Philosophy Behind Selection & Marketing
Successfully raising and selling breeding stock meat goats requires a disciplined and focused approach. Listed below are guidelines that, along with a certain amount of being in the right place at the right time, will help you accomplish that goal.
1) Buy the best genetics available. This doesn't necessarily mean the most expensive; it means the best. You have to know what to look for when evaluating a meat goat. Conformation is everything; features like color are irrelevant.
2) Cull heavily with each kidding season. When in doubt, cull.
3) Keep the top 10% for your breeding program or you will be out of business.
4) Sell the culls for meat. Do *not* sell them cheaply as breeding stock as a way to make more money. You hurt yourself financially by lowering your price structure in the marketplace and you hurt the breed by introducing less-than-quality genetics into the gene pool.
5) Set a price list and stick to it. If you paid $750.00 for a yearling buck, why would you sell quality offspring from him for less? If you don't have the financial ability to stand firm, then you are in over your head and will corrupt the market for quality animals by undermining prices. The end game of any livestock business is high enough volume to create commodity pricing. With commodity pricing comes Big Ag and we small producers are out of business. Don't take actions which hasten our mutual demise.
6) Qualify your buyers. If they don't have adequate knowledge or experience to properly raise what they buy from you, this will come back to haunt you. People will say, "Did you see that lousy stock that came from XXX Ranch?" and you will lose future business. Refuse to sell to people whose management and knowledge level will not showcase your genetics well. Be prepared to mentor those who you believe are capable but not yet knowledgeable of goats.
7) Recognize that selling breeding stock is seasonal. Producers don't want to buy and pay to feed them through winter. Be in the game for the long haul. If you have quality breeding stock, sales will come to you but there will always be dry spells throughout the year.
8) Few people have the resources, either financially or facility-wise, to raise multiple categories of goats, i.e. quality breeding stock, slaughter goats, and show goats. Pick one and give it your all.
9) Accurately represent what you have to sell. Recognize that people have both financial and emotional attachments to their chosen breeds. Stick with the facts when comparing your goats with those belonging to other people.
10) Remember the old saying about how to make a small fortune in livestock: start out with a large fortune. Ultimately be in the game for the love of it. Don't quit your day job. You aren't going to get rich raising meat goats, but what a fine life you will enjoy.
Suzanne W. Gasparotto 3/6/10
ONION CREEK RANCH
Lohn, Texas 76852