If you raise dairy goats, it’s bound to happen. You will find yourself with too many dairy goat bucks and no desire to keep them. With owners citing foul odors, high cost of feed, and a buck’s uncanny ability to escape and mate with the does, many of these unlucky males find themselves going off to freezer camp, slaughtered to sustain the farm family through the winter.
The coping mechanism works for a while. After all, there are many tasty ways to prepare goat, and it is low in fat making it a healthful choice – curried goat, goat stew, goat chops, goat tenderloin, barbecued cabrito, mshikaki, chivo picante, kaldaretta and spicy leg of goat, to name a few. Once you exhaust your personal repertoire of recipes though, your family might grow weary of eating goat in its many varied forms.
All is not lost, however. As exhibited by the diverse names of the dishes listed, many recipes arrive as people immigrate to the United States. As a matter of fact, goat meat is the single most popular meat in the world; a bit of trivia that is not widely known, and most Americans are usually surprised when they hear it.
Armed with this tidbit of information, it is possible to create some farm income by selling your excess bucks to ethnic populations, usually found in urban centers. People from the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America, Southeast Asia and Southern Europe number among your potential customers.
In 1993, the first Boer goats were imported into the United States. Primarily raised as a meat variety, their popularity has increased exponentially with demand. However, herd growth has not been able to keep up with the demand. According to the American Boer Goat Association, as much as $30 million worth of goat meat is imported to the United States each year. There is still such a shortage of the meat in the United States that many consumers are forced to substitute more widely available lamb in traditional recipes.
Now, you’re probably thinking those smelly bucks out in back of the barn aren’t exactly a meat goat variety, and they might be on the thin side when compared to a Boer goat. You’re probably right. But if you were determined to have a Thanksgiving turkey or an Easter ham and the only one available was a little on the small side, you’d likely take it anyway. People who like goat meat feel much the same. They want goat, even if it isn’t the exact weight they were originally looking for.
So, how do you reach out to these potential customers?
Try to locate a Halal butcher or slaughter facility in nearby cities. Such facilities specialize in slaughtering animals in the way dictated by the Islamic religion. Chances are, they will be thrilled to hear that you have goats available, and they would perform the processing in accordance with their practices. By adhering to this technique, your meat will be more desirable to more people.
Another idea is to locate restaurants in nearby cities that specialize in Jamaican or Caribbean food. Look in the phone book or online for restaurants that have the words Caribbean, Jamaican, King or Jerk in their names. Traditionally, these types of establishments have a need on their authentic menus for goat meat. The owners may ask you to do the slaughtering, since they are in an urban area. Be sure to check local regulations about processing meat on your premises for sale to others.
If you seem to have a steady surplus of goats, visit Middle Eastern markets in larger cities. If they aren’t interested in purchasing your surplus animals, they might be able to pass your information along to someone who is.
Smaller traditional butcher shops and meat markets that tout themselves as “Old World” may be good places to sell meat goats. People of Southern European heritage often have good relationships with their butchers in order to obtain cuts of meat to prepare traditional meals.
Try placing a free advertisement on Craigslist.org. It seems that everybody is on Craigslist these days looking for just about anything. It stands to reason that you’d be able to find a buyer for your goat. Remember to place a new listing several times each week to ensure that your ad stays near the top in its category. Once your unwanted goats have been sold, you will want to edit the advertisement or remove it from the website.
Once you have a few satisfied customers, word of mouth will spread, providing you with a steady clientele and income. In fact, you may be tempted to take on the unwanted bucks belonging to your farming friends. You could do them a favor and line your pockets at the same time. Keep in mind that male goats can sometimes be smelly and a bit difficult. You will most likely want to line up customers before taking in those unwanted bucks.
How much can you expect to earn?
It really depends on your market. If you don’t have a nearby city with a population seeking goat meat, the perceived value of the goat is lower because of decreased interest. With a higher population, the demand will be greater with more opportunities to sell the goats.
By expanding your horizons and locating a few new customers to take your unwanted goats, you will free up valuable freezer space and be able to satisfy your family’s craving for variety by bringing something different to the table. Roast beef, anyone?