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Iowa’s #3 in dairy goat production

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 8th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Goat milk production set for is the focus of a seminar by the Iowa State University Extension Department on Saturday at Dordt College in Sioux Center. Extension Dairy specialist Fred Hall says Iowa is third in the country in dairy goat production, but it’s hard to calculate how many pounds of milk are produced. “We had about 270 herds milking goats. And the last report I’ve seen we’re down to about 170,” he says. “Now because the marketplace is diverse, we really don’t have a good handle on how many pounds actually being bought and processed.” Hall says dairy goats produce between four to four-and-a-half pounds of milk each day, compared to the 80 to 95 pounds of milk or more produced by the average dairy cow. He says the dairy goat production is distributed in much the same way as the dairy cow industry.

“If you look at Eastern Iowa, we’ve got several milk buyers there. So we see a lot of commercial dairies there, along the Mississippi River,” Hall says. Goat milk production is more localized in southern Iowa. “If you go south of (Highway) 20, you see a large percentage of the producers are Amish. So they sell to Kalona. And it really fits the family lifestyle,” Hall says. “When you come to the western side of the state, we currently don’t have a milk market for goat’s milk out here.”

Hall says western Iowa does see a lot of products made and sold from the goat milk. “They make cheese and lotions. You know, I jokingly and lovingly say, they’re my lotions and potions producers,” he says. Hall says smaller producers will have around 25 goats, while the largest has 350. He says one of the draws of milking goats is the price for a pound of milk allows you to do well with a small herd.

“Cow milk right now is worth about 18-50. And goat milk is worth about 32 (dollars). So they can be profitable because the milk is a lot more valuable. And goats a smaller, more efficient, eat less produce more,” he says.

Hall says the seminar will address some of the key issues facing goat producers and try to answer any questions they have. The event runs from 9:30 a-m to 3:15 p-m., Saturday.