Does goat’s milk taste bad, or even….er…goaty?
Well, the answer is….most likely no, but possibly yes.
Let me explain.
Why people think goat’s milk is goaty
I honestly can’t figure out who is telling everybody that goat’s milk tastes bad! (probably some disgruntled cow) I used to have the same negative thoughts about goat’s milk, but I can’t pinpoint where I learned this “fact” or even who told me. Most people you meet will turn up their nose when you mention goat’s milk, and yet, these same people have never even tried it. Sure, maybe they’ve sampled the pungent, aged goat cheese that is popular in artisan dishes, but fresh milk? Odds are they’ve never tasted the wonderful stuff.
Why goat’s milk isn’t goaty
Within minutes of being freshly milked, most goat’s milk is inherently sweet and clean tasting, with no strong aftertaste. The tendency for it to taste strong or goaty is a result of how it is handled. Goat’s milk has a high amount of lactic acid, and this lactic acid can multiply fast in warm temperatures over the course of 3-4 days. If goat’s milk is stored at a temperature higher than 38 degrees (most fridges hang out around 45 degrees), then the lactic acid has the advantage. The lactic acid will increase and your result (over the course of a week in that environment), will be a stronger & more goaty tasting goat’s milk.
On the other hand, if you filter the milk, get it cold within 15 minutes of milking, and store at a temperature less than 38 degrees, you’ll have sweet tasting milk waiting for you for up to a month! Pretty cool trick, eh?
Filtering the milk is an important step. If you’ve ever milked a goat (or any other animal for that matter), then you know the pail of milk isn’t too appetizing to look at, am I right? Flecks of dirt, a few bugs, some alfalfa leaves, and a good sampling of goat hair is what you’ll find in that lovely pail of milk. Before you start to gag on me, just know that this is impossible to avoid! Thank goodness for milk filters! Milk filters are designed specifically for filtering milk and provide a fast flow while removing every last speck of anything from the milk. They look similar to coffee filters, but for some reason coffee filters don’t work on milk. (Ask me how I know.)
Why it could be goaty
There are a few reasons why your goat’s milk could taste goaty right after milking. Goats produce strong pheramones and when kept in close quarters with bucks (male goats), the does (female goats) can be so affected by the buck’s odor, that the female hormones actually change the taste of the milk! In our experience, this doesn’t happen 100% of the time, but it’s still enough of a concern that we try to keep them apart. We’ve had bucks in the very same pen as our does and our does have still produced very clean & fresh-tasting milk. We’ve also had does that put off a strong musky flavor in their milk anytime they’re around a buck. It really just depends on the goat.
Finally, there are certain breeds of goats who are known for their pungent milk. Toggenburg & Oberhasi are the two breeds of goats who tend to have a very strong flavor from the second the stream of milk hits the pail. There isn’t a real explanation as to why this is, other than the fact that most people avoid these breeds unless they prefer the pungent flavor.
Goat breeds like Nubian, La Mancha, Alpine, & Nigerian are the most popular milking breeds. Nigerians are known for the sweetest tasting milk, so if you are on the lookout for a milking goat and are nervous about the taste of the milk, go Nigerian. You’ll get sweet, fresh-tasting milk every single time.
Where to buy goat’s milk
Did you know that 65% of the world’s population drinks goat’s milk? In the US, more and more people are turning to backyard farming and realizing how easy it is to care for a few goats! We love our milking goats, and we only spend about 20 minutes a day with them. Correction: My kids spend about 20 minutes a day with them. My 11 & 9 year old take full responsibility of the goats, from feeding & watering, to milking twice a day. Want to learn more about how to care for & milk goats? Read my article, A Simple Guide to Raising & Milking Goats
If you’re not ready to buy a goat, toss it in your backyard, and milk it everyday, there are definitely still some options. Your best option for the freshest milk is going to be from a local source. Visit the Real Milk Finder to find local dairies in your area. You can also search in your local ads or on craigslist, but I would urge you to make sure that the farm is kept clean, the animals are kept in pastures, fed quality feed & the milk is stored cold right after milking. As long as the milk is cared for properly, you’ll have fresh goat’s milk every time!