Revised December, 2018.
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, 2017, the United States had 373,000 milk goats, unchanged from the previous year. The largest number of milk goats are found in Wisconsin (44,000 head) and California (41,000 head), followed by Iowa (30,000 head), Pennsylvania (15,000 head) and New York (13,700 head) (NASS 2017).
Dairy goat production can have high returns, but requires a large capital investment for startup. Selling goat milk as a value-added product can increase income tremendously. Attached is a sample enterprise budget for dairy goat production from the Iowa State University Leopold Center.
Sheep and Goats: Frequently Asked Questions - ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture