How Does Goat Milk Taste?


It's a question I hear often: what does goat milk taste like? 

Some of the people asking have tasted the nasty goat milk from the grocery store; others have heard rumors and tales of how "goaty" it tastes. 

Properly handled, fresh goat milk tastes good. It is very similar to whole cow's milk. Most people can't even tell the difference.

Canned goat milk from the grocery store does taste pretty bad, in my opinion. But I'm used to delicious, fresh goat milk. I think canned cow's milk from the grocery store tastes pretty bad too. 

But that's not good, fresh milk, so I think it's like comparing apples to oranges. Both apples and oranges are round and grow on trees, but that's where the similarities end.

Likewise, canned milk and fresh milk are both milk, but that might be the only thing they have in common.

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The taste of milk is affected by many factors

Factors that affect the taste of goat milk include freshness, the goat's diet, her environment, and how the milk is handled after milking.

Those same variables affect cows' milk too.

Cows' milk from the grocery store has been processed, pasteurized and homogenized, with sugar, vitamins and other ingredients added. It will taste the same from one carton to another. The milk from one particular cow isn't recognizable.

Grocery store goat milk is also processed, and it all tastes the same too. One carton is the same as another.

If you milk a few goats of your own, you might be able to tell the difference in taste from one goat to another. Some goats' genetics will affect the flavor of their milk, at least in my experience. 

Fresh milk also tastes different depending on the stage of lactation. It tastes different in the summer than it did in the spring.

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Fresh milk tastes best

If you were to buy goat milk in a carton from the refrigerated dairy section of the grocery store, keep in mind that the milk is several days away from the goat. It's not fresh. 

On the other hand, if you own your own goat and collect fresh milk every morning, that milk is fresh. The taste will prove it.

The goat's diet affects taste

Many plants, weeds and herbs will affect the taste of the milk. 

Eating wild onions, for instance, will give the milk an onion-y taste. We've noticed that ragweed will change the taste, as can other plants and weeds. Another culprit is feed that includes soy.

While our goats are in milk, they are fed good hay and grain. Alfalfa is high in protein so it sustains a doe in milk, plus it lends a delicious, sweet flavor to the milk.

Spring clover grows in our goats' pens. Clover is rich and will also help produce delicious and abundant milk.

We restrict access to weeds and brush during milking season, so our milk is fresh and delicious. 

Environment affects the taste of milk

A goat that lives in a dirty environment, lying around on dirty straw and goat berries, will produce off-flavored milk.

Keeping a strong-smelling buck near the does, or in the same pen, can also cause the milk to taste "musky." This is what most people mean when they said it tastes "goaty."

Strive to keep everything as clean as you possibly can. 

Milk Handling

How you handle the milk once it comes out of the goat's udder is extremely important. 

Keep everything clean, clean, clean, from the milk bucket to the jars and lids that store your milk. 

Milk your goat in the cleanest environment possible. 

A concrete-floored milking room is ideal, but if you don't have one available, keep the milking stand in the cleanest place possible, clean thoroughly after milking, and don't allow the goats access to it unless they are being milked.

Wash your equipment thoroughly and rinse it very well. Wash your hands before milking.

Clean the goat's udder before milking. Many owners give their goats a "milking clip" to help keep the udder clean. 

Filter the milk with a good quality filter. I use this milk strainer with these disposable filters.

Chill the milk as quickly as possible - I've shared some tips on chilling milk here.. Keep it cold. 

Store goat milk in a clean refrigerator. A cut onion in the refrigerator will flavor the milk, so protect your milk jars from odors. Glass containers protect milk better than plastic.

Read more about storing milk here.

Drink goat milk while it's fresh. We drink this morning's milk today; tomorrow we will drink tomorrow morning's milk. Day-old milk is used in cooking, and older milk is used to make cheese.

Dairy goat eating hay

If you are used to drinking low-fat or skim milk from the grocery store, fresh goat milk might taste funny at first. Fresh goat milk is whole milk, with none of the fat removed. 

Switching from low-fat grocery-store milk to whole grocery-store milk will taste funny too.

Goat milk is naturally homogenized, but the cream will eventually separate a bit and rise to the top of the jar. Simply shake the jar to mix it up again, or spoon off the cream to go in your coffee.

How does goat milk taste? 

It tastes like fresh, delicious milk.

You’ll find all of my posts on raising goats here.

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  1. Love this. I still haven't tasted goat's milk, but I'm sure I would love it. I'm kind of a milkaholic, LOL.

