A Clemson Cooperative Extension program, held at the historic John de la Howe School this week, highlighted one of the fastest growing markets for livestock – meat goats.
Gary Coleman, area livestock and forages agent for the Clemson Extension’s office in Greenwood County, said the trend is nationwide. “More local producers are getting into the meat goat business because of the demand.”
That demand is influenced by the increasing number of people from other countries where the meat from goats is highly prized, he said.
Goat meat is especially popular among Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian and Caribbean populations, as well as foodies who like the meat’s flavor and health benefits.
For those who aren’t aware, goat meat has less fat than chicken and more protein than comparable servings of beef. Many people consider the meat a “more ethical” choice because goats are completely grass-fed and “free range.”
The increase in interest comes at a time when a Bloomberg news report on Jan. 2 found that, despite a fondness for veggie burgers and other meat substitutes, Americans are expected to eat more red meat and poultry in 2018 than ever before – more than 222 pounds annually per consumer.
On the international level, a February report from Bloomberg said that the demand is so great for goat meat that Australia’s exports to the United States have increased dramatically over the past several year. This is great news for local producers wanting to expand their goat herds.
That said, producers can’t just open up their backyards or empty land to goats, said Coleman, whose experience with goats extends to his own business Coleman 3 Meats.
“Producers need to understand the nutritional needs, amount of land needed and costs involved for their herds,” he said. “It’s wise to develop a business plan before starting an enterprise.”
The program at JDLH focused on a wide range of topics related to goat farming, including the size of pastures needed for a herd, the nutritional values of various grasses and the problem of fire ants.
Participants in the program, which comprised people who already are raising goats and others interested in developing herds, also had a hands-on demonstration about how to build a fence to keep goats in the pasture. Anyone who knows anything about goats is well aware that goats believe that fences are not meant for them!
Frank Dorn of JDLH assisted Coleman with the program. “Having the Clemson Extension program on our campus is a good opportunity for us to show what our campus offers and to work with people from around the state who have our shared interest in agriculture.”
Coleman said the De La Howe campus was a great setting because it offered the “facilities needed for the program, the animals and a place where we could have a hands-on demonstration. It worked out well, and we would love to come back.”