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Value-Added Goats

Robert Spencer

Urban Regional Extension Specialist
Alabama Cooperation Extension System
After being an observer of and participant in the goat “business” for seven years now, I have continued to notice some goats are worth more than others. While pondering that observation I reflected back upon the economics and marketing classes from my earlier years. In marketing there is perceived value (worth) of a product. The buyer is always tying to buy an item at it’s best possible value (cheapest), and the seller is always trying to maximize potential profit (highest price possible . Opinions between buyer and seller often differ over the value (price) of a product. The same applies to goats, although you might think a goat is a goat that is not true. There are different categories of goats and their value (price) will vary accordingly.
A few years ago in my infinite wisdom I decided to learn the difference in value of these goats, which is code for “trying to buy goats I cannot afford”. While having my learning experience, I became curious why one persons goats may be worth more than someone else’s goats. It was then I began to learn about meat goats, breeding stock, and show goats, and how they differ in value. Let me illustrate it this way: Lay out a fifty dollar bill (what it takes to fill-up your car’s gas tank), a two hundred dollar bill (I know they don’t exist, this is hypothetical (pretend)), and a five hundred dollar bill (never seen one but I know they exist). The fifty dollar bill would represent the value of a meat goat, the two hundred dollar bill (made on a computer) would represent a breed-stock goat, and the five hundred dollars would be the worth of a show goat. That is the best way I know to easily illustrate the differing value of goats.
My luck being what it is when trying to buy goats I never met someone that sold good goats at meat goat prices (range of $40 - $75). I could hardly afford a goat of breed-stock value ($150 - $400), and could only buy one at a time; and they already had to be bred. Buying bred does is another value-added story. As my adventures continued I finally began to meet farmers that had show quality goats, and they were way out of my price range ($500 – several thousand dollars). Those of us in the goat business have heard the stories about bucks selling for fifteen thousand dollars and much, much more; and they are true. However, if I were ever fortunate enough (in my dreams) to buy a buck worth that much; with my luck he would die within sixty days of being on my farm.
Over the years I have developed an appreciation for the difference in quality of goats and the difference in the value of goats. Sometimes I see it and sometimes I don’t. However, I continue to urge people to consider showing their goats in competitive shows. Your animal does not have to win, nor even place, it just allows you to say you have show goats, and that seems to automatically justify an increase in the value of a goat or goat herd.
Participating in show events with your goats and children can be fun. Encourage your children to show your/their goats, it is a good way to get them involved in agriculture. Just remember, it is the competitive spirit and camaraderie that makes showing goats fun. Don’t get concerned with the fact a judge may be biased in favor of established producers, chooses goats based upon the registry they are associated with, or chooses over-fed/obese goats over healthy/quality stock.
And by the way, if the Treasury Department ever decides to make a two hundred dollar bill I hope they do put my picture on it. After all, in a few years, at the rate gas prices have been increasing it may take a two hundred dollar bill to fill the gas tank on your car. Then you can say “it took Robert Spencer to fill my tank”.

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