Goat Breeds List – Picking The Best Goat For Your Family

When you first decide to dive into the wonderful world of goats, choosing the best goat breeds for your family can be quite an overwhelming decision. You need to ensure the breed you choose has all of the benefits you are looking for without any of the characteristics that might just be too much for your family to deal with. This goat breeds list will help you pick the best fit.

Some goat breeds will offer a higher fat content of milk which is great for baking and cooking, however, that same breed may tend to be a very loud goat yelling for need and for fun. Yes, the milk is amazing, but if you live in an area where your neighbors are very close you might not want a goat that loves to sing.

herd of goats. Goat breeds list

Another thing to consider is your environment. Some goats do well in the cold, while others in the heat. Some goats do not tolerate wet weather at all whereas some do just fine in the damp. Knowing the hardiness of the breeds is the key to an easy life with goats and a hard one.

To help I am going to go over the basics characteristics of each of the most popular breeds to help you best narrow down the best fit for you, your lifestyle, and your family.

Goat Breeds List – Picking The Best Goat For Your Family

Goat Breed #1 – Alpine

Alpines are a medium to a large-sized goat that is best known for their milk production. If you are looking for volume then this is your goat!

They have a long straight nose with tall ears and a low raspy call. They weight about 135 pounds and stand at about 30 inches tall. they have nice large teets which makes them a bit easier to milk like the Nubians. If you have issues with your hands such as arthritis or carpal tunnel, larger teets are much easier to milk.

They are a friendly goat that tends to be strong-willed at times. A bit tricky to train but with a strong routine and a lot of consistency it can be done.

They have a smaller butterfat content at 3.4% so they are all about the quantity here! Producing up over a gallon a day keep this in mind if you have a small family and don’t want more milk than you can handle.

Overall a good choice of milk goat for a farm with older kids.

Alpine Characteristics:

  • Size – Medium to large breed
  • Physical – Tall ears with a long straight nose and may have a beard.
  • Height – 30 inches tall
  • Weight – 135 lbs
  • Hair – Short
  • Breeding Season – August through December
  • Average Kid Size – 6-8 lbs
  • Butter Fat – 3-4%
  • Milk production – A gallon or more a day
  • Manner – Friendly and docile. Can be a bit stubborn.

Alpine goat. Goat breeds list to choose the best fit for you

Click here to subscribe

Goat Breed #2 – Boer

A short a stalky goat that is mainly for meat production with a fun and silly mannerism that makes this a favorite of ours. Boer goats are resistant to disease and tend to do well in hot dry climates.

Mainly a white goat with brown heads they have long pendulous ears with a short face. They tend to gain weight faster than other breeds with the average full weight being 120-200 lbs for does and 200-350 lbs for bucks.

Does are known to be wonderful mothers even superior to other breeds. They are very docile, even the bucks and are eager to learn. Because of that, they can be easily trained as long as you work with them early. A skittish Boer goat will take a while to turn around but it can be done if you are patient.

Since Boer goats are bred for meat the does tend to make just enough milk for the kids and are not in milk very long. You can milk them, but the production will be much lower than a dairy breed.

Overall a wonderful addition to any farm looking for meat.

Boer Characteristics:

  • Size – Average height with a larger weight.
  • Physical – Short stalky goat with thick legs and a broad chest.
  • Height – 17 – 25 inches tall
  • Weight – 200 lbs
  • Hair – Medium length
  • Breeding Season – Year-round with August-January the most common time.
  • Average Kid Size – 6-12 lbs
  • Butter Fat – 5% or a bit higher
  • Milk production – Up to 1/2 gallon a day if they have a good udder.
  • Manner – A docile goat but can be timid if not worked with early on.

boar goats eating hay. A list of goat breeds to choose the best fit for your family.

Goat Breed #3 – Kiko

Kiko goats are another breed of meat goat that is a lot like the Boer goats mentioned above. A durable goat they tend to kid very well with little or no assistance. They have straight noses with medium length ears. Most are white but can have a variety of colors as well.

Labeled as an independent goat they will live just fine with little human interaction. For this reason, you will have to work to train them if needed. They can be milked but like the Boar goat, they will produce for a much shorter time than the dairy breeds.

Kiko’s are known to be worm resistant, hardy and great mothers might explain why they seem to be growing in popularity. A heavier goat does average 100-150 lbs with the bucks more at 150-200 lbs.

Overall Kiko’s are a great meat goat addition to any farm.

