Is Goat Milk Dairy? Unveiling the Facts and Misconceptions




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I’ve been raising goats for nearly 20 years now. Over those years, I accumulated a lot of information about goats and what works and what doesn’t.

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Is Goat Milk Dairy
Is Goat Milk Dairy

Goat milk has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its various health benefits and an alternative to cow’s milk. People often wonder whether goat milk falls under the category of dairy, considering it shares certain properties with cow’s milk. This article aims to clarify this question and explore the various aspects of goat milk, such as nutritional comparisons and its role in human diet.

Properties and Characterization of Goat Milk

Discovering the properties of goat milk can provide an understanding of its place in the dairy market. In terms of nutritional value, goat milk has a unique profile. Its digestibility and varying impact on allergies also make it a suitable option for those with sensitivities to cow’s milk. This article will dive into various goat milk products, the health benefits and risks associated with its consumption, and the composition of goat milk, which makes it distinct from cow’s milk.

Key Takeaways

  • Goat milk is considered dairy and shares similarities with cow’s milk.
  • It offers digestibility benefits and may be suitable for those with cow’s milk allergies.
  • Goat milk’s unique nutritional profile and variability in composition offers versatility in product creation and consumption.

Is Goat Milk Dairy?

Goat milk is indeed classified as a dairy product. Dairy refers to food products derived from the milk of mammals, and goat milk is produced by goats. Although cow milk is more commonly associated with the term “dairy”, goat milk and its products are also part of this category.

In comparison to cow milk, goat milk has some differences in composition and nutritional value. It contains less lactose, which can be beneficial for individuals with lactose intolerance. Additionally, the fat globules in goat milk are smaller than those in cow milk, making it easier to digest for some people.

The protein structure is slightly different between goat milk and cow milk. Goat milk contains A2 casein protein, while cow milk predominantly contains A1 casein protein. A2 casein is more easily absorbed into the digestive system, explaining why some people find goat milk to be a better alternative to cow milk.

Goat milk also has a higher level of minerals and vitamins compared to cow milk, including calcium, potassium, and vitamin A. This makes it a valuable and nutrient-rich dairy choice.

In terms of taste, goat milk has a slightly tangy flavor and aroma due to the presence of short-chain fatty acids. This distinct taste is what sets it apart from cow milk and may be more appealing to some consumers.

Nutritional Comparison

Goat Milk vs Cow Milk

Goat-Milk vs Cow Milk

Goat milk and cow milk have similar nutritional profiles, with some differences.

  • Calories: Goat milk has slightly fewer calories (168 per cup) than cow milk (149 per cup).
  • Protein: Both goat and cow milk provide approximately 8 grams of protein per cup.
  • Carbs: Goat milk has a bit more carbs (11 grams per cup) than cow milk (12 grams per cup).
  • Calcium: Goat milk and cow milk both contain similar amounts of calcium (about 300 milligrams per cup).
  • Potassium: Goat milk has more potassium (498 milligrams per cup) than cow milk (366 milligrams per cup).
  • Vitamin A: Goat milk has less vitamin A (483 IU per cup) than cow milk (395 IU per cup).
  • Vitamins and minerals: Both types of milk offer a range of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, vitamin D, and phosphorus.

Goat Milk vs Plant-Based Milks

Goat milk has a different nutritional profile compared to plant-based milks like almond, soy, oat, and hemp milk.

  • Calories: Goat milk has more calories than most plant-based milks, which range from 30-140 calories per cup.
  • Protein: Goat milk offers more protein (8 grams per cup) than almond (1 gram per cup), oat (3 grams per cup), and hemp milk (3 grams per cup), but slightly less than soy milk (8-9 grams per cup).
  • Carbs: Goat milk has more carbs (11 grams per cup) compared to almond (1 gram per cup), soy (4 grams per cup), and hemp milk (1 gram per cup), but a similar amount to oat milk (16 grams per cup).
  • Calcium: Most plant-based milks are fortified with calcium, offering equal or more calcium (300+ milligrams per cup) than goat milk.
  • Potassium: Goat milk has more potassium (498 milligrams per cup) than almond (95 milligrams per cup), soy (300 milligrams per cup), and oat milk (170 milligrams per cup), but less than hemp milk (600 milligrams per cup).
  • Vitamin A: Plant-based milks are often fortified with vitamin A, providing similar or more vitamin A (500+ IU per cup) than goat milk.
  • Vitamins and minerals: Fortified plant-based milks typically contain a range of added vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, vitamin D, and phosphorus, making them nutritionally competitive with goat milk.

