How Many Milk Goats Do You Need?

How Many Milk Goats Do You Need?

Welcome to the Milk Man Blog! We hope you are enjoying using our nourishing goat milk soap. We also wanted our site website to be a resource for those hoping to get started with raising and milking goats for their own personal use. We often get asked how many goats are needed to provide milk for a family of four or five. In this blog we’ll discuss approximately how many goats you would need to provide enough milk for an average family.

How Much Milk Do You Need?

Let’s start by determining how much milk you would need per week and then we discuss the number of goats it would take to produce that much milk. We’ll assume the average family that we’ll be discussing here includes 4-5 people. Much of this will depend upon how much milk your family actually consumes. Some families are heavy consumers of dairy while others just use milk for cooking on occasion.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume your family is a heavy dairy consumer and is wanting to completely replace their store bought cow milk consumption with homegrown goat milk production. This means you would not only need goat milk for drinking and cooking, but you’d also be making cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and other delicious treats with the goat milk produced on your homestead. Assuming you’ll be using the milk for more than just drinking, I think a gallon of goat milk a day would be sufficient for a family of four or five.

How Many Goats for That Much Milk?

Using those assumptions above, that’s 7 gallons of goat milk a week. Now you might not actually consume a gallon each day, but collecting a gallon each day will allow you to stockpile goat milk for making large batches of cheese and other products. Although 7 gallons a week might sound like a lot of milk, that level of production is pretty easy with just a few goats.

Here at Cattywampus Acres, we have a mixed herd of goats. We have American Lamancha goats that can easily produce a half gallon of milk a day without any issues. Sometimes each of these goats will give us close to a gallon of milk each day if we’re milking twice a day.

We also have Nigerian Dwarf goats which are smaller and don’t provide as much milk as the larger, Lamancha goats. Some Nigerian Dwarf goats will produce a quart of milk a day, while others might only make a pint of milk per day. It all depends on the “milking lines” in the goats that you have. Some goats are just better milk producers than others.

If you’re using a full size dairy goat breed like the Lamancha, Sonnen, Alpine, or Nubian, you’ll probably only need a couple females to get that gallon per day milk production. But if you’re going with a miniature breed like the Nigerian Dwarf, which is the only true miniature dairy goat breed, you’ll probably need three to four females. If you plan on doing your own breeding, you’d obviously need male goats as well to do that. But some dairy goat homesteaders will breed their females with males from another farm, allowing them to minimize the number of goats that they actually keep on their farm.

If you are keeping a buck on your property and doing your own breeding, there are some things to consider. You will want to keep the buck and the does separate during the milking season. If the bucks mate with the does, it will taint the taste of the milk. It will also increase the likelihood that the does will become pregnant again, which can wear on their bodies over time.

How Much Time Do You Have?

You’ll also need to determine whether you want to milk these goats by hand or make the process more efficient with some milking equipment. To maximize production from your dairy goats, you’ll definitely want to milk twice a day if you can. We recommend milking in 12 hour intervals for best results. So if you milk in the morning at 6:00am, you’ll milk again at 6:00pm.

You can move these milking times based on your schedule, but try and stick with a 12 hour milking interval. We’ve noticed that milk production is slowed when we don’t stick to a rigid 12 hour milking schedule. If we milk too early or too late compared to our previous milking, we won’t get as much production from our dairy goats.

Milking by hand is pretty easy if you just have a couple dairy goats. When you get into the routine of milking the goats daily, it’s pretty easy and doesn’t require much time. The goats get used to the schedule as well and are usually pretty cooperative throughout the process.

In future blogs we’ll discuss what to feed your goats for maximum milk production and the best-tasting goat milk. But here we mainly wanted to discuss how many goats an average family needs because we get that question so often. To see this blog in video format on our YouTube channel, click the play button below.


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