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  • Writer's pictureDonald Coover, DVM

Is Grazing Goats Appropriate for Your Operation?

The mere mention of goats in this part of the world is typically accompanied by a few chuckles, bad jokes, and crazy looks. Everybody instantly reverts back to that childhood memory of that stinky Billy goat jumping on their mom’s car or their neighbor cramming hundreds of goats on three acres and having all sorts of fencing problems. There are many reasons why people shy away from raising goats, but raising goats doesn’t have to be that way. Like the cattle business, proper selection and management practices can eliminate much of these issues. The reality is MONEY TALKS. Whether you are beef producers, land tenant, or a landowner, chances are you are leaving money on the table. The United States imports far more goat meat than we are currently producing and each year the consumer demand continues to rise. History has shown that the goat meat market has continued to stay strong over the past decade and doesn’t seem to be linked as heavily to the price fluctuation of other agricultural commodities. Not to mention, it can become a reliable and eco-friendly alternative to managing pastures. If producers are willing, there is great opportunity for a progressive rancher to capitalize on this advancing market.

Advantages to Raising Goats

· Brush/weed Management

- Goats eat Serecia Lespedeza

- Goats are browsers that willingly eat things such as briars/locust trees

· Synergism between cattle and goats for parasite control

· If grazed properly goats and cattle do not compete for the same forages

- Goats are naturally browsers

- Goats generally eat a plant from the top down

· Goats can return more profit per acre than cattle

· Grazing goats can reduce the need for herbicides

3 Primary Challenges Facing the Goat Industry

· Fencing

- Contrary to common belief, goats can be held in with a barbwire fence

- Goats can be trained to an electric fence

· Parasite Control

- Avoid over grazing pastures

- Select for parasite resistance

· Predators

- Livestock guardian dogs are very affective for predator control

Simple Economics of Raising Goats

· Can run 6-8 goats in place of 1 cow or can co-graze 1-2 goats/cow

- Average 150-175% kid crop

- Yearly Maintenance cost/goat ranges from $50-75$ per head

- April born kids sold at an average weight of 65 pounds in December traditionally bring $2.50-$2.75/lb.

· 1.5% x 65 lbs. x $2.60/lb= $253.50/nanny

Based off the above calculations and numbers, grazing goats in a commercial setting can generate more revenue on a piece of land than running cattle commercially. Better yet, if producers are willing to co-graze they can capitalize on both industries by generating profit from both and also benefit from the synergism that comes with co-grazing. Co-grazing also allows producers to diversify.

If you have questions or would like more information on goat or sheep services, contact Ryan Page M.S., at SEK Genetics, (620) 763-2211.

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