Kiko Characteristics:

  • Size – Average height with a larger weight.
  • Physical -Short stalky goat with thick legs and a broad chest.
  • Height – 17 – 25 inches tall
  • Weight – 200 lbs
  • Hair – Medium  to long in length
  • Breeding Season – Year-round with August-January the most common time.
  • Average Kid Size – 6-12 lbs
  • Butter Fat – 4%
  • Milk production – Up to 1/2 gallon a day if they have a good udder.
  • Manner – An independent goat that will do well on their own.

herd of white goats. My top goat breeds for your farm.

Goat Breed #4 – Lamancha

These goats are best known for their tiny ears (gopher ears) that may look as if they have none at all. They are a smaller breed of goat with a similar build to the Nubian. A very calm and docile goat they are known for producing lots of butterfat-rich milk. Milk production time can last up to two years without rebreeding so if you are looking specifically for a good milker, this is your goat.

Lamanchas do well in a variety of climates and their calm nature makes them a wonderful family goat. They love human interaction and make great pets.

Does tend to weight 130 lbs where the bucks are closer to 165 and both stand about 30″ tall so their size is not too intimidating.

Overall Lamancha goats are wonderful additions to any milk-producing farm.

Lamancha Characteristics:

  • Size – Smaller build.
  • Physical – Gopher ears with a long straight face.
  • Height – 25-30″ tall
  • Weight – 130 lbs
  • Hair – Medium to long
  • Breeding Season – Fall/winter
  • Average Kid Size – 6-8 lbs
  • Butter Fat – 3.9%
  • Milk production – Close to a gallon a day for up to two years of production
  • Manner – Very docile

lamanch goat. A list of goat breeds for your family farm

 

Goat Breed #5 – Nigerian Dwarf 

A cute miniature goat that is gaining popularity with more of the smaller homesteads. Because of their smaller size, they are a great fit for young families and do well around children.

They have a friendly nature even the bucks and for that reason a great family goat.

Since they are on the smaller side they require less room than the larger breeds are a great way to get your feet wet with dairy animals.

They do have small sometimes tiny teets and milking usually requires just using your fingers rather than your entire hand. If you have issues such as arthritis or carpal tunnel you will want to keep this in mind.

Nigerian Dwarf goats have upright years and short straight noses. Their fur is short to medium and they stand about 19 inches tall for the does and up to 23 inches for the bucks. A good healthy weight for Nigerians is about 75lbs.

Overall Nigerian Dwarf goats are a great breed to have on a family farm.

Nigerian Dwarf Goat Characteristics:

  • Size – a Small breed of goat.
  • Physical – Straight noses and upright ears. They can be any color or pattern.
  • Height – 19-23 inches
  • Weight – 75 lbs
  • Hair – Short to medium
  • Breeding Season – Can be bred year-round
  • Average kid size – 2-3 lbs
  • Butter Fat – 6.5%
  • Milk production – 1-4 quarts a day
  • Manner – Docile, gentle and friendly. Great for young families or companion animals.

nigerian dwarf goat and her kid. A list of goat breeds to choose from

Goat Breed #6 – Nubian

The Nubian goat is considered a dual-purpose breed of goat. This large breed goat is really known for their long pendulous ears and a Roman nose. These goats tend to do well in the hot weather and have a longer breeding season than other goats.

Since they are larger they require more space than the smaller breeds. Overcrowding is never good with any animals especially goats, so be sure you have space before you buy – both inside and out.

Nubians have a higher butterfat content of about 5% or more which gives their milk a lovely flavor. They are not a top producing goat as some of the others so keep that in mind if the quantity is more important than the specific taste. They can produce up to a gallon a day.

A larger goat, a full-grown Nubian doe can be around 30 inches tall with the bucks hovering at about 35 inches. Average weight is 135-175 pounds with the bucks well over 200.

A very friendly goat that is pleasant to work with and easy to train since they love human interaction.

Because of their large size might not be a good fit for families with very young children.

They have longer teets that make it a good choice for milking especially for an older owner such as myself. Having a large teet to grip makes hand milking much easier.

Nubians are loud and can (but not always) yell if they are hungry, bored, in heat, or just plain happy. They are the loudest when in heat so if you do have neighbors just a bit of warning beforehand will usually be enough to keep any complaints away.

They have medium hair with the American breeds a bit longer and something to keep in mind if you live in a very hot climate. We find that clipping them at the beginning of each summer really helps to keep them cool.

Overall Nubian goats are a wonderful fund breed to have especially if your children are a bit older.

