With high market prices, it’s a good time to be a goat rancher

America’s meat goat producers are in an enviable position: the demand for our product far outstrips what we can supply. For years we have depended on imported goat meat to fill nearly 50 percent of our market, so why aren’t we producers making any progress in filling that gap?

For one thing, the demand continues to grow each year as our ethnic population continues to grow. What little progress we make each year to increase supply barely keeps up with the growing demand. This is the point where goat producers — and other livestock producers who are looking to diversify — need to get serious about taking steps to produce more goat meat. In his writings, Dr. Frank Pinkerton notes that the few options we have to increase goat meat production include: • Enlarge base herd numbers by increasing the number of goat producers and/or by increasing herd sizes. • Increase the annual off-take per doe by improved management activities (nutrition, genetics, reproduction, health). • Increase edible meat yield per carcass by improving dressing percentage and/or improving muscle-to-bone ratio and/or decreased waste fat.

BY TERRY HANKINS Goat Rancher editor

• Increase live/carcass weights at slaughter. How do we accomplish these goals? We are well on our way to increasing the amount of meat we harvest per carcass. And processors are slowly learning that today’s goats can still be tender even at 80- 100 pounds. Slaughtering goats at this weight instead of the tradi- tional 40-60 pounds would increase the meat supply considerably. We also need more people — long-time ranchers as well as homesteaders — to raise goats. Those of us in the business now need to be ambassadors for the industry. We need to recruit and mentor new meat goat producers so that they can become successful pro- ducers.

Our goal for the new year should be to raise more goats, raise them bigger and spread the word about the unlimited potential this industry holds. There’s a huge incentive now with market goats bringing above

$3 a pound. That means a typical 65-pound kid is bringing close to $200 — that’s what I used to sell my commercial does for (which, by the way, are bringing $350-$400 these days). It’s definitely a good time to be in — or get into — the goat business. n (See Dr. Frank Pinkerton’s market report on Page 6)

4 Goat Rancher | January 2021

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