Navigation Bar
    Breeders Directory
Recommended Reading
    Goats for Sale
Upcoming Events



United States Department of Agriculture

Since before Biblical times, goats may have been the most useful of domesticated animals, producing milk (for drinking or for cheese), gourmet meat (cabrito), leather and fiber for clothing (cashmere or Angora), not to be confused with Angora (rabbit) wool. Relatively clean, they make fine pets and show animals and number as many as 460 million in the world. They, of course, need care to keep dogs away and skillful management to prevent diseases and internal as well as external parasites such as lice, mites, and fleas.

USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) says goats worldwide produce as much as 4.5 million tons of milk a year. Goat milk is so respected that there have been people who began raising dairy goats before learning whether they could sell the milk or knew how to make cheese. Yet, most major U.S. cities do not have fluid goat milk available in local retail outlets, according to research by Judy Kapture for the American Dairy Goat Association, P.O. Box 865, Spindale, NC 28160.

The problem is that in at least 21 States, goat milk when retailed must be pasteurized. Pasteurization requires a big investment in equipment. Where milk can be sold raw, licensing is required and the nannies (the common name for milk goats) must be carefully tested and kept free of brucellosis and tuberculosis, which are contagious to humans. Selling goat milk in this country requires much marketing time.

Dairy goat owners might well follow the lead of feeder-calf producer Lillian Buckley of Laura, Illinois. Originally, she milked the goats, bottled the milk, and then let newborn calves nurse from bottles their first 10 to 12 weeks. The shortcut, including nanny training, lets calves do the milking direct.

She and husband Mike and family raise up to 35 Holstein- Semental or Holstein-Angus crossbred feeder calves, using 25 goats. They raise their own goats and sell baby males as pets, The family also feeds about 40 to 50 hogs and handles 50 acres of vegetables, emphasizing sweet corn.

Major Goat Dairy

Goat dairyman Rube Salada of P.O. Box 476, Melrose, FL 32666, said anyone who can come up with half a million dollars is welcome to take over his 200-goat dairy, lock, stock and trucks a tractor, a house, well, fences, 38 acres of land he and his wife, Virginia, "carved out of the jungle, pasteurization and bottling equipment, and a growing market.

He said the job keeps his son, Bill, Bill's wife nancy, and their four children, him and virginia, and a hired man working too many hours per week, including trips every Monday night of about 300 miles to Miami to deliver to milk outlets. So far, there's only one other qualified dairy in Florida.

Almost every week Salada gets calls from goat herders who want to sell him milk, although getting milk is the least of his worries. Much time goes into consistent marketing and distribution, he emphasizes. He says people wanting to enter the goat milk business should form a cooperative sales operation.

Dairy goat information sources are plentiful, including Dr. Thian Teh at the International Dairy Goat Research Center at Prairie View College, a branch of Texas A&M University, Prairie View, TX 77556; Barney Harris or Ernest Bliss at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Gainesville, FL 32611; Dr. Christopher Lu, Agricultural Institute for Goat Research, Langston University, P.O. Box 730, Langston, OK 73050; Frank Murrill, Animal Science Department, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, and Judy Kapture, Dairy Goat Information Services, P.O. Box 298, Portage, WI 53901.

For those wanting to make goat cheese, and information sources is the American Cheese Society, a nonprofit organization cooperating with enterprisers Robert and Ricki Carroll (P.O. Box 85, Ashfield, MA 01330). Annual dues are $25.

The society publishes "A Guide to American Specialty and Farmstead Cheeses," by Barbara Lang. It lists cow and goat cheese producers.

Not all the producers make all the goat cheeses, which include blue caerphilly, camembert, cheddar, chevre, feta, semi-aged, soft ripened, and shepherd's tomme, and capriano - the last three being hard aged cheeses.

The Carrolls also market equipment and publish the "Cheesemakers' Journal" about six issued per year (at $12 per six in the United States or $20 overseas). It gives tips on manufacturing and marketing cheeses.

The Carrolls also published a 206-page book, "The Making of Farmstead Goat Cheese," by Jean-Claude Le Jaouen, head of the Goat Research Section, Technical Institute of Sheep and Goat Research, Paris, France ($24.45 postpaid). And their beginner's text is "Cheesemaking Made Easy - 60 Delicious Varieties" ($8.45 postpaid). Also available on mold-ripened cheeses is "Goat Cheese: Small-Scale Production" ($9.45 postpaid).

For those who don't want to get as far as cheese production, there is fresh goat's milk curd, used in sauces and from which cheese can be made. Coach Farms, the 200-goat ranch at Pine plains in the Hudson River Valley of New York, delivers curd to New York City stores, which sell it at $6.98 a pound. Goat curd has a special attribute for cooks, not breaking down or separating like yogurt our sour cream do when heated. It enriches or thickens cooked sauces. Its fat content is 18 percent, about half that of cream. It keeps in the refrigerator 3 weeks. Coach Farms also produces a goat yogurt that retails at a price much higher than yogurt from cow's milk.

Some people sell young goats for meat as well as doing dairying. One example is Hazel McTeer, who is not only president of the Missouri Goat Breeders Association but also president of the Central States Dairy Goat Marketing Cooperative.

She operates the Fancy "M" Dairy Goat Ranch (Route 1, box 545, Springfield, MO 65803). She says dairy goat people in her area sell about 1,500 head of kids ranging in weight from 17 to 38 pounds in March. The price in 1988 is 85 cents a pound live weight. The goats go by truck to New York City at Easter time.

