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Goats Milk

The following research articles may be of assistance to people who have difficulty in digesting milk and milk products, or have babies who continually suffer from stomach upsets. The book mentioned in "Other Resources" below is especially valuable for parents of babies with digestive problems - see:
"What's the Matter with your Baby?"

It should be noted that a change from cows milk to goats milk will benefit those who are unable to digest the protein and fats in cows milk, but it will not necessarily help people who suffer from a lactose (milk sugar) intolerance.

The Natural Alternative

For generations now in the Western world, cows have been regarded as the major source of milk in our diets, not only in the liquid form, but in the multitude of other foodstuffs containing milk or its by-products.

However, with increasing evidence, studies show that as many as 7.5% of all babies born develop a hypersensitivity to cows milk generally known as Cows Milk Allergy (CMA). Although CMA is more easily detected in young babies (before weaning) it is not confined to this age group. Many children do not grow out of their allergies and are therefore afflicted all their lives. For a large number of adults everyday problems relating to skin disorders, respiratory problems, gastric upsets and migraine are generally not considered to be related to cows milk but are later diagnosed to be symptoms of CMA.

As a result, alternative sources of milk must be found - thus the increasing interest in and demand for goats milk and related products.

The Symptoms of CMA
The most common symptoms evident in babies suffering from CMA are:
(1) Eczema;
(2) Recurrent diarrhea;
(3) Recurrent rhinorrhea;
(4) Repeated vomiting;
(5) Persistent colic;
(6) Recurrent bronchitis;
(7) Asthma.

Studies have proven that when all sources of cows milk are removed from the diet of babies suffering CMA the symptom(s) are relieved. Further tests have also shown that twenty per cent (20%) of babies suffering from CMA are also allergic to soya milk replacement formulae. Although it is evident that many children outgrow their allergies, it is not yet certain which children will and at what time.

Other infant problems listed as being possibly related to cows milk include:

(1) Croup;
(2) Sudden cot death;
(3) Recurrent abdominal pain syndrome;
(4) Hyperactivity syndrome.

Common symptoms faced by adults with CMA are:
(1) Rashes and eczema;
(2) Diarrhea and vomiting;
(3) Respiratory problems;
(4) Migraine;
(5) Asthma.
Why Goats Milk?
Evidence has shown that as many as 99% of all CMA sufferers are able to thrive on goats milk. It is thought that food allergies including CMA are directly related to the speed and efficiency of the digestive process and the absorption or not of undigested proteins.

The fat and protein globules of goats milk are smaller, finer, and more evenly distributed through the mllk, resulting in a more rapid and complete breakdown by the human digestive enzymes. The tension in the curd of goats milk is only about one-third of that of cows milk.

During digestion the casein forms a less tough and more friable coagulum than the cows milk casein thus enabling the digestive proteolytic enzyme to penetrate and break it down more easily.

It has been recognised that boiling milk may reduce the less severe allergy problems and powdered goats milk with its inherent heat treatment offers the allergy sufferer the least problems of all.

Higher levels of vitamin B and the mild laxative action of goats milk also aid the digestive process, relieving stress symptoms manifest as neurotic indigestion, constipation and insomnia.

The high buffering quality of goats milk is due to its superior mineral content and enhances its value for sufferers of peptic ulcers and other such gastric complaints.

The vitamin and mineral content of goats milk compares favorably with both cows milk and human milk (see table), being closer in composition to human milk than cows milk. In fact it is also significantly higher in the growth related vitamin riboflavin and the bone minerals calcium and phosphorus.

Infants' Diets
Although the superiority of breast feeding of babies is not challenged and or course is to be encouraged, it is also accepted that for a variety of reasons it is not always adopted.

The appeal in using goats milk as a substitute for cows milk in infants' diets. comes predominantly from the likely reduction in allergenic reaction to undigested milk proteins. Goats milk is a suitable substitute for cows milk in any standard infant formula, in fact it is fair to say that goats milk "humanises" relatively well. If cows milk is diluted to bring the protein concentration more in line with human milk the fat content must be increased to indigestible levels. Goats milk on the other hand, with its higher fat content and lower protein levels, requires no such additives.

