Thanks.

Ellen Karman from medina, Ohio on July 04, 2012:

I raised goats as a kid and rescued two one day old ones at a livestock auction, they had terrible diarrhea and were dehydrated, my best friend was a vet so she met me at my farm when we got home, the goats had to stay in the house as it was below zero 24 hours a day in the Adirondack Mountains where we lived, anyhow, they were put on antibiotics, and I found goat milk for them to bottle feed them. they wore diapers and to keep the diapers on I bought the little button up one piece outfits infants where. It worked like a champ. They loved to sleep behind the wood stove or snuggled up to the dog on the couch. It was a lot of fun as they started to feel better and as their body temperature is about 101 degrees they were so great to snuggle with as the we all watched tv. The two of them got healthy and I found a wonderful home for them. Goats never grow up, they don't walk a straight line because it's funner to jump and twist. They are a pleasure to have as animals. Great article.

Andrew from Rep Boston MA on July 03, 2012:

Awesome guide on goats!

^true fact


Angela Brummer from Lincoln, Nebraska on July 03, 2012:

Congratulations on hub of the day! I have so many friend that raise goats I can't wait to share this article with them. I also am sharing this up!

Nathan K from Kansas on July 03, 2012:

Awesome article!! We raised Alpines and Nubians for milk! They were a blast!! and gave a ton of milk too!

sadie423 (author) from North Carolina on July 03, 2012:

I wish I had time to respond back to every comment right now. Thanks for all the wonderful comments, for sharing your experiences with goats, or your desire to raise them. I would recommend them to anyone, even just wethers as pets or weed eaters. We didn't mow our old back yard once last year because of them!

Thanks again!

Liz Walmoth on July 03, 2012:

Your hub was very enjoyable to read and brought back my own memories of having goats when I was growing up. We had nubian and alpine goats and raised them for the milk. My mom made cheese and we always had tons of milk to drink.

HoBoJimmy on July 03, 2012:

This has got to be one of the coolest Hubs I have ever read.

No shit.

Milli from USA on July 03, 2012:

Congratulations on Hub of the day! Scooter and Scout in the picture look so cute.

Urmila from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA on July 03, 2012:

Wow! great hub who wants to raise and breed goats. I enjoyed reading it.

Congratulations on Hub of the day award!

Skyler DeCristoforo from Olympia, WA on July 03, 2012:

When i finally get some land of my own i would love to have a goat. In my opinion there one of the worlds most interesting creatures. Thanks for the information, i can't wait to have a goat of my own!

Jill Spencer from United States on July 03, 2012:

In a few years we'll be able to have goats--more as pets than anything else. (Can't wait!) Your hub is a nice intro to the types. Congrats on HOTD!

Mike Outdoors from Somewhere in Canada on July 03, 2012:

Interesting hub, we are considering getting some goats so I found this very useful

Vanderleelie on July 03, 2012:

We raised Nubian goats on our farm in Alberta, and I must say that they make wonderful pets. Goats are just as intelligent as dogs and enjoy human contact. Good hub, with lots of useful information!

Shelley Watson on July 03, 2012:

Hi Sadie, Well done and congratulations of winning Hub of the Day. Well deserved, voted up interesting!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on July 03, 2012:

These goats are adorable! I never thought I'd ever say that, yet I just did. Informative hub! Congrats on your HOTD!

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 03, 2012:

Well written article. Nicely laid out with beautiful photos. This is a great resource! Congrats on getting HOTD.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 03, 2012:

This was very informative. We had three goats when I was a young girl and they were our pets. I really never gave much thought to the fact that there might be so many varieties. And until very recently, I had never had goat cheese. I have enough land to have a few goats. I am always threatening to get them so that I don't have to mow.

Thank you for sharing this with us.

Healing Herbalist from The Hamlet of Effingham on July 03, 2012:

I do know you can't get just one, I just thought that "joke" was funny. We had planned on getting a mom and her baby. We just can't decide. We have a friend who breeds, so I wouldn't need a buck. Decisions, decisions. One, I might add, that we don't take lightly.

Be Well.

Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on July 03, 2012:

Thor look very much like the goat I was given by my step-grandma when I visited my village in Nigeria. Are you sure that's not my goat? Just kidding. :)

Those little thing can eat. I love how they try to cuddle up when you feed them yams. Interesting hub. voted Up and Interesting.

moonlake from America on July 03, 2012:

Would love a goat but the would eat my garden. Enjoyed your hub and all the information. Congrats on Hub Of The Day.

