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"All About Goats" Workshop Huge Success
Doris Uphoff


Doris & Mel Uphoff

Lexington, NE, USA

   Quiet, intent, stimulating, thought provoking, exciting, informative, variety of topics and speakers, eye opener, interesting - VERY interesting, educational and finally brain dead were some of the adjectives used by the 175 people attending the goat workshop in Beatrice, NE. on Saturday, April 13. Attendees came from six states: Colorado, Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and all over Nebraska; from infants to grandparents, to gain information about the meat goat industry. It was a highly successful project with the Gage County Extension Service and Five Rivers RC & D being the organizational force with support and sponsorship of numerous other agencies.

   Dr. Terry Gipson: Langston University, Langston, OK, captured the attention of those attending with his Market Potential and retained their attention throughout his presentation. Facts presented by Dr. Gipson were from the USDA records that show the increase in amount of goat meat processed... 40,000 metric tons in 1977 to 550,000 metric tons in 2001. These figures were from USDA facilities and does not include state facilities and slaughter for personal use. USDA figures showed the growth of goats slaughtered to be 10 to 15 % per year while on lambs the growth was 3 to 5% --- with cattle -2 to +2%. During this period 52% of goats slaughtered were in Texas and New Jersey, followed by Connecticut with 15% and 33% made up by the balance of all the other states combined.

   Import of chilled and frozen goat meat to the US was 1000 metric ton in 1989 up to the current figures of 6000 metric ton in 2001. Much of this meat is imported from New Zealand/Australia with their large population of feral goats where the only cost is rounding up the goats for delivery. The US does export some goat meat with 1750 Metric tons being exported in 1989 to less that 250 metric ton in 2001. (This figure is a guesstimate as the graph showed a short blip under the 1000 ton line.) Over $14 million is being spent on this imported meat every year. Port of entries for majority of goat meat is San Francisco, CA with 28%: Philadelphia, PA. with 25%: Miami, Florida 20%: and Tampa, Florida with 11%. All these locations have a large immigrant population with a preference for goat meat.

    Ethnic demand is driving the market for goat meat with the foreign born Americans, of which the largest group is Latin Americans - 51%: Asians -22%: Europeans - 15.3%. These foreign born Americans have settled in the US with 21% in the North East, 30% in the South, 13% in the Midwest and 36% in the Far West. Two thirds of this population has settled in California, New York and Florida. It is estimated that future immigration by 2050 will make the population of the United States 57% Hispanic and 43% non-Hispanic. 10.4% of all Americans were foreign born with 25% of these new residents living in California, New York, Florida and New Jersey. Population figures used by Dr. Gipson were from the 2000 Census

   The question then presented to the attendees by Dr. Gipson was "Will the ethnic market sustain the growth of the goat Market," and he answered this with a "Yes". This would be the result of the population change and demand but then he said "No" as there is no emphasis placed upon carcass quality but we are seeing a slow change to quality demand and the fact that the market is so elastic makes profit harder for goat breeders. If goat prices are high the consumer will then purchase lamb or another alternative meat.

    In New York City at the "custom exempt" market that is mainly serving the African ethnic groups the feeling is that, "Any goat is a meat goat" and they purchase goats at the same price whether it is dairy goat or a Boer cross meat goat. Custom exempt permits slaughter on premises and again this number is not reflected in the USDA numbers that was presented in the previous part of his program. In New Jersey the Muslin market is driving the market with their exempt slaughter of goat meat due to religious customs . Dr. Gipson said that Kentucky was the only state grading goat meat and that there was no premium for Boer meat but that the brokers were looking for condition; however the Boer influence will provide the condition they are wanting for their markets. A small change is being noticed with the Boer influence producing more pounds per animals.

    In expanding the goat meat market the American European Ancestry is 90% of the population and to reach them there is the need to develop retail cuts, restaurant trade and the health conscious market for low fat meat. A potential of $4,800,000 for supplying the restaurant trade would demand more goat meat that is presently available in the states and 5 times the current demand. This would add $370 million at the producers level.

    His final comments were that the ethnic population will continue to grow, increasing demand and developing a competive market for the US producers and foreign suppliers.

   Next on the agenda was Dr Bruce Anderson, Professor of Agronomy & Extension Forage Specialist, UNL, sharing his expertise on grazing goats on grass and other vegetation. A combination of native grasses, warm season grasses and legumes for protein(alfalfa- clover in combination is the best) make a good graze for goats. Legumes are preferred by goats and sheep with a higher intake of this graze which they digest rapidly, provides nitrogen and suppresses weeds for the soil, and a seasonal yield with a more uniform growth than other grasses. Waste species of weeds is a feed source for goats and remember "Grass is a Crop". Management of pastures is an important tool with grazing the tool for harvesting this crop. Your goats are your harvesting tool! Anderson stated that tall tops on grasses mean larger roots, small tops mean small roots therefore limiting regrowth of this crop. Over grazing occurs when the pasture is grazed the second time before recovering from previous grazing. He recommended keeping a four inch growth on the grass to keep the good root development. Sharing this part of the program with Dr. Anderson was Steve Melvin, U UNL Extension Education from Frontier County. Using goats to graze out undesirable weeds, leafy spurge, volunteer brush and trees eliminates the need for burning or spraying of your property which does not make you any money. However some attention needs to be given to adequate fencing, 3 to 4 strands of electric wire was his recommendation. This will also provide some protection for your goats from predators.