Digestibility and Allergies

Lactose Intolerance

Goat milk is often considered easier to digest than cow’s milk, primarily due to its lower lactose content. For individuals with lactose intolerance, this difference can make a significant impact on digestion. Goat milk typically contains around 9% less lactose than cow’s milk, which can help reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance like bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

Allergic Reactions

Another aspect to consider is the allergenic properties of goat milk compared to cow’s milk. Goat milk has a different protein composition, with lower levels of alpha-S1 casein – a protein that is often responsible for allergic reactions to cow’s milk. This difference in protein structure may make goat milk a more suitable option for those with cow’s milk allergies.

Although goat milk is not entirely allergen-free, research suggests that some people who experience allergic reactions to cow’s milk can tolerate goat milk without issue. It is important to note that this may not apply to everyone, and those with severe milk allergies should consult their healthcare provider before trying goat milk.

When considering the fat content in both types of milk, goat milk has smaller, more easily digestible fat globules compared to cow’s milk. This can contribute to a smoother digestion process, making it an appealing option for those with sensitive digestive systems.

In summary, the digestibility and allergenic properties of goat milk set it apart from cow’s milk, potentially providing a viable alternative for individuals struggling with lactose intolerance or cow’s milk allergies.

Goat Milk Products

Goat Milk Dairy Products
Goat Milk Dairy Products


Goat milk is often used to produce a wide variety of cheeses. Some popular goat cheese varieties include chevre, feta, and gouda. Unlike cow’s milk cheeses, goat cheeses tend to have a distinct tangy flavor and creamy texture. They contain less lactose and casein, making them an ideal dairy alternative for some people with lactose intolerance or cow’s milk allergies.


Goat milk yogurt is another popular dairy product. It is often considered smoother and creamier than cow’s milk yogurt, with a slightly tangy taste. As with cheese, goat milk yogurt has less lactose and casein than cow’s milk yogurt, making it a suitable dairy alternative for those with sensitivities.

Ice Cream

Goat milk ice cream is a flavorful and rich dessert option for those looking for an alternative to traditional cow’s milk ice cream. Like other goat milk products, it typically contains less lactose and casein, potentially making it a better option for those with sensitivities to cow’s milk.


Goat milk can also be used to make butter. The process for making goat milk butter is similar to that of cow’s milk butter, and the result is a rich and flavorful product. Like other goat milk products, goat milk butter may be easier on the digestive system for some individuals due to its lower lactose and casein content.

Health Benefits and Risks

Potential Benefits

  1. Heart Health: Goat milk contains medium-chain fatty acids which may help support heart health.
  2. Rich in Nutrients: Goat milk is a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus, which are essential for overall health.
  3. Lower in Sugar: Compared to cow milk, goat milk has less sugar content, making it a healthier option for those monitoring sugar intake.
  4. Vitamin Content: Goat milk contains essential vitamins such as folate, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and B12, which play a vital role in maintaining good health.
  5. Good Bacteria: Goat milk may contain probiotic bacteria that can help support a healthy gut environment.

Possible Dangers

  1. Allergies: Goat milk, like other dairy products, may cause allergic reactions in some individuals.
  2. Anemia: Although goat milk contains iron, it may not be in a form that is easily absorbed, thereby increasing the risk of anemia in those with low iron levels.
  3. Cancer: There are no well-established connections between goat milk and cancer risks; however, consuming excessive amounts of any dairy product may still be a concern.
  4. Calcium Absorption: The calcium content in goat milk, although beneficial, may not be absorbed as efficiently as the calcium from cow milk.

Fat Composition and Content

Differences in Fat Molecules and Structure

Goat milk contains a different composition of fat compared to cow milk. The fat globules in goat milk are generally smaller than those found in cow milk, which facilitates easier digestion. Moreover, goat milk has a higher amount of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) like capric, caprylic, and caproic acids. These MCFAs are metabolized more quickly by the body, providing an energy source and aiding digestion.

