We have written this book because of the new and increasingly wide-spread interest in North America in meat goats, animals whose great potential has by and large long been overlooked in this part of the world.
There is, we have found, a dearth of books on this subject.
Recently, however, there have been a number of helpful and interesting articles published in magazines as well as several very worthwhile
commentaries in books. Consequently, we have set our sights on not only
providing readers with our personal findings and observations about meat
goats but with giving an overview of other opinions we consider significant as well.
In contrast to its Asian and African forebears, the meat goat in the
United States and Canada does not have a long and illustrious history.
Here, it has not been man's mainstay and companion down through countless centuries as it has on these faraway continents.
The meat goat is an immigrant to North America. Though the first
meat goats were introduced into the Americas just over 400 years ago, they
were soon abandoned and largely ignored by their importers.
Only quite recently (in the 90s), after taking a closer look at the
attributes of these quite exceptional animals, have the descendants of these
early immigrants been reevaluated and new breeds of meat goats brought
to this continent. Egged on by physicians, scientists and farmers/ranchers,
touting the benefits of eating what many maintain is the leanest, healthiest, and often the tastiest of all red meat (when the goats are young and
properly looked after and the meat well prepared) - as well as being cheaper
to produce (under the right foraging conditions) because they can survive
and thrive on land which would not support other livestock - consumers,
who a decade ago would never have considered buying chevon (goat meat),
have begun to respond enthusiastically. So positive, indeed, has this response been that supply cannot keep up with demand.
The authors have had a long association with goats - and books. A
goat and sheep breeder and a veterinary pathologist, Stephanie has raised
Angoras for the past 13 years. Several years ago she added Boer goats to
her herd and, more recently, Savanna goats. She has also experimented
with Boer/Angora crosses. Apart from giving many tips on care and management, Stephanie has written an extensive chapter on the diseases to
which goats can be subject - and provided much useful information on
their treatments. The authors of this work are also the authors of a very
successful book on Angoras as well as many published articles.
We wish to thank a number of people for their help in producing this
work: Dr. Dan Morrical; for his chapter on meat goat nutrition, rations and
ration balancing, the staff of Print Atlantic, especially Roy Dawson; the
staff of Mount Allison University Library, particularly Anne Ward (interlibrary loans), Hannah and Brian McNally and Emma Cross; and Dr. Peter
Mitcham for his careful and charming illustrations.