Floppy eared, wet-nosed, food-obsessed animals have captured the heart of America. Goats are becoming more prominent in today’s market. Although profitable, until recently, goats were not commonly raised in the United States, and finding goats and goat breeders was quite difficult. Now, with an influx of people moving to America from areas around the globe where goat is the main meat source, the meat goat market is rising. Many Missourians and even Texans, a state known for cattle, are choosing to raise goats.
Brenda Turnage, a five-year goat owner in west Texas, said she chose goats because they are less expensive than cattle. Heifers cost close to $2,000 and goats are a fraction of the price making them a smart investment. Turnage now owns a mix of dairy and meat breeds. She milks her dairy goats to make cheese, shows and sells her meat goats. Finding a goat owner in Texas is simple though, because more than 40 percent of the U.S. meat goats are being raised in the Lone Star state.
“There is definitely an increase in demand of goats and goat meat,” said Anthony Spurgeon, a 13-year owner of South African Boer goats who leads the 4-H Goat Project for Bates County.
Through his thirteen years of goat ownership, he has seen people’s interest peak over time. Spurgeon believes that the total demand of goats has risen throughout the U.S. Today, more people know about goat products, especially goat meat. Once consumers know about these benefits they begin to seek out goat producers.
Brittany Couch, who attends State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Mo., is pursuing a major in agricultural business because of her goats. She began raising her own goats a year ago and was drawn to the animal because she knew many people who owned goats and showed them.
“It seemed like all my friends had goats and I needed something to do,” Couch said. “Raising and showing goats has become quite an experience. I love it. I am even thinking about doing it later on in life.”
Couch agrees that the goat market is rising and has seen it in her year of owning goats. This summer when she bought her second wether the price had risen by $50. Before purchasing her goats, Couch researched and learned about the market from her friends. New goat owners like Couch are an example of young entrepreneurs entering the rapidly growing goat industry.
“When I started there was only one person in Cass County that owned Boer goats. I had to go to Texas to start my herd,” Spurgeon said.
Now, he believes it is easier to find goat owners. According to the National Agricultural Statistic Service there are close to 2.3 million meat goats being raised in the U.S. Spurgeon became involved in raising and owning goats because, like Turnage; he didn’t have the money to purchase cattle. He began showing goats in FFA and now he teaches children, including his own, about raising and showing goats.
Even during the recent drought Turnage said goats were around $400 a head, though she sells her wethers to local 4-H and FFA members for $200. Turnage said she is not in the business to make money; her goal is to help young producers
Turnage and Spurgeon agree that goats are rising in popularity, and they are not alone. Fred Homeyer South African Boer goat judge, writer, and member of The American Boer Goat Association, has evidence to back up this point. He has written many articles on the industry as well and is well known for his work in the goat world.
“The goat meat industry in the U.S. is a 21st century industry in my opinion and one of the fastest growing segments of agriculture,” Homeyer said. “The market for South African Boer goat has grown tremendously in the U.S. since 1964 when they first arrived in the U.S.”
South African Boer goats are one of the biggest meat goat breeds in the world. Homeyer said that 63 percent of the world consumes goat meat and the market is rising in the U.S. More people are moving to the U.S. from different countries and are looking for goat meat in their new home.