Goat Milk vs Cow Milk ~ Which is Healthier?

by CindyMurdoch

Have you ever wondered which was healthier - goat's milk vs cow's milk? After reading this article you should have enough information to make an informed decision.

If you live in the United States, and drink milk, you most likely drink cow's milk. However, you would find yourself in the minority. People worldwide drink more goat's milk than they do cow's milk. But goat's milk consumption is increasing in the United States; and it is more readily available in supermarkets than it once was – albeit at a much higher price than that of cow's milk. It can even be purchased plain, or with added flavors and nutrients.

Goat milk versus cow milk is a topic that has long been debated, but in Western societies, cow milk always comes out on top. What does the rest of the world know that Western societies such as the United States do not?

Why do people overlook this higher price and continue to purchase goat milk? Goat milk is healthier for humans than cow milk, and as a whole, dairy goat farmers tend to use more natural methods of caring for their herds than do their counterparts, the dairy cow farmers.

Goats, being smaller than cows, have access to more free range than do cows. Goat keepers also tend to use fewer antibiotics for disease management, seeking instead, more natural treatment options and typically follow a natural preventative program. Also the highly controversial bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is not used in the herd management of goats.

Goats have the advantage of being able to survive in conditions that a cow could not. Goats can survive on less and lower quality forage. Being primarily browsers by choice, they will eat things that cows will not. But this is not the stereotypical 'any and everything' that is depicted in the cartoons. Although they will eat grasses, they actually seem to prefer the leaves and smaller branches found on shrubs and the lower branches of trees. Trees and shrubs often have deeper root systems pulling more minerals from deeper in the earth's crust.

Goats are also much more suitable for use in hilly and rocky areas where a cow could not be kept at all. Therefore, many people raise goats and drink goat milk out of necessity rather than choice.

Let’s compare goat milk and cow milk.

Fat Content is Higher But Healthier

Goat's milk has a higher total fat content. It also has smaller sized fat globules making it easier for humans to digest. The fat in goat's milk does not clump together like that of cow's milk, causing it to be more naturally homogenized which also aids in its digestibility. It has higher levels of medium chain triglycerides (MCT) which has exhibited many health benefits.

I got this cute drinking goat milk!
I got this cute drinking goat milk!

Protein Content

Goat milk contains more protein per serving along with higher amounts of essential amino acids. The structure of some of the proteins found in goat's milk enhances its digestibility and causes less allergic reactions than cow's milk. Goat milk has lower amounts and in some cases no amounts of the alpha-s1-casein protein that causes so many problems with digestibility.

Carbohydrates

Because goat milk has less lactose, it also has a lower carbohydrate count.

Vitamins

Goat milk provides more vitamin A; however, it is of the non-beta-carotene form. It is this form of vitamin A that causes goat milk to be whiter than cow milk. Goat milk has a lot more B3 (niacin) and B6, but is lower in B9 (folic acid) and B12. All other vitamin levels are comparable between the two.

Minerals

Goat milk has more calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper, magnesium and substantially more potassium and manganese. The selenium found in goat milk has more antioxidant properties. The levels of zinc and sodium are comparable between the two.

Research Continues

After studies comparing goat milk and cow milk, researchers believe that goat milk may actually help prevent health issues such as anemia and bone demineralization (softening of the bones). Because of the properties of goat milk our bodies are better able to utilize the minerals found in the milk.

And unlike cow milk, the calcium found in goat milk does not interfere with the bio-availability of other minerals.

Perhaps those who are willing to pay more for goat milk are also aware that they are receiving more value for their money.

Copyright © 2011 Cindy Murdoch - All Rights Reserved

Older Comments... (This article was moved from another one of my sites to here, and fully updated April 27, 2012)
(wouldn't want you to miss some of the great comments others have shared!)

StephanieBCrosby - Thanks for this hub. I made the switch from cow's milk once I realized my son and daughter's systems did not seem to agree with cow's milk. First they did soy after breastfeeding and the pediatrician always questioned my decision. However, they finally did routine allergy tests and found both my son and daughter had a sensitivity to cow's milk. A mother knows best. I also found out soy was not agreeable for my daughter, so she gets goat's milk most often along with non-dairy milks. The only thing with goat's milk is if you are looking for vitamin D, you have to read the label. Some companies add it and others do not.

LindaSmith -Goats milk is often used for those who are allergic to milk, meaning cow's milk, and yes goats milk does have less of essential vitamins.

Kris Heeter - Interesting topic. There is some debate as to whether pasteurization destroys many of the vitamins and nutrients and of course pasteurization does destroy probiotics. There are many advocates out there suggesting raw milk (goat or cow) is more healthy than pasteurized. I think there is still a lot of scientific research to be done.

justateacher - As a child, I was so allergic to milk that my mouth and throat would swell to the point that I couldn't breath. I would have hives up and down my throat and even into my stomach. It also caused bronchitis type symptoms and caused many other difficulties. I tried every different type of milk that had ever been thought of and the only thing that helped a little was the soy milk - and even it gave me fits. I was finally given calcium supplements - that caused a different type of problems - but at least they were tolerable. I remember many times as a child that my mother had to take doctor's statements into my elementary school so that I would not be forced to drink milk and so that I could bring something else in from home to drink.

Cute poster advertising a seminar on goat milk!
Cute poster advertising a seminar on ...

As I matured, the effects have lessened enough that I can now have milk and milk products occasionally, but I still have to be careful of it. And I really dislike people telling me that I am just lactose intolerant and that there are "cures" for that - it is more than just intolerance - it can be a deadly consequence for me if I am not careful... Thanks for your article!

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Updated: 05/17/2012, CindyMurdoch
 
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CindyMurdoch on 05/21/2012

katiem2 - we do read so many bad things about cows milk, so it is good to know that there are healthy alternatives.

katiem2 on 05/21/2012

I had no idea how healthy goats milk is, I'm always happy to learn about healthy alternatives to milk. Thanks

CindyMurdoch on 05/18/2012

Donna - I am pleased that you enjoyed this and affirm the stance on the issue. It is amazing how many different uses there are for goat milk. Thanks so much!

Donna_Cosmato on 05/18/2012

Awesome article! We love goat butter, goat cheese, goat milk, goat soap...well, you get the point! It has a naturally sweet taste and is much better for most of us than cow's milk. You've done a fine job of presenting the pros and cons of this topic!

CindyMurdoch on 05/17/2012

sheilamarie - Having grown up on a farm, I know also that the taste of the milk is definitely affected by their diet. Thanks for the insight!

sheilamarie on 05/17/2012

Very good article about the differences between cow's milk and goat's milk. Sometimes the taste is what puts people off goat's milk, though as someone who has milked both animals, I can tell you that what they eat and how they are housed makes a big difference to how the milk tastes.

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