Nubian Characteristics:

  • Size – Large Breed
  • Physical – Long pendulous ears with a roman nose
  • Height – 30-35 inches tall
  • Weight – 135-175 pounds
  • Hair – Short to Medium
  • Breeding Season – August through December
  • Average Kid Size – 6-9 lbs
  • Butter Fat – 5%
  • Milk production – Up to a gallon (or more) a day
  • Manner – Very friendly and loving goat

A goat buck. Goat breeds list

Goat Breed #7 – Oberhasli

Known for their beautiful coats and striking colors, Oberhasli is a great family milk goat. They are a very friendly goat and do not frighten easily like the other breeds tend to do. These goats are used as pack animals since they love to work and do well in a group.

They are a quite docile goat making it a good fit for backyard homesteaders.

They are great milkers producing up to 1 1/2 gallons a day.

Does are around 28″ tall and weigh around 120 lbs with the bucks averaging 34″ and weighing 150 lbs.

Some breeds may not do well in wet climates so you will want to ask plenty of questions when purchasing to ensure they can tolerate your climate well.

Overall a great working dairy goat that has a smaller size making it a good fit for a young family that lives in a dryer climate.

Oberhasli Characteristics:

  • Size – Medium
  • Physical – A variety of colors with the telltale black dorsal fin. They have straight ears and a short face.
  • Height – 28-35″
  • Weight – 130 lbs
  • Hair – Medium
  • Breeding Season – August through December
  • Average Kid Size – 4-8 lbs
  • Butter Fat – 3.5% – 4%
  • Milk production – up to 1 1/2 gallons a day
  • Manner – Quiet and docile.

Young doe goat peaking over a fence. Goat breeds list oberhasli

 

Goat Breed #8 – Saanen

Best known for its all-white color, Saanens have short straight ears and faces making them easy to spot in a herd. A larger dairy goat, they are high quality and high volume milker.

A very friendly goat, it is a favorite among dairy owners and because of their gentle nature they are a great fit for families with young children. Because of their larger size, they are known as the gentle giants of the goat world.

Does average 145 lbs and 31″ tall with the bucks closer to 200 lbs and 35″.

They have a lower butterfat content and are large producers tending to do well in just about any climate. Their resistant to disease is just another plus for this breed.

Overall and wonderful dairy goat for young families or a new goat owner.

Click here to subscribe

Saanen Characteristics:

  • Size – Medium to large
  • Physical – White with straight ears and beard.
  • Height – 33″
  • Weight – 150 lbs
  • Hair – Short
  • Breeding Season – August through December
  • Average Kid Size – 6-8 lbs
  • Butter Fat – 3.5%
  • Milk production – Up to 1 1/2 gallons a day
  • Manner – Very docile friendly animals

goats eating hay. Goat breeds list

Goat Breed #9 – Toggenburg

A Toggenburg goat is probably the oldest known dairy goat that is a great milk producer with lower butterfat. Most Toggs tend to have wattles (appendages on the throat) which is just another wonderful trait of this dairy animal.

They are medium in size and can vary in colors from tan to gray. They look similar to the Alpine sporting beards in both does and bucks. They are very alert goats that are calm and affectionate.

Toggenburg does height around 30″ and the bucks at 36″. Weight for a doe is usually around 125 lbs with most bucks closer to 200 lbs.

They do best in colder climates and are great mothers.

Overall a great heavy producing goat that will fit with any family that loves milk!

Toggenburg Characteristics:

  • Size – Medium
  • Physical – Resembles the Alpine goat with straight ears and face.
  • Height – 33″
  • Weight – 130 lbs
  • Hair – Short to medium.
  • Breeding Season – August through December
  • Average Kid Size – 6-8 lbs
  • Butter Fat – 3.2%
  • Milk production – Up to 1 1/2 gallons a day
  • Manner – Friendly and alert goats.

A lovely toggenburg goat. Part of this complete goat breeds list

Even though this list does not cover them all, it is the most common types of family goats found in the US today.

Finding the best fit for your family’s age, size, and location are all things you really do need to consider before investing in a goat. Be sure to do your homework before bringing them home to ensure you have the best breed for your environment. A healthy goat is a happy goat so adequate housing, freshwater, forage, and feed are all factors you need to consider BEFORE bringing hem home.

Having a fridge full of fresh milk, delicious cheese and butter are just some of the perks you get when you have goats on your homestead. Not to mention the endless supply of entertainment you are sure to have with any breed.

