Article Index "Alternatives in Dairy Goat Product Market" Article Index

Amber Waves Pygmy Goats
Your support of our advertisers helps support GoatWorld!
Metal Elastrator
The GoatWorld Store!

By: "George F. W. Haenlein"
Goat Management - Alternatives in Dairy Goat Product Market
Original Document: Web Site
About the Author

Rated 1.9 by 415 responses.
Send this Page to a Friend!
Friend's Email:
Your Email:

It has been determined that goat milk and its products as an alternative to cow milk and its products demand a higher break-even price compared to cow milk, because of differences in scale of production especially for labor and feed. Furthermore, the absence of a comparably organized infrastructure and promotion system make marketing more difficult. However, goat milk has some different qualities from cow milk, which can justify different prices. Cost of producing goat milk is discussed and a formula is developed, which aids in deciding at which milk price it is more profitable to sell the milk or to feed it to kids for meat sales.

The dairy product market has as many alternatives as the imagination of entrepreneurs will develop, as promotion will sell, as profits of production conditions will allow, and as consumers will continue to ask for. These are basic economic elements that will build and sustain alternative industries. It is significant that there is a growing interest in recent years among U.S. goat and sheep breeders to develop alternative dairy markets. Dairy goats, but not dairy sheep, have been in America as early as cattle, but their importance as a business has been much less than that of U.S. dairy cattle. In contrast, Angora goats in Texas, have succeeded in building a worldwide recognized industry; and of course, sheep for wool or lamb production are an established industry, as evidenced by official statistics available from the USDA. So why have dairy goats and dairy sheep, even goats for meat, lagged behind in United States. in comparison to other parts of the world?

The objectives of this review were to look at various aspects of alternatives for dairy goats, assuming that similar alternatives for dairy sheep become evident once dairy sheep breeds are more established in the United States from imports of semen, ova, animals and selection.

FAO yearbooks of statistics and the British Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux (King, 1988) give some global background, but few official data on dairy goats in United States are available (Haenlein, 1983b, 1986). There were worldwide 281 million goats in 1950, increasing to 377 million in 1965, 456 million in 1981 and 609 million in 1994 (FAO, 1994), producing a conservatively estimated 10.5 million tons of goat milk in 1994. In United States during that time were 9.6 million dairy cows, producing 69.7 million tons of milk compared to approximately 1 million dairy goats producing 600,000 tons of milk. The value of that U.S. goat milk was at least $500 million in 1994, depending on alternatives of utilization (Haenlein, 1996). U.S. marketing had at that time about 300 known goat dairy businesses handling only a small fraction of the total, approximately 12,000 tons goat milk, of which half went into powder and evaporated goat milk production. Also at least 35 known commercial goat cheese makers, mostly in Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Arkansas, Washington, California, Texas, Colorado, New England, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania produced about 640 tons of U.S. goat cheeses, while at least another 650 tons goat cheeses were imported per year from France alone.

Goat cheese production in countries like France, Greece, Bulgaria, Norway, Spain, Israel is big business; France alone produced 35,000 tons in 1980. The U.S. dairy goat industry has about 20,000 official breeding establishments, registering about 46,000 head per year and testing about 16,000 does annually under DHIA rules at the very respectable average production level of 1,980 lb milk with 3.7percent fat in 305 days, which is not excelled by many other countries (Haenlein, 1996).

Three reasons for producing goat milk for the marketplace can be identified: family self-sufficiency, gourmet-connoisseur interest and a certain medical need. At least 1 person in 1,000 U.S. population has an estimated medical requirement of 1 quart goat milk per week, which translates into a minimum goat milk market potential of 12,000 tons per year (Haenlein, 1986). In addition, there are 22 of the 50 U.S. states without official goat dairy licensing regulations, 70 percent of the larger U.S. cities have no supply of fluid goat milk at all. Only recently has there been a waiver of the cow milk standard requirements, which were lowered to 750,000 somatic cell count maximum allowable levels per ml tank milk by the National Conference on Milk Shipments. But there are still no officially accepted national goat milk quality standards separate from cow milk standards (Haenlein, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991; Hinckley, 1991; Hankin, 1992).

