Developing a Sustainable Meat Goat Production and Marketing System for the Southeastern United States through an 1890 Universities Consortium

Progress report for LS20-344

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2020: $600,000.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2023
Grant Recipients: Langston University; Florida A&M University; Fort Valley State University; Prairie View A&M University; Tennessee State University; Tuskegee University; Virginia State University
Region: Southern
State: Oklahoma
Principal Investigator:
Terry Gipson
Langston University
Co-Investigators:
Dr. Richard Browning, Jr.
Tennessee State University
Dr. Nirodha De Silva
Langston University
Dr. Kesha Henry
Prairie View A&M University
Dr. Uma Karki
Tuskegee University
Dr. Brou Kouakou
Fort Valley State University
Angela McKenzie-Jakes
Florida A&M University
Dr. Roger Merkel
Langston University
Dr. Dahlia O'Brien
Virginia State University
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Project Information

Abstract:

Generally, a diversified farm is sustainable and resilient and in the southeastern US meat goat production is a viable option for diversification.  Goats are less labor intensive to handle than cattle. Because goats are browsers by nature, they are good at removing unwanted vegetation that other livestock species will not consume. Due to their smaller body size and weight, goats cause less damage to pastures because they don’t trample or compact soil as larger livestock species do. The 1890 Land Grant Universities are at the forefront of sustaining and promoting the US goat industry.  This project will create a large systems consortium of 1890 Universities and farmer cooperators to enhance the sustainability of the goat industry and improve economic opportunities for goat producers in the southeastern US.  The 1890 Universities involved in this project are Florida A&M, Fort Valley State, Langston, Prairie View A&M, Tennessee State, Tuskegee, and Virginia State.  Each university will have at least two farmer cooperators.  Specific large system objectives are to determine factors affecting consumers’ preference to purchase and consume goat meat and methods to change those factors (Consumer Preference); assist goat producers in making informed decisions for marketing their goats and goat meat/products (Marketing); and since lack of effective parasite control strategies is a critical issue limiting successful goat production, and hence marketing, the final objective is to evaluate novel methods of sustainable internal parasite control for raising healthy, productive, and profitable goats (Production). 

Consumer Preference goals are to:

1.1   identify factors affecting consumers’ willingness to purchase goat meat, and

1.2   identify factors influencing consumer preference for goat meat.

Marketing goals are to:

2.1   identify producers’ challenges and opportunities in marketing goats and goat products, and

2.2   develop viable strategies for marketing locally-produced live animals and animal products.

Production goals are to:

3.1   evaluate potential synergistic effects of Duddingtonia flagrans (Livamol® with BioWorma®) and copper oxide wire particles (COWP) in controlling Haemonchus contortus, and

3.2   investigate the selective supplementation of Livamol® with BioWorma®.

These objectives will be accomplished in the following timeline. 

In Year 1:

  • Collaborators will meet to finalize project-wide activities for the three topic areas (Consumer Preference, Marketing, and Production). All seven universities will engage at some level in each activity and pool data for a systems analysis.
  • Activities will include surveys on consumer preference, marketing strategies, and field-testing of Livamol® with BioWorma®.

In Year 2:

  • The team will disseminate preliminary results at the National Goat Conference hosted by Prairie View A&M University (September 2021).
  • After modifications based upon stakeholder feedback, activities will be relaunched including continuation/finalization of surveys (consumer and marketing) and further field-testing of Livamol® with BioWorma®.

In Year 3:

  • A Zoom conference meeting will be held to finalize Year 3 activities and the activities relaunched to wrap-up/finalize surveys and field-testing of Livamol® with BioWorma®.

At the conclusion of the project a final report will be written and manuscripts prepared for peer-reviewed publication.  Final results will also be disseminated via producer workshops and conferences, YouTube videos, and websites including eXtension.

Project Objectives:

The central hypothesis addressed in this proposal is economic opportunities for goat producers in the southeastern US and the long-term sustainability of the goat industry can be enhanced by understanding consumer preference regarding goat meat, devising marketing strategies for goats and goat products, and studying ways to decrease the effects of internal parasites on production.  The hypothesis was formulated in large part on preliminary findings from the universities involved in this proposal and from literature review.

The hypothesis will be tested using a consortium approach with seven 1890 universities: Florida A&M University, Fort Valley State University, Langston University, Prairie View A&M University, Tennessee State University, Tuskegee University, and Virginia State University.  These universities are well suited to conduct this project based on long-standing research and extension programs on goat production that have successfully addressed many production-oriented issues.

Goats are a viable livestock species for many smallholder farms in the South as a means to diversify production and income.  Demand for goat meat is largely ethnic driven while its acceptance and demand in the mainstream marketplace is limited.  Factors for this limited appeal are not well understood.  Many consumers may not have experience with goat meat or have a negative connotation of goat meat taste and acceptability.  Others may not purchase goat meat due to its price or the low availability of fresh goat meat versus a frozen product.  Undoubtedly, other unforeseen factors come into play affecting consumer demand.

Currently, the US is a net importer of goat meat and cannot satisfy domestic demand with domestic production.  However, this inequality does not ensure profitability for goat producers and factors affecting the markets are scarcely understood.  Producers have potential for greater profit if they can enter more lucrative markets than the local sale barn.  Some producers use strategies to increase sale price of their animals or produce value-added items.  Identifying these strategies and devising new methods of increasing product value will help increase farm profit and sustainability.

Whereas little information exists on consumer preference and marketing for goat meat and goat meat products, much more information exists on production and management.  Much of this research is on the issue of internal parasitism by the barberpole worm, Haemonchus contortus, and the devastating effects it has on production, including animal death.  The naturally occurring fungus, Duddingtonia flagrans, is a new method of controlling internal parasites that has yielded impressive results in other countries.  The fungus has recently been approved for use in the US, but producers have no experience with it.  Further, it is costly and the economics of its use as compared to current methods needs to be studied. As the fungus is naturally occurring, its approval for use in organic production systems should be forthcoming and will be a boon to organic goat farmers, and to the added value that organic goat meat brings in the marketplace.

Changing consumer preference for goat meat and developing marketing strategies to increase goat consumption necessitates an increase in goat production in addition to filling current demand for goat meat.  Thus, there is a critical need to understand consumers’ preference for goat meat to develop effective marketing techniques while simultaneously increasing producers’ willingness to raise goats with improved parasite treatment. In the absence of such methods, the development of goat meat as a viable and sustainable product is limited. Therefore, the approach of this project is to evaluate all three objectives in a large systems approach.

Production research on endoparasite control has implications across the supply chain and for enhanced consumer demand. Suitable endoparasite control is essential for meat goat enterprise sustainability. Parasites are considered a major constraint to various aspects of goat production. Adequate endoparasite control will, therefore, likely improve output/farm, returns on investment and net profit margin for producers, and efficiency of production.  The increase in demand and the consistency of a supply chain by producers, will inevitably lead to a goat marketing channel that is attractive to both producers, consumers, and marketing agents.

Specifically, project goals and objectives are:

  1. Consumer Preference Goal: Determine factors affecting consumers’ preference to purchase and consume goat meat and methods to change those factors. The working hypothesis is that consumer preference for goat meat can be changed through an understanding of factors impacting purchase and consumption decisions. The hypothesis will be tested through consumer surveys administered by all consortium members that will provide raw data to analyze and study the following objectives.
    • Identify factors affecting consumers’ willingness to purchase goat meat.
    • Identify factors influencing consumer preference for goat meat.
  2