The importance of goat rearing in providing nutritional and financial sustenance to the economically weaker sections of the society is well recognized in developing countries. Goats have the ability to thrive under diverse climatic conditions and withstand extreme vagaries of nature. They are known for their versatility in adapting to arid, humid, tropical, cold, desert and mountain conditions and in the process providing people with many important livelihood products such as meat, milk, skin, draft and pack power, cashmere, mohair and enriching manure for crops and gardens.

There are 160 popular goat breeds available worldwide which are based on the size of populations, productivity and unique characteristics. Among these, the level of milk production data collected from 46 countries are available for 89 breeds and four high yielding breeds in this list are considered as improver breeds for the developing countries. They are Alpine, Saanen, Toggenburg and Nubian. The Saanen is more popular for its extensive use in cross breeding programmes worldwide resulting in evolution of new breeds, often with new names.

Some of the available data show that the average milk yield of the breed Saanen generally exceeds 2000 kg while that for Alpine in UK and Nordic goats in Norway yield more than 1,900 kg in a single lactation. Individual best performance records show that the American Toggenburg yielded 3,023 kg, Alpine 2,916 kg, Saanen 2,695 kg, LaMancha 2,454 kg and Nubian 2,423 kg of milk.

As per the FAO statistics 1998, India possesses the largest number of goats (120.56 million), which contribute three million metric ton of milk. Adequate processing of raw milk of goat followed by value addition will result in doubling of return from goat milk apart from increased shelf life and reduced volume of the product resulting in lower transportation cost than that is obtained as of now.

Goat milk (Caprine milk), on an average contains about 12.2% total solids, consisting of 3.8% fat, 3.5% protein, 4.1% lactose, and 0.8% ash. In other words, it has more fat, protein, and ash and less lactose than cow milk. The fat, total solids and protein contents of the goat milk are high in early lactation, fall rapidly and reach a minimum during the second to third months of lactation. These constituents then increase towards the end of lactation, yielding an inverse relationship between the yield of milk and percentage composition of these constituents.

The total casein content of goat milk is slightly less but has higher non-protein nitrogen content than that of the cow milk. The most striking difference in the basic composition between goat (or cow) milk and human milk lies in protein and ash contents. Goat and cow milk have substantially (about three to four times) greater levels of protein and ash content than human milk, which is species specific and directly related to growth rate of the newborn of the respective species. Differences in total solids and caloric values among goat, cow, and human milks are not significant. However, the prominent difference is in the proportion of energy derived from lactose and protein. Fat, lactose and protein in goat and cow milks account for approximately 50, 25, and 25% of the energy, respectively, whereas human milk contributes 55, 38, and 7% respectively.

However, certain peculiar characteristics of goat milk like relatively smaller size of the fat globules, lower heat stability, soft curd and the typical “goaty odour” have to be taken care of while dealing with goat milk especially in processing and marketing.

1. How to produce clean goat milk?

2. Composition and physico-chemical properties of goat milk

3. Constituents of goat milk

a. Goat Milk Lipids

b. Goat Milk Proteins

4. Goat Milk Products

5. Medicinal properties of goat milk

6. Significance of goat milk