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Judy Watson
Goldthwaite, Texas
Ed note: The following is Ms. Watson's response to a recent question on the "The_Boer_Goat" discussion board.

I would like to address your question as to the probable accuracy of the meat goat profit calculator you found on the internet. Like all profit calculators it looks good on paper and is an interesting starting point.

But the first and most important thing for you to consider is your target market. The single most important question to address in any business situation is MARKETING. Who will buy your goats and what costs will you incur to sell each kid? Will you have to haul them a long distance? Or will buyers come to you? How much advertising (and where) will you have to go in order to generate sales? If you have to transport them to the place of sales, do you already have an appropriate truck and trailer? How far will you have to take them and what is the cost in terms of mileage and your time? Is a strictly meat operation the best choice for your particular land and situation, or could you make more money selling replacement breeding stock AND meat goats (a lot of producers service 2 or more niche markets). Can you sell live kids to ethnic markets? What in particular do they want? Small, young kids? Older, bigger kids? What prices are they willing/able to pay? When do they want them? Can you breed for the time of year that will allow for them to be the right size at the right time (weather can put restraints on breeding).

Then you need to consider your land - what is the carrying capacity of that particular piece of land? How rich is your soil? How much rain do you get? Out here in my neck of the woods there is no way you could raise 200 does (not to mention with kids) on 80 acres without a LOT of feeding How much hay, sack feed, etc can you buy before you are in a position of spending more on feed than you can hope to get from sales? Again, I stress that this depends on your particular situation because in some areas the land (and associated higher rainfall) is more capable of supporting that many or more if managed properly.

Intensive operations require careful management. Can you rotate pastures? I.E. - do you already have cross fences? Do you have the time to check on the herd frequently? What is your backup plan if you run into a several year extreme drought? Or other possible catastrophes?

The $$ allowed for fencing is way too low. It comes to $.83 per foot. The cost of steel has shot up in the last few years and I think half again (at least) would be more reasonable. Also, it appears the calculator only assumes perimeter fencing. If you are going to raise any sizable number of goats you will need cross fencing so you can rotate your herd properly. Also I don't see any $$ allocated for working pens. They don't need to be elaborate, but you will need pens to catch the herd and get them into a small area for working. What will you do with sick or injured goats? You will need a "sick bay" so that you can treat them as needed.

Another big issue I noticed on the calculator was no the cost of labor. Unless you do everything yourself and you don't count your time you will have labor costs. Do you have access to cheap labor? Or will you have to pay a premium just to get someone to come out to help? Vaccinating, worming, hoof treatment, etc is hard, backbreaking work especially for one single person, especially if have 200-300 goats.

Also, I think the health costs on the calculator are low. If you raise them intensively you really need to consider a vaccination program and of course you will need to worm them as needed. Generally, the more crowded the conditions, the higher the per head cost.

And finally, do you enjoy working with animals? Does your significant other enjoy working with animals? Boer goats and crosses can be profitable, but you need to take into account all of the variables I mentioned and then some.


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