Navigation Bar
    Breeders Directory
Recommended Reading
    Goats for Sale
Upcoming Events

ORIGIN: United States

Extension Goat Handbook

This material was contributed from collections at the National Agricultural Library. However, users should direct all inquires about the contents to authors or originating agencies.

DOCN 000000010
NO B-4
J. M. Shelton; Texas A&M U. Agr. Res. Ctr. San Angelo
G. F. W. Haenlein; U. of Delaware, Newark
Management and Housing

1 Generally, three types of goats are found in the US. These are Angoras (approximately two million head), dairy (approximately one million head), and meat goats (one half million approximately). In the Southwest, the latter are widely referred to as Spanish goats, but this is a term of convenience to distinguish them from the other types. They are not necessarily of Mexican or Spanish origin. Many meat goats have been in this country since early times. Meat may be produced from all three types, but only the latter is kept exclusively for this purpose. In many small flocks of dairy goats, the does may not all be milked, and thus the main product from these flocks is meat. The sale of breeding stock from small flocks of dairy goats may represent important sources of income, but at some point, meat or milk is needed as a contribution to mankind.

2 Not all meat goats are Spanish range goats. Goat meat is relished and highly priced in many parts of the world, as cabrito by Spanish, chevon by French people, and also favored by US ethnic groups, e.g. Greek, Moslem, Jews, Arabs, Mexican, Puerto Ricans. Easter goat kids are in particular demand but require early spring or late winter kidding. Goats producing half a gallon of milk per day can raise two kids without supplemental feeding. Easter kids should weigh about 25 to 30 lbs and depending on the price per lb on the hoof can return a profit. Buck kids will grow faster and can be sold ahead of doe kids. Some people raise yearling wethers, letting them nurse as long as a half year and then letting them graze. They may custom butcher for a fee and charge retail prices for the carcass. The cost of hay, feeds and grazing must be recovered from the meat sales besides a reasonable profit.

3 Income from meat goat or goat meat production may not compare favorably with other methods of range management except under situations where open range, idle land, bush or browse are not readily utilized by other grazing livestock, or where small land areas will not support beef or dairy cattle production. Although, in some instances the owner may have a preference for goats or wish to exploit special market situations.

4 Goats tend to be better adapted or are more prevalent in the warmer climates. There are a number of factors contributing to this, including some goats suffering in cold climates due to small body size, lack of extensive coat cover and lack of owner's income to build winter confinement and feeding facilities.

5 Problems: Markets There is no established national or regional marketing or distribution system for goat meat with the result that market development is often a case of individual entrepreneurship. As a result prices may vary widely. Likewise, quality grades or standards are not in effect, and at the present stage seem unnecessary until regional or national distribution systems develop. Meat quality is not a serious problem for those slaughtered as kids or yearlings. Some references to lack of tenderness appear to be explained by cold shortening or quick chilling due to small carcass weights. Satisfactory market outlets for age or cull breeding stock may present problems for some producers, since such would largely go for the boning trade and the small volume would prevent effective exploitation.

6 Problems: Predators Almost any place where goats are located in this country, predators (dogs, coyotes, etc.) are a big problem. Many approaches including approved poisons, and traps and guarding animals are available, but none are totally satisfactory. Thus, the producer needs a plan for dealing with this problem. Good net fences, at least 4.5 feet in height, or well maintained electric fences are almost a requirement. Goats are not necessarily more difficult to fence than other species, except that barb wire fences which may often be used for cattle are unsuitable because of the usual spacing between strands through which goats will be able to pass.

7 Reproduction Most meat goat producers follow a practice of running males with the females on a more or less continuous basis. This is the simplest practice and may well contribute to maximum production. Most meat goats found in this country are seasonally polyestrus with recurring estrual periods from approximately August through February. Some matings outside these dates may occur. A more controlled breeding program may be indicated in order to (a) exploit special market situations, (b) avoid mid-winter kidding which may often be the norm under random matings, or (c) fit seasonal feed supplies.

8 Even with the continuous presence of males, kiddings tend to be grouped. The explanation is not always obvious. The presence of the male and his rutting activity has a strong influence in terminating lactational and seasonal anestrus of does. It is possible to have some degree of control over kidding dates and the periodic removal and readdition of rutting males (i.e. one month in and one month out) can have a stimulating effect on total kid production. Due to the relatively long breeding season, twice per year kiddings do occur with individual does, especially those which lose kids, but it is by no means the norm on a flock basis. The anticipated norm for kid production should be on the order of 1.25 to 1.5 kids raised per doe per year, but may well deviate from this by a large amount due to inherent potential or production conditions.

9 Genetics Excluding the dairy breeds, which are also relatively good meat producers, well established breed types do not exist in the USA for meat production alone. The Swiss dairy breeds are not very popular for meat production under range conditions. Udder problems and leggy conformation are the primary reasons. The absence of well defined US meat breed types tends to prevent organized crossbreeding programs. Some selective breeding efforts have been carried out in Texas, but as of yet breed types or names (aside from ''Spanish'' goats) have not been established. There is need for improvement in growth rate, carcass yield and meat to bone ratio. An optimally high kidding rate (preferably not above two kids per parturition) should also be maintained. Selection pressures should be exerted in these directions. Limited research indicates that it should be possible to change these traits through selection.

10 Nutrition Intensive feeding of meat goats is not the norm and likely may not be an economical goal. Meat goats are infrequently fattened on harvested feeds for slaughter, and heavy supplemental feeding is not normally practiced. There are times when it may be desirable to feed meat type goats. It is necessary to remember that they are small ruminants, but they do not possess the magic to digest poor quality or trash type feeds as some people think. They appear to require some more quality in their rations than larger ruminants. Their ability to survive under adverse conditions stems from their being more selective in feeding and able to conserve critical nutrients (minerals, protein, water, etc.). For a high level of production of growing kids they respond to good quality diets with 12-180001:0000rotein contents. They do utilize poor quality roughages such as stovers, straw, etc. very well. In commercial practice, supplemental feeding of goats will be restricted to winter or drought periods, and then almost any available feedstuffs will be used. Younger goats will require a better quality ration than mature animals to provide nutrients for growth and development.

11 Health Goats are as susceptible to all the diseases and parasites as other ruminants. However, grazing habits and inborn resistance appear to give some advantages. Goats which are primarily browsers may require no treatment for internal parasites, but otherwise may require regularly anthelmintics. Drugs of choice may be the same as used for sheep. Coccidiosis may cause severe problems with goats, especially when managed under confined conditions. Isolated flocks with no history of problems may well require no immunizations at all. On pastures and ranges with past history of soremouth, flocks will benefit from immunization. Intensively managed flocks may benefit from vaccination for enterotoxemia, especially when large quantities of concentrate feeds (e.g. corn) are utilized. Pinkeye (keratoconjunctivitis) can be a problem, but no satisfactory immunizing agents seem to exist.

12 Management The only management practice which is widely practiced is castration of surplus male meat type kids. This improves growth rate little, and eliminates odor and sanitation problems. Castration also eliminates breeding by undesirable males. In the market place, castrated meat goats are preferred over the intact males.

ORIGIN;United States


Copyright© 2004-2018, All Rights Reserved