Herd Size & Welfare
Commercial goat farms average 700 milking goats and provide a consistent supply of top quality milk to processors across the country. The average yield from a milking goat is about 10% of the yield expected from a cow, so in comparison, more goats are needed to produce an equivalent volume of milk.
Goats are not suited to cold and wet conditions and most of them are housed under shelter. They are not constrained in stalls, but are free to roam around in familiar groups, on dry straw bedding with a constant supply of food and water available and with plenty of fresh air and light, whilst protected from the vagaries of the British climate.
Farms supplying all of the Goat Dairy Trade Association members adhere to farm assurance and welfare standards as part of the Goat Farmers (UK) Dairy Farm Assurance Scheme. This enables the farms to carry Red Tractor Accreditation. This is one such scheme that promotes world class standards of quality, hygiene, welfare and environmental care under the stewardship of the Red Tractor logo.
It is important to remember that it is not the size of the herd that affects the animal’s welfare; it is the standard of animal husbandry and quality of farm management that is important. Good animal husbandry is key, regardless of the size of the herd.
The UK dairy goat industry is made up of 40-45 thousand goats producing just less than 34 million litres of milk commercially. This compares to a UK dairy herd of 1.9 million cows producing just less than 15 billion litres of cows’ milk (2014/5).
Though significant, goat dairy remains a specialist market with goat milk representing less than 0.2% of the volume of cows’ milk produced in the UK. Goat cheese (UK and imported) is now in the top 10 cheeses consumed in the UK.
Goats’ milk produced in the UK is primarily sold as butter, cheese and yogurt.