Dairy Goats


In New Zealand, there are estimated to be 92 farms running 66,100 dairy goats, which are predominantly Saanen (85 percent) or cross-bred, with 72 percent of the dairy goat population located in the Waikato region.[1]

Dairy goat farming in New Zealand has become established, due in large part to the work of the Dairy Goat Cooperative (DGC), the largest dairy goat milk processor in New Zealand. Over the last 25 years, the company has completed significant research and development into dairy goat milk products and building market channels and partners, which enables DGC to provide high milk payouts to its suppliers of over $17 per kilogram of milk solids.

DGC has around 70 supplier shareholders, most based in Waikato with some in Taranaki and Northland. The number of suppliers is managed carefully to match the level of demand for the DGC product range. All export product is made, blended and packed at its three plants in Hamilton.

NIG Nutritionals, which is a subsidiary of New Image Group, has developed goat milk-based product range and is supplied by two dairy goat farms near Auckland, one of which is one of the largest in the country, milking in excess of 3000 does.

Currently neither DGC or NIG are looking for new suppliers.

Fresco Nutrition is a New Zealand processing company collecting goat milk from farms in Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay and processing the milk using the open access spray dryer at the Waikato Innovation Park. Fresco sells in New Zealand and overseas and has plans to build its own processing plant in Hawkes Bay.

NZ Dairy Collaborative Group is a newly formed company based in Ashburton. The company is largely funded by Fineboon, the largest goat milk infant formula brand in China. Initially the company was provided with goat milk from Manawatu and Hawkes Bay farms which was shipped to the Waikato Innovation Park for processing and freighted to Ashburton. Recently, the company has built a $40 million processor at the Ashburton Business Park and aims to set up a supplier network of local Canterbury farms. The goat milk will be processed in Ashburton for export to China.

A smaller operation, Wairere Goat Creamery, has established a boutique goat milk business which supplies fresh goat milk direct to supermarkets and retail outlets predominantly in the Waikato area.

Setting up a new dairy goat farm in the Lake Rotorua catchment would be dependent on developing market channels, either locally for direct supply, contracting with a distributor independently or working cooperatively with other farms and potentially an international distributor to build a global marketing and supply network.

There are currently plans to build a dairy cow milk processing plant in the Bay of Plenty at Kawerau. They have plans to introduce dairy goat and dairy sheep milk processing, if warranted, in the second stage of their development, i.e. after 2020.

[1] New Zealand Goat Industry Report to Federated Farmers of NZ Inc., March 2017



Goat milk has traditionally been made into a range of products including cheeses, yoghurt and soap, as well as being available as milk. Goats’ milk is seen as a healthy alternative to cows’ milk, due to the different protein makeup, and is suitable for those who are unable to drink cows’ milk, as well as being considered more easily digested and less allergenic.

DGC has broadened the product range further by developing the world’s first commercialised infant formula from goat milk, as well as a range of consumer packaged nutritional powders based on goat milk. They market the products with joint venture partner Orient Europharma Co Ltd into Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China. Most milk is supplied to the DGC in Hamilton where it is converted to milk powder, UHT milk and specialised goat milk infant formula (powder).

More recently, NIG Nutritionals, based in Auckland, has also developed a range of goat milk formula products with markets in mainland China, South East Asia and the Middle East.

Fresco Nutrition supplies a range of powdered goat milk for infants, children and adults in New Zealand and overseas.

Wairere Creamery supplies fresh goats’ milk in 1- or 2-litre containers, and goat feta cheese.

The industry is concentrated in the Waikato but is growing in Manawatu, Hawkes Bay, Canterbury, Northland and Taranaki.



Approximately 85 percent of dairy goats milked in New Zealand are the Saanen breed, due to its greater milk production capacity, while the Toggenburg, British Alpine and Nubian type crosses comprise the remaining 15 percent.[1]

Dairy goats are housed in barns 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, for warmth and protection and to avoid picking up worms and parasites in paddocks. They are fed largely on grass, which is cut and carried to them, and a combination of silage and/or maize silage along with dry grain while milking. Goats walk to and from the milking parlour twice daily for milking.

Milk production for dairy goats starts at around 75 kg/MS/yr and rises to around 100 kg/MS/yr or more around year three or four, before dropping off as they get older. The season is similar to dairy cows running from approximately July to May.

Kids are reared for one month before going out into the paddock. Those not being kept for milking are sold to other farmers or reared for meat production.

[1] Dairy goat production systems in Waikato, New Zealand, Solis-Ramirez et al., 2011



Infrastructure for a dairy goat farm depends on existing facilities, but would comprise a goat shelter, dairy goat milking parlour (either rotary or herringbone), tractor, mower, assorted implements, feed storage, etc.

The costs of establishing a dairy goat farm from scratch are significant. Costs can be less if converting from dairy cows to dairy goats, as some infrastructure can be re-used.

Dairy goat farms are much smaller than dairy cow farms. In terms of farm size, 1000 goats can be milked on an effective farm area of 50–60 hectares. Feed can be a mixture of pasture and/or supplements. Anecdotal evidence suggests allowing 1 tonne of grass per 100 goats to be cut and carried each day to the goat shelter.


Nitrogen Leaching: Med-Low


The impact of dairy goats on the environment is less than dairy cows for effluent, and housing dairy goats 24/7 reduces this further. However, it is assumed fertiliser would still be spread on the paddocks, so the amount of nitrogen used on paddocks would still need to be minimised. The application of effluent to paddocks would also need to be managed carefully.

Farmed goats are vulnerable to parasites, which can impact their growth, health and productivity. Housing goats and the cut-and-carry method of bringing grass to them is intended to minimise parasite infections. AgResearch is undertaking research that may help goat breeders select animals with naturally higher levels of immunity to parasites, through testing goat saliva.[1]

[1] CARLA could soon help combat goat parasites, AgResearch



Gross annual returns for 1000 does producing 80 kg/MS per year @ $17.00/kgMS would be $1.36M.

This would need to be weighed up against capital and operating costs. Capital costs would be in the region of $1–2 million for 1000 goats depending on existing infrastructure. This would include a goat shelter (allow $300–500 per goat or $300,000–500,000) and a milking parlour (allow around $10,000 per bail or $540,000 for a 54-bail rotary).

While there would be other costs involved in setting up a dairy goat farm in the Lake Rotorua catchment, the priority would be establishing market channels.


Useful Links

Scholtens, M., Lopez-Lozano, R., & Smith, R. (March 2017) New Zealand Goat Industry Report to Federated Farmers of New Zealand Incorporated, Massey University (https://landusenz.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/NZ_Goat_Industry_Report_to_Federated_Farmers_14_Mar_2017.pdf)

Solis-Ramirez et al., (2011) Dairy goat production systems in Waikato, New Zealand, Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production 2011. Vol 71: 86-91 (http://www.sciquest.org.nz/node/75880)

‘Milking the Potential,’ June 2015 Farmers Weekly. Retrieved April 2017 (https://farmersweekly.co.nz/section/sheep-2/view/milking-the-potential)

‘Goat Milk Demand Growing,’ Stuff, 12 April 2016 (http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/agribusiness/70986513/goat-milk-demand-growing)

‘Milking goats makes $en$e,’ Stuff, 8 January 2014 (http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/dairy/9584453/Milking-goats-makes-en-e)

CARLA could soon help combat goat parasites, AgResearch, June 2014 (http://www.agresearch.co.nz/news/carla-could-soon-help-combat-goat-parasites)