Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas Suzanne W. Gasparotto 300 Happy Ridge
Lohn, Texas
Onion Creek Ranch "Chevon, cabrito, goat... No matter what you call it, it is the HEALTHY red meat™
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Whether you plan to produce slaughter animals, show goats, breeding stock,  goats for brush control, or pets,  you need answers to many questions before   you buy your first goat. Research the market in your area in which you plan to sell goats before you make the decision to go into the meat-goat business.

 Is there a demand for goats in your area?  If not, there is no goat business for you to enter.     Do the people who live and work near you actually eat goat meat?  If demand exists, from whom?   Is your market area overflowing  with people  raising goats or are there  only a handful of producers.   What markets do they  target?  What markets do  they not  breed for that could provide  a  niche for you to fill?    Is there a strong show-goat (4H-FFA) program in your area?   Is there a need for a quality breeder of herd sires and dams? Ask questions and benefit from the mistakes of others.   You will make enough mistakes on your own; you don't have to  "reinvent the wheel."

If there are not enough goats in your area to supply the demand, you might want to consider raising breeding stock.     Raising quality breeding stock requires a long-term development strategy.   Determining if a goat is good enough to be breeding stock quality is difficult to do before it is one year old.    It takes deep pockets to hold goats past normal slaughter age, continually evaluating how they  are developing,  culling heavily,  making changes in breeding that improve the offspring with each generation,  keeping your name  before the public  by advertising continuously  even if you don't have stock available for sale  year around, and  investing  money into your breeding stock operation during both good and bad times.    Even when economic conditions are  bad or feed and hay costs increase,  you cannot sell off quality breeding stock that it has taken you years  or  decades to develop.   Those  goats won't be available to buy back when markets improve.     You have to have the financial ability to hang onto the stock you have  until better times  return.

If there is a strong 4H-FFA presence in your area, research the dates of the shows and the requirements to enter,  contact local ag teachers  and county extension agents  to find out their specific requirements  and  breed for that market. Entering this market requires serious personal involvement in the schools' goat-show programs, as well as developing  close  relationships with the folks in charge. If you can become a member of the inner circle of these  tightly-knit groups,   you can be one of the area's few suppliers of show goats.    If many other people are already breeding for this market, it is probably a waste of your time to try to break into it.  There is a finite number of goats needed in each show area, and if too many goats are bred, the prices drop dramatically per goat.

The quickest way to make money raising meat goats is to raise slaughter animals.  Success depends upon finding out who your (mostly ethic) customers are; what they want at various times of the year in terms of age, sex, weight, color, wethered or sexually intact; the prevailing market prices and how they change throughout the year;  where  goats can be slaughtered and processed and what that will cost; and what the fall-back position (usually commercial auctions) will bring price wise if you are unable to sell directly to consumers.     Slaughter/processing facilities for goats are  rare in many areas of the USA   and the costs involved can add so much to the overall price  of  the goat that some customers will balk and not make a purchase. Certain buyers want to slaughter on your site.       Find out  if that is permissible in your state.  Some states have laws that restrict or prevent  on-farm slaughter  by the buyer.

Most ethnic groups have specific cultural, religious, and/or tradition-based  requirements for the goats that  they buy. Hispanics prefer what they call "cabrito," i.e. approximately 30-45 pound live- weight goats  for bar-b-quing.    Muslims require that  goats  must be slaughtered under Halal conditions, just as Jews want their goats processed under Kosher rules. Jamaicans and other Caribbean peoples buy   older,  larger, and cheaper  goats   that they will chop  and cook with curry.   Every market segment   has its own set of requirements.   There are many ethnic populations in the United States to whom you can sell  goat meat. If you target your markets and provide personalized service,  customers should soon be coming to you.  Contact ethnic restaurants and meat markets and offer to be their  dependable source of goat meat.

What breed or cross-breeds will you choose to raise? Many folks never give  this a thought, simply following what their neighbors and friends are doing.  Americans are prone to believe that bigger is better, but that isn't applicable to meat goats.     Several goat breeds have been bred to such large size that it costs too much to raise them.   The cattle industry did this with  certain breeds before producers recognized their mistake and downsized the animals.

Stop  looking at size and instead start thinking meat-to-bone ratio.  Most goat breeds  carry a lot of waste on their bodies which winds up in the offals (trash) bucket. If goats are exclusively  grain-fed, they can wind up with too much fat on their bodies.   Goats  do  not marble fat throughout  their muscling  like cattle, so it has to go somewhere, and that "somewhere" is  layers of fat around internal organs (liver, kidneys, heart).  Search out    breeds and/or crossbreeds that produce more meat and less waste.    HINT:  If a goat has meat on it, it has Myotonic in it.   Check out www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.

If you are raising meat goats, do not buy dairy goats. These two types of goats exist for  opposite purposes. Dairy goats are not meat  goats. They produce lots of milk, but their  frame  does not carry lots of meat. Quality meat goats do not  need dairy influence  to produce sufficient milk for their kids.

Evaluate your  property's limitations and scale your goat-raising operation  appropriately.   Do not over-populate your pens, pastures, and barns.   Determine  the carrying capacity of goats on your property; read my article entitled Stocking Rates in MeatGoatMania and on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.   Establish a good nutritional program for your herd.   One of the most difficult things  to get right about raising goats under any managed condition is proper nutrition.  Find a qualified goat vet in your area before you go into the goat business; this isn't easy as most vets don't know much   about goats.   Stock up on essential vaccines and prescription medications before you need them.  I promise you that your goats will get sick on a weekend holiday in the middle of the night in the dead of winter and you won't be able to get veterinary help.  You have to learn to do most of your own vet work.   The monetary loss you incur when one quality goat dies because you don't have proper supplies on hand  would have gone a long way towards  stocking your medicine cabinet.  Subscribe to ChevonTalk and MeatgoatMania on Yahoogroups; both are free. Attend GoatCamp™  held at Onion Creek Ranch in  every October.

 Make sure you  know the answer to this question before you begin:  Why do I want to raise meat goats?

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas  10/02/18

Meat Goat Mania

Home PageEmail UsSALE BARNPresent and FutureGoatCamp™Myotonic GoatsTennessee Meat Goats™TexMaster™ Goats
Which breed is right for you?Health & Management ArticlesChevonTalk Discussion GroupLinksRegistrationMeat Goat Mania

Important! Please Read This Notice!

All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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