Revised November, 2021.
Growth in U.S. ethnic populations and the desire for healthy diets are driving the demand for goat meat. Goat meat is low in fat and cholesterol, is leaner than poultry and offers a source of conjugated linoleic acid. Raising meat goats is an affordable livestock enterprise. According to NASS (2020), meat goats totaled 2.09 million head in 2020, down slightly from 2017.
The most important considerations for effective marketing are quality and consistency of products. The most common methods of meat goat marketing are through livestock auction markets, private buyers, consignment sales, and on-farm sales. Methods of marketing will vary in sales costs and effort for the producer. Other methods might include local grocery stores, Internet sales and personal contacts.
Usually, the most profitable way to market is by doing on-farm sales because the producer eliminates the sales commission and the risks and costs associated with transportation.
Goats are able to kid twice a year. The gestation period for a doe is 147 to 150 days. Meat goats are generally leaner and more muscular than dairy goat carcasses. The Boer is regarded as a premier meat-producing goat. Other popular meat goat breeds are Kiko, Nubian, Pygmy and Spanish.
Goat meat is called either cabrito or chevon. Cabrito is from kids harvested within the first week of birth. Chevron is from older kids harvested close to or after weaning. Goat meat has a unique flavor and palatability. It is leaner than many other red meats, and usually, less tender.
Meat goats depend on a high percentage of forage to meet their nutritional needs. This is usually managed by rotational grazing programs. Grazing in stubble fields, corn fodder, wheat pastures, or winter rye can be used to either extend the grazing season or to boost required nutrient levels.
Goats require very tight fencing. Net fencing; traditional woven wire with two to three barbed wires above it; eight-strand high-tensile fence with electrified third, fifth, and top wire have all proven effective fencing. Goats need minimum shelter. Natural shade and wind breaks are adequate except in cold windy weather when a draft-free shed can be used.
Internal parasite control is the most important health issue for goats. A preventative health program should be worked out with your veterinarian. For common diseases, what is used for sheet can be used on goats.
To find commodity prices, look up your nearest sale barn’s prices.
Sheep and Goats, National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA.
Global Agricultural Trade System, Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA.
Sheep and Goats: Frequently Asked Questions - ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture