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How can the flavour of something be described - Most easily by comparison with other foods. In the case of goats milk, mainly it tastes like milk - by which most people mean cows milk. There are slight differences, and some people prefer one or the other. Those who prefer goats milk describe it as smoother, cleaner or lighter, or maybe richer - meaning that less is needed to give the same flavour to tea or coffee. But for the majority the choice is not determined by taste but by which one is available or cheapest, unless there is a specific dietary requirement for goats milk.

Despite this, there are many people with very strong views about the flavour or quality of goats milk as opposed to cows milk. In many cases, these arise from the issues described below.

Individual differences between goats

For every type of dairy animal, there are large differences between individuals. So, one cow or goat may produce milk which is very creamy or very sweet and another produces milk that tastes watery. This variation is normal, but it is important when selecting animals for breeding that the quality of the milk -concentration and flavour - are considered, not just the quantity.

Occasionally individual goats may have bitter or goaty tasting milk, and this is dealt with in the following sections.

Off flavours

Mann ist was er isst. And a goat is what it eats too. So it is not surprising that what comes out of a goat sometimes smells of what goes in. That means that in any case where there is a strange taste in the milk, the feed needs to be checked. Some deworming medicines can also give an unpleasant taste to the milk, but this should not be a problem if milk is withdrawn from human consumption for the recommended period following treatment.

Sometimes one goat will give bitter or off-tasting milk when the milk from other goats is fine. It is possible that individual variation is the cause, but it is more likely that disease is to blame - typically sub-clinical mastitis .

The other common cause of bad-tasting milk is unhygienic handling. As with any other dairy product, it is essential that all containers and implements used for carrying or processing the milk are clean and sterile.

‘Goaty’ flavours

Even when all the above factors have been accounted for, the milk from some goats has a significant ‘goaty’ smell. The traditional explanation for this is that the doe in question was kept too close to a male goat, and indeed there is a similarity in the smells. However, at JOY Youth Training Centre there were many smelly male goats, but it was not necessarily the females that were closest to them that had the problem. And certain females often had smelly milk irrespective of where they were housed. A more plausible explanation is that goat milk sometimes contains significant amounts of an enzyme that can release the smelly compounds from the normal milk fats. (For a clear explanation see e.g. p676 of Goat Medicine by Mary C. Smith & David M. Sherman, 2009, ISBN: 0812114787, Barnes & Noble) Because it is likely that this characteristic can be inherited, goats with milk like this should not be used as breeding stock. However, there is no problem with using this milk for feeding kids, to free up better milk for household consumption or sale. (However it should be pasteurised or boiled to prevent risk of CAE transmission.)


of goats milk