Both goats and cows milk have deficiencies in iron, linoleic acid, folic acid and vitamin C when compared with human milk. (Note that humans differ from most animals in that they are not able to synthesize vitamin C). If goats milk is to be the only source of nutrition i.e. it is not being added to an existing formula, these deficiencies can be made up by the addition of egg yolk or cod liver oil, maize oil, synthetic folic acid and orange juice or ascorbic acid respectively. Both goats and cows milk also have lower levels of milk sugar (lactose) than human milk. The calorific value of the milk can thus be increased by addition of lactose. All milks, human included, are considered deficient in D and again this can be overcome by the addition of this vitamin.

Babies being bottle fed from birth are best started on goats milk for the first six to eight weeks, thus preventing a build up of sensitivity to milk protein. After eight weeks the digestive system is probably better able to cope with the tougher cows milk curd and a change to cows milk may well be effected.

Where babies are fed on cows milk based diets it is generally two to three weeks before sensitivity to the milk develops. If this occurs, a change to goats milk at any time between two weeks and four months will potentially ease the situation. From four to a six months of age the majority of babies lose their sensitivity to cows milk and if this does occur the baby may be returned to a cows milk diet.

Some babies, of course, never lose their symptoms and may require cows milk free diets until at least two years of age or older.

Adult Diets
As with infant diets the value of goats milk lies in the direct replacement of cows milk in the adult diet and thus the reduction in allergenic reaction to the cows milk protein.

Results of the use of goats milk in the treatment of food related allergies are to an extent unpredictable as persons suffering from food related allergies after weaning age are likely to be sensitive to more than one food. Replacing cows milk with goats milk does however remove one of the most common allergens and improves the efficiency of digestion.

Also of value are the excellent buffering effects and mild laxative action of goat milk which are important in the treatment of peptic ulcers and other gastric complaints such as constipation and indigestion.

Because of the lower lactose levels in goats milk 180 mls of goats milk can be substituted for 150 mls of cows milk in diabetic diets.

Alternatives to "Formula"
It is unfortunate that very little attention has been given in Western countries to the use of goats milk as a first line replacement for babies unable to tolerate cows milk.

It is time to give serious consideration to a milk that has been shown to be very suitable for the rearing of young of many species. David Mackenzie, the writer of the comprehensive, practical, thought-provoking and readable "Goat Husbandry" had this to say about goats milk in a chapter he called "The Universal Foster Mother":

"To the supreme honour of a place in the heavens, among the signs of their zodiac, the Greeks elevated three of their domestic animals: the Bull who drew their ploughs; the fleecy Ram who clothed them; and Capricorn the Goat.

"The name of the goat who earned this honour for her species was Almalactea - "Fostermilk". Her constellation still brightens the 20th Century sky.

"While relatively few of the newly born of other species can be satisfactorily reared on cows milk, however modified, there is probably not a single species among the larger land mammals the young of which will not thrive on suitably adjusted goats milk. The reasons for the high digestibility of the constituents of goats milk have been explained in Chapter 3.....

"People are..... for the most part, convinced that cows milk, which is designed to suit the fast growth rate of the calf, is perfectly suitable for feeding the slow-growing human infant..... but.....there is a massive collection of scientific evidence to show that all young farm stock, if fed on a diet too rich in digestible protein, are liable to mineral deficiency disease sooner or later."

Needless to say, this applies equally to the human infant.


(i) Gerrard JW, Mackenzie JWA, Goluboff N, Garson JZ, Maningas CS: “Cows Milk Allergy: Prevalence and Manifestations in an Unselected Series of Newborns” ACTA Paediatrica Scandinavica Supplement 234-1973;
(ii) Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations “Observations on the Goat”(1970);
(iii) McKenzie David: Goats Milk - Its Nutritive and Curative Value "Goat Husbandry" Ch 3.

  Note: The above information is offered not as a prescription or in place of proper medical care, but as a report on research findings which may be of interest. In cases of sickness, the attention and care of a nutritionally aware health professional are essential.

Other Resources:
"Goats Milk - The Natural Alternative" Tinsley Beck BA MEd
Available from: Tinsley and Margaret Beck, 7 Willaring Drive, Beckenham, Western Australia 6107
(ph 0061 8 9358 2383)
See brief excerpt:"What's the Matter with your Baby?"

On this Site:
What's Wrong with Your Baby? by Margaret Beck
Goat's Milk for Infants by JB Tracey MB
Why Goat Milk by G F W Haenlein PhD
Differences Between Cow and Goat Milk by G F W Haenlein PhD and R Caccese
The Chemistry of Cream by R Goodwin
Soya - The Two-Edged Sword

Some Great Sites to Visit:

Two Great New Zealand Sites

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