Add that to their loving and quirky personalities and you might just find goats the best way to add a bit of fun to your homestead.

Do you have any favorites that are not on this goat breeds list? Comment below, I would love to hear from you!

Are you ready to add goats to your family homestead and not sure what to get? This goat breed checklist will help. Know the traits of each goat breed so you can pick the best goats for your family homestead and modern farm. #goatbreeds #raisinggoats #goatcare #familygoats

goat breeds list

26 Comments

  1. Can you breed a Nubian buck to alpines and dwarf Nigerians or should I have two bucks with size difference.

    1. Hi, Marie!
      You can technically breed a Nubian to a Nigerian dwarf, but it is not a good idea if you have a full grown buck. When breeding you need to be sure of a few things first.
      1. That your doe can handle the weight of a bigger buck. If not you can severely hurt your does.
      2. That your does are old enough to be bred. It is recommended that does be at least 10 months old, but we wait for at least 1 year here before we beginning breeding.
      3. If the buck is a large breed Nubian then he may throw large breed kids that can be a danger to your doe. If she is a first freshener then the chances of a single kid are higher which is not a good scenario. Single kids tend to be larger than multiples and can be difficult to deliver if a dwarf doe.
      If it was me, I would not do it. To get a Mini Nubian it is better to use a Dwarf buck with a Nubian doe.
      Hope this helps!
      Tracy Lynn

  2. What a great rundown of the different breeds! I want to add goats to our farmstead this summer, and I will definitely be saving this post to read again as we finalize our plans. Thank you so much for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop!

    1. What about Pygmy goats ? I heard about them and I was curious.

  3. I too am curious about Pygmy goats. Thank you!

    1. Pigmy goats have little teats and little milk like the boar goats and are meant for meat or just family fun they are also usally
      around the same size as nigerians or smaller so if you want a meat or famliy goat pigmys are a good choice

  4. Mary Crowder says:

    I’ve been thinking about getting a goat (or pair if they’re “social” animals), and don’t know where to start. I have two dogs. Shadow is a Mastiff/Catahoula Cur, seven years, pretty laid back, accepting of most any animal I give her (loves when her long legged “doggy” friends come by – they’re horses and the riders will stop along the fence and talk to her). Joker, who is just that, nearly 18 months and still very foolish, but also pretty accepting, is Rottweiler/Black Lab. He’s much more active, runs the two acres more. Anyway, what breed would be good with them? They’re large, but not giant, dogs. I’ve also apparently got a little Ma and Pa Kettle in me – serious question, what goat would be the best with my dogs and a good house goat? I live in northern Arizona at about 4,500 feet. It gets hot in the summer, some days just over 100; lower humidity for the most part. Winters can be wet when it rains or snows, but once that stops a couple days of good sunshine and it’s dry again. I’m sure I’d have to supplement their food, this is the high desert still and pretty sparse right here, but I’m not that far yet. I’d love to read and see what you come up with. Are their foster moms for goat babies?

    1. If you are looking for a house pet then the mini goats are more of what you may want. As far as your dogs, it’s not the breed so much as how you introduce them to each other. Keep them close but not together. Allow your dogs to learn their smell and the importance they have with you. Do things slow and gradual and allow your dogs and goats learn to live with each other. Never allow them together unsupervised until they have accepted each other completely.
      We have some pretty hot summers here as well. To help I shave my goats each June. I just use regular clippers without any attachment. Up on the milk stand they go and I give them grain to much on while I work. It takes a bit, but they really do much better when I am done.
      I hope this helps!
      Tracy Lynn

  5. I read through quickly, but was there any goats that do well in wet conditions?
    Thanks!

    1. Goats as a whole do not do well in wet conditions. We have a very wet pasture and that means parasites are a problem for us. To combat this I only let my goats out after the sun has had time to dry up the pasture. This will help the slugs and snails to work their way back down to the cool wet ground. This is important since they can carry parasites that the goats can ingest when eating grass they are on.
      I also use an herbal wormer to insure I am building up a natural resistance to any worms or parasites. All goats have worms, our job is to make sure that they do not get an overload of them.
      With that being said it’s the hardiness of the goat itself more than the breed that will determine how well they can keep parasites from getting out of control.
      I hope that helps!
      Tracy Lynn

  6. We have 1.1. Acres, and want to get a few goats for grazing and maybe milk… I’ve a toddler, were semi-country, so preferably not a singing all day long goat. Lol. What would you reccomend? Also, should they be all the same breed? The grass isnt too high, less than 3 ft. Just field grasses… and also. Should it be a mix of males to females. Or does this even matter? Not intended for breeding. Thanks for the help.