On the research side of the U.S. goat industry, great progress has been made in recent years with new experiment stations and personnel at Prairie View, Texas; Langston, Oklahoma; Fort Valley, Georgia; Tallahassee, Florida; Tuskegee, Alabama; in addition to the more established stations at San Angelo, Texas; Davis, California and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Furthermore, internationally new efforts have been made by the FAO, Winrock International, Heifer International, US-AID, Small Ruminant CRSP, ILCA, ILRI, IDRC, IFS, IDF, EAAP, INRA-ITOVIC, the International Goat Association, the quadrennial International Conference on Goats, and the Small Ruminant Research Journal, published quarterly first in 1988 but then monthly by Elsevier in The Netherlands.

If there is no certain advantage for having dairy goats in terms of what they contribute in a unique way to human nutrition, then why have dairy goats? If facts cannot be identified and promoted about goat milk and its products, that show certain benefits compared to cow milk or being even superior, then it will be hard to justify growth of a dairy goat business as an additional or alternative industry to the dairy cattle business. It is not good enough that goats are liked and enjoyed in taking them to shows, this would equal merely a pet business. There is a challenge that asks why are goats needed, when milk, yogurt and cheese supplies from cows are more plentiful and even cheaper. Research publications on how to feed goats better, breed them more efficiently and control their diseases better are academic. This information means little if the challenge to identify where goat milk and its products provide real benefits in human nutrition and why dairy goats are needed goes unanswered.

Comparative aspects of the digestive physiology, nutrition, metabolism and product biochemistry of the three ruminant species have been discussed (Haenlein, 1980, 1983a, 1992b; Park and Humphrey, 1986; Devendra, 1989), but the contribution that goat milk can make to human nutrition has not been established very well (Haenlein, 1992a).

Compared to dairy cows, goats have drier feces, which makes the animal flanks and udder much less soiled and potentially their milk with a lower bacteria and sediment content; goats have a different udder anatomy. They have a larger gland cistern, which makes waiting for the milk-let-down reflex less critical. Goats have an apocrine milk secretion process, which includes much cell debris in addition to leukocytes into the fluid milk, thus elevating "apparent" somatic cell counts above those found in normal cow milk without a strongly predictable relationship to subclinical or clinical mastitis. On a percent bodyweight basis, goats can produce much more milk and eat significantly more feed. Goats are seasonal in reproduction in temperate countries, therefore their milk tends to be in a single stage of lactation per herd rather than mixed, and in the fall of the year, most goat milk is different from spring and summer milk because of the predominant end of lactation stage with its normal physiological and biochemical changes. Goat milk composition differs in many aspects from cow milk, having no or little of beta-carotene, no milk fat agglutinin in some breeds and in some individuals no alpha-s-1-casein, even different predominant microbial pathogenic populations in the udder. Metabolically, especially for iron, iodine, copper, molybdenum and selenium, goats differ from cattle and sheep (Haenlein, 1992b). Goat mohair or cashmere differ from sheep wool as so do the scent glands.

Many goat breeds are normally dual purpose--meat and milk--while the Swiss breeds are typically single purpose--bred for milk. The advantage of dual purpose breeds is the alternative or additional market of meat from kids and yearlings besides the market for the milk (Gall, 1990). Feeding milk for meat production by kids as well as by other animalsm (calves, piglets, chickens) needs to include assessment of the economics of alternatively marketing milk, yogurt, cheese, sweets by considering at least three factors: milk retail price to the producer, meat or animal retail price to the producer, and milk to meat conversion ratio in the animal. Selection for dual-purpose production also needs to include a high reproductive rate to lower the initial cost per kid. Specific kidding season choice and specific feed choices can add to kid production costs. The amount of milk fed can be varied by early weaning or milk replacer nursing. Growth rate and carcass composition can be influenced by feeding.

