Sales of goat meat have been rising quite dramatically over the past few years. This trend seems to be related to the fact that goat meat tended to be mainly consumed by certain ethnic groups and most of the meat was from older animals (a bit like the relationship between mutton and lamb).
However, in recent times goats have been reared specifically for meat production and animals slaughtered at a younger age giving a more tender and lightly flavoured meat, palatable to the modern consumer.
This has giving rise to opportunities for farmers and smallholders to tap into this market. In fact smallholders are particularly well placed to raise goats as the animals don’t require a lot of space and basic housing is all that is required.
We have been looking into goat meat production as a potential enterprise for our farm.
There are two distinctly different production systems for goat meat production, which are similar to the way beef is produced in cattle systems.
There is already a very well established goat milk industry. Traditionally these milking herds have always mated the dams to a milk breed of buck and then kept the best doelings for herd replacements. Unwanted doelings and male kids have often been dispatched at birth.
This has given goat meat producers and opportunity to approach the dairy herds and offer to buy the offspring if they will use a meat breed buck on a proportion of their herd.
Pure Meat Breeds
The other system of goat meat production is to use a doe and a buck, both of which are meat breeds. This gives offspring with better growth, confirmation and meat yield characteristics (the same concept as a beef suckler herd).
The downside to this production method is the cost associated with keeping the doe solely to produce kids and also the cost of keeping breeding replacements.
Milking goats have been selected for production traits for some time and there are several different breeds, breeding lines and crosses that have been used. Saanen, Anglo Nubian and Toggenburgs are particularly common.
Meat producing animals have probably not yet got the same degree of genetic selection and progression.
There are several meat breeds…
Boer, Savanna, Spanish, Kiko, Genemaster, Texmaster.
However, the Boer breed is widely thought of as the most commonly available and having some of the best characteristics.
Where To Find Out About Goat Meat Farming
Information for begginers isn’t all that easy to find, particularly as it is a relatively new practice to commercially farm goats specifically for meat production.
When trying to find out as much as possible about a potential new enterprise, it’s important to understand not only the production systems, feeding, breeding etc. but also we need to know about the market, marketing, what the market wants, distance to slaughter houses etc.
There are some books on the subject and some information online, but the best and most comprehensive resource we have found is the Boer Goats Profits Guide. The guide was available as either a hard copy book or as a downloadable ebook. It wasn’t cheap, but the authors clearly had a lot of knowledge and gave good guidance.