    1. Hello, Liz!
      If you want to milk your goats you will need to breed them and that requires a male goat (buck). You do not have to have a goat on the property, there is a lot that goes into keeping male goats, but you will need to breed once a year to keep the milk flowing.
      You can absolutely mix breeds with no problem and the Nubians are really the only goats that like to make noise. Any other goat breed should work just fine.
      I hope this helps!
      Tracy Lynn

  7. I have plenty of room (5 acres) to use for goats. Can you recommend any friendly large goats for us? We live in Michigan so the climate is hot in summer and cold in winter.

    1. Hello, Madison!

      I love LOVE Nibian gaots, they are by far my most favorite goats. So loving and those ears!! I just love those long ears. You can also do good with Alpines as well.

      Good luck!
      Tracy Lynn

  8. Hi!
    My husband and I have just bought a house on .5 acres. We have wanted a pet goat for a while, but not sure which one to get… we have 2 daughters (3 year old & 2 year old). We aren’t looking for either a meat or dairy breed necessarily, but I’d prefer a dairy breed as we would keep the goat as a pet. Which breed would you recommend? And how much space should we have available for a goat? Do they do okay when you only have one? Sorry for all the questions, and thank you in advance!!

    1. Hello, Shauna!

      With younger children the smaller goat breeds are probably a better way to go. A mini Nubian or a Nigerian Dwarf goat is a great dairy goat breed that you might love. Goats are herd animals and need to be with another animal to be happy. This does not need to be a goat, however. As long as they are with another animal full time (24/7) they will do just fine.
      As far as room, you will need a shelter to keep them out of the rain and wind and snow. If you have enough room, a grazing area of about 10-15 square feet per adult goat.

      I hope this helps!
      Good Luck,
      Tracy Lynn

  9. Peg Davies says:

    I have only just discovered your brilliant website. What a pleasure to access to so much truly helpful information! I have been ‘mulling’ having goats. I love the idea and while I want a hardy, least inclined to disease or birthing difficulties I also want to explore having a mix of meat and milk goats. For now my question is if I were to get milk goats I would be especially interested in cheese making. Do different dairy goats offer different qualities for that purpose?

  10. What are the best goats for brush control? I’ve been trying to get a goat but recently found out we can’t have them in city limits, after a bit of research I’ve found out you can get them if you’re using them to maintain your lawn, which would be helpful. They also need to be friendly family ( 6 – 13 ), I was looking at pygmy goats but are there any breeds you would suggest? we are using them for companionship and brush control only.

    1. I think for brush control Boer goats are a good option. Remember not to get goats that are too small as the brush may be hard for them to reach up high. Large weeds for example. Boer goats are also easy to sell since meat goats are more popular than dairy goats. Finally, people-friendly goats are that way because of how they are raised. So before you buy, talk to the owners, ask if the goats were bottle raised (much more people-friendly) and finally be sure to get goats without horns so you do not have to worry about accidental injury to your kids.
      I hope this helps!
      Tracy Lynn

  11. I was wondering what you thought about Tennessee fainting goats and the difference between polled and not polled?

    1. Hi, Theresa!
      I do not have any experience with fainting goats. I have seen them but as far as temperament and care I am not to up on that information. As far as polled goats, I also do not have much to help in that area either. We do our own dehorning with the help of our vet and have not looked into goats that are specifically bred to not have horns.
      Sorry, I cannot be of more help
      Tracy Lynn

  12. I’m purchasing a 15 acre farm that has pasture land. I’m not familiar with horses but would like to have animals to keep the fields low and keep the weeds down. I have about 6-8 acres, 6 indoor stalls, shelter for animals.
    I’m going to start with chickens but should I get some goats to keep the pasture trimmed? Hot humid summer and freezing temperin the winter.
    What kind of goats and how many?

    1. Hello, Anna!

      Goats love to graze and can absolutely help keep your pasture under control, but raising goats is a huge time and cost investment. Care, feed, housing, upkeep, are super important. Before investing in goats I want to encourage you to do research on if this is an avenue you want to go down. If so, great! I think goats would be a great addition. Start out with 3, as goats are herd animals and see how they do. Any goats will do great in pastures but Boer goats do well in hot dry weather. Again, research and decide.

      All the best,
      Tracy Lynn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.