Milk has been a part of our everyday lives since before I was born and I am no spring chicken. I remember watching the old movies and tv shows that would show the milkman drop off the milk to peoples’ homes in those glass bottles.
Times are a little different now and there is no more milkman. Well, not in the way it was done back in the day. Now, we just get the milk from the store or have it delivered with one of the many different delivery services of today.
Some farmers still practice milking their livestock and producing their milk. We all know about cattle and see milk from them in almost every store we go to.
But, what about other animals? Which other animals can and do we milk?
Which Animals Can You Milk?
Cows are the primary animals that are milked all over the world. In some regions not suitable for cattle survival, humans rely on other animals for milk. Other animals that humans milk include: buffaloes, goats, sheep, camels, and yak.
Since cattle sustainability isn’t possible in some regions, people in those regions must rely on milking other animals for their milk.
Technically, any mammal can produce milk, but which ones do we consume the most? That is what I am going to talk about today. I’ve put together a list of the top 9 animals that we milk as humans.
A quick rundown of the milk production for the entire can be seen below in the chart.
Cows are responsible for around 81% of the entire world’s milk production. Buffaloes come in at second with around 15%. The rest of the milk production is shared by several other animals, but these animals only make up for a very small percentage of animals that are milked around the world.
Animal Milk Production Chart
Now that you have a good idea of which animals produce most of our milk, let’s discuss those animals and more.
Top 9 Animals That Humans Milk
This is the obvious one for most people. Cows produce around 81% of all milk consumed by humans.
Cows have been a part of our history since we became settlers and learned how to farm. That’s why it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see this animal at number one. Most of the milk in the United States comes from cattle.
Statistics show that around 58% of Americans consume dairy in one form or another as a leading source of protein. We, as Americans, consume a lot of dairy products.
Most of us know about cows and how they produce milk, but what about the other animal we humans typically milk? Based on my research, many of the other animals on the list are milked in certain regions due to the environment not being a suitable environment for cattle.
2. Water Buffaloes
Buffaloes come in second on the list at roughly 15% of the milk production around the world.
Water buffaloes produce about half the milk consumed in India, Their milk has roughly double the calcium and protein as cow milk and has less cholesterol and sodium when compared to cow milk.
Buffalo milk is smoother and thicker, with less water, Buffalo milk is more nutritional and has a better (kind of nutty) taste compared to cow milk.
Buffalo milk is used to make Ghee in India, which is a liquid butter. Buffalo milk is also used to make cheeses such as burrata, mozzarella, and caciotta.
After cows and buffaloes, milk production starts to drop off. Cows and buffaloes make up almost 96% of all milk consumption around the world.
Goats come in at number three. Goat’s milk is around 2% of the global milk production. Goat’s milk has seen a rise in popularity over the past few decades, likely due to new studies and nutritional awareness.
Goat’s milk can be a great and healthy alternative if you have a hard time-consuming cow’s milk. It contains less lactose, is easier to digest, and has more vitamin A, potassium, and iron.
Sheep account for around 1% of all milk production around the world. While they are more widely known for their sheep wool, they still come in at number four on the milk production list.
Milk from sheep has about twice the amount of fat as regular cow milk and has higher concentrations of essential amino acids.
The milk from sheep is mainly used to produce a variety of popular cheeses including feta in Greece, ricotta in Italy, and Roquefort in France.
Studies suggest that sheep milk is easier to digest and can be a viable option for intolerant people that can’t ingest cow and goat milk. If you have a hard time with cow’s milk, give sheep milk a go and see if it works for you.
Camel’s milk comes in at five on the milk production list with a 0.5% world consumption percentage. That may seem like a low percentage and it is, but some people rely heavily on camel milk.
Camel milk is popular in the hot deserts of the Middle East The hot deserts are not a good environment for animals such as cows, so humans have to improvise. In the desert, they milk camels.
Camel milk will last longer than other types of milk in the heat of the desert. At 86 degrees or below, milk in the desert can last you about 7 days. If it is refrigerated properly, this milk won’t spoil for several months.
If you find yourself in a hot desert with no cow in sight, just find a camel and milk them. You will have milk for days, literally.
Yaks live in mountain regions. Like camels, they make up 0.5% of the entire milk production around the world. However, most of this is in Tibet where the yak is more commonly found in the mountainous terrain.
Yak milk is popular in high mountain ranges where other milk-producing animals can’t survive or thrive. But don’t think the people consume this milk just because it is the only viable milk source in their region.
This milk is more nutritious than some of the other animals on this list, including cows and goats.
You may never get to try yak’s milk unless you find yourself in the mountainous regions of Tibet. But if you do, get a glass and give it a try to see if you like it.
Most of us are aware of horses. We know about the Kentucky Derby. We know about horseback riding. But did you know that people consume horse milk?
People don’t consume horse milk as much as any of the other animals already on this list, but horse milk has been used for over 700 years now.
Mongolian warriors used horse milk to make a paste that was used to mix with water while they were on the move. I’ve tied powdered milk before and was not a fan. But maybe horse milk is a better option.
In Russia, horse milk is used to make an alcoholic drink known as Kumiss. If you are ever in Russie, check to see if a local bar has Kumiss and give it a try.
Donkeys make the milk production list at number eight. Milk from donkeys has lower fat content than milk from cows and is rich in essential vitamins and minerals.
Donkey milk is a popular alternative for kids in Northern Italy who have allergies to cow’s milk. This milk has been compared very heavily to human milk and is said to be very similar in nutritional value
Donkey milk has been commercialized and you may find it at specialty stores in your area. But don’t expect to walk away only paying a few dollars for this milk.
Donkeys can only produce about a tenth of the milk that a cow can produce in a day, so the price for donkey milk and cheese is not cheap.
Some donkey cheese can cost around $1,000 for a pound. If you are on a budget, this cheese isn’t a good fit.
Reindeer round out the milk production list at number nine. Reindeer are the only source of milk in places like Southern Scandanavia where other milk-producing animals aren’t able to survive the cold environment.
They are not only a reminder of the holidays but also a producer of milk for human consumption.
Consume your reindeer milk in small portions though, because it has about 6 times as much fat in it compared to milk from a cow.
There you have it. The top 9 animals that humans milk to produce cheese, butter, milk, and other products.
Now that you know which animals are milked and which ones produce the most milk for human consumption, which ones are you going to try that you’ve never tried before?
I typically drink both almond milk and cow milk. I use both for most things like cereal, smoothies, coffee, etc. I use almond milk more than cow milk because I prefer to have an alternative to cow milk.
I like the taste and view it as healthier for me and my situation and use cow milk sparingly.
If you do try milk from one of the animals above that you’ve never tried before, leave a comment on this article and tell us what you thought of the milk from that animal. If you try a milk alternative such as soy or almond milk, leave a comment as well.
I like to hear different opinions from many different people to gauge any product to determine whether it is worth trying or not. So leave those comments and let people know what you think.
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