Still another version of direct sales occurs when an owner takes one or more goats to an off-farm site for selling. One here thinks of farmer’s markets or “flea markets” or of roadside sales conveniently near an urban/exurban area. In all cases, once the bartering is con- cluded and the money exchanged, the seller bears no further respon- sibility. This is a Good Thing because the transport and subsequent slaughter of the goat (whenever, wherever, however) is thus legally shifted to the new owner; blissful ignorance of any consequences is the preferred seller stance.

Direct-selling goat meat

If you should elect to explore options beyond live goat sales, for example, slaughtering goats on-farm and selling carcasses or cuts or value-added products via an on-farm “sales room”, you must first learn about the Health Code Requirements of the State Agency in charge of these matters. A preliminary call to your State Department of Health/Food Safety and Inspection Office will do much to further, or pause, or possibly even stifle your game plan for on-farm slaughtering, pro- cessing and merchandizing. It is most assuredly not a time for uni- lateral action, no matter your views on bureaucratic “meddling” and such.

Doing otherwise will court legal and financial disaster. Various licenses are usually required to market meat products directly to con- sumers, restaurants and grocery stores. A state license is typically an annual requirement to sell meat products, particularly at farmer’s market venues.

If you do decide to pursue these options further, a host of ad- ditional issues must be considered, among them: identifying/main- taining reliable customers; obtaining sufficient supplies (raised and/or purchased) of goats to meet demand patterns for your products; plan- ning for inventory management, cash-flow, price discovery, etc; and, not least, finding enough hours and energy to perform the myriad tasks sure to be encountered. To produce, slaughter, process and merchandize your own goats is an incredibly complex and daunting task. Even if you realize (get all) the profits to be made from each of these separate activities, there is the matter of achieving sufficient sales volumes to sustain the en- terprise, not to mention sustaining your physical health and mental equilibrium and that of your Loved Ones.

Over the years, I have observed numerous instances of integrated enterprises (goat milk production, homestead cheese making and mer- chandizing activities) that can compromise health and erode net worth — and also observed compromised marriages, straight or gay. There is a salutary message in this history for overly exuberant, imperfectly informed meat goat persons. The required 24/7 schedule in such integrated operations can be ignored for a while (as can the debilitating labor and equally exhausting mental concentration), but, sooner rather than later, there will come a time when willingness, en- thusiasm and sharing responsibilities will not — cannot — replace mutually satisfying togetherness, either intimate or mundane . As a consequence, the accumulating stresses lead first to heavy silences, then covert and overt pouting, then mutual shouting, then deadly low-voiced dissention, and, finally, tears and recrimination regarding possible disposal of well-loved goats.

Even a cooling interlude of trial separation may not avoid d-i-v-

o-r-c-e. As always in such instances, bankers hover and lawyers loom, as also unwelcome I-told-you-so comments from “concerned” friends and family. In these circumstances, to bail, or not to bail, is not the question; only the times of dissolution and departure will be in play. But ... as always, there are the exceptions that prove the rule.

July 2020 | Goat Rancher 7

There are indeed those who raise goats (usually having them slaugh- tered off-farm) and then fabricate, process and personally sell the out- put. The volumes involved tend to be small, but the markups tend to be relatively high. In these instances, personality, perseverance and smarts are absolutely required attributes, as also are tolerance of long and arduous hours.

On occasion, a comforting glass or two of ethanol in some form — red, white or brown — has been found useful for sustainability. One also imagines that hired-hand helpers would logically be pref- erable to Significant Others, firings being preferable to messy dis- engagements.

One solution to the incipient 24/7 nightmare described above would be to undertake only one or two of these three major, post- production activities. For example, you could elect to have your goats custom-slaughtered and also processed into products or, alternatively, process the carcasses in your own pre-approved processing facility/kitchen. In either case, you could then elect to do your own merchandizing or, alternatively, sell to a wholesaler for subsequent retailing. You could, of course, decide not to raise goats at all, but rather to buy them and thereafter proceed as described above. In that case, you might elect procurement, custom-slaughter and then doing your own processing and merchandizing, in which case life would still be full to the max and boredom a past indulgence. However, Dr. Jeanne cautions that many farmers markets, res- taurants and natural-food stores that are looking for fresh, local pro- duce demand that you (the seller) also be the producer of the animal. Accordingly, procuring goats elsewhere for your meat products might well limit your marketing opportunities. Not so curiously, these post-production alternatives closely re- flect the marketing functions delineated in earlier articles on market- ing meat goats. You must in fact decide which one, or more, of these channel functions you want to undertake. Each function requires a player, and each player strives to make a profitable return to labor, management, and investment. Thus, your gut question becomes: can you do one, or more, of these functions more cheaply than the current players do them? If not, you cannot survive your decision to become a direct-marketing player. On occasion, I make a similar case to prospective cooperative endeavors by groups of producers dissatisfied with auction prices for their kid crops; their bottom line is the same as yours as an individual. Accordingly, any cooperative must, like you, do one or more marketing functions more cheaply, or … they/you must create a novel product to distribute/sell at a (sustainably) higher price than other players. After 30 years in the goat world, I still know of no other ways Please see PINKERTON, Page 12

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