   Goats that Steve used in his trial ate weed seed, seed heads, grazed the slopes, ceder and juniper trees plus he fed some protein in addition to graze. You need to overgraze to kill undesirable plants and it will take 2 to 3 years to clear the property. Multi species grazing is desirable as the cattle will open areas for the goats so they can get into them and clean out clusters of ceder and other shrubs. Melvin stated that in some areas of trees when opened up you will find an old tree stump where the old ceder tree was cut and then as it laid on the ground seeded a stand of trees. Grazing your goats with cattle you can run 1 to 2 goats per cow or if you have heavy brush you can run up to five goats per cow.

    Lively discussion and questions followed his portion of the program and many people approached him throughout the day with questions about grazing. There were various opinions among attendees about grazing marijuana and some felt problems were observed when there were seeds on the plants.

    Tony Phillippe, President, Northwoods Marketing Cooperative from Crivitz, WI. got right into the swing of his presentation. Attempting to market their goat meat they approached the butcher in their local grocery chain store and found out that "goat meat doesn't sell worth squat". "Chevon sells!" An Indian lady (from India) was listening to their presentation and went over and tugged his sleeve stating "I can't eat other meat but I can eat this meat. You get it---price is not a problem". Two weeks later they were selling meat in that store. A month later they were in seven of their chain stores and now they can only supply a store every two weeks with the sales amounting to $250. per store. Now other stores are contacting them for product and to research the possibility of other markets they contacted a gourmet butcher; gave him goat meat information pamphlets for his customers and a goat free so he could test his market. He is now buying from them and selling the meat for $8.50 a pound retail. During this time period they found out that "Chevon sells like crazy...goat meat does not." Chevon is another name for goat.

    They are in a main stream store with no special packaging or labels now but this year they are introducing value added cuts. The projections are unbelievable, especially the sausage lines. The addition of the goat bacon and ham cured goat meat is expanding the market into people who cannot eat pork but will eat cured goat meat. Being a small group and just starting up they were able to research their market and 65% of the sales were to white women -35 to 50 years and they were purchasing the meat for their husbands diets because of the lower fat contents. The ethnic market was purchasing 30% and it was hamburger and stew meat. They stated they preferred it already ground and cut up as it saved them having to do it. Chevon can compete with beef, chicken, pork and the goal is 1% of the market in five years. If the meat was available the marketing studies show that goat meat could equal sales of beef in two years. "The ethnic market is giving us our stepping stone into the industry."

    Goat meat is imported with a cost of $2.29 per pound so the US producer needs to have animals ready to market for 75 to 85 cents per pound to compete. Tony stated, "my wife is the herdsman of the family. We have 10 acres of land and run 70 does. She can produce an 80 to 100# goat with a market price of 75 cents out the door." Tony was not only an informative speaker but entertaining. Some of his statements seemed to need some thought as some of the previous statements about goat meat. His stated "Goats are going to bring back the family farm" but "That you can't do dairy goats unless you do meat." Average dairy does now produce 6 1/2 to 8# of milk a day but the genetics are available for 20# milk. At the present many dairy operations do not raise any male kids and are dumping excess milk out. The developing market for meat kids will make it feasible to raise those kids for that market by using a cross with a meat producing animal and then creating markets for their milk via cheese manufacture. This would then financially permit the dairy goat owner to invest in the gene pool for heavier milk production. He later gave information about an Israeli company in Wisconsin that makes cheese, yogurt and butter from goat milk and they command a $200,000. share of the market.

    This year the meat goat cooperative is doing research into marketing and additional cuts of meat. They will be using value added packaging, new labels, more information pamphlets which will contain information such as 9 grs fat per serving using Chevon meat. At the same time they will be able to get $5.50 per pound for the Chevon sausage. Tony stated that he works at a cheese factory and uses his co-workers to test new goat meat products. A positive response after trying a product such as the new Brats was when they asked him when and where they can buy some for their family. The Coop is poised for the next step and they will do it professionally "using the wheel that is there - mainstreaming their product to stores." The cut goat meat that the coop is now marketing is from yearlings and the meat compares to pork. The ethnic market will purchase this product and other types of goat meat such as the Ham, Bacon, Sausage and Brats. In answers to questions from the audience about what nationality ate what grade/type of goats he responded: Jamaicans will use old Billies 6 to 7 years old, Jewish prefer under 50# live weight and milk fed, Islamic market is for yearlings and Hispanic preference is anything 9 months to 3 years of age.

   Another question asked was about grading ....USDA is 1-meat to 3-utility and that the price range on the hoof is from 85 cents for meat grade down to 45 cents for utility and the preference is under one year of age and preferably grass feed. Yields will vary from 65% for meat grade and 48% for utility grade.

