In the U.S., goat meat can be bought in most meat markets. Americans consume approximately 1.5 billion goats yearly, with Texas being the state with the most meat-producing goat farms. Goats are easy to raise, and their meat is healthy and delicious. Below are 4 essential tips for raising goats for meat.
The essential tips for raising goats for meat are to find a top-quality breed. Ensure your herd has a fenced-in pasture to graze during the day and a good shelter for the night. Goats can be fed on grasses and brush, but they need supplements like minerals, vitamins, and protein.
Some interesting facts about goats are that the meat is also known as ‘chevon,’ the French word for goat. This meat can come from a female ‘doe’ or a male ‘billy’ or ‘buck.’
The meat of a milk-fed young goat is known as ‘cabrito’ which is taken from Spanish and Portuguese. A baby goat’s meat is called ‘kid.’ Read on to learn about choosing a goat breed and how to house and feed these animals.
Raising Goats For Meat
Starting out with goat farming for meat could seem a bit challenging. But, once you have researched and considered all the options and chosen the breed, goat farming will seem more manageable. Here are 4 essential tips for getting you started.
Choose The Best Meat Producing Goat Breed
When you choose a breed of goat to raise for meat, look at the breed that is the most economical to raise. Goats are generally cheap to raise as they can survive off scant vegetation. They will forage for weeds, brambles, and brush.
Goat breeders often show their goats at livestock shows where they are judged for their eye appeal, fleshing and muscling ability. The judge will crown 2 of the best goats for the day and crown them Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion. Below are the three best meat-producing goat breeds in the U.S.
This breed has the best meat cuts, is the most marketable, and is the most economical to raise. Boer goats mature very quickly; it only takes 90 days from birth to be ready for harvesting. They do very well at the market, often taking the premium price over other breeds of goat.
This is mainly due to their cuts of meat like loin, rack, and leg, being very large. Consumers feel they are getting their money’s worth.
In the 1900s, this breed was bred for its meat by the Dutch in South Africa. But it was only in 1993 that full-blood Boer goats were introduced to the United States.
Boer goats traditionally have white bodies and red heads. However, in recent years the dappled and other colorings of this breed have emerged through crossbreeding.
Below are some facts about Boer goats.
- Lifespan – 8 to 13 years if well cared for. The females have been able to breed past 10 years.
- Breeding – usually starts at 5-6 months, but some farmers wait until females are 1 year.
- Average weight for slaughter – 250 lbs for males and 140 lbs for females.
- Cost – at a livestock auction from $150 to $600. A Boer goat with papers, and excellent bloodlines, $600 to $20,000.
Kiko goats come from New Zealand and are a crossbreed between wild goats and dairy goats like Saanen, Toggenberg, and Nubians. This goat was bred for its ability to survive in rough terrain and achieve a good weight without supplements. Kiko goats produce good meat and take care of their young without intervention. Kiko, in the Mouri language, means ‘meat.’
You can spot a Kiko by the size of the buck’s horns. Even the doe has a good pair of horns, just smaller. These goats are very fertile, and because they hail from dairy stock, the females feed their kids very well. The female does go into heat year-round, and the male bucks’ father many offspring, so breeders can expect kids at any time of year.
These goats have a high parasite tolerance and are highly resistant to diseases. They are primarily white, but they have a good mix of other colors like cream, red, brown, or black. Here are some facts about the Kiko goat.
- Lifespan – 8 to 12 years.
- Breeding – females breed at about 8 months.
- Average weight for slaughter – 200 lbs for males and females 125 lbs.
- Cost – for a pedigreed Kiko male, you could pay up to $1,500.
This breed of goat first came to the U.S. in the early 1540s. They were brought to Texas by explorers from Spain. Through breeding, today’s Spanish goat breed is larger in stature. This goat breed has several coloring, such as white and black or different shades of brown. Spanish goats are hardy and can survive under challenging conditions.
They are known to climb and jump, so be sure to have them securely fenced in. Spanish goats are known to breed up to three times in 1 year. The females make perfect mothers and often produce more than 1 kid at a time. Spanish goats have an excellent tolerance against parasites.
- Lifespan – 6 to 7 years.
- Breeding – you can breed females at about 8 months or when they weigh 80 lbs.
- Average weight for slaughter – 200 to 250 lbs for males and females 100 to 150 lbs.
- The cost – of a Spanish breed goat is between $300 to $500.
Housing Meat Goats
When they are in good form with a nice fat layer under the skin, goats that are bred for meat do well in most weather conditions. As long as the goats have enough good quality forage, they can survive rainy and cold weather.
But the young goats require shelter during the wet season as they are susceptible to hyperthermia and respiratory infections. Does that are pregnant or feeding their young should also be sheltered in cooler weather. Here are some ideas on how to house your meat goats.
A Shed For Protection
A sturdy shed that is open on one side is ideal for keeping the goats in at night or in extreme weather conditions. The best place for this shed would be close to the farmstead to keep an eye out for predators.
The size should be about 5 ½ square feet for each goat. Place troughs in the shed for feeding hay or grain, and allow the goats access to both sides. This will ensure that the animals don’t urinate or defecate on the food.
It is essential that soiled bedding be cleaned regularly, as the ammonia in the goats’ urine can cause pneumonia and respiratory infections. It is, therefore, vital that the shed also be well-ventilated. An elevated slated floor is a good idea as it reduces the build-up of urine and feces and allows for air movement.