The decision of alternatively marketing milk instead of feeding for meat can be made on the basis of the formula (Gall, 1990):

    Kid weight gain (lb) x Kid weight price ($)
    R = ---------------------------------------------
    Milk amount fed (lb) x Milk price ($)
which will indicate whether milk feeding is economical. If R is less than 1, then milk is more economically sold in the market than fed to kids; if the kid weight price is at least more than 6 x the milk price, then milk feeding is profitable.

A table of R, for deciding on the economics of milk feeding in relation to the milk to meat conversion efficiency and price relationships can also be used:

TABLE 1. R values for deciding on whether it is more economical to sell goat milk or to feed it to kids for meat sales.

Relationship of kid weight price: Milk price
20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2
6.0 3.3 3.0 2.7 2.3 2.0 1.7 1.3 1.0 0.7 0.3
6.5 3.1 2.8 2.5 2.2 1.8 1.5 1.2 0.9 0.6 0.3
7.0 2.9 2.6 2.3 2.0 1.7 1.4 1.1 0.9 0.6 0.3
7.5 2.7 2.4 2.1 1.9 1.6 1.3 1.1 0.8 0.5 0.3
8.0 2.5 2.3 2.0 1.8 1.5 1.3 1.0 0.8 0.5 0.3
8.5 2.4 2.1 1.9 1.6 1.4 1.2 0.9 0.7 0.5 0.2
9.0 2.2 2.0 1.8 1.6 1.3 1.1 0.9 0.7 0.4 0.2
9.5 2.1 1.9 1.7 1.5 1.3 1.1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2
10.0 2.0 1.8 1.6 1.4 1.2 1.0 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2
10.5 1.9 1.7 1.5 1.3 1.1 1.0 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2

1 cwt = 100 lb; 1 gallon = 8 lb.

Supplementary feeding of kids besides milk and optimum weight or target age needs to be included in the calculations for economic decisions. As long as kids are sold per head instead of per pound weight, there seems to be little advantage in selling anything different from the popular or traditional size, weight and condition.

Using the above formula for R, one can determine how much money must be obtained per kid or meat in order to break even with milk sales prices.

40 lb kid x $1.-/lb
Example (1): -------------------------------------------- = 0.33
320 lb milk intake x $37.50/cwt = $3.-/gal

(2): kid at $2.-/lb = 0.66

(3): kid at $3.-/lb = 1.00

(4): kid at $ 4.-/lb = 1.33

(5): kid at $1.-/lb
---------------- = 1.00
milk at $1.-/gal

(6): milk at $0.80/gal = 1.25

(7): 10 lb "cabrito" kid x $3.-/lb
---------------------------------- = 1.00
80 lb milk x $3.-/gal

(8): kid at $1.-/lb
-------------------- = 1.25
milk at $0.80/gal

It can be seen, therefore, that if goat milk sells for $37.50/cwt to the producer, kids must sell at least for $120 or $3/lb to break even; or when kids bring $40 a head at $1/lb, then the goat milk is not worth more than $12.50/cwt or $1gal. When small kids at 10 lb are to be sold, the price can be not less than $30 to break even with a $3/gal milk price, or at $10/10 lb kid the milk price is only worth $0.80/gal. Analogous calculations can be applied to feeding goat milk to veal calves or piglets, on the basis of lb milk used per lb meat produced or sold. If cull goats are available at $25/head, they can be fattened out in three months gaining 45 lb at a cost of feed at $33, which at a sale price of $80 will return $22 per head for labor and transportation.

There have been a number of attempts in trying to express standard economic theory to example goat enterprises (Ace, 1978; Olorunnipa et al., 1990; Gebremedhin and Gebrelul, 1991). In relation to cow milk it has been determined that the price for goat milk at the farm gate must be at least from 1.5 to 2.5 times higher because of extra labor costs; and that lactations should be 2,200 to 3,300 lb per doe with herd sizes from 60 to 120 does to be a sustainable enterprise (Yazman 1983a). At an annual cash cost of $352.- for production per milking doe per year, the necessary "break-even" milk prices for production levels of 1,500; 2,000; 2,500 lb/doe/yr were calculated to be $23.47; 17.60; 14.08/cwt, respectively (Yazman, 1983b).

