Even though they’re all white and called ‘milk,’ cows, goats, and sheep milk have a number of significant differences to one another. This guide outlines these differences so that you know which type of milk is most suitable for particular situations.
So, without further ado, here’s a comparison between the three:
Cow’s milk is the most common type of dairy milk with just shy of 15 billion litres being produced in the UK in 2019/20 alone. This is an unhomogenised milk which means that fat globules haven’t been broken down, resulting in a creamier taste and consistency. Higher levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids can be found in cows milk originating from farms with free range, pasture-fed cows. That being said, cow’s milk is generally ‘fattier’ than other types of dairy, with their higher levels of lactose, so make sure to consume this type of milk proportionately for a well balanced diet! Another downside is that cows are notoriously poor for the environment, with one cow producing up to 200kg of methane a year.
One benefit of goat’s milk over cow’s milk is that it contains ‘prebiotics’ which are a form of dietary fibre which feed the ‘friendly’ bacteria in your gut, leading to a healthier digestive system. Goat’s milk also has roughly 20% less fat globules than cows milk which means that it has lower lactose levels. Most importantly, it contains double the amount of medium-chain fatty acids than cows milk, which are a quick source of energy and which aren’t stored as body fat. Its drawbacks is that it can have a more rustic, musky taste and it’s more difficult to find in the shops – plus it’s a good bit smellier than cows milk!
If its fatty properties put you off cow’s milk, then sheep milk isn’t the right option for you! Because it has much more fat and protein, it’s a good option for making cream and cheese as it has a much richer taste. Sheep also only require grass to produce milk, whereas cows and goats need grains and supplementary feeds which makes sheep’s milk brrrrr-iliant for the environment (cheesy pun alert)! That being said, because sheep produce on average less than half a gallon of milk per day, compared to the 6-8 gallons produced by goats and cows, sheep’s milk can be very hard to find and is a fairly expensive option. It’s also difficult for many to drink it on its own due to its rich and creamy taste.
Hopefully it should now be clearer what the main differences are between cows, goats, and sheep milk, which should help you to decide which type you should use for your next home-baking or cheese-making session!