There are some variations in fat content depending on the source of milk. For instance, water buffalo milk typically has a higher fat content than goat milk.

Cholesterol and Saturated Fat

Goat milk contains cholesterol and saturated fat, but in different amounts compared to cow milk. The cholesterol content in goat milk is slightly lower, which can contribute to maintaining healthy cholesterol levels for those who consume it. The table below summarizes the differences in cholesterol and saturated fat content between cow milk and goat milk.

Table – Goat Milk vs Cow Milk

  Cow Milk (per 100 g) Goat Milk (per 100 g)
Cholesterol 14 mg 11 mg
Saturated Fat 1.7 g 1.3 g
Cholesterol and Saturated fat in Goat Milk vs Cow Milk

In terms of unsaturated fat, goat milk has a similar content of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids as cow milk. However, it’s important to note that the fatty acid composition in milk can be influenced by factors like the animal’s diet and breed.

Goat Milk Processing and Types

Goat milk is a highly nutritious alternative to cow’s milk, gaining popularity due to its unique taste and potential health benefits. This section discusses the different processing methods and types of goat milk available in the market.

Raw Goat Milk

Raw goat milk refers to the unprocessed milk that comes directly from dairy goats. It is not subjected to any heat treatments or mechanical methods to alter its composition. Raw goat milk contains essential vitamins, minerals, and enzymes which may be lost during processing. However, without any heat treatment, the risk of contamination or presence of harmful bacteria is higher. Due to this, many countries regulate the sale of raw goat milk.


In the dairy industry, homogenization is a common process used to ensure that milk components, like fat, remain evenly distributed. Here’s how homogenization works with goat milk:

  • The goat milk is forced through a small opening or mechanical shearing device, breaking down the fat molecules.
  • This process results in a smoother texture and prevents the cream from separating to the top of the milk.
  • Homogenized goat milk looks and tastes consistent throughout the entire product, making it appealing to consumers.


Pasteurization is a heat treatment process used to kill harmful microorganisms and preserve the safety and quality of milk. There are two main methods of pasteurization used for goat milk:

  1. High-Temperature Short-Time (HTST): This method heats the goat milk to 161°F (72°C) for at least 15 seconds, followed by rapid cooling. It effectively kills most bacteria while minimally affecting the taste and nutritional value.
  2. Ultra-Pasteurization (UP): This method heats the goat milk to a higher temperature, around 280°F (138°C), for at least 2 seconds. It results in a longer shelf life but may cause some alterations in flavor and texture.

While pasteurized goat milk may lose a small fraction of its natural enzymes and vitamins due to the heat treatment, it provides a safer product for consumption, especially for vulnerable populations like young children, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems.

Using Goat Milk in Recipes

Cooking and Baking

Goat milk can be used as a substitute for cow’s milk in various recipes. It provides a distinct flavor and offers a variety of health benefits. When substituting goat milk in recipes, it’s usually a 1:1 ratio for cow’s milk.

  • Custards and Puddings: Goat milk’s natural creaminess makes it an ideal choice for desserts that require smooth textures and delicate flavors.
  • Soups and Sauces: Replace cow’s milk or cream with goat milk to achieve a rich, creamy profile in soups, sauces, and gravies.
  • Baking: Goat milk can be used in a variety of baked goods including cakes, breads, and cookies. Its mild taste and high fat content help promote moist, tender, and flavorful baked goods.

Smoothies and Beverages

Goat milk is a nutritious and refreshing option for smoothies and other beverages. It adds an element of creaminess without overpowering the taste of other ingredients.

  • Smoothies: Combine goat milk with fruits, vegetables, and nuts to create a balanced and tasty smoothie. Try a mixture of goat milk, spinach, banana, and a scoop of your favorite nut butter.
  • Lattes and Coffee Drinks: Try replacing cow’s milk with goat milk in your favorite coffee drinks, like lattes and cappuccinos, for a rich and velvety drinking experience.
  • Hot Cocoa: Goat milk’s natural sweetness works well with the bold flavors of cocoa. Add a touch of honey or maple syrup for added sweetness if desired.

