It is impossible to address all the aspects of raising meat goats in approximately a 500 to 800 word blog post, hence part two!
There are so many questions about raising meat goats successfully, that after my first post on meat goats, I found that I needed to do another and possibly one more after that in order to address what I think is good information to get anyone started with meat goats. There is no “one size fits all” bunch of information that works every time in every location, every person, and for every goat.
I believe that “market” comes before anything. If you do not have a product that people will buy or if you have a demand for a product and are not meeting that demand no matter which path you take will not be profitable to you. If no one is buying your product you will soon run out of money and it will all be moot. You must do what works best for you and your personal situation. If you are fortunate to live in an area with a large ethnic population then you will do extremely well selling young (3 to 6 month old) approximately 65 pound kids. These customers prefer “unblemished” males. Unblemished generally means intact and with their horns. These males will grow quickly and reach market weight in a few short months. The shorter period of time to get to market weight, the less feed and hay you have to purchase, and the more profit for you! Young Boer males can gain up to ¾ of a pound of weight (muscle) per day by simply letting them nurse for 3 months, and supplementing with creep feeding and free choice hay with a clean, fresh, accessible water supply. This is the optimal way to raise and sell meat goats.
If your market is not ethnic in nature then your customer will be more interested in what is referred to as “plate cuts”. Plate cuts are steaks, chops, and roasts. People of European descent most often are your customer. They are used to eating lamb and beef, both of which yield larger cuts. These cuts are not able to be butchered from young animals. This is where neuter, or not to neuter comes into play.
Beef comes from very dense muscle; fat on a beef critter is critical to provide nourishment for enzymes necessary to break down the dense fiber of the beef muscle. A butchered cow needs to hang for 7 to 10 days after slaughter to allow these enzymes to work. Beef cows are neutered to promote the growth of this marbleized fat. Goats do not marbleize their fat, they build it up internally (it becomes great sheets of fat) that is simply thrown into the rendering barrel at the slaughterhouse. Goats have a very loose internal make up which allows the fat to grow internally without ever being noticed.
Our experience has been that by the time you notice heavy fat on your goat, it is way beyond your ability to get it back under control. Neutering your males only encourages this fat growth and results in very little muscle gain and in all actuality, it means loss of profit because the weight you see is not the weight that is able to be sold. We encourage folks who want to get the “best bang for their buck” to keep their males intact (for rapid muscle gain) and market them at between 12 and 18 months of age. In our experience this results in the most profit and the best meat to bone ratio.
I already know what your next question will be, so here is the answer! The meat of a 12 to 18 month old (depending on how it was raised) is just as tender, and tasty as a young buck! As for the “gamey” taste, that can be a result of poor slaughtering and butchering. If your processor is lazy or careless in the manner he handles your goat and the skinning process; this may cause the meat to be tainted. We have been fortunate to have an excellent processor and have even sent bucks in rut to slaughter and have had excellent results!
Want some really in depth information? Come to Goat School! Our first one of the season is here in Maine at Stony Knolls Farm at the beginning of June. Click here for more info! At the end of June, we’ll be in Littleforks Minnesota for a Goat School there, and all of the information for Minnesota Goat School can be had by clicking here.
Then in September we will be in OHIO!! We’ve been trying for a year or more to put together a Goat School in Ohio, and that is now a reality. Want to come? Click here for the details for Ohio Goat School.
Visit our web site www.goatschool.com for more information on my books and upcoming events!