  2. A "milkaholic" - I like that term, Rose. :-)

  3. I have never tasted fresh goat's milk - only the nasty stuff at the grocery store. I admit that my idea of goat's milk was tainted by that stuff. Now, I am so curious to taste fresh goat's milk. Thank you for this post!

  4. It's not at all like that nasty stuff, Angela. I hope you'll give it a try if you ever have the opportunity.

  5. This is a familiar question as I grew up drinking goats milk and still am blessed to have my parents share milk with our family so we can drink it. We do notice flavors now and then (due to something they eat) but mostly it is just good milk!

  6. I don't have goats yet. But I do drink goats milk every day. I buy a gallon of the most sweet, creamy, delicious goats milk at our farmer's market every Saturday morning. My milk is produced by a Mennonite family farm. That Saturday milk is still delicious and soul satisfying by the last drops on Friday.

  7. Hm, I wonder if some people just can't taste the difference between cow and goat milk, while other people can't. I have never raised goats, so the goat milk I've had has never been quite as fresh as yours. But I do sometimes get it from a Vermont farm where they advertize that it tastes just like cow milk. But to me and my family, it does not. It is good, I like it, but it has a distinctive flavor recognizable as goat milk, the same distinctive flavor you get in goat cheese or goat milk yogurt. It's better than the stuff in the carton at the grocery store (which isn't bad, to me), but no way could it pass as cow milk to my taste buds. It's sweet and delicious, but quite different from cow milk. Found this post via Backyard Farming Connection.

  8. I tasted goat's milk for the first time last month and it did taste like what I remember cow's milk tasting. It was delicious and quite refreshing.

    Thanks for sharing this on The Maple Hill Hop!

  9. Abbi, Shannon and Daisy - you've found goat owners who know what to feed their goats. :-)

  10. Janet, I'd be curious to know what those goats eat, but yes, some people can taste the difference even when it's slight. I've noticed that the taste of goat milk (all raw milk, actually) changes as the days go by, which is why I drink the freshest milk each day.

  11. Ahhh, I can't wait till we start milking again, about one more week! My children are excited as I only allow the store bought cow milk (during the off season) for just kefir and yogurt making. But when we have our goats' milk they get to drink it by the glass. My kiddos prefer goat milk to cow milk. The transition to the store bought milk goes over with weeping an gnashing of teeth...ok, maybe not that bad :-) They do, however, notice the difference and they don't care for it.

    A couple of years ago we had a new milking goat (born from one of our good milkers) who had great udder/teat conformation, and a wonderful supply. I was sooooo excited...until we tasted her milk. Oh. My. Goodness. It was horrid!! I tried everything, but nothing would fix the horrid taste. We kept her for the next year to see if it was just a fluke for her first milking season. Sadly it was not. Strangest thing, since all of our other goats' milk tastes awesome!


  12. Kerri, how disappointing that must have been! But I know it happens, some goats just make bad-tasting milk. I had an alpine with that problem, I sold her just like you did. I'm glad your children love goat milk so much.

  13. Mmmmmm! You've got us excited for milking season! Only a few more months...

  14. I'm glad it helped you. I hope kidding season goes well for you!

  15. Great post! One of my grandmothers was next to a goat farm. While the milk does taste different, its a wonderful experience everyone should have. Stopping by from the farm blog hop and (non blogger site)

  16. Thank you for stopping by, Chrystal!

  17. Thanks for sharing at Tuesdays with a Twist. We hope to see you again this week!

  18. When we first started drinking goats milk, my sister said she felt sorry for my girls (they complained to her about it) I gave her a glass, she drank some..and said oh, it taste like milk!
    She quit feeling sorry for them :)
    I have had bad tasting goats milk, though-handling it so important.

    1. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead2:05 PM

      Sandra, how you handle milk is so important, isn't it?

  19. Great post! I just recently tasted fresh goat milk for the first time, and I love it! My son loved it too.

  20. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead2:09 PM

    It tastes like milk, right, Mary?

  21. I am a new Goat owner and my goat is only 8 weeks old. Can you give me an Idea of milking season? what is that?

    1. Congratulations on your new goat! "Milking season" is basically from the time your goat kids until you dry her up, usually about 10 months long, because they need at least two months off before she kids again. I wrote a post on the timing of goat breeding; it might answer some of your questions: When to Breed Your Goat. There are many other goat posts you can find by typing "goat" in the search box in the sidebar.


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