Goat milk vs Cow milk: why you may want to switch to goat milk
Goat milk vs Cow milk: should you make a switch?
Goat milk has been known and used all over the world since ancient times. A saying common in many cultures says that a goat is a poor person’s cow. Not everyone in the old times was able to afford keeping a cow, but goats are much less demanding in terms of food and environment, are cheaper to keep and can provide a family with anywhere from 3 to 7 liters of milk per day during the lactation period that can last from 200 to 360 days! It is no wonder that many families throughout the history of humankind chose to keep goats and honored this animal as the family provider.
However, this doesn’t mean that goat milk is somehow inferior to cow’s milk. In fact, it may be quite the opposite!
In this article:
Goat milk vs Cow milk: chemical composition
Goat milk vs Cow milk: taste
Goat milk fat is easier to digest
Goat milk proteins are easier to digest
Goat milk vs Cow milk: goats milk is nutritionally superior over cows milk
Goat milk vs Cow milk: goats milk makes better baby food
Calories and nutrition
Goat milk vs Cow milk: goats milk contains less antibiotics (if any!) than cows milk
Just like cow’s milk, goat milk belongs to the casein food group, which means that goat milk proteins contain at least 75% of casein. Casein is an excellent source of valuable amino acids, calcium, phosphorus and carbohydrates.
Goat milk is particularly rich in casein. In fact, it is very similar to cows milk in terms of casein content (as well as some other chemical qualities). However, goat milk is actually higher in calories than cows milk! (Who would have thought!). Compared to cows milk, goat milk contains more dry matter, fat, protein and some mineral compounds such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese and zinc.
Compared to cows milk, goats milk contains more casein and albumin. Both are the proteins that offer invaluable amino acids for human health. In fact, the amount and quality of amino acids supplied by goat milk is very similar to that of human milk. This is critical for the use of goat milk as baby food. Goat milk can also supply you with tyrosine (an amino acid used by your body to synthesize proteins). It also has a good amount of tryptophan – an essential amino acid that helps your body to produce serotonin, improves your mood and sleep and helps improve your pain tolerance.
Cysteine is another important amino acid that is abundant in goats milk. Cysteine is used by the body to maintain the structure of its proteins as well as some other functions.
Goats milk also provides you with a good amount of methionine. Methionine is critical for many cell functions in the body.
Goat milk vs Cow milk composition
|Contained in milk, %||Goat milk||Cow milk|
You can actually see the difference between goat and cow milk just by looking at them side by side. Goat milk is quite a bit more white than cows milk. This is due to lack of pigmentation.
Many people that aren’t very familiar with goat milk but have tried it once or twice say that goat milk has an unpleasant “goaty” taste to it. This can sometimes happen if the wrong breed of goat was used to produce the milk (read more about types of goats here), or if the production conditions were unsanitary/the milk wasn’t preserved correctly. You can often feel that goaty taste in store-bought goat milk.
However, if you go to a farmer that specializes in goat milk and maintains proper sanitation and preservation, you may be very surprised to find that the milk actually doesn’t have any unpleasant taste or aftertaste. In fact, properly produced and preserved goat milk boasts a tender, milder taste than cows milk and is quite desirable.
Of course, everyone is different and your preference may still stay with cows milk. But try to keep an open mind and give it an honest try! More than half the world consumes goat milk on a regular basis. All those people can’t be wrong can they?
When it comes to goat milk butter vs cow milk butter, the goat butter is very similar to cow butter, but it has lower melting temperature.
Goat milk is actually quite variable in its taste and texture depending on the breed of goat that it’s produced from. For example, Nubian goats and Nigerian Dwarf goats produce milk with particularly high fat content (up to 9%) and high content of dry matter (up to 20%). Saanen goats produce much more milk than any other breed, but the fat content and dry matter content of Saanen goats milk is much lower.
The quality of the goat milk also depends on where in the lactation period the goat is (that’s probably something you’d be more interested in if you are an actual goat owner 😉 ), the age of the goat, the food that the goat is fed and even the time of the year. The more milk that the goat produces, the less fatty content it will have.
As you can see, goat milk provides quite a bit more variability in the quality of the milk than cows milk does. For goat lovers and goat owners out there playing with the quality of the milk they produce can be quite an interesting hobby/job/experiment. All types of milk can find their own “audience” and their own consumers which makes goat milk more of an artisanal product and such an interesting food product to work with. (Let alone consume!) It’s a little bit like craft beer. No two jugs of goat milk are the same.
Another significant difference between goat milk vs cow milk is the quality and size of the fat that it contains. The fat particles in the goat milk are much smaller than those in cows milk. Because of this, the fat from goats milk is much easier and faster to absorb for the human digestive track than cows milk. Many people that have troubles digesting cows milk (which can lead to indigestion, bloating, acid reflux, etc), may find that they have much less of an issue with goats milk.
Incidentally, goat milk proteins are also easier to digest for humans than cow milk proteins. Goats milk casein cells are smaller than cows milk casein, and they are easier for our stomach acid to denature and digest. Another bonus for goat milk vs cow milk.
The sugars that goat milk contains, namely glucose and lactose, are also smaller than the ones that cows milk contains. They are also easier for us to digest and absorb.
Goat’s milk has exceptionally high levels of vitamin A, which plays an important role in the health of your immune system, your eye sight and many other systems of the body, including overall resistance to diseases and infections. A very high calcium content of goats milk makes it an excellent choice for people who have calcium deficiency or are experiencing brittle bones or teeth.
Goat’s milk beats cow’s milk when it comes to vitamin content, particularly vitamins of the B group and vitamin C. It also has much more phosphorus and cobalt.
Chemically, goats milk it very similar to human milk – much more so than cows milk. Because of this, goats milk makes an excellent substitute for mother’s milk for the babies that, for any reason, cannot be breast-fed. Because goat milk is so much higher in fat than cows milk, a child needs needs to consume much less milk to satisfy the daily requirement of fat and energy through milk.
Goats milk has often been used as medicine in many cultures of the world. It is an excellent food for weakened or sick individuals, because it is so rich in nutrients and calories, but is easy to digest at the same time (unless you have gallbladder issues and struggle with fat digestion).
Goats milk tends to be free from antibiotics in most cases, as opposed to cows milk which almost always contains them. This is for two reasons. One, cows milk is a gigantic industry. Most of the cows milk that the world consumes is produced commercially, on large facilities housing thousands of cows. Because of this way of keeping a large number of animals in close proximity, dairy facilities have constant issues with animals getting sick.
This is why they use antibiotics extensively – to limit the disease and infection within their “stock”. This is why every time you buy mil from the store, you can be sure you are consuming traces of antibiotics in every sip. (Unless, of course, you are getting your milk from a conscientious farmer who doesn’t use antibiotics for their cows).
Goat milk is not such a big industry. In fact, most goat milk is produced on independent farms. It is sold in small enough amounts that there isn’t an issue with keeping too many animals in the same spot, which eliminates the issue of mass infection. In addition to that, goats are generally more resistant to infection than cows. Antibiotics are rarely used in goat milk production. This is why, if you are concerned with antibiotics consumption, goat milk would be a better choice for you.
Overall, goat milk is a fantastic choice, whether you simply add it to your diet or fully replace cows milk with it. It is easier to digest, contains more fat and amino acids, as well as some minerals, and is higher in calories than cows milk. One thing I forgot to mention is that goat milk is used to make wonderful cheese! If you are getting a little bored with your regular Gouda or Cheddar, give some goat cheese a try!