Dairy goat is considered the cow of the poor. The goat eats little, occupies a small area and produces enough milk for the average unitary family, whereas maintaining a cow at home cannot be afforded by the homeowner, hence, the growing popularity of goat as the poor person’s cow.
Dairy goats produce about 15.2 million metric tons (MT) of milk, accounting for about 2% of the world total amount of milk produced by livestock species. The developing countries produce approximately 83% of the total amount. In Europe, goat breeding is strongly oriented towards milk production, with only 3% of the world goat population producing about 15% of the world’s goat milk, which is mostly used for cheese production.
The largest amount of goat milk is produced in India, followed by Bangladesh and Sudan. There are three European countries in the list producing a considerable amount of goat milk: Spain, France and Greece. These three countries produce similar amounts of goat milk. In France, interest in dairy goats has led to the establishment of organized programs for selection, processing and commercialization of goat milk, which is produced mainly from Saanen and Alpine breeds.
France leads the list in terms of the annual milk production per dairy doe, while Iran reports the lowest milk production per dairy doe. China has the largest total number of goats in the world, but they are mainly kept for meat production. Milk production per dairy doe ranks third, behind France and Spain. China officially reports 1.4 million dairy goats producing 0.3 million MT of milk.
China had about 5.8 million dairy goats in 2008. Both sources of statistics on goats may be questioned because they are not based on actual censuses, and the number of dairy goats is even more difficult to count due to the lack of breed definition. Since 1990, interest in dairy goats has been steadily increasing, as manifested by the increase in milk production from about 10 million MT in 1990 to about 15.2 million MT in 2008.
The dairy goat industry has great potential for further growth. It has grown partly because of a trend towards self sufficiency by rural people, especially in developing countries, where goat milk can help to improve the nutrition of millions of people. In developing countries, much of the milk produced by goats is for consumption, but goat milk can also be further processed into a variety of marketable products.
Marketing of goat milk and its products is still in its infancy. So far, there have been no marketing efforts attempted on a broad scale. Less than 5% of the total milk produced by goats is marketed.
There are many challenges facing the dairy goat industry, including collecting complete and reliable data on all aspects of production through developing nationwide strategies, identifying superior and proven bucks that accelerate the genetic improvement in the commercial herds and solving the seasonality problem to ensure the consistent flow of goat milk. Seasonal breeding and the resulting annual fluctuations in goat milk supply have made development of new markets difficult and have dampened the importance of milk yield as a breeding goal. The development of a professional marketing system is part of the challenge to benefit from the fact that many people consuming dairy products prefer products from goats.
Article by Mahmoud Abdel Aziz
King Faisal University, Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia
(Present status of the world goat populations and their productivity)