Current status, challenges and prospects for dairy goat production in the Americas

  • Lu, Christopher D. (College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management, University of Hawaii) ;
  • Miller, Beth A. (Department of Natural and Physical Sciences, University of Arkansas - Pulaski Technical College)
  • Received : 2019.03.30
  • Accepted : 2019.06.05
  • Published : 2019.08.01


Dairy goat production continues to be a socially, economically and culturally important part of the livestock industry in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean islands. Goat milk, cheese and other dairy products offer consumers food products with nutritional, health and environmental benefits. In North America, Mexico produces the greatest volume of goat milk, but most is for family or local consumption that is typical of a mixed farming system adopted by subsistence farmers in dry areas. The United States is not yet a large global goat milk producer, but the sector has expanded rapidly, with dairy goat numbers doubling between 1997 and 2012. The number of dairy goats has also increased dramatically in Canada. Commercial farms are increasingly important, driven by rising demand for good quality and locally sourced goat cheese. In South America, Brazil has the most developed dairy goat industry that includes government assistance to small-scale producers and low-income households. As of 2017, FAO identified Haiti, Peru, Jamaica, and Bolivia as having important goat milk production in the Western Hemisphere. For subsistence goat producers in the Americas on marginal land without prior history of chemical usage, organic dairy goat production can be a viable alternative for income generation, with sufficient transportation, sanitation and marketing initiatives. Production efficiency, greenhouse gas emission, waste disposal, and animal welfare are important challenges for dairy goat producers in the Americas.


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