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on July 03, 2012:

I'd love to have a goat or dairy cow, but I'm afraid my three backyard chickens are already pushing the limits with my homeowners' association. : ) Congrats on Hub of the Day!

sadie423 (author) from North Carolina on July 03, 2012:

cloverleaffarm- We love having goats. You should never get just one since they are herd animals. They can even die from loneliness. Thanks for commenting!

Nettlemere- Goats are fun to work with. We have an Oberhasli buck, so I've read a lot about that particular breed. Thanks for commenting!

Attikos from East Cackalacky on July 03, 2012:

Try as I may, I can't keep a goat. Other people keep getting it.

sadie423 (author) from North Carolina on July 03, 2012:

jpcmc- We raise dairy breeds, ours does are Saanens. 3 gal a day is hard to get and only from superior milk lines. We get about a gallon a day from our first time milker right now.

vespawoolf- Thanks so much for the comments! We love our goat's milk and our Nubian's ears. They are crybabies, but oh so cute!

mary615- Goat's milk is supposed to be easier to digest and raw milk would be beneficial to many stomach conditions I would assume. Our big girls follow us around like puppies too!

Nettlemere from Burnley, Lancashire, UK on July 03, 2012:

I loved looking after goats at work. Never heard of the name Oberhasli for the Swiss Alpine - always good to learn something new.

Healing Herbalist from The Hamlet of Effingham on July 03, 2012:

Great info. We have been thinking about getting goats, and still can't decide.

We heard a story that if you only get one goat, it has 24 hours a day to find out how to get in your house...and it Congrats on HOTD.

Mary, I wonder if he drank the milk because it was raw milk. They say raw milk is better for you. Goat's milk is also better for you than cows milk. Just curious.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on July 03, 2012:

Congrats! I love goats! When I was a kid (a child, that is!) one of my chores was to milk our nanny goat. My Dad drank the milk for his stomach condition, whatever that was. Later on, my children had a couple of nanny miniature goats that were the sweetest things. They followed us around like a big dog.

I voted this up, etc.etc.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on July 03, 2012:

Wow, very interesting information about goats! Now I want one as I do enjoy goat's milk and it's easier to digest than cow's milk. And goat's milk cheese is off the charts. I'd never thought of raising a goat for its fiber, though. I love Nubians for their floppy ears. Voted up and shared...congrats on a well-deserved Hub of the Day!

mywriteup on July 03, 2012:

^ not that easy though

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on July 03, 2012:

I didn't realize there are so many species of goats. If I were to raise one, I'd go for the dairy breeds. Imagine getting as much as 3 gallons of milk. Wow, that's a lot of milk!

Mico on July 03, 2012:

They are very friendly and grow fast.

sadie423 (author) from North Carolina on June 24, 2012:

I agree it is very rewarding. I love spending time with my goats!

goatsaplenty1 from Nova Scotia,,Canada on June 24, 2012:

I'M glad i'm not the only person her that loves ther goats,this is a wonderful article,keep up the good work.So many people don't know how rewarding this project can be.

sadie423 (author) from North Carolina on June 19, 2012:

I am glad you found it informative! Goats are great fun to have and very useful around the yard to keep weeds, and grass, down. Thanks for the comment!

toomuchmint on June 19, 2012:

What a great and informative article! I always joke that I want a farm with a couple mini-goats to keep the weeds clipped. Now I know exactly which kinds to look for :-) Thanks!

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on June 16, 2012:

Gosh there is so many goats and its breed. The goats to the Hubnuggets, congratulations! :) Your hub has been nominated! Check this out...

Debra Allen from West Virginia on May 23, 2012:

I love Goats. I had a French Alpine one and well she had an attitude and was a feisty girl. That was more reason to love her. I wish I could have one now, but alas we live in a neighborhood that doesn't accept them.

sadie423 (author) from North Carolina on May 19, 2012:

We use ours for milk and we have 2 boys that are purely pets (and poison ivy eaters) While I am a vegetarian, I am not against humans eating meat- just humans treating animals poorly. Humans are omnivores- by nature we are meant to eat both plants and meat. I don't fault any other animals for hunting to survive and humans are no different, except when they force those animals into horrible lives before being consumed. Thanks for your comments!

nightsun from northern california on May 19, 2012:

not all. we used ours for milk...humans eat everything..Sad but true.

Dustin_Jones from India on May 19, 2012:

goats are bred for meat right?? so sad to see those poor animals dying to satisfy tongues of human beings. really sad!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 19, 2012:

Very interesting. My daughter has a Nanny goat, she is loads of fun. I don't know what kind she is. It looks like you did your research! I will show her this!

nightsun from northern california on May 19, 2012:

very good info..great info. Thank you.