View Full Version : could raising meat goats help support the horses?
Jun. 17, 2010, 12:47 PM
i've been struggling with how to get my land to support us, rather than us just paying taxes on it. the property is steep, rocky, heavily wooded and has deep underbrush. short of developing it into homes, i am thinking of alternate ways to use the land.
we could raise meat goats, pigs and heritage turkeys all well in this environment, but only if we invest in some major fencing and a shelter of some sort.
aside from the investment for fencing, my other huge issue is the slaughter process. i keep my animals in natural family groups as much as is possible, and wish to learn to slaughter myself so as to spare my animals fear, pain or anxiety during the process.
around here i know many people who will aprreciate that about any meat i produce, and who will pay a premium for it.
so, is anyone here raising animals fro meat on a smallish scale, and is it helping at all? or just supplying meat for family and friends? or have you found a formula which helps to actually make a profit year to year?
i'm doing my research on the numbers, breeds, etc., but need to figure out if i can really make it all work.
Jun. 17, 2010, 12:59 PM
No info for you, but if you don't want to deal with the slaughter process, what about dairy goats instead? I don't know what the comparative market is for goat meat versus goat milk, but, I do hear much more about people wanting goat's milk and goat cheese (big organic and gourmet appeal). You might be able to pair up with a local cheese-maker and supply the fresh milk to them, or learn to make the cheese yourself.
Although, if you have a large muslim population in your area, that might account for a demand for goats' meat.
Just a suggestion. ;)
Also, do you have community farm groups in your area where people pay for a *subscription* to the produce (can be milk, veggies, meat, flowers, honey, eggs, whatever) from a given farm's season? Might be worth looking into.
Jun. 17, 2010, 01:09 PM
Unless you are just doing it for family, you should also research whether you will be regulated by the USDA and/or any state agency. If so, subtract their license/inspection fees from your anticipated profit.
Jun. 17, 2010, 01:15 PM
What friends of mine do, is work with a local USDA butcher that is known to be very humane. BC what you want to do is not sell meat, you want to sell the whole animal, and then take it to a USDA inspected butcher with all the appropriate regulations and have the new "owners" p/u there. I find that looking at the butcher shop's in smaller towns you can usually find some that are very kind and are very humane. if you are in SE MN i can even recommend some lol.
Jun. 17, 2010, 01:24 PM
I purchased my small farm (6+ acres with wonderful old barn) from a man who raised meat goats. He told me that there is a demand for them in this area (I believe he told me that the local hispanic, more specifically Mexican, population eats a lot of goat meat). Since I wasn't planning on raising goats though, I didn't ask a lot of questions. He acted like it was profitable business with a good demand. However, he was selling the farm due to a severe accident his son had had which required a lot of hospitalization. I would guess that medical bills forced the sale, but I didn't ask.
The owner had already sold the goats by the time I looked at the farm, but I have a lot of supposably goat proof fencing. HOWEVER, the neighbors laughingly told me that the only time the fence was truly goat proof was when the owner was home. The goats would hear his car coming and climb BACK IN the fence, since they knew it was feeding time! I've been thinking about getting some sheep, which I hear are compatible with horses both in temperment and in grazing habits. However, I have seen coyotes, and I worry about predation. That would be a concern with goats too. So that raises the whole question of livestock guardians ....
I will be interested to read what you decide. Good luck!
Jun. 17, 2010, 01:29 PM
Processing is pretty involved. I've never handled meat goats, mine are dairy, but I have lots of birds. If you're processing birds, it requires some expensive machinery and a permanent abattoir with plumbing, regularly inspected by the USDA. There are also limits on the number of birds you can sell, along with some other fairly detailed rules. Keeping turkeys is not for the faint of heart. Until you have an angry tom climbing your legs, you haven't really seen a live turkey. Heritage birds can fly, so you'll need to clip wings regularly and use a tall fence for the high jumpers. They will also try to kill each other at certain times of the year, so be ready to do some doctoring on your breeders at least. There's also the matter of brooding the young. You can't leave them with the mamas, they will be eaten by things that go grrr in the night. Other folks may have had better experiences raising turkeys, and I would love to hear about those. For us, it has been a fruitless experience; way too much work for very little payoff.