Labor as one of the principal constraints in dairy management has been compared on different farms (Kapture, 1991). The range was 26 min to 1.1 hr/cwt. for goat milk versus only 3 to 14 min/cwt for cow milk. If labor was $6.- per hr, then there were only $1.40 labor in 1 cwt cow milk versus $7.- in 1 cwt goat milk; or at $8.- labor per hr, $1.86 labor in 1 cwt cow milk versus $9.33 in 1 cwt goat milk, a considerable difference that explains the need for the price difference for milk between the two species.

Total cost of goat milk production per doe per year can also be estimated by the budgeting method (ARS, 1968), using updated prices.


    Hay (50 lb/week at $6/cwt) = $156/yr
    Grain (20 lb/week at $12.50/cwt) = $130
    Buck service = $50
    Veterinary = $20
    Milking supplies = $20
    TOTAL EXPENSES = $ 376.-/doe/yr


    Milk (20 lb/week, 44 weeks) = 880 lb/yr
    Kids (2 x $30) = $ 60/yr
    Manure (35 lb/week) = 1,820 lb/yr
    x 4% N = 73 lb N x $0.25 = $18.25
    x 2% P = 36 lb P x $0.25 = $9
    x 3% K = 55 lb K x $0.12 = $6.60


    or $ 0.32/lb goat milk

Such price calculation would apply not only for marketing fluid milk but also for selling goat milk products, such as yogurt, sweets and cheeses, depending on the yield factor for the product per cwt of goat milk. For yogurt the yield equals about the weight of milk, because storage and aging loss is minimal. However, transportation costs are as high as for fluid milk, including the need for refrigeration. For goat milk-derived sweets and candies, which are very popular in countries like Mexico and India, the yield is a fraction of the fluid milk depending on the recipe. For cheese production, the yield may be conservatively estimated at 10 percent and decreasing for the longer-maturing, drier cheeses. Using the above budgeting figures, one can arrive at a necessary minimum "break-even" price for an average aged goat cheese of $3.20/lb, considering cost of milk input only.

The above prices for goat milk and alternative goat milk products compare with actual prices received at different U.S. dairy goat farms (Editor, 1991): Grade A - 3.5% fat: $12 to $44/cwt goat milk; hauling $1.50 to $1.75/cwt or $0.40/mile.

Official dairy goat records reveal also the potential range of economics (DRPL, 1992), if it is assumed that feed costs are 50 percent of the total milk production costs. Income over feed costs per doe per year in 54 dairy goat herds in the Northeast United States was from $289 to $667, averaging $457, at lactation yields of 1,331 lb to 2,522 lb milk, averaging 1,899 lb. This compared with 80 Ayrshire cow herds in the same region from $630 to $1,179, averaging $926 /cow, at lactation yields of 11,282 lb to 16,330 lb milk, averaging 13,780 lb.

The larger number of goats needed for a fixed volume of market milk, compared to cow milk, and the associated costs of feed and labor put goat milk at a competitive disadvantage or require a premium market. Special interests such as gourmet restaurant menus and delicatessen foods can demand a premium price, and with effective, imaginative promotion such markets can be sustained and expanded as the example of the French goat cheese industry has very well demonstrated worldwide.

