Goat Milk, Cow Milk, Sheep Milk: What Are the Differences?

Goat Milk, Cow Milk, Sheep Milk: What Are the Differences?

We are told from an early age to drink our milk because it will help us grow up strong. However, when most of us hear “drink your milk,” we immediately think of cow’s milk. In the United States, milk from cows is by far the most popular type of milk, mostly due to marketing, government oversight, and the plain fact that cows are typically more docile and easy to manage than other milk-producing animals.

Cow’s milk is the most commercially available type of milk, which usually means it’s the least expensive—even with the product’s price being heavily regulated by government entities. However, just because it’s the most popular type of milk in North America does not mean it’s the best. In fact, many people cannot even tolerate the lactose in cow’s milk or suffer from a milk allergy. Sheep and goat’s milk are different in fundamental ways from cow’s milk and are also becoming more widely available—both in stores and online—and can often be a better choice.

So what are the real differences between cow, sheep, and goat’s milk, and what’s the best choice for you and your family? Here’s everything you need to know about these three kinds of milk and how to choose.

Texture and Flavor

Unlike soy milk, coconut milk, or nut milks, milk sourced from animals is different in its chemical makeup and nutritional profile. Among cow, sheep, and goat milk, there are further differences with regard to specific proteins that can also account for the variation in taste and texture. In terms of consistency, cow’s milk is typically the thinnest of the three types followed by goat’s milk and then sheep’s milk, which is the thickest.

The flavor of all three types of animal milk can vary depending on the region in which the animals were raised and the procedures used to milk them, among other factors. There is no consensus on whether the three types of milk taste the same, though, with similar chemical compositions vs. plant-based milks, fresh animal milks have a very similar taste. Different methods of processing, packaging, and pasteurization may change the flavor profiles of any of these milks, and you may experience some variation in taste. It is true that many people believe goat’s milk has a sweeter taste than cow’s milk with a similar consistency.

We just mentioned animal milk vs. plant milk, and you’re probably wondering how these substances compare to one another, as well. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on just this fascinating topic. Among other points, there is much controversy in the industry about what the term “milk” refers to, and we’ll explore the latest research and arguments. 

Ease of Digestion

Dairy allergies and lactose intolerance are widespread, which makes drinking milk impossible for many people. Though sheep and goat’s milk are also dairy milks, they are structured differently and therefore are usually tolerated better by those who get sick from drinking cow’s milk.

Of the three, goat’s milk is closest in protein structure to human milk. It is easier for most people to digest because it features a naturally homogenized fat structure and forms a softer curd in the stomach. Also, goat’s milk contains fewer milk sugars (also known as lactose) and is slightly alkaline versus the slight acidity of cow’s milk. While cow’s milk takes a typical, healthy adult over two hours to digest, goat’s milk is digested in a mere 30 minutes and produces far less gastrointestinal disruption than bovine milk. Want to know more reasons why goat milk may be the best choice for you? Check out our Why Goat Milk? fact page.

Allergies and Inflammation

Many people falsely believe that because goat and sheep’s milk are dairy-based, they will cause allergic reactions and inflammation in those who do not tolerate cow’s milk well. However, the main allergy culprit in cow’s milk is the alpha S1-casein protein it contains. Sheep and goat’s milk, on the other hand, contain considerably less of this protein. And our milk here at the Good Goat Milk Company contains very low levels of alpha S1-casein thanks to selective genetic breeding programs utilized by our farmers. Luckily, milk allergic individuals can still enjoy animal-based milk with little or no suffering!

Nutrition

When cited as an excellent source of nutrition, it is often the calcium content of cow’s milk that gets most of the accolades. However, sheep and goat’s milk are even higher in calcium than their bovine-derived counterpart. Also, goat’s milk has higher amounts of zinc and selenium, and its sources of magnesium, calcium, iron, and phosphorus are more bioavailable than those same minerals in cow’s milk. In other words, the body can absorb the minerals more efficiently and can use a higher percentage of the nutrients.

While this would be enough to put goat’s milk over the top when it comes to the competition, it has still more health benefits, namely that goat’s milk reduces bad cholesterol levels while increasing good ones. In fact, its properties are similar to those of olive oil and can be used as a natural treatment for high cholesterol. Regularly drinking goat’s milk can also help improve your appearance due to the high levels of vitamin A present. Vitamin A helps heal and prevent acne and also improves the overall health of your skin.

Environmental Impact

If you are concerned with the health of our environment, you should know that goat and sheep farming have lower environmental impacts than traditional factory cow farming. Both goats and sheep require less space just by the fact that they are smaller animals than cows. Also, most goat and sheep farmers maintain small operations with strict guidelines for both the quality of their milk and the sustainability of their farms; you can feel good about reducing your environmental footprint when you choose goat or sheep’s milk for your family. 

Quality is Key

It is probably pretty evident by now that goat and sheep milk has many advantages over cow’s milk due to the nutrient density, easy digestibility, and less allergic properties of these products. However, it’s important to remember that getting your milk—any type of milk—from a conscientious company that does not use antibiotics or growth hormones makes a big difference.

The Good Goat Milk Company is committed to producing the freshest, most flavorful goat’s milk possible without the use of hormones or antibiotics. We make small batches of our milk so we can follow strict guidelines that ensure the freshest and purest product possible. The powdered format of our New Zealand Full Cream Goat Milk Powders is convenient to ship and store for our valued customers, which means you can enjoy our products’ great taste and superior freshness anytime.