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Goat Industry in a flux:
Positive Change or Acid Reflux?

Goat Gossip by Fred Vandermartin

Are you ready for some changes? Do you have the gumption to be flexible and go with the flow of the goat industry or are you sitting back on your haunches and relying on your reputation to get you through tough times? Do you take your high bred, super fancy blood lined Boer and Kiko goats to production sales and sit there stunned as they sell for sale barn prices? The answers to the previous questions get you kind of flummoxed, donít they?

There are a lot of goat ranchers out there that are scratching their heads over the answers. They are not sure whether to hold Ďem, fold Ďem, or just run from the bidnez as fast as they can! There are many that are folding up their tent and moving on to other Ag businesses. They have perceived that the goat industry is going the way of the Emus and are looking for more lucrative ventures. Where do they go? Llamas? Alpacas? Buy into the Mini-Angus or Mini-Herefords? True, there is a lot of interest in these industries right now, but what happens down the road? Will there be a market for these animals further along in time? Are Angoras the next Supermoneymaker?

There are a lot of goat ranchers who are reducing their herds to cut costs in order to wait and see what the next few years have in store. With low incomes and high inputs, the industry is at a tipping point and things are getting dicey. Sale barn prices have stayed pretty stagnant and production sales are beginning to have the looks of a sale barn, with bidders looking for nothing but bargains. A goat must have that knock emí dead look that goes with good blood lines in order to make money now-a-days. The days of a blade butted, thin chested, fancy schmancy blood line Billy selling for high dollars are gone, my Friend!

Whatís a forward thinking, progressive Goat Rancher to do? STAY FLEXIBLE! If you remain in the same old rut of relying on fancy schmancy bloodlines without improving the looks of your herd, feeding high-dollar goat kibble, and hunkering in your bunker and not networking and communicating with other breeders to learn the latest goat info Ďcuz you already know-it-all, then you deserve to lose every dollar that is passing you by!

It is my uneducated opinion that the biggest obstacle that the goat industry faces today is the goat breeders themselves. We are a hearty, lone wolf lot that prefers to go it alone because most of us learned early on that we werenít going to get any help from the Federal or State Government or from many other breeders. Many times when you contact the stateís first-in-line official, your County Agent, they treated you like a leper or just laughed! If youíve tried to find a good goat Veterinarian, then good luck, because they are as rare as hens teeth! Usnís in the trans-tweener region are lucky enough to have a good goat Vet, Doc Jonas, who is busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger, but many of you are just out of luck. When Gwen and I got our start 7 years ago, the only way to get any reliable info was to go to the web. With dial-up. After you rang Merlene at the phone exchange.

Things are different today. There are web sites out there that can instruct goat breeders on just about anything. There are Vets out there that are eager to offer treatment to your goats. There are Doctors of Veterinary Medicine working for and with the Agrilife Extension Service that will take your calls and answer your e-mails about goats. Believe it or not! Real life Aggies!

The biggest change in the industry today is the sprouting up of goat breeders associations all over the country. All you know-it-all Mustache Peteís can poke your heads out of the bunker and get a tan! How do you think the beef industry has profited so well and maintained their grip on their market through good times and bad? THEY NETWORK! Go to any TSCRA or NCBA meeting, instructional program, or convention. Itís standing room only! Even Cattlemen that have been in the business for umpteen years go to these events to meet and greet other breeders, learn new techniques for cattle management, and to take advantage of new marketing venues that are available. They have unity, even between different breeders associations.

You never hear any petty arguments about which animal is best, or whoís getting a bigger slice of the perceived pie than the others. When the BSE scare reared its ugly head, the Cattlemen joined in lock-step and worked their way through the crisis. They didnít cry and moan because their goat was third in line at the show so he didnít get a better look from the Judge. The Cattlemen step up to the plate and bend over backwards to help their fellow cattle raisers. They donít put their fellow goat breeders down or talk down to them in a dismissive way because their opinion differs from theirs. Old Timers in the cattle bidnez sponsor educational programs and tutor newbies because they know that they can only profit as an industry if they are UNIFIED!

You Mustache Peteís out there should get out and go to an educational program like the Goat Raisers symposium that was held in Waco last week. Make a contribution by imparting your knowledge to others. Join a goat breeders association to help us newbies along, no matter how wrong minded we may be. Learn new grazing management techniques in order to reduce your feed and wormer costs. There are a lot of old management and marketing techniques that have been long forgotten and a lot of new ones to learn if everyone who raises goats unifies and shares their knowledge. Only with unity can we overcome the obstacles facing the goat industry and take the next steps to a more profitable future!

My wife Gwen and I had the pleasure of attending the Goat Symposium hosted by the McClennan Co. Agrilife Extension. The CEA Shane McLellan had some heavy hitters as Instructors at the event. Presentations on FAMACHA and Breeding were given by Dr. Frank Craddock, Coni Ross instructed about Herd Health and Kid Care, and Dr. Tom Craig gave his very knowledgeable and entertaining presentation on Parasites. Dr. Tom works at the TAMU Parasitology lab and Dr. Frank at the TAMU research station in San Angelo. If you ever get a chance to experience their presentations then you should really enjoy them, they really know their stuff and keep the subjects interesting! Since we live in the parasite capitol of the Trans-Tweener region of Texas, Freestone Co., we like to keep up with the latest news on goat worms. Ms. Coni taught us quite a few new things about keeping goats and kids from going belly up. Special thanks to Ms. Luann Thiele of Hummingbird Ranch for providing the willing subjects (goats) for the FAMACHA test

Bye, for now.


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