February 2015 Issue



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Subscribe FREE now! Monthly issues with new articles and other educational information on meat goat health, nutrition, and management written by Suzanne W. Gasparotto of Onion Creek Ranch and Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch. In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Neither Suzanne Gasparotto nor Pat Cotten are veterinarians. None of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.


If you are a small producer -- and most of us raising meat goats are small producers -- you should be able to sell from your farm directly to consumers. You will likely make more money this way rather than taking your goats to commercial auctions at times of the year when prices are not highest. By selling directly off your farm, you should be able, with some marketing on your part, create interest in and stimulate demand for your product.

Fresh goat meat is always in short supply in the USA. Forty percent of the goat meat consumed in the United States is imported frozen from Australia and New Zealand. Most of the demand for goat meat comes from ethnic groups, many of whom have specific dietary and religious customs that you must learn. Determine the market in your area and tailor the availability of your product to it. For example, if the predominant ethnic group in your area is Hispanic, you will need to produce "cabrito," which is a young goat about 60 pounds liveweight that usually dresses out to about 15 pounds per half carcass if you are raising and selling most breeds. The yield will be at least 6% to 10% more if you are raising TexMasters™ and Myotonics, especially Tennessee Meat Goats™. If your market is Jamaican, those folks generally like an older goat that they cut, cube, and cook slowly for tenderizing in curry or other spice-seasoned stews. These are only two examples of different ethnic groups' requirements. Find out what they are in your area and breed for those markets.

Ethnic buyers tend to be very price conscious and like to negotiate pricing; it is part of their cultures. Getting a good price brings status to the individual buyer. This is not the typical American's way of buying and selling, so you must learn to sell to people with this perspective.

If I were going to sell goat meat to a specific ethnic group off my farm, I would do the following: I would identify the major players in that group -- the respected members of the community, usually in religious organizations or restaurants or butcher shops -- and I would talk with them about the quality of my product over that of other producers. I would state a price per pound and hold to it. When resistance is met, and it likely will be, I would propose that I would GIVE a single goat to a well-respected member of the community to slaughter, cook, and eat. I would point out the higher meat-to-bone ratio, and therefore less waste, on my goat. And I would hold my price firm for all future buyers, knowing that word will get around quickly if my product is superior.

If you discount the goat to this first person, you have set your price forever, because every person in that community will know what that person paid and will expect the same price from you. Establish your price and hold firm.

With a bit of effort, you can have buyers coming to you rather than hauling your goats to the local auction and taking the price that prevails at that week's sale.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 2/3/15


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Myotonic goats have an obscure origin. Sometime during the 1870's, they showed up in Tennessee. In the 1940's, a group of the larger Myotonic goats was imported from Tennessee to Texas by Boone Heep of Buda, Texas. After Mr. Heep's death, this property went through a series of owners during which time the goats were moved off the place. I bought that property in 1988, having no knowledge of the history of Myotonic goats. By sheer coincidence and quirk of fate, I began acquiring Myotonic goats, raising them, and improving the breed...... only later to learn that the original Texas herd of Myotonic goats resided at my very own ranch.

Myotonic goats are a distinctly landrace breed, which means that they have adapted to fit the local conditions in which they live. Having no dairy influence and being very muscular, they are 100% MEAT goats. Muscling is developed when the neuro-muscular condition known as myotonia causes their rear legs to stiffen and relax (like humans who lift weights) as they rise from a sitting position or are startled and begin to run. The degree of stiffness varies, with the meatier, more muscular animals displaying more stiffness. Myotonia occurs in the muscle fiber... not as a function of the central nervous system.... and causes no problem for the goats. In no way should myotonia be considered a defect in goats.

Though sure footed and adaptable to varying terrain, these goats are not fence climbers and are easy to keep fenced. Predator problems are no more serious with Myotonics than with any other breed of goats. All goats are sprinters -- not long-distance runners -- and cannot outrun predators. Guard dogs and good fencing are essential with every goat breed.


Myotonic goats have been improved by breeding larger, more heavily muscled fullblood myotonics to unrelated, larger, and heavily muscled myotonics at Onion Creek Ranch since 1990. In order to distinguish these improved myotonic goats, I have named and trademarked these larger, heavily muscled Myotonic goats as TENNESSEE MEAT GOATS™.

With increasing interest in Myotonics, people are beginning to make the same mistakes that have been the downfall of Boers in the USA: the "if it is bigger, it has to be better" approach to breeding. Unfortunately, some folks are crossing fullblood Myotonics with larger breeds such as Boers and continuing to call them fullblood Myotonics. I have heard of one producer who refuses to acknowledge that Myotonic is a breed and therefore calls any goat with some amount of myotonia in it a "Myotonic" goat. Such goats are goats that display myotonic influence -- NOT fullblood Myotonics.

If you as a producer decide to buy a Myotonic goat, first be sure that you know what a Myotonic goat really is and what it looks like. For example, fullblood Myotonic goats do not have loose skin and dewlaps like Boers. They have dished faces and short ears. Buy only from reputable established breeders with a history of properly representing the breed.

All fullblood Myotonic goats born of Onion Creek Ranch genetics are eligible to be considered for certification as Tennessee Meat Goats™. Onion Creek Ranch has been breeding fullblood Myotonics since 1990. Only heavily muscled, deep-bodied, fullblood Myotonics are bred to other unrelated heavily muscled, deep-bodied, fullblood Myotonics. No other breed has been used to accomplish this goal. Offspring that meet OCR criteria are designated as Tennessee Meat Goats™ around one year of age so that the goats have time to develop muscling and I am able to evaluate both their existing body conformation and their potential for further development. No other goat program influences this certification process.

In 2008, the TMG Prospect Program was introduced to permit producers to purchase Myotonic males at weaning that I believe have the potential to be certified as Tennessee Meat Goats™. Certification inspection will be done either in person or via video or still photographs at 18 months of age, allowing time for the goats to adapt to their new homes and to the new owner's management practices. TMG certification allows producers to register their OCR genetics in the Tennessee Meat Goat™ herdbook. Please contact Suzanne Gasparotto at 325-344-5775 or email onioncreek@tennesseemeatgoats.com or Pat can be reached at 501-679-4936 or by emailing btrocr@cyberback.com

Need more MEAT on your offspring?


Contact Bending Tree Ranch in Damascus, AR

Pat & Clark Cotten Bending Tree Ranch
located near Greenbrier, Arkansas


Raising TexMasters™, TMG’s™ and Myotonics.
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