Experts Say Meat Goat Industry Poised For Growth

Steven L. Hotard, Weisgerber, Jr., Cleveland F., Coolman, Denise  |  6/30/2005 1:05:44 AM

A range of participants – from young people to commercial producers – participated in the 2005 Goat Extravaganza June 25 at the LSU AgCenter’s Calhoun Research Station. They heard experts say that the meat goat industry has potential for growth and that raising goats as a hobby can help youngsters learn skills they need to become responsible adults.

News Release Distributed 06/29/05

CALHOUN – Officials say they believe the meat goat industry is one with "nothing but growth" in its future.

That was the message heard during the 2005 Goat Extravaganza Saturday (June 25) at the LSU AgCenter’s Calhoun Research Station. One of the people delivering that news was Terry Hankins, editor of Goat Rancher Magazine, who told participants interest in the meat goat industry has increased substantially over the years.

"And I expect it to increase even more," said Hankins, who also is a goat breeder from Sarah, Miss.

Hankins bases his predictions on the increasing number of people who eat goat meat in the United States.

"The population that eats goat meat is increasing in the United States," Hankins said, explaining one segment of that population are people of the Muslim faith, who are moving into the United States. "The health food market is another area that is growing in the demand for goat meat. People are realizing the health benefits of eating goat meat, and they’re buying more meat to feed their families."

Nutrition information about goat meat from the United States Department of Agriculture shows a 3-oz. serving of cooked goat meat has 122 calories, 2.6 grams of fat, 23 grams protein and 63.8 milligrams of cholesterol. The same size serving of chicken has 162 calories, 6.3 grams fat, 25 grams protein and 76 milligrams of cholesterol. Similar servings of beef and pork have even higher calorie, fat and cholesterol counts.

Nevertheless, Hankins advises anyone to do a lot of research before going out and investing a lot of money in goats.

"This is not a get-rich-quick scheme," he said. "If you’re interested in raising goats, you need to research it first and plan before you buy any goats."

Another of the day’s speakers also stressed the need for marketing strategies.

Building a marketing alliance is one of the steps that could be taken when planning to raise goats, according to LSU AgCenter agent Cleve Weisgerber, who spoke about a similar alliance that was created in Vernon Parish to help producers market beef.

"It’s called the ‘Vernon Beef Alliance’," Weisgerber said. "But what we’ve done can be done with any livestock. As with beef, you have to plan to market your goats. and one way to do this is through a group of producers working together."

According to Weisgerber, there are advantages of belonging to such an alliance.

"You can save money by having the group buy supplies in volumes," he said. "A group can buy vaccines, feed and other things and get them cheaper than each producer going out and buying the same supplies by himself or herself."

Weisgerber also talked about different marketing options available for groups of producers when selling their goats. These options include auction barns, private treaty sales and individual Internet sales.

While marketing is important, it’s just a "small part" of the picture, the experts said.

"Management is the key," Weisgerber said. "You must produce a quality product before you put it on the market. Once you get a reputation for producing a quality product, marketing is easy."

In addition to raising goats for profit, people also can raise goats for other purposes. Howard Gryder, president of the Mid-South Goat Masters organization, said raising goats teaches young people lessons they will use later in life.

"Youngsters who raise goats learn lessons like being responsible," Gryder said. "They have to be responsible to take care of a goat – feed it and give it shots and things it needs to live. Young people who raise goats are young people who grow into responsible adults."

About 150 producers, 4-H’ers, FFA members and their parents from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas attended the Goat Extravaganza hosted by the LSU AgCenter and Mid-South Goat Masters.

Jack Black, a producer from Arkansas, said he goes to as many meetings as he can so he can learn more about raising goats.

"These are very informative meetings," said Black, who has been raising goats for 20 years. "A lot of important information is available, and by attending these meetings, I can hear about it from the experts."

For more information about the Goat Extravaganza, contact LSU AgCenter agent Steve Hotard at (318) 644-2662 or shotard@agcenter.lsu.edu. For more information about agriculture, natural resources, economics, nutrition and health, 4-H and youth development and a variety of other issues, go to www.lsuagcenter.com.

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Contacts:
Steve Hotard at (318) 644-2662 or shotard@agcenter.lsu.edu
Cleve Weisgerber at (337) 239-3231 or cweisgerber@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 547-0921 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

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