However, more powerful justification for goat milk can come not from desirable but required needs such as medical research has indicated, although ever so fragmentary so far (Haenlein, 1992a). Swedish studies have shown that cow milk was a major cause of colic in 12 - 30 percent formula-fed, less than 3-month-old infants, which could be fatal. In breast-fed babies, the colic was related to the mother's consumption of cow milk. Cow milk intolerance was also found at 7 to 20 percent in 6- to 12-month-old infants. Among 100 babies allergic to cow milk only 1 did not thrive on goat milk. Of 300 cases of cow milk allergy, 270 became symptom-free within six weeks by substituting with goat milk. Among 1,460 patients with food allergies in Britain, 92 percent were allergic to cow milk. Among infants with cow milk allergy, between 20 to 50 percent also reacted adversely to soy formula proteins. In other studies, 40 percent of patients sensitive to cow milk proteins were able to tolerate goat milk proteins. In growth studies with children and rats, significantly better weight gains, stature, skeletal mineralization, blood serum vitamin, mineral and hemoglobin levels were noted for goat compared to cow milk. Digestibility differences, less firm curd formation, smaller fat globules and milk composition differences in minerals and vitamins in favor of goat milk have been cited so far, but significant actual differences in the lipid composition of goat milk fat versus cow milk fat has escaped the attention of many people in the dairy industry.

Normal goat milk fat has a much higher concentration of the so-called medium chain fatty acids (MCT), caproic (C 6:0), caprylic (C 8:0), capric (C 10:0), lauric (C 12:0), myristic (C 14:0) (33 percent) versus cow milk fat (17 percent); and lower in stearic (C 18:0) and oleic (C 18:1) (27 percent) than cow milk fat (45 percent) (Haenlein, 1992a). A considerable literature exists documenting the uniquely beneficial effects of those MCT, medium chain fatty acids in various medical problems, disorders and diseases, such as patients suffering from malabsorption syndromes, chyluria, steatorrhea, hyperlipoproteinemia, intestinal resection, coronary bypass, premature infant feeding, childhood epilepsy, cystic fibrosis, gallstones. MCT have been shown to lower serum cholesterol, inhibit and limit cholesterol deposition in tissues, dissolve gallstones, and contribute to general thriftiness of children. Thus, this area may have the potential of providing a unique justification for the need of goat milk besides cow milk, and may justify very well a premium price, because of the extra medical benefits of goat milk and particularly goat milk fat or even goat butter.

Ace, D.L. 1978. Dairy goats require lots of care just to break even. In: Living on a Few Acres, J. Hayes, ed., Yearbook, USDA, Washington, D.C., 357 - 364.

ARS, 1968. A dairy goat for home milk production. USDA-ARS, Washington, D.C., Leaflet No. 538, 8 pp.

Devendra, C. 1989. Comparative aspects of digestive physiology and nutrition in goats and sheep. Proceedings VIIth Intern. Symp. Ruminant Physiol., Sendai, Japan, C.Devendra and E.Imaizumi, ed., Japan Zootechn. Sc. Publ., Sendai, Japan, 45 - 60.

DRPL, 1992. Management factor summary for 54 NE dairy goat herds on official DHIA test. Cornell Univ., Dairy Records Processing Lab., Ithaca, New York, Job No. DR6060, UR6063.

Editor, 1991. Round-up of milk prices across the USA. Dairy Goat J., Aug., 442 - 443.

FAO, 1994. Production Yearbook. Food & Agr. Org. of the U. N., Rome, Italy, 243 pp.

Gall, C.F. 1990. Potential of dual purpose goats. Proceedings Small Small Ruminants Research and Development in the Near East Workshop, A.M. Aboul-Naga, ed., Cairo, Egypt, 1988, 67 - 73.

Gebremedhin, T.G. and S. Gebrelul 1991. The economics of meat goat production for small scale producers of Louisiana. Southern Rural Develpm. Ctr., Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi, Res.Bul., 23 pp.

Haenlein, G.F.W. 1980. Goats: Are they physiologically different from other domestic food animals? Intern. Goat and Sheep Res. 1 : 173 - 175.

Haenlein, G.F.W. 1983a. Goat milk versus cow milk. In: G.F.W.Haenlein and D.L.Ace, ed., Goat Extension Handbook, Univ. Delaware and USDA Coop. Ext. Serv. Publ., Washington, D.C., V (1) : 1 - 7.