Nondairy Goats

Some successful entrepreneurs stay away from dairy goats, concentrating on goats for met and leather or fine hair. Those with the greatest chance for success may already pasturing sheep and/or cattle and can add some meat and/or angora goats without damaging their pasture improvement programs. Goats eat some plants that sheep and cattle don't seek, so they are not mutually exclusive. They pasture well together.

Dr. Booker T. Whatley, Alabama agriculturist and author of "How to Make $100,000 from a 254-Acre Farm" (postpaid at $17.95 from the Rodale Institute, 222 Main Street, Emmaus, PA 18049), has a suggestion for marketing feeder lambs that might also apply to goats. He proposes that an entrepreneur set up a Clientele Membership Club, seeking one member for each goat that can be raised. At $30 to $50 apiece, that could bring a fair supplemental income. If members wanted their animals butchered, that would cost extra. For humane reasons, member should not become well acquainted with their goats, which easily become pets. (Whatley's book also describes profitable goat dairy operations.)

Among those selling goats for meat are Bob Buckholz (Route 1B, Box 101, Dripping Springs, TX 78620), Tom and Helen Hill of northern Florida, Bronwyn Schuetze and Jill Darrah of Longmont, Colorado, Hazel L. McTeer of Missouri and many others who say the tender meat of young goats - cabritos in Spanish - is beginning to get recognition by gourmet restaurants.

Some say "cabrito" meat, sometimes also called chevon, has little fat and tastes better than venison. Goats of all sizes worldwide produce more meat - 1.2 million tons a year-than do cattle or hogs, according to ARS. With a flock of 350 to 400 Spanish does, Buckholz annual sells their offspring for meat at eight months of age for $30 a head.

Since the stock is tough, thrifty, and hardy, and he has lots of pasture and some Pyrenees dogs to keep predators such as coyotes and wild dogs at bay, Buckholz's expenses are relatively small.

The Hills (Route 3, Box 1560 Lake Butler, FL 32054) sometimes feed kid goats only about 2 months, until reaching 35 to 40 pounds. They then sell them at nearly $1 a pound, mainly in the Miami area. They say there is often a shortage of goats in November and December.

Some of the kids they produce from their own 50 nannies. They also buy day-old billies at $5 apiece from the Salada dairy, which does not wish to bother feeding them. The Hills say they invest only about $5 worth of grain in each. If they were fed until they were eight months old, whey would bring as much as $100, considerably more than Buckholz's goats.

Mohair Makes Bucks

Buckholz also manages about 1,800 Angora goats, which in recent years have been making him and other Texans some profits. Mohair prices range from $1.75 to $7.25 a pound, depending upon quality. The raw adult mohair price has ranged from 25 cents a pound in the 1970's to $2.06 in mid-1987. Kid hair ranges up to $7.25 a pound. USDA's Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) also helps keep growers in business by matching the price with a substantial subsidy under the Wool Act.

An adult doe producers anywhere from 8 to 16 pounds of mohair during two shearings a year. Buckholz has been selectively upgrading the quality of his flock. He finds a registered Angora sells at $300 to $500 in Texas, with a quality nonregistered female bringing $85 to $100. Bucks are usually higher priced, at $250 to $5,000, depending on quality and registered bloodlines indicating quality and production totals. He's also looking for cashmere lines, with enthusiastic backing from Teh at Prairie View. The Texas Town of Junction, incidentally, is the biggest goat market in the country, having handled as many as 23,000 of all types in one week.

The mohair business needs to be approached on the basis of along-term investment, since lean years can be mixed with good ones, according to Dr. R.M. Jordan, Professor in the Department of Animal Science, University of Minnesota (St. Paul, MN 55108), and information source on mohair.

A New Industry?

Bronwyn and Schuetze and Jill Darrah have been gathering Spanish and feral (wild) "junk" doe goats that they are crossbreeding with a cashmere buck from Australia worth about $10,000. They hope some of the mixed offspring will produce cashmere "down" that could bring as much as $50 a pound. If they are successful, they can claim credit as pioneers in launching a new U.S. Farm industry. They will be competing not only with the Chinese, but also the Turks, Iranians, Iraqis, New Zealanders, and Australians.

Schuetze and Darrah have about 100 head of females and have launched the American Cashmere Growers Association, P.O. Box 443, Longmont, CO 80501.

If they and Buckholz were able to get clean cashmere from their goats, they could get from $39.98 to $77.93 per kilogram (1 kg. = 2.2046 pounds), notes Hugh Hopkins, transplanted Australian employed at Forte Cashmere Company (148 Halet Avenue, P.O. Box 869, Woonsocket, RI 02895), one of three cashmere processing plants in this country. (There are only eight in the world, Teh reports).

Forte pays its highest prices for first quality Chinese fiber that is clean and white. The longer and finer the fiber, the higher the price.

Teh and Hopkins agree that the United States as the goat population to produce cashmere in about 10 years. That might require imports of semen, embryos, or male goats from Australia or elsewhere. Teh says cashmere could get started in 2 or 4 years if some stock from Chine or elsewhere were imported. A few people are exploring the idea.

Dr. J.M. Shelton, professor of sheep and goat genetics and physiology at the San Angelo Research Center at Texas A&M University (7887 N. Highway 87, San Angelo, TX 76901), says it appears the cashmere ideas is "a long shot but has potential." The cashmere goat can provide double as a meat goat. Teh at Prairie View is also exploring the idea of crossing cashmere with dairy goats.

ORIGIN;United States


Copyright© 2004-2019, All Rights Reserved