If you doubt that check with the USDA Food Inspection Service and they will tell you 5,000 meat goats are imported to New York every week from Australia. For years Australians have been catching and exporting wild goats in such great numbers that had the Australian government not stopped this practice the wild goats would have become extinct. Now the Australians catch the wild goats and breed them to Boer bucks developed in South Africa for advanced meat genetics, by natural selection practices of breeders, under the often stressful conditions of the South African environment.
A survey was taken of wholesale meat distributors, chain restaurants, independent restaurants, etc., and found that these companies claimed to be able to sell 4.8 million carcasses a year if supplied with the meat. This doesn't take into account other markets wanting the meat.
According to the executive secretary, Zane Willard, of the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association, there are a total of approximately 800,000 meat goats in the U.S.A.. with about 700,000 of them located in Texas. He further stated that goat meat is the number one consumed meat in the world which accounts for about 80%.
Of these 700,000 goats in Texas most are either Angora Goats raised for the mohair they produce or Spanish Goats (brush goats) raised for their cashmere and meat. Their use as meat goats is secondary, as both mohair and cashmere are in high demand. Even the male goats, not suitable for breeding, are castrated and enter the herd with the old ones sold off for meat. However, some ranches sell their culls, as very young Spanish or Angora goats called Cabrito which is considered a delicacy in the BBQ trade in the south west.
Here in the U.S.A.. Boer goats (imported from South Africa) are being crossed with Spanish goats and dairy goats trying to develop a rapidly growing, well-proportioned goat of suitable size with the ability to produce prime cuts of meat to meet the customers demand. Most of the current goat meat consumption in the USA is by the different ethnic groups who are part of the general population. Many of the goats are slaughtered at the farm level as some people want to pick out their goat before it is slaughtered.
There are several ways to enter meat goat production:
You could purchase Spanish nannies and a Boer billy cross and breed them yourself which would take approximately 11 1\2 months for your first group of babies to be born. If you wish to accelerate your operation, purchase bred Spanish nannies. In a year's time when the nannies have given birth and are ready to breed back then purchase a full-blood Boer buck or 3/4 Boer billy cross. Another option is to purchase full-blood Boer does and a full-blood Boer buck to start a purebred operation. The goats you would sell for meat would be the ones that did not meet your breeding standards.
To give you an idea of the purchase price, which can very from ranch to ranch, of the goats is as follows:
Open Spanish Nannies (not bred) - $80.00 each
Bred Spanish Nannies - $100.00 each
Open (not bred) full-blood Boer Does - $1,000.00 - $4,000.00 each
Full-blood Boer buck - $1,500.00 - $ 4,500.00 each
Crossbred Nubian (dairy goat) Boer breeding stock:
3/4 crossbred bucks $100.00 - $175.00 and up
3/4 crossbred does $175.00 - $300.00
If you choose to use Spanish Nannies (also called Cashmere Goats) you will also have them shorn yearly and sell their cashmere. Cashmere is actually their down under coat which is approximately 60% of their fleece and weights around 8 pounds. Last year, for premium down only, Cashmere America paid $28.00 - $38.00 per pound. For fiber that was to dirty, too short, to course or too straight they paid $7.50 per pound.
There is an other way to increase your income from Spanish Goats. These goats are also known for their love of weeds. They will pass over good hay for their favorite weeds. Some owners make money from leasing out the goats to others with weed problems for $4.00 each per month. If you are considering doing this, be aware that $4.00 per goat per month is what is being charged in Texas, where the goats are plentiful, so it is possible you could charge more in other areas of the country.
There are several ways to sell your goats. Straight from your ranch on an individual basis to each customer, restaurant, store, etc., having them slaughtered at a USDA federally inspected slaughter house that will do one or more of your goats at a time. If you prefer to sell the live animals wholesale to a slaughter house, they like the goats to be around 70 pounds, they have been paying between $ .65 to $ 1.00 per pound.You can do a farm kill if the meat is not for resale. Either way you could develop a side business by keeping and selling the by-products from each animal which would include the skull with horns after cleaning and the skin raw or after tanning.
If you wish to become diversified this could be an excellent way to go. With the meat goat industry in its infancy, in the U.S.A., with future opportunity and potential outlook profitable.
It doesn't matter what you do, if you intend to make this a business you need to do a business plan. A business plan will help insure your success and possibly identify other options you could incorporate into your operation. You will definitely need one to give to your lender if you're planning to finance any part of your operation. If you need help doing a business plan Click on Business Plan to go directly to the 'How to Put Together a Business Plan' located on AgriHelp. It takes you step by step through the entire process
Look in the county section of your phone book for the number, of your local farm advisor, of the University of (your state) Cooperative Extension. If you can't find this listing, in the same section, look for the number of the Agricultural Commissioner as they will be able to give you the number.
The service of the farm advisor is free and he/she should be able to help you with the information you need or refer you to someone at the university who can. Since you have or are planning to build an agriculture type operation these contacts will be very valuable to you. It is also possible they could suggest other niche markets, in your area, that you could successfully add to your operation.
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MacKenzie & Associates
P.O. Box 1941
Santa Rosa, California 95402 USA