What Makes Some Goat Milk Taste Bad

I was asked, “What makes some goat milk taste bad?”  Milk should taste like milk…but milk may not always taste like that white liquid you buy at the store.  Some milk has character.  Some milk tastes different.  Some milk tastes bad.  I’ll offer my thoughts on the subject, though I’m far from an authority.  In fact, I’m anxious to read your responses.  I also want to note this is not limited to goat milk.

Goat milk, cow milk and, I suspect, camel milk all benefit from being refrigerated quickly.  Milk is biologically active and yearns to express its potential.  We place our milk in the freezer immediately after milking to chill it quickly and slow biological processes as soon as possible.  This quick chill doesn’t kill anything but it does slow everything down.  Our friend Steve does the same thing with cow’s milk.  He sterilizes a deep freezer every night, fills it about 1/3 full of water and lets it chill overnight.  In the morning he puts 5-10 gallons of milk in the freezer in cans to chill.  We do something similar but since we’re only chilling 4-6 pounds of milk (as opposed to 80 pounds) and since we consume all of our milk ourselves we just pop the jar in the freezer with the pork chops.  This could affect flavor.

Your dairy can impart flavors on milk.  Is the goat clean and brushed and did you wash the udder?  Are your buckets and jars sterile?  Did you use an appropriate filter to strain the milk?  Not only can your milk become unsafe to drink, the critters you introduce when handling the milk can change the flavor.

Diet makes a huge difference in milk flavor.  Our goats get a varied diet in addition to free-choice alfalfa hay.  We also buy raw cow’s milk from a dairy North of us.  There is a noticeable difference in flavor as the seasons change.  In the winter the cows eat alfalfa hay and the milk is sweeter.  As spring comes on their diet is rye and clover.  The milk takes on a smokey character.  I find myself lacking appropriate adjectives for the milk but it does change seasonally as does the cow’s diet.  Further, goat milk changes depending on what kinds of weeds are out there and the availability of browse.  Finally, milk changes as we get further into the lactation.

Some goats just have a different…flavor.  Like apples, genetics seem to have an impact.  I know.  Do with that what you will.  I suspect it’s the least important after diet, sanitation and quick chill.

Buck Smell
If you  keep a buck with your doe you’ll smell him.  The smell won’t leave you.  You can’t get it out of your clothes.  Your co-workers will remark on the odor.  It soaks into your pores and no amount of pumice will remove it.  Makes sense then that it will be on your doe…and it will taint the milk.

What do you do with your goat milk?  Just add a glass and drink?  Goat milk ice cream?  Cheese?  Let us know in the comments below.


18 thoughts on “What Makes Some Goat Milk Taste Bad

  1. I think all your points are really good. Each breed of goat will give a slightly different tasting milk (I personally don’t care for milk from Toggenburgs, Saanens, and Oberhaslis). I have Nubian goats because I love the cream and sweet taste! Diet is a huge factor too; I can’t stand the taste of alfalfa in my milk. It tastes so bitter… Yuck. I’ve had other people too, who have complained that their milk tasted nasty, but once they took their goats off of alfalfa, BLING! The milk tasted wonderful.

    We have two fridges here, one for dairy and eggs, and the other for, well, everything else. In the dairy fridge I keep a stainless steel pail full of water. After straining the milk, I put the jars in this refrigerated water bath, and either add a bunch of ice cubes, or I’ll put in a freezer bag filled with frozen water (giant ice cube!). I find that this chills my milk way faster than putting it in the freezer (I’ve always gotten an off flavor when using the freezer, but maybe that’s just me…), and I can usually get the milk properly chilled in 20 minutes.

    • I know you posted this a year ago but I’ll give this a try anyway. I’m fairly new to having dairy goats and was wondering what you DO feed your goats. You said they aren’t on alfalfa. Care to elaborate? Thanks! 🙂

      • I’m hoping Caitlyn will reply but in case she doesn’t…

        You have to find a high-quality hay, alfalfa or otherwise. During the growing season, goats prefer to eat the woody, green, growing tips of tree branches and some forbs. If your land is covered in brush, goats are just the tool you need. If your land is an orchard, goats will destroy it. We have a variety of trees that grow back rapidly from a stump. We just cut them in rotation and take limbs to the goats or, more simply, take the goats to the brushy ground.

        Brush or not, quality hay is a constant necessity.

