Worldwide distribution and goat milk benefits was discussed, leading to the justifiable assumption that more people drink goat milk or eat their products than any other milk after weaning from human nursing. Goats have had a superior growth rate in numbers compared to other milk-producing domestic animals, especially in the developing countries with large population increases and high rates of undernutrition and malnutrition.
Modern goat farming, especially with milking goats, can be quite profitable regardless of country, if intensive types of management are practiced, leading to the prospect that for the increasing people populations there are increasing numbers of milk-producing goats available to fight undernutrition and malnutrition.
The choice for goat milk has at least three reasons,¹ they are more adapted to severe climate and geological conditions than any other domestic milk-producing mammal;2 they are easier and cheaper kept, especially by women and children than any other domestic milk-producing mammal;3 and their milk has superior nutritional and health qualities compared to the milk of the other domestic milk-producing mammals. Thus it can seriously be asked why do goat milk benefits matter?
What then is the justification of producing goat milk, if goat milk vs. cow milk were the same for the nutrition of man? However, they are not in at least two major categories: proteins and lipids in goat milk are very different from those in cow milk. Milk proteins are of the same type in cow or goat milk, but their relative amounts differ greatly, which affects human digestion and cheese yield significantly. Alpha-s-1 casein is the major protein in cow milk but is only found in very low levels or not at all in goat milk, where the polymorphic variant alpha-s-2 casein dominates, which is responsible for soft curd and easier digestion but also lower cheese yield.12 Efforts are under way in France and the U.S. to test goat bucks for the presence of the rare alpha-s-1 casein gene and breed selectively against it. Unfortunately, this would eliminate one of the superior values of goat milk for human nutrition, just because cheese yield would be higher. Kappa casein has also been found to differ between cow and goat milk because of amino acid substitutions. Average amino acid composition of goat milk is higher in six of the 10 essential acids: cysteine, tyrosine, lysine, valine, threonine, and isoleucine. Due to these compositional differences, some physical properties of goat milk also differ, such as the size and form of the casein micelle, solubilization, mineral contents, and heat stability.
SCT and MCT have been used as medical treatments in cases of gastrointestinal and other disorders including intestinal resection, coronary bypass, gallstones, premature infant feeding, malabsorption syndrome, and others, because of their unique ability to provide energy directly in human metabolism instead of being deposited in adipose tissue, while also lowering, limiting, and inhibiting cholesterol,13-16 which is of significant benefit for cardiovascular health. This biomedical superiority of goat milk has not been used in marketing and promotion, but has great potential.17 In a study in Madagascar18 with 30 hospitalized children, those on goat milk outgained the cow milk children by 9 percent during the study period. In other studies in Spain,19 similar results were obtained besides a reduction of total cholesterol levels and the LDL fraction, which was due to the higher provision of MCT from goat milk. In an Algerian study20 with 64 children with malabsorption syndromes, feeding goat milk caused significantly higher rates of fat absorption in the intestines.
Cow milk protein allergy in infants can be eight percent according to one study21 or as high as 20 percent according to another study,22 depending on country, but the use of goat milk is a cure in approximately at least 40 percent of all cow milk allergy cases23 or more.24 Many anecdotal reports25 support goat milk benefits for cases with cow milk allergy. A preliminary report26 of a nutritional study with 38 children drinking daily either 1 liter goat milk or 1 liter cow milk showed that 22 percent of the cow milk children were underweight. The goat milk children were superior in skeletal mineralization, blood serum vitamin A, calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and hemoglobin levels. A study with rats27 fed either goat or cow milk showed the goat milk rats grew also significantly better, had higher liver weights, greater hemoglobin iron gain, and higher iron absorption. The wide genetic diversity of milk proteins makes it difficult to identify which one is the responsible one in clinical cases of allergy, however studies with guinea pigs28 have shown that they had allergic reactions when fed alpha-s-1 casein and not if they were fed alpha-s-2 casein. Since alpha-s-1 casein is the dominant protein in cow milk, this may now explain why goat milk is so often a cure for cow milk allergy, since the dominant protein in goat is not alpha-s-1 casein but alpha-s-2 casein and goat milk lacking alpha-s-1 casein is less allergenic.