Jun. 17, 2010, 01:31 PM
I'd start with your county cooperative ext for advice, and I'd also go to dept of ag for their advice.
I would much prefer if I was raising animals for slaughter to do it at home. I don't eat meat, so it isn't going to happen, but I do respect that people do.
My farrier raises meat animals. He puts their food down, and while they are chomping on their food, he puts a bullet in them. Quick and no pain...and no stress on the animal's part.
I have seen many a sad cow or pigs pass thru my town on their way to the slaughter house....I hate that their last hours are scared and confused.
Jun. 17, 2010, 01:34 PM
Check your market before you leap madly into anything. Goat meat may not sell at all in some areas but lamb usually does. There are 'hair' sheep that do not need to be sheared and most breeds are used for the lamb market and some are even dairy sheep.
Jun. 17, 2010, 01:34 PM
There definitely is a market for goat meat. We actually import goat meat to meet the demand in our country - which is money lost for US farmers. I see you're from New England - check with the University of Maryland. They have a huge small ruminant program and could provide you with a lot of information about raising goats in your area, market information, etc. Depending on what state you're in and how large the Extension service is, the extension agent in your area may also be able to help you out. Some of the other universities in your area may also have strong programs that can provide you the info and guidance you need.
Here in eastern NC, it's really tough to turn a profit on meat goats. We have very few custom processors who can handle the slaughtering process and it's not cost effective to drive to the nearest livestock markets to sell the animals. So most of the producers in my area are selling live animals as breeding stock or directly to the customer, who then has the animal slaughtered. Other areas of our state have pick-up points organized by the NC Meat Goat Association so that truckloads of goats can be sent to slaughterhouses in other states. I know one farm in particular who has gone through the process of becoming USDA certified to handle the meat and they have a special arrangement with one of the few meat processors in the area. So they raise the goats, have the processor slaughter them and custom package their meats, and then they sell those meats directly from the store on their farm and at local farmers markets. They are a rare case though. In other areas where there are better marketing options available, it's probably at lot easier to turn a profit.
Jun. 17, 2010, 01:48 PM
I will add one caveat regarding goat meat. Most groups aren't too picky, but I believe Muslims are amongst the greatest consumers of goat in America. They will require the animal be processed by a Halal butcher.
Jun. 17, 2010, 01:58 PM
I'm planning on meat goats and Jacob sheep when we move to a larger place.
But if you're planning on selling the meat, it will need to be processed at an approved facility.
The poultry you can process yourself, if you want to invest in the necessary facilities, which are simpler than for 4 legged critters, but it will likely still be more $$ than you'll make off a small flock.
Jun. 17, 2010, 02:56 PM
Hi, I see you are in NE. I sell at a farmers market here in Maine and one of the other vendors has a very nice meat goat operation and he's interested in growing the market with other farmers. He'd probably be happy to answer your questions. His name is Joe Murray and his website is www.dragonflycovefarm.com
Jun. 17, 2010, 05:57 PM
oh fab, that's a great contact! i have been online, and spent an hour today with an old buddy who used to raise meat lambs. she was a wealth of info as well, and i have a call into the natural rescources guy who can help me with potential fence funding. getting funding for that will be HUGE!!!
i'm under three hours from montreal and albany and just over three hours from boston--all communities with large communities of goat lovers, so i'm nicely situated.
and somewhere someone in vermont should still be running their refridgerated truck to those markets a few days a week, so that's a possibility too.
this fall i will apprentice myself to someone who slaughters, gulp---gotta do it though.
thanks for all of your input, it all helps and i am motivated. (maybe not for the turkeys though--pigs and goats may well be enough for me).
Jun. 18, 2010, 10:00 AM
Email me, I raise meat goats at my farm and can help with the ins and outs. Know your market! The majority of the local Somali population wants to be able to use food stamps to purchase their goats, so that limits the size of my market. Luckily, whatever I can't sell off the farm I have a state inspected facility that will take them, I get less per pound, but I'm not stuck with the goats either.