Goat: The Other White Meat

When you think of goats, you probably don’t think of them in the same respect that you do cows, pigs or chickens. You may even believe that goat meat isn’t that popular in the United States. However, you would be mistaken.

The preference for goat meat in the United States is rapidly increasing, as reflected by record prices the past two years.

The USDA reports that the goat industry in the United States is expanding, both regarding inventory and markets for goat products. The changing demographics of the United States’ population are credited with increasing demand for goat products at the same time that increased hobby farming has resulted in more goat farms.

“This increase in consumption is primarily related to a rapidly growing population from traditional goat-consuming residents,” said Jodie Pennington, small ruminant educator with Lincoln University Extension.

According to an article in Farm Talk, the Hispanic population provides a significant consumer base for goat-meat products, particularly fresh goat meat served during festivals or significant occasions. In addition, the United States is also experiencing an increase in religious groups that prefer goat meat, particularly those of the Muslim and Islam faiths.

Easter has the strongest goat-meat demand in the United States. Jodie Pennington states that market kid and goat meat prices tend to reach their peak just before Easter in March and April, decrease significantly in June, October and November, but begin increasing again during the Christmas season.

In addition to changing demographics causing an increase in goat consumption, urban goat farming has become part of a nationwide movement to eat food produced locally.

Jennie Grant, an urban goat farmer in Seattle, discussed urban goat farming in a recent USA Today article.

“I wasn’t a stranger to urban farming. I already had chickens, bees and a large vegetable garden before I added my goats. After doing some research, I cleared a 20-by-20-foot patch of my yard, fenced it in and added a shed, feeding stations and the goat equivalent of a jungle gym.”

Grant states that besides gathering a gallon a day of fresh milk per goat, she also uses their manure to fertilize her vegetable garden.

As the United States’ population continues to increase and urban farming continues to gain in popularity it will be interesting to see what it will mean for the goat industry.

Do you or do you know a farmer who raises goats? Would you ever consider raising goats for meat or dairy purposes? What are your thoughts about urban farmers raising goats?

Photo obtained from: blogs.menupages.com

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