Dairy Goats

By Malinda Geisler, content specialist, AgMRC, Iowa State University.
Revised July 2015
For more information or specific inquiries, please contact Madeline Schultz at schultz@iastate.edu.


Dairy goat milk and goat cheese (chevre) continue to see slow, steady growth trends as consumers are becoming more aware of the higher protein and lower cholesterol levels found in the products. Goat milk is regarded as a natural source of nutrients, an alternative to cow's milk and easy to digest.


Dairy goat producers rely on direct market sales for milk and cheese products. Farmers' markets and Internet sales also offer market outlets. Some producers sell directly to retail stores and restaurants. Dairy goat products will likely continue to occupy an important, expanding niche market.


In the United States, dairy goats are found in every state. According to the USDA, as of January 1, 2013, the United States had 360,000 milk goats, unchanged from the previous year. The largest number of milk goats are found in Wisconsin (46,000 head) and California (40,500 head), followed by Iowa (29,000 head), Texas (18,000 head) and Minnesota (13,500 head). During 2012, the number of milk goats increased in Wisconsin and Minnesota but declined in the other three states.  (NASS 2013)


According to a 2012 USDA report one gallon of raw goat milk is valued at $3.20. However selling the goat milk as a value-added product can increase income tremendously. For example, 16 ounces of goat cheese is valued at $16. Likewise, 80 bars of goat milk soap can be produced from one gallon of raw goat milk. This soap is valued at $320 retail price.


Dairy goat production can have high returns, but requires a large capital investment for startup. Attached is a sample enterprise budget for dairy goat production from the Iowa State University Leopold Center.


Veterinary Services
Iowa State University Leopold Center