Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

January 09, 2007

More Goats and Sheep Being Raised in New York for Milk Production

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has released the results of the Dairy Goat and Sheep Survey, which was conducted to obtain a current and comprehensive view of the industry. The results show a significant increase in interest in dairy goat and sheep operations in New York State over the past decade.

The survey was initiated in response to the dramatic increase in dairy goats last reported in the 2002 Census of Agriculture. TIn 2002, USDA reported 1,146 farms in New York having 12,822 dairy goats. This represents a 68 percent increase over the 5,000 dairy goats counted in 1997. Dairy sheep are not counted in the National Census, however anecdotal observations indicate increases in these operations as well.

Dairy Goats

Surveys were completed by 210 dairy goat operations, which reported having 7,156 milk goats or 56 percent of the total estimated dairy goat herd in the State. The average size herd was 34 goats. The average annual production for a dairy goat was 125 gallons.

Half (49 percent) of New York produced goat milk was reportedly used in the production of cheese, while a quarter of the milk was used for fluid consumption. Smaller quantities of goat milk is used for making yogurt, ice cream and non-food products, such as soap.

Dairy goat operations reported being in business for an average of 13 years. Eighty-three operations had been in business less than ten years. The average farm size was 58 acres.

Dairy Sheep

Forty-nine farms responded to the survey as dairy sheep operations, having 2,585 sheep. The average size flock was 53 sheep. The average annual production for a dairy sheep was 41 gallons.

New York produced sheep milk is principally used in the production of cheese and yogurt products with smaller quantities going to fluid milk and non-food products.

Like dairy goats, most dairy sheep operations had been in business for less than 12 years. The average farm size for dairy sheep is 98 acres, while the median acreage is 55 acres.

With only 15 goat milk and five sheep milk processing facilities in New York State, one of the major concerns facing dairy goat and sheep operations is transportation and distribution. The greatest concern amongst respondents was food safety regulations.

The Dairy Goat and Sheep Survey was conducted in January 2005 by the New York Agricultural Statistics Service, which mailed surveys to 2,376 farms identified as operations with either dairy goats and/or sheep. The survey had a 98 percent response rate with 2,332 farms responding and reporting however, only 259 respondents indicated that their business operation was devoted to the production of milk.

For more information or a complete copy of the survey, visit

2007 Press Releases