Haenlein, G.F.W. 1983b. The US dairy goat industry. In: G.F.W.Haenlein and D.L.Ace, ed., Goat Extension Handbook, Univ. Delaware and USDA Coop. Ext. Serv. Publ., Washington, D.C., I (3) : 1 - 8.

Haenlein, G.F.W. 1986. Dimensions of the goat milk industry in the USA. In: Proceedings Production and Utilization of Ewe's and Goat's Milk Seminar, Sept. 23-25, 1985, Athens, Greece, Internat. Dairy Fed. Bull. 202, 215 - 217.

Haenlein, G.F.W. 1987. Cow and goat milk aren't the same--especially in somatic cell content. Dairy Goat J. 65 (12) : 806.

Haenlein, G.F.W. 1988. Research on goat milk - not wanted? Dairy Goat J. 66 (4) : 243.

Haenlein, G.F.W. 1990. Production of quality goat milk. Proceedings Goat Production Symposium, S. Gelaye, E.Amoah, B.K.Lilja and B.Torando, ed., Fort Valley State College, Fort Valley, Georgia, 92 - 98.

Haenlein, G.F.W. 1991. Progress in sight for goat milk. United Caprine News, June, 34 -35.

Haenlein, G.F.W. 1992a. Role of goat meat and milk in human nutrition. Proceedings Vth Intern. Conf. Goats, New Delhi, India, II (2): 575 - 580.

Haenlein, G.F.W. 1992b. Advances in the nutrition of macro- and micro-elements in goats. Proceedings Vth Intern. Conf. Goats, New Delhi, India, III, 933 - 950.

Haenlein, G.F.W. 1996. Status and prospects of the dairy goat industry in the United States. J. Anim. Sci. 74: 1173 - 1181.

Hankin, M. 1992. New Products Association needs you. Dairy Goat J., Jan. - Febr., 24.

Hinckley, L.S. 1991. Proposed somatic cell count revision. United Caprine News, June, 36.

Kapture, J. 1991. Milking parlor efficiency: Numbers don't lie. Dairy Goat J., Sept., 478 - 479.

King, J.W.B., ed. 1988. Directory of Current Research on Sheep and Goats. Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux Publ., Wallingford, Oxon, Great Britain, 271 pp.

Olorunnipa, Z.I., Nurse, G. and McGowan, C. 1990. Investment analysis of meat goat production under alternative management systems. In: Proceedings International Goat Production Symposium, R.C.Gray, ed., Florida A & M University, Tallahassee, Florida, 122 - 126.

Park, Y.W. and Humphrey, R.D. 1986. Bacterial cell counts in goat milk and their correlations with somatic cell counts, percent fat, and protein. J. Dairy Sc. 69 : 32 - 37.

Yazman, J.A. 1983a. Commercial production of dairy goat milk in the U.S. In: Sheep and Goat Handbook vol. 3, F.H. Baker, ed., Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 545 - 555.

Yazman, J.A. 1983b. Commercial goat milk production. In: Extension Goat Handbook, G.F.W.Haenlein and D.L.Ace, ed., Univ. Delaware and USDA Coop. Ext. Serv. Publ., Washington, D.C., II (2) : 1 - 10.

About the author: Please see the "References" section.

Agricultural Research Service

Email: Contact INFO
Telephone: Contact INFO
Designed & Hosted by: JOLLY GERMAN
©1999-2021 GoatWorld.Com
All written, audio, video and graphic material contained within this site, except where otherwise noted, is Copyright ©1999-2021. Some content may also be the property of contributors to the site, in which case their material is also protected by applicable copyright laws and this copyright policy. No material may be linked directly to or reproduced in any form without written permission. If you would like to reprint something from our site, simply send us an email to request permission to do so. Please refer to our REPRINT criteria.
©Gary Pfalzbot, Colorado, USA
This site is run and operated by a Disabled Veteran