  2. I have recently heard about the benefits of goat’s milk for people with digestive disorders. I have Crohn’s disease and have more frequent bathroom breaks. My second cousin was sickly with bowel problems when he was little and he drank goat’s milk every day and he got well. I’m willing to drink goat’s milk instead of stuffing my mouth full of Immodium, codeine and Questran. I bought a can of evaporated goat’s milk because I didn’t see anything else. Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting even a mouthful down. I diluted it to make the whole milk version. It was gamey with a bitter and potent aftertaste. It is unsweetened. My question is: will a little sugar help the taste or do I need to find a different brand of goat’s milk? I want to start drinking it daily to see if my GI tract improves. I have no problems digesting cow’s milk but I would like to add goat’s milk as a healthy alternative to drink first thing in the morning. Thanks for the help.

    • You would be happier finding a dairy and buying your milk raw and whole. Be sure to meet them and visually inspect the dairy. Make sure it is clean. Make sure the animals are clean. Try the milk. Each animal has its own taste, feed changes that taste. Goat or Cow…we drink it raw.

    • If at all possible you want to find a reputable source of raw goat milk., pasteurizing it kills all the good stuff, and no can and no sugar, goat milk can taste divine if it comes from healthy goats, though we have had one goat that the milk was… awful, the chickens and pigs like it though so we keep milking her, but she gets milked very last LOL But that is one goat out of a hundred, and yes what they eat makes a difference, we feed our goats fodder, a barley, black oil sunflower flax and chicory mix that we sprout. super food for goats, well all of our animals eat it, but since they have been eating the fodder or sprouts the milk is sweeter, more cream, and there is more milk. when we first got the goats we would let them eat weeds, and well the milk tasted like weeds so that ended rather quickly. Good luck in your search

  3. I was wondering if breed can also affect flavor. I went to one lady who milked Nubians. She gave me a sample, but it didn’t taste very good. I went to another lady who also kept Nubians, and their milk tasted fine when fresh, but bad the next day. The third lady I went to kept Saanens, and their milk tasted great, and the milk kept fresh without any off-taste in the fridge for 2 weeks. I’ve heard Saanens being referred to as the “Holsteins” of the goat world and wondered if that would make a difference in milk flavor, or if different feed/pasture is more responsible for the flavor of the milk.

    • I am sure breed can affect flavor,. Just think of the differences between the fat of Dexter cattle, Jerseys and Holsteins…let alone Dutch Belted…and ignoring A2 milk for now. Goats must be the same. That said, milk from any goat can be changed by diet, how the milk is handled and, I am sure, stress. Just failing to chill the milk quickly can negatively affect the flavor and longevity.

      In short, I would look less at the breed and more at the dairy. Get to know your dairyman.

  4. Hi, I read your article and really it is useful. I’m Iraqian living in Malaysia. In my country we use to drink fresh milk.When I came malaysia there are two farms near to my house, one farm the sell the goat milk, the taste sweet and very nice. The second farm the taste is really like milk mix with blood even I can smell bold in the milk.The two farms near to each other, what is the reason?

  5. Hi there, being from India, we rarely drink cold milk here. Usually it is warmed and spiced with a pinch of turmeric, clove, cardamom and sweetened with honey or sugar. I have found Goats milk is very palatable after spicing. And yes it depends on what the Goat is eating. There is a tendency in the West to support animals with supplements and medicines (which are totally uneccesary like vitamins). Goats and humanity did okay up until 40 years . ago. I’m sure the Goat diet is resulting in bad tasting milk… But spicing will help

    • Absolutely. But I really think the way the milk is handled makes the biggest difference.

      I’m interested in the spiced warm milk. I’ll be sure to ask my co-workers from Andhra for some tips.

  6. Dear Chism Farm,
    Thank you very much for proclaiming the glory of Jesus Christ on your website 🙂
    I own goats as well, (Nigerian Dwarfs) and my 4th day trying to milk had some weird tasting milk start and continue. I googled this, and I found your webpage. I started reading your blog. Thank you so much for glorifying God! I know a little of what you are feeling, and I am very encouraged by your testimony…
    Keep glorifying God!
    -Marcia B.
    Isaiah 45:18
    1st Corinthians 15:55-58, 16:13-14
    1st Timothy 6:11-16

  7. Three micron filter water purifier in the freezer will do wonders. You just have to try it. The drip purifiers work with no effort, like having to add a pump. I don’t know what else gets removed but the flavor sure is a lot better. This is my personal secret!…lol

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