While some people keep small goat breeds for pets or for other uses, the Nigerian dwarf goat milk produced by our homestead herd fulfills our family’s dairy-consumption needs.
Did you know that by some estimates, there is more goat milk produced around the world than cow’s milk? Compared to cows, goats produce more milk per pound of food consumed, meaning they are more efficient milk producers and a much better choice for most small landholders.
We hope you enjoy your cyber visit with our goats, and if you are in Illinois, we invite you to personally visit us and our goats. You can learn more about our farm by visiting AntiquityOaks.com.
When we moved to the country in 2002, we chose the Nigerian dwarf goat breed for our dairy goat farm because they have the highest butterfat of the dairy goat breeds in the United States. While standard-sized goats have butterfat around 3-4%, Nigerians average 6-7%. We love goat cheese, which was the whole reason we wanted goats to begin with, and Nigerians give a surprising amount of milk for their small stature. The high butterfat makes them an excellent choice for families interested in raising dairy goats for goat milk and goat cheese making.
If you are looking for a dairy goat, it’s important to get one from a breeder who has milked their goats and has first-hand knowledge of their goats’ mammary systems and production capability. Not every goat is easy to milk or has great milk production, and the only way you know how much a goat produces or if they have easily-milkable teats — or the right personality — is if you’ve spent time milking that goat.
Now that we’ve been selectively breeding for the home dairy for over 15 years, we are consistently getting doelings that meet our standards as family milkers. In many cases, we own four or five generations behind the goat kids that we’re selling, so we can give you information about a kid’s parents, great grandparents, siblings, aunts, and other distant relatives.
1. Goat Personality – A goat has to have the right kind of personality to be a good milk goat. If she is doing pirouettes on the milk stand, it’s rather challenging to hit the milk bucket.
2. Milk Production – If a goat doesn’t peak at close to two quarts a day (4 pounds) and can’t maintain at least a quart a day for several months, she isn’t really making enough milk for most families. She also isn’t making enough to feed healthy triplets, which are so common in this breed.
3. Goat Teats – If we can’t get our hands on her teats to get the milk out, then she isn’t the right goat for a home dairy.
Although the Nigerian dwarf is a dairy goat breed, not every breeder milks his or her goats. Some people raise them for show or for pets. Our goal is to use and promote these lovely little goats as the ideal family milk goat. Since two or three goats provide the perfect amount of milk for most families, there is no need to buy an extra refrigerator for storing gallons of milk.
Because these dairy goats are small and friendly, they fit nicely into families with small children. Because some lines of these goats cycle year-round (rather than seasonally like the big goats), you can have a fresh supply of milk all year with two or three goats, breeding them four to six months apart.
In order to efficiently and conscientiously consume all the goat milk produced on our farm, we learned how to make goat milk soap and other goat dairy products! We make yogurt, kefir, ice cream, several varieties of goat milk cheeses, including both soft and hard varieties. Today we make 18 different dairy products, including all of our own mozzarella, chevre, queso blanco, cheddar, parmesan, buttermilk, and yogurt.
Because we want our baby goats to have the very best care after they go to their new homes, I started offering on-farm classes in goat care many years ago. In 2016, I started the Thrifty Homesteader Academy online so that anyone from anywhere would be able to learn about how to care for these amazing animals, based upon the latest research, combined with my years of practical experience.
In addition to raising goats since 2002, I’m also the author of six books on homesteading and sustainable living, including Raising Goats Naturally: A Complete Guide to Milk, Meat, and More, now in its second edition, as well as Goats Giving Birth.
Although I no longer have time to respond to general goat questions from people around the country via email, I created an online network for just that purpose. You can ask questions, create a blog, post pictures, and videos, and meet new friends who also love these miniature dairy goats.