Raising goats for meat can be a fun and even profitable enterprise. Determining what breed is best suited to your homestead should be based on the amount of land available, goals, and the breeds that are available in your region.
Goats require a lot of browsing area; they are not grazers like cows. If you observe a goat you’ll notice that it is mostly looking up for browse – leaves of trees, shrubs and vines — versus looking down for grass.
Many health issues with goats are related to not enough browsing vegetation and high stocking density.
Start out slow with goats until you determine what your land base will support.
If your goal simply is to supply your family with chevon (the proper term for goat meat), then you may find crossbred dairy goats could fit the bill.
If your plan is to help supply the market with chevon, then you will want to find a breed that is bred for its meat-producing qualities.
Some of the more popular goat breeds for meat are:
1. Boer – Originating in South Africa, these white with reddish brown goats are the most popular goat for meat in the United States. In fact, goats showing the Boer coloring and traits often bring a premium price at auctions, much like a Black Angus steer.
2. Kiko – This goat originated in New Zealand from feral goats. A group of ranchers collected and bred thousands of goats and selected the best ones for meat qualities and hardiness. These goats are tougher than Boers and will typically require less management.
3. Tennessee Meat Goat – These myotonic goats have been developed at Onion Creek Ranch in Texas for the past 20-plus years. Myotonia is the inherited neuro-muscular condition that causes these goats to stiffen and sometimes fall over when startled. These goats reportedly yield lots of meat and posses good hardiness.
4. Savanna – The Savanna goat, much like the Boer, originated in South Africa. Their appearance is strikingly Boer with the exception of their all-white color. These goats were developed for hardiness and ease of kidding while maintaining a good meat yield.
5. Spanish — Having been in the United States since the 1500s, the Spanish goat is a landrace breed that is hardy and able to take care of itself. These goats come in all shapes and sizes, so you may want to find a herd that has been developed with more meat yield as a goal. The Spanish has become very desirable to cross with Boer and Kiko bucks to produce the self-sufficient vigor needed in these more modern breeds.
In conclusion, remember that just because a goat breed possesses certain characteristics it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have the same experience.
When considering a goat purchase, always make onsite visits when possible and ask lots of questions. Observe the animals and the livestock practices of the farmer or rancher.
If they look similar to how you plan to raise goats, you just might go home with some new additions to the homestead.
Do you raise goats for meat? If so, what breed? Share your tips in the section below: