Meat goats: breeds and characteristics
You’ll find with a little research that many people have differing views on what makes the best meat goat. The best way to lok at them is what works best for your farm and your family – very few two decisions are the same!
Boer goats are considered to be the largest sized meat goats anywhere in the world. It has a massive frame and is double muscled. It was initially developed in South Africa specifically for the purpose of meat and hardiness. Today it is bred in large numbers in New Zealand, Australia and various other countries. The Boer is also considered to be easy to raise since they maintain themselves to a large extent. However, because of their remarkable qualities, they tend to be priced higher than any other breed in the meat production industry. When using Boer goats in your breeding program, hardiness to worm resistance needs to be considered. Boer goats are not native to wet weather and develop barber pole worms more so than other meat goat breeds. A regular program of checking Boer goats for worms should be standard on your ranch.
The Kiko goat breed is another popular meat production goat developed in New Zealand. The end result is a breed that has remarkable hardiness and meat carcass characteristics. It is priced lower than the Boer, but higher than other varieties of meat goats. Kiko goats are recognized for their superior maternal instincts, greater parasite resistance, rapid growth rate of kids and improved carcass yield. Other benefits include aggressive breeding habits, fewer foot problems, fewer health issues and aggressive foraging abilities.
Fainting goats is the third most popular category of meat goats. These are moderate sized animals that have an average height between 17 to 25 inches and an average weight of 150 to 165 pounds. These goats are characterized by their long ears and bulgy eyes. The improved characteristics of this particular breed are the result of much hard work and perseverance on the part of breeders. Today, the fainting goats are not only renowned for their own meat characteristics, but that they can also be crossed with the Boer to develop excellent and cost effective meat goats. Fainting goats are the most economically priced of the three breeds mentioned above.
The Spanish goats in the United States are tried-and-true, which is why they’re so popular in the south and southwest; this breed can handle almost any hot climate and rugged terrain. They are strong, fertile and parasite-resistant.
To produce a high quality meat that customers are looking for, ranchers should consider cross breeding for faster growth rate and higher meat yield. When cross breeding meat goats you are able to promote the quality characteristics of each breed. While developing a breeding program it is advisable to visit as many goat ranches as possible to learn about that ranches’ practices and see the goats first hand.
To find goat breeders in your area for the specific breed you want to add to your program, the best option is to visit the breed association website to find local breeders in your area.
- Boer Goats associations are USBGA (United States Boer Goat Association), ABGA (American Boer Goat Association)
- Kiko goat association is AKGA (American Kiko Goat Association)
- Tennessee fainting goat association is Myotonic Goat Registry
- Spanish goat breeders can be found at Spanish Goat Association
When breeding goats, you need to decide if you are raising them for high quality meat, or for showing. Boer Goats are the most prominent goat in the show industry, the USBGA and ABGA have standards that must be followed for showing your goats and those standards can be found on the association websites.
When raising meat you are not focusing on the show standards per se, you are focusing on the hardiness of the breed, fertility rate and mothering abilities of each breed. No matter which breed you choose for your breeding program, a rancher should consider a buck with low birth weight kids for kidding ease. A rancher does not want to have to assist all its does at kidding time, nor do they want to have to bottle feed kids. That is not productive for the breeding program and adds costs to the business. Culling may be necessary for mothers that need assistance birthing repeatedly or that reject their kids.
If you are considering eating goat meat and don’t know where to start, my suggestion is to buy local and eat fresh. Search the web for ranches nearest to you that sell goat meat. Many ranchers have created niche meat to sell to the public. You are able to buy direct from their farm of meat that have been USDA inspected and package for public safety. Your local newspapers are a source for finding goat meat, as producers may use the newspaper to advertise. Facebook is another means of finding meat, as you can search for goat meat ranches on Facebook. You may also find goat meat producer associations throughout the United States by searching for them based on the state you live in. When you buy local you are supporting your local community and by supporting a rancher in your area, you will also get to see the environment the goat is being raised and ask questions about the feeding program.
Goats are wonderful to own as they are so friendly and lovable; you can’t just own one. Eating goat meat is an excellent source of protein – even better protein for you than chicken.
Mary Bowen owns Prosperity Acres, LLC which is home to GREEN GOATS, www.prosperityacres.com
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