The purpose of our project was to grow local awareness and enthusiasm for goat meat, especially grass-fed goat meat. We wanted to help people in our area realize that goat meat is available, healthful and delicious. I feel that our objectives were well-met.
To increase local awareness of and enthusiasm for nutritious and delicious goat meat and to educate other goat ranchers about marketing their product.
The major work completed was the open house we held in September, 2011 at our goat ranch in Hagerman, Idaho. The event was free and open to the public. We specifically invited some goat ranchers to attend so that they could learn about raising meat goats and starting their own meat business. We also invited the general public so that they could learn for themselves what goat meat is all about. Approximately 150-160 people attended the event, including goat ranchers, ‘foodies’, local residents and families with children. The weather was perfect, and we felt the day was a success. Everyone sampled between two and four goat meat dishes prepared by a local chef and we heard many favorable comments. The hourly tours of the goat ranch were well-attended, with 5-15 people in each tour. I answered dozens of questions. The gentle Boer goats on pasture were a popular attraction, as were the freezers stocked with goat meat. Typical questions were about how many goats can be raised on small acreages, how much meat does one goat provide, how much pasture does it take to feed a small herd and how to feed all ages of goats. We saw that visitors had favorable impressions about the goats (they are not smelly, tin can-eating wild animals) and the meat in the freezers (it compares to cuts of lamb or beef in appearance).
Educational materials were produced and provided free of charge to guests. Materials included a chevon nutrition fact sheet, goat physiology facts, goat health care information, recipes, a rack card and business cards. We continue to provide these materials to interested parties that come to our ranch to learn about meat goats or to purchase goats or goat meat. Two freezers were purchased to store our goat meat, and goats were processed for the event and for samples.
Chef Lynn Sheehan of Cucina Gemelli/Papa Hemi’s in Twin Falls, ID was our event chef. She prepared goat four ways; delicious huge samples of goat burger shishkabob with fresh pickled vegies, an Afghani yogurt-marinade roast in a cilantro veggie wrap, a Caribbean BBQ goat sandwich and roasted goat slices. The sign-up sheet provided for recipe requests was full, and her restaurant now has goat on her menu full time. The chef did a fantastic job and had a clean and professional display. The weather was perfect for our big day.
Free samples of frozen goat meat packages were provided to one visiting chef, two visiting restaurant workers and a few guests. Samples provided were chevon chops, sliced shank and burger. Samples were given out in Idaho Preferred bags, with a business card, rack card, recipes and a nutritional information sheet. Visitors were informed about the nonprofit local foods cooperative Idaho’s Bounty (www.idahos bounty.org ), explaining how it made selling our product easier, with local pickups, sales tax handling and inventory monitoring.
Impacts and Results / Reactions from Producers:
We have seen an increase in requests for our goat meat, breeding stock, and especially for information on goat ranching and how to start a goat meat business. We regularly meet people that say they enjoyed our event, or those that they wished they could have made it to our event, and then they ask us when our next open house will be. Parents have contacted us requesting our educational material for their childrens’ school and 4H projects. When goat buyers come here to purchase goats or look at goats we have for sale, we provide them with a packet of educational materials. Results include a noticeable increase in sales, and phone calls have increased from people wanting to try goat meat for the first time. Other calls are from people requesting more information, and from people wanting to add goats to their ranch to diversify their operations. A cattle ranch in Oregon recently bought a ‘starter herd’ from us.
Benefits and Impacts on Agriculture/Producer Adoption:
I have also noticed that other goat ranchers have raised their goat prices, several doing so in direct response to queries about my prices. Several callers, when asking about my meat and live goat prices, were pleasantly surprised and then adopted those prices in their own businesses. Farm production can be expected to increase when farmers diversify into meat goat production. Demand is so high for quality goat meat that farmers are increasing herd size and receiving better prices for breeding stock. This may help them become more sustainable. One survey respondent indicated she would teach her next 4H group about the health benefits of goat meat and about the value of networking and reducing the use of off-farm purchases. Several goat ranchers learned how to begin to market their product: what the USDA requirements are, where to have goats processed in our area, and what the costs are. Survey comments included, “I plan on using information on diversification and networking in this year’s operation.”
Educational & Outreach Activities
Outreach efforts included posting information on our website with open house details; emails were sent to several goat associations and ranches to inform them of the event; and press releases were sent to media. Articles and/or announcements were sent to: Goat Rancher, International Boer Goat Association’s Hoof Prints, American Boer Goat Association, Mountain States Meat Goat Association, Snake River Meat Goat Association, United States Boer Goat Association, Animal Welfare Approved and Idaho’s Bounty. Event announcements made in person by me included the Jerome County, Idaho 4H show. I gave out cards and flyers at Blaine County, Idaho 4H auction. I also distributed flyers at the Gooding County, Idaho 4H show and auction. I continue to provide information, printed materials, advice and encouragement to individual youths and youth groups such as 4H, FFA, college livestock classes, and most recently a high school student working on a school project on forming a goat meat business. I gave her all the materials that were available at our open house and acted as her adviser.
During the summer of 2011 I took part in a downtown evening weekly farmers market, providing samples, selling goat meat and providing recipes and nutrition information, as well as the rack and business cards. I attended a meeting of the Snake River Meat Goat Association in New Plymouth, Idaho, where I showed my PowerPoint presentation and shared the educational materials with members and provided extras for a 4H club leader.
We continue to enjoy considerable media attention, from newspaper interviews and articles to trade magazine articles, and most recently, a live television morning show interview and a tv news interview at our farm, both during the same week: http://www.kmvt.com/ features/riseandshine/eat-local/Cucina-Gemelli-and-Simon-Boers-Goat-Ranch-158601815.html and http://www.kmvt.com/news/local/Eating-Local-Exploring-A-Goat-Ranch–159256655.html?vid=a. A writer/food show producer from The Boise Weekly newspaper and the Northwest Food News radio show published and aired an interview with us at the farm (http://www.nwfoodnews.com/2011/11/18/get-yer-goat/). Three Boer goat association magazines published our outreach press releases; http://www.theboer goatmagazine.com/online-issue-march-april-2012.html . An author and commercial goat rancher that ships truckloads of meat goats for slaughter around the nation used photos of our goats in her book; The Meat Goat Handbook- Raising Goats for Food, profit, and Fun, by Yvonne Zweede-Tucker (http://www.smokeridge.net/ meat goathandbook.htm .
Local chef Jane Deal published a small cookbook, and used our goat meat in one of the recipes.
A company in eastern Idaho purchased some of our goat meat to use in recipe development paired with dehydrated potatoes, for emergency rations in Africa. Since Boer goats originated in South Africa, there is certainly a feeling of having come ‘full circle’!
• May 18, 2011 Times News feature – tear sheet
• May 22, 2011 Idaho Statesman ran it also ‘Idaho Goat Breeder draws foodie raves”
• Ag week newspaper in Montana
• Farm Talk radio interview – North Dakota
• July 2011 Goat Rancher article, ‘Goat Producer making impact on Idaho cuisine’
• Capital Press December article, by a freelance writer/photographer,-tear sheet
• Animal Welfare Approved’s Summer 2011 newsletter: News about grant funding and event
• August 14, 2011: Phone interview by Times News Melissa Devlin for food section article
• August 17, 2011 Times News article ‘A New Way to Meet Customers –
• September 14, 2011 Times News – Spend an Afternoon at Goat Meat farm-tear sheet
• September 14, 2011 Times News – classified ad in agriculture section-tear sheet
• September 16, 2011 Capital Press classified ad in goat section-Goat Ranch Open House,
• 2012 Images-Southern Idaho- tourism magazine. Full page photo of our goats on pasture, taken at our open house by the magazine’s photographer, Todd Bennett.
• American Boer Goat Assoc. magazine calendar
Based on our success, I recommend that other goat ranchers hold an open house. Holding an open house is a good way to meet prospective customers and stakeholders in the community and is a fantastic way to network with other goat ranchers, and more importantly, to show the general public how great goat meat is. Families bring children to see the animals, and parents enjoy meeting producers –they like to see where their food comes from.
In my next open house to educate the public and goat ranchers about goat meat, I will have the event last the entire day instead of only an afternoon. The response was so good at our first event that an all day event would have worked well.
I would also display the raw cuts of meat – so that people can see that goat meat is similar to other meats in appearance. Many people took part in the tours, and they were able to see the meat in the freezers, but frozen meat looks different than fresh meat. The freezers were opened and shut many times during the course of the day, which is not ideal, as condensation can build and the meat becomes less visible. I think that for the average home cook to actually see the meat – raw and on a bed of ice, for example, would help them learn that goat meat is leaner than other red meat. If I held an open house just for goat ranchers, I would want to have an entire carcass displayed, with a carcass break-down demonstration by our local butcher. Knowing what part of the animal produces certain cuts of meat helps ranchers fine tune their breeding programs.
Local USDA processing is sorely needed in our area. Small ranchers like us are forced to travel 220 miles round trip to process even just one goat. This raises our costs and prices considerably.