Shelter For The Does And Kids
Temporary kidding pens can be erected to house pregnant does and newly born kids. Erect the pens in an area where there is no cold wind. The pens should be about 4 x 5 feet in size. The kids can be housed here from birth to 5 days with their mothers. This practice is good for the bonding between the does and kids.
This will allow you to keep a close watch on the does if there are complications with the birth and ensure that the newborns get enough to drink during the first 24 hours since birth. These temporary pens can be dismantled once the kidding season is over.
Create A Working Facility
A working area where you can attend to vaccinations, ear-tagging, medications, hoof trimming, counting, and sorting makes good sense. A small pen where the goats can be herded in is sufficient for small operations. It should be sturdy and at least 6 feet tall. As the goat numbers increase, a more elaborate design will be required.
Goats must be handled calmly and quietly during these activities. These animals quickly become agitated by noise and will run no matter what or who stands in their way. Also, be careful of these animals dropping to the ground when under pressure which can cause smothering or trampling.
Fenced Area To Browse And Roam
During the day, goats should be free to roam outside in a pasture. You will need about 200 square feet of pasture per goat. You can divide them into pens to separate the herd. The does, and the kids are together in a pen and the bucks in another. It is a good idea to keep young male goats together and the older males in another pen. They will fight for hierarchy, especially in the breeding season.
Pregnant females should also be kept in a separate pen with other does. Goats are sociable herd animals, so they don’t like to be alone. Just remember that in the breeding season, goats are known to mate through a fence. Also, please note that the little male kids can breed with a female from 7 weeks, so keep them away from does that are in heat.
The pasture must have a perimeter fence to keep the goats in and predators out. Ensure the fence is sturdy, as goats will try to get out.
Feeding Meat Goats
The highest cost of meat goat farming is the feed. Goats raised for meat need a good amount of quality forage and nutritional feed. These animals gain weight slowly, so they must have enough food for grazing thought the year.
Foraging For Natural Food
Goats have small mouths and split upper lips, so they can easily strip off small leaves, flowers, and fruit from trees and shrubs. They will eat with gusto if there is available vegetation to forage on. Their daily diet can come from brush, saplings, woody perennials, broad-leaf plants like horseweed, and other such plants.
If the goats are raised in the pasture during the day, they will first eat the grass along the fence and the top leaves of plants or trees. They will also not graze near where they urinate or defecate. Goats like to feed in a herd, so when one goat starts eating, the others will do so too.
Nutrients For Goats
Goats that are raised for their meat need lots of protein and energy to build weight and body condition. These animals need:
|Nutrition Feed||Feed or Supplement||Benefits|
|Grains||Corn, oats, barley, and wheat1 cup per adult, ½ cup per kid daily||Provides energy|
|Minerals||Commercial salt and mineral mix¼ to 1/3 ounces per goat per day||Provides vitamins A, D, and E|
|Protein Supplements||Grain ration of 14% – 18% protein; Add quality hay and pellet feed||Ensures good growth|
|Water||A continuous supply of clean water is essential,about 2.1 gallons per day||Ensures goats stay hydrated|
A good average live weight for goats should be around 120 to 170 pounds for females and 150 to 200 pounds for males. These weights are the average slaughter weight for goats.
Keep Your Goats Healthy
To keep your goats healthy, keep a record of when they need to be vaccinated, dewormed, or require other preventative medications. It is also wise to have the goats checked by a veterinarian regularly.
You might need to castrate the young bucks if you are not going to breed with them. Their hooves also need to be trimmed every 6 weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some questions people want to know about raising meat goats.
Which Breed Of Goat Is Most Profitable For Meat?
Boer goats are the best breed to raise if you want to make a good profit. Farmers choose this breed because they are built stocky and muscular and produce the best meat. This breed is most adaptable, sound in all weather conditions, and has few ailments. Boer goats grow very fast, and their fertility rate is high. These goats are ideal for the meat market.
How Long Does It Take To Raise Goats For Meat?
It usually takes about 3 to 5 months for a baby goat to grow and reach the market’s goal weight of 20 to 50 lbs. Adult goats are ready for the market at 1 year when they weigh between 120 to 300 lbs depending on the breed.
Is It Worth Raising Goats For Meat?
The market for goat meat is steadily increasing in the U.S., so there is potential profit in raising goats for meat. Goats are easy to raise and they do not require excessive space as for other livestock. Goat meat is healthy, tastes good, and can be very profitable.
What Breed Of Goat Is Good For Meat?
Three top breeds of goat are excellent to raise for meat. They are the Boer, Kiko, and Spanish goat breeds. Their meat is of good quality, they are relatively easy to raise, and they are the most popular breeds amongst American farmers.
Another good meat breeder is the Black Bengal goat. It is less popular than the Boer, Kiko, and Spanish breeds. Still, many farmers and consumers say that the meat of this breed has the best quality and taste.
The first essential tip for raising goats is choosing a good breed. The top breeds in the U.S. are the Boer, Kiko, and Spanish goat breeds. You must have a fenced-in pasture for grazing during the day and a clean shelter for the night and in extreme weather conditions.
A good feeding program is essential for keeping your goats healthy. If your goats are healthy and of a good weight, raising them for meat can be very profitable.