   At this point of the goat conference we were beginning to see how well the information from each speakers was coming together and adding to our knowledge about the goat industry. Their information was laying a format for successful production of goats. After the noon break the speakers would continue along these same lines of thoughts with more basic information for breeders. The noon luncheon included goat burgers that had been processed at C and C Processing near Beatrice and then to add to this experience Dr. Gipson had brought several varieties of goat cheese and goat milk mix for ice cream. Disappointment in that there was not enough ice cream so everyone could share in this treat but there was adequate cheese for everyone that want taste this product. Attendees were able to visit the different booths and displays at this time and various breaks throughout the day.

    Now that you've got all this information what do you need to know about starting up in Goats? Linda Coffey, Agriculture Specialist, National Center of Appropriate Technology, Fayetteville, AR. was next on the program to answer these questions. Her program consisted of you answering six questions ...
1. Why do You want to raise goats? some answers are demand for goat meat, less investment than other livestock, easier to handle and utilization of land.
2. Who will buy the Goats? answer possibilities are ethnic market, breeding stock, at auctions, pooled sale and grazing for hire.
3.What breed of goats would you raise? after determining the purpose of the goats you would consider all dairy breeds or Spanish meat goats, Boer, Kiko, Tennessee Meat goats for the meat market. Entering into your selection of any breed when purchasing you would consider confirmation, health, the environment where you want to use the goats and the qualifications of each breed.
4. How to Raise your goats? ..withbrowse, improved pasture or dry lot and grains.
5. Do you have the resources... and do you have the time and fence for the goats.
6. How many should you buy? Start with small numbers of good goats for learning time, avoid debt, one buck per 25 to 50 does. Your goats will be profitable if you take time to pencil out your budget using slaughter price for market price. Other items to add to the list before starting would be to visit other goat operations, install adequate fence and arrange for predator control using livestock guardian dogs, donkeys, or llamas & penning at night and protective fencing. Be sure to check the advantage and disadvantage of each type of livestock protection. One advantage and maybe disadvantage is the livestock guard dogs will jump fences and expand their area of protection while llamas and donkeys are confined to the original pasture.

   Dr. Terry Gipson returned to the podium with a short program on Basic Goat Management. He listed several basic items for a good vet case in his short time allowed as we had fallen behind in the time schedule. The first was a good thermometer and you should know the temperature for goats, 102.5 degrees plus or minus a few points is normal and over 104 degrees you have a sick animals that needs treatment. A sub normal temperature in your goat will also indicate a health problem. Throughout this presentation and the previous one a good relationship with your veterinarian was stressed. That you need to develop a good working relationship with him and then do not hesitate to consult him with your questions.

   Hoof trimming was his second topic of discussion as he feels this is an area of neglect with many goat operations. He told attendees to get a good pair of hoof trimmers and to trim more on the toes than on the heels so the goat would walk more upright on the pasturn as that is the normal position. He suggested that if you had a large group of goats to trim hooves that you could use plywood or other construction material to make a sloped ramp, two sided, for the goats to cross. Shingle this ramp with coarse material and you have constructed a natural rasp to trim their hooves.

    He recommended vaccinating the nannys 2 to 4 weeks prior to kidding with CD & T, then vaccinate the kids at weaning then again 4 weeks later to give protection for overeating and tetanus. To check for a worm overload you can check their lower eyelid and if the tissue is the color of the skin under your thumb your goats do not need wormed. With the many types and dosage requirements for wormers it is best to consult your veterinarian as to the type of wormer for use in your operation however you will want to rotate wormers on an annual basis.

   Session conducted by Dr. Ann Wells, Veterinarian, National Center for Appropriate Technology continued the positive look at the goat industry. Jo Lowe, Program Coordinator, Nebraska Cooperative Development Center and Tony Phillippe spoke about ground work for the development of a cooperative with bylaws to expand or contract as needs of the group demands. To meet the market in Wisconsin the coop there has 85 members that currently supply 20 goats weekly/1000 per year with the next phase of marketing stepping up to 4500 head yearly.

   Hats off to Howard McNiff for an outstanding conference! Of course we all realize that all the support people were very instrumental in assisting him and getting this conference rolling. They did video tape the speakers at the conference and when I visited about the tapes he said that they had not had time to view the tapes yet, but if they turned out you can possibly order copies from Howard at Five Rivers RC & D #402-335-3347 or If you would like to attend another conference like this one call or e-mail Howard and let him know to encourage the future organization of these workshops.

    At the end of the conference many attendees were itching to get the pencils out to assess their operation/addition or changes and for many others the possibilities of this additional income or use of goats for grazing. After doing the cash flow using the market price for a selling price they will decide on an individual basis if this would work for them. If you were not fortunate to attend the conference find a good breeder and visit with him or her. Start small, work out the problems and then grow into the future with the goat industry.

Doris and Mel Uphoff raise Boer goats, Baby Doll Sheep, and Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs in Lexington, Nebraska, USA. E-mail Doris at for more information.


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