Goat Farming In The USA – How To Start Farming in USA
Introduction to Goat Farming in the USA: Goat farming is defined as rearing goats for milk, meat, and fiber. Goat farming is beneficial due to the multiple products. As goats are low-maintenance animals and you have to raise goats with less effort than other animals. Its products include nutritious, cholesterol-free, and also easily digestible milk and meat.
A Guide on How To Start Goat Farming in the USA, Goat Breeds, Business Plan To Raise Goats in the USA
Facts about the Goat Farming in the USA
- In the United States, goat farming increased by about one-third in the past decade because of their economic value as efficient converters of low-quality forages into quality meat, milk, and hides for specialty markets.
- Meat goat breeds are farmed in all US states, although most meat goat production occurs in the Southeast. Texas is the primary producer of meat goats and representing about 38% of US production.
- There are many reasons for the growing popularity of goats in this country. The main factor is the larger number of ethnic groups that have settled in the USA. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), meat goat’s account for over 80% of the total goats produced in the USA.
- Small-scale goat business operations are defined as operations with fewer than 500 goats. Within U.S. livestock farming, farms with fewer than 500 goats are strong contributors to total goat production.
- In the USA, the American Goat Federation (AGF) represents the interests of more than 150,000 producers engaged in goat marketing across the United States. Each member organization has an individual membership for one of its members or directors as well as the opportunity to have a representative serve on the Board of Directors in AGF. Individual and Affiliate members of AGF can participate in government and research surveys that can affect the goat farming industry, receive reduced fees for AGF Seminars, access free marketing and other programs for AGF members, and also help support various goat business activities.
- The AGF is a new national organization designed to represent, unify, improve, and advance the United States goat industry.
- Many goat producers are new to the business and that has a production focus other than meat, fiber, or dairy. Nearly, California and Wisconsin account for one-fourth of all U.S. milk goats about 22.6%.
- According to an Agriculture Marketing Resource Center commodity overview (AgMRC), there has been a steady increase in the goat farming business in the U.S. According to the AgMRC, there are many products created from goats that are in demand, making goat farming a desirable livestock enterprise.
Main Types of Goat Farming in the USA
There are mainly three types of goat farming;
Dairy Goats – The goat milk and goat cheese demand have increased steadily as consumers see goat dairy products meet their desire for high-protein, low-cholesterol dairy products. Wisconsin, California, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and New York are the most dairy goat farming states in the USA.
Goats for Fiber – Also, goat farming can include the production of fiber, both mohair, and cashmere. These two fibers are both in demand, with cashmere used to make high-end luxury goods. Most fiber production is in addition to goat farming business for either dairy or meat, according to the AgMRC overview on goat fiber.
Meat Goats – Goats can also be raised for meat is called cabrito or chevon. There is a steady demand in the USA for goat meat and the desire for lean cuts of meat that are low in fat and cholesterol.
Goats are important producers of meat, milk, fiber, and other types of products. Producers were asked to recognize the primary production focus of their operations like meat, dairy, fiber, or others. Of operations with fewer than 10 goats, 72.4% indicated their primary production focus was “other,” which means goats used for brush control, livestock shows, and pack animals. For example, only 4.9% of operations with 100 to 499 goats indicated a primary production focus of “other.” Overall, about 4 of 10 small-scale goat operations about 42.4% focused primarily on meat production, ranging from 17.3% of operations with fewer than 10 goats to 76.1% of operations with 100 to 499 goats. Until recently, Texas and Tennessee produced the majority of goat meat and goat meat is now produced throughout most of the United States. The primary consumers of goat meat in the USA are foreign-born U.S. citizens mainly from the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa, Mexico, Western Europe and the Caribbean, and their descendants.
One of 10 small-scale goat operations that are 10% focused on dairy production. Dairy production was the primary focus on 14.0% of operations with 100 to 499 goats. Fiber production from goats in the United States is mohair from Angora goats and cashmere from other goat breeds. Only 1.5% of small-scale goat operations focused primarily on fiber production.
Advantages of Goat Farming in the USA
- Raising goats is a profitable business, which is one of the main reasons why the raising of goats for both meat and dairy in the US has been on the rise over the past two decades.
- If you have pasture in which they can free-range, the entire better, as this will not cost you anything to feed your goats.
- As goat farming plays an important role in economic growth and meets the country’s nutrition demand, it has some other benefits that you should know.