Goat Milk Composition and Variability

Breeds and Lactation Factors

Goat milk composition varies depending on factors such as breed, lactation stage, and individual nutritional needs. Some of the most common goat breeds used for milk production include Saanen, Nubian, Alpine, LaMancha, and Toggenburg.

  • Saanen: This breed produces a high volume of milk with a lower fat content (3.5%-4%).
  • Nubian: Nubian milk has a higher fat content (4.5%-5%) and a rich flavor.
  • Alpine: Alpine goats provide a well-balanced milk that is similar to cow’s milk in terms of composition.
  • LaMancha: LaMancha milk has a high fat content (4%-4.5%) which makes it ideal for making cheese.
  • Toggenburg: This breed produces milk with a moderate fat content (3.5%-4%) and a strong flavor.

Lactation stages also affect goat milk composition. The milk’s nutritional content changes during the initial colostrum period, peak milk production time, and late lactation stage.

Table – Goat Milk Composition as a Function of Lactation Stage

Lactation Stage Fat (%) Protein (%) Lactose (%)
Colostrum 8.0 5.5 2.0
Peak Milk Production 4.0 3.5 4.5
Late Lactation 5.0 4.0 4.0
Goat Milk Composition as a Function of Lactation Stage

Goat Milk vs Human Breast Milk

Goat milk and human breast milk have some similarities in their composition, making goat milk an alternative for those who cannot consume cow’s milk.

  • Protein Composition: Goat milk contains both A1 and A2 beta-casein proteins, but the A2 content is higher than in cow’s milk. A2 beta-casein is believed to have higher bioavailability and can be easier to digest.
  • Fat Content: Goat and human breast milk have a similar fat content, with both containing smaller fat globules, which may result in easier digestion.
  • Nutritional Content: Goat milk contains slightly more protein and calcium compared to human breast milk, but less lactose and vitamin B12.

Table – Comparing Goat Milk to Human Milk

Milk Type Protein (g/dl) Fat (g/dl) Calcium (mg/dl) Vitamin B12 (µg) Lactose (g/dl)
Goat Milk 3.3 4.2 125 0.9 4.5
Human Breast Milk 1.2-2.0 3.8 26-47 0.2-0.3 6.6-7.0
Goat Milk vs Human Milk Nutrients

Goat milk can be a viable alternative to cow’s milk for some people, but it is important to consider individual nutritional needs and consult a healthcare professional before making any changes to one’s diet.

Is Goat Milk Dairy Video

Goat milk is dairy, and this video shows how to turn goat milk into 6 additional dairy products.

Is Goat Milk Dairy Video

Frequently Asked Questions

Is goat milk lactose-free?

No, goat milk is not lactose-free. It contains lactose, albeit in slightly lower amounts compared to cow milk. However, some people who are lactose intolerant may find it easier to digest than cow milk.

Is goat milk inflammatory?

Goat milk is often considered less inflammatory than cow milk. It contains different proteins and a lower amount of the inflammatory protein, alpha S1-casein, which is found in higher levels in cow milk. This can make goat milk a better option for some individuals with sensitivities or inflammation issues.

Is goat milk better than cow milk?

It depends on individual preferences and needs. Goat milk is easier to digest and contains lower levels of lactose and the inflammatory protein alpha S1-casein. It also has higher levels of certain nutrients like calcium and potassium compared to cow milk. However, cow milk offers a wider variety of products and is generally more readily available.

Where can you buy goat milk?

Goat milk can be found at some supermarkets, health food stores, farmers’ markets, and specialty stores. You can also find goat milk products such as cheese and yogurt at various grocery stores as well.

Is sheep milk dairy free?

No, sheep milk is not dairy-free. It is classified as a dairy product and contains lactose, similar to goat milk and cow milk. However, sheep milk has higher levels of various nutrients like protein, fat, and vitamins compared to goat and cow milk.

What are goat milk benefits?

Goat milk has several benefits, which include:
-Easier digestion due to smaller fat globules and less casein than cow milk
-Lower lactose content, potentially suitable for some lactose intolerant individuals
-Higher levels of certain nutrients, such as calcium and potassium

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