- Generally, they are multiplied very fast by breeding, which helps you not buy goats in the future.
- The most valuable part of goat farming is its food and goats are eating almost everything. Goat eats all kinds of grass that including weeds.
- Risks are less for the goat farming business compared to other livestock farming businesses.
- Both goat meat and milk are cholesterol-free and easily digestible.
- Goat milk is used for making several types of foods and it’s very easy to digest than the milk of cows.
- Goats are multi-purpose animals and they can produce milk, meat, skin, fiber, and manure at the same time.
- The market is ready to go – Meat and milk from goats are in high demand on the worldwide market. Then, there are no religious restrictions on goat products, and they are widely consumed.
- Faster Growth – Goats have a quicker growth rate compared to other animals. They mature swiftly and multiply in the flock in a short time. A goat reaches maturity in a short period.
Fiber Production from Goats in the USA
Primarily, fiber production from goats in the United States is mohair from Angora goats and cashmere from other goat breeds. Of operations that sheared, clipped, or combed goats during the previous 12 months, 64.7% produced some mohair fiber, and 85.8% of goats shorn on these operations produced mohair fiber.
Sheep are most associated with wool fiber production, and goats produce some of the most luxurious and highly prized wool fibers, including mohair from Angora goats and cashmere from multiple breeds of goats. Most of the goat fiber produced in the USA is mohair, and the United States is one of the world’s largest producers of mohair.
Pygora goats are a cross between Angora and Pygmy goats and are used for fiber production. Pygora goats produce fiber that combines the long and silky ringlets of Mohair goats with the fine down produced by Pygmy goats.
Difference between Raising Meat Goats and Dairy Goats in the USA
In terms of body shape and size, dairy goat breeds tend to be quite tall with long legs. Perhaps the most profitable type of dairy goat breed is the Saanen goat. These goats can produce up to 3 gallons of goat milk per day. This high yield makes them the most popular dairy goat breed in the world.
List of the top goat breeds for milk production;
- Nigerian dwarf goat
- Nubian goat
- LaMancha goat
- Saanen goat
- Alpine goat
- Oberhasli goat
Before you select any one goat for milk production, there are some factors you should consider.
These include the following factors;
- Amount of milk that breed can produce
- Taste and quality of the milk
- Milk’s viability to make cheese, soaps, and related products
- Cost of raising vs overall profits
There are a few popular meat goat breeds which farmers prefer raising. Boer goat to become the number one exporter of goat meat in the world. Now, one of the reasons why farming meat goats are more popular is because they do not need as much time, effort, or money to raise.
Generally, the Boer goat is often considered to be the best type of meat goat out there in terms of quantity and ease of raising. A Boer buck can weigh between 200 to 340 pounds, therefore producing a lot of meat in pounds.
Best meat goats to raise are;
- Black Bengal goat
- Boer goat
- Kalahari red goat
- Kiko goat
- Fainting goat
- Nubian goat
- Rangeland goat
- Sirohi Goat
- Spanish Goat
- Verata Goat
Steps to Start Goat Farming in the USA
To start a goat farm, there will be some challenges and difficulties. Carefully you need to identify those before you start the goat farming business. For starting a goat farm in the USA, a good few elements must be considered. This should include the following;
- Find a location that is suitable for a goat farm business;
- Make shelter or housing for your Goats
- Determining how many goats to purchase, which breed, and age group;
- Building a shed and fencing of goat farm;
- Learning about goat feeding; and
- Studying health or veterinary measures.
- Choosing a Location for a Goat Farm
As goats usually love to grow within a group, space and location selection for goat farming must be on top of your list. Goats will get important benefits from open spaces where they will have the ability to roam around, so make sure that you will select that space with the above facility. If you select a location far away from the city, and it would help your goats not affected by pollution. Before you set up a goat farming business, you should check the local government’s permission or license-related issue. While selecting a goat farm area, you should ensure this;
- A clean and dry surface is appropriate.
- Tranquil and open area.
- Water and food availability etc.
- The thing goat-like is rain and cold. Also, keep them in warm and well-built locations.
All US states house meat goat farms, with most goat production in the Southeast. Though, the primary meat goat producer, representing 38% of US production, is in the South-Central, particularly Texas. As a beginner goat farmer, one must check the regulations within a specific area. An urban area could not be a suitable place for a goat farm. Therefore, one should get permission or a license from the local government before setting up a goat farm.
Always try to choose a suitable farm area for your successful goat farming business. The necessary facilities for the goat farming business are;
- Great source of fresh and clean water supply to the farm.
- Availability of all types of equipment.
- Easily available food source.
- A fertile field for the crop, grasses, and green plant production. Feeding green food keeps the animal healthy, productive and then reduces feeding costs.
- Availability of full-time labor.
- Good transportation and veterinary service.
- Select a market near the farmland so you can sell products easily and buy necessary commodities.
- Make Shelter or Housing for Your Goats
Housing is an important factor for a profitable goat farming business in the USA. Generally, small scale farmer keeps their goats with their other livestock animals. Generally, goats are moderately strong creatures. They do appear to have disgust for rain and it is highly recommended to keep them out of cold winds if at all possible. A shelter for them to escape is a must when the climate forces. But for commercial goat production, a good quality goat housing system is highly recommended for better production. A good house not only gives shelter and then protects the goats from predators but also prevents them from various types of goat diseases. And, also ensure the availability of sufficient fresh air and light inside the house. Housing and goat farm design are of various types based on the product type and breed.
- Choosing your goat breeds
You should select the right goat breeds for your goat farming business. Usually, people are raising goats for the following reasons. To start farming based on Goat first, the foremost necessary things are to selection process and methods in different stages.
For example, if one desires milk production, then Nigerian Dwarf, La Mancha, and Alpine are the best choices. Nubians, Alper, Oberhasli, Saanen, and Toggenburgs breeds are world-famous as dairy goat breeds. For meat production, Spanish, Tennessee, and Boer goat breeds are best to choose. Lastly, for fabric production, one shall get Angora, Cashmere, or Mountain goat breeds.
In addition to adequate shelter, goats require a fenced-in outdoor area. High tensile electric fencing can also be used, particularly if you are housing cattle and goats together. Field fencing has large openings, puts goats, especially those with horns, at risk of getting their heads caught. Though, regularly walk along your fence line to check for holes dug under the fencing by predators.
- Feeding type – Food and water selection
Goats need easy access to clean water. A goat food must provide a substantial amount of calcium and phosphorous in about one to one ratio. These components are necessary for preventing health problems, especially if coupled with other mineral supplements. Natural food is preferable in terms of its cost, but it can be slower for weight gain than supplementary food. Also, goats are ideally fed four times a day for proper muscle buildup. The place of food serving must be at least an inch and a half from the floor.
The feeding process is a crucial part of goat farming. Four times a day would be the ideal time to gain proper muscle for the goat, and the place of food serving must be a minimum of 1.5 inches higher from the main floor. On the other hand, during goat feeding, food must be used properly.
Also, supplementary food helps to gain more weight. For beginners, farmers must use natural food to work as a cure for many diseases and not so much costly. It takes a little bit of time to gain weight than feeding supplementary food, but the feeding method is different for pregnant Goats. Food management mainly suggests giving food for the expected and desired growth in several ages and different seasons.
- Care and Management for Goats
For starting goat farming, try to take good care of your goats and never feed them contaminated food or polluted water. For commercial goat production, keep kids, bucks, and does separate for each other.
Vaccinate them timely, for keeping them free from diseases and health problems. If possible, stock some necessary vaccines and keep good relation with a veterinary doctor.
Immunization – Aside from a clean housing system and healthy food, goats also need vaccines so that they are free of health problems. If necessary, goat farmers must have a stock of vaccines and medicines and contact a veterinary doctor. Does that are not vaccinated should be vaccinated at the 5th month of gestation period. Kids should also be vaccinated as they reach 5 months old.
These are the viral diseases goats must be immunized for;
- Goat pox with 1 ml dosage
- Foot and mouth diseases with about 2 ml dosage
- Anthrax with 1ml dosage
- Brucellosis with 1ml dosage
Best Goat Breeds to Raise for Profit in the USA
There are several breeds of goats that exist in the world. These multipurpose goat breeds produce milk, meat, fiber, and skins. In the United States, there are three primary types: the Angora or Mohair breed of approximately 185,000 head, and the meat and dairy goat breeds estimated at over 2.9 million head.
Angora goat production is much localized. Southwest Texas, northeast Arizona, and northwest New Mexico have more Angora goats than anywhere else in the USA, primarily because these areas’ climatic conditions and terrain are well suited for Angora goat production.
Dairy Goat Breeds in the USA
Alpine – The Alpine dairy goat is originally from the Alps, first coming to the U.S. in 1920. Alpine goat breeds have upright ears and a dished face. A buck weighs about 180 pounds and does weigh 135 pounds. These Alpine goats come in many colors, generally with dark markings and a light head and neck or a black stripe down the back. Milk production for Alpines averages 1,500 to 1,600 pounds per year.
LaMancha – LaManchas can come in any color and are known for having high butterfat percentage milk.
Nigerian Dwarf – Nigerian Dwarf goats are a good choice for someone wanting a dairy animal in a very small package.
Nubian – It is the most popular dairy goat breeds in the U.S. These goats are normally polled and come in a huge variety of colors, and always like the ones with spots the best.
Saanen – The Saanen is the 2nd most popular dairy goat breed in the U.S. Worldwide, Saanens are the most popular dairy goat breed, surely due to them being the highest in milk production of any goat breed. Saanen goat breeds are very easy to recognize since they are a bigger goat that is always solid white or solid cream-colored and have an attractive dished face. Both the bucks and the does have a beard and are polled. A buck weighs about 185 pounds or more and does weigh 135 pounds or more. Average milk production for Saanens is about 1,800-2,000 pounds per year.
Toggenburg- Toggenburgs are always the same color pattern, a mousy light to dark brown with a light-colored stripe down each side of the face, down the underside of the tail, and on the inside of each leg. A Toggenburg buck weighs 150 to 175 pounds and does weigh 100-135 pounds. Milk production averages 1,500 to 1,600 pounds per year.
Meat Goat Breeds in the USA
Boer – Boer goat has a fast growth rate and excellent carcass qualities, making it one of the popular breeds of meat goat in the world.
Kiko – Kikos are used as a source of food, their fast growth, and high fertility and reproduction rate making them ideal for meat production.
Myotonic – The myotonic goat is also known as the Tennessee fainting goat is an American breed of meat goat.
Savanna – The Savanna breed is new to the United States and is a large framed, well-muscled breed primarily used for meat.
Kinder – The Kinder breed is an American breed of domestic goat and it is a medium-sized goat breed. There are several color varieties of this goat breed.
Pygmy – Pygmy goats are small goats that are kept as pets or meat goats. Male pygmy goat breed can be up to about 20 inches in height and weigh up to 60 pounds. Pygmy goats are small and slender and they can come in a different variety of colors, and they are a very hardy breed of goat.
Spanish – The Spanish goat is also known as the scrub goat, originally came to the US from Spain via Mexico. This is a goat used for meat farming and brush clearing purposes in the US.
Choosing Goat Breeds for Fiber
Angora – The Angora goat breed is the most common fiber goat in the U.S. Angora goats do best in dry climates and they can be kept with range cattle or sheep since the goats prefer to browse (eat twigs and brushy plants) while sheep and cattle like the grasses. Angora breed has long, wavy coats, with a fiber called mohair. They have short, curved horns, which are left on the goat, because they may regulate body temperature. The Angora goat breed is a browsing animal, which has made it very adaptable to certain agriculture sections. They have often been able to provide economic returns to land that are unsuitable for usual agriculture pursuits.
Cashmere – They need to have been bred to produce the right quality of cashmere, a measurement that is determined by the cashmere industry. Most of the larger cashmere breeders originally imported high-quality fiber goat breeds from Australia to start their herds. Cashmere goat breeds are dual fiber/meat goats.
Pygora – The Pygora goat is a cross between the Pygmy and the Angora. The Pygora goat is a small, easy-to-handle, and good-tempered fiber goat. Pygora can produce up to 4 pounds of fleece a year, a bit less than the full-sized Angora. Most kids are about 5 pounds at birth, depending on which breed is used as the doe.
Care and Maintenance for Goat Farming in the USA
- Daily care is something to be considered when forming a goat farming business plan. Freshwater, grain, and grazing or provided hay or forage is necessary each day.
- Essential to daily nutrition, minerals always available to your goat. Goats do need cooper and can have many health problems without it, so goats kept with sheep should receive a supplement.
- Goats are easy to take care of. Goats require sanitary housing, good quality pasture, nutritious food, and plenty of sunshine will greatly help to reduce health problems.
- Freshwater is important for successful goat farming. Use heavy containers to prevent spilling. Although expensive, an automatic watering system can be a good investment because it reduces water waste. Such systems are especially useful during the winter in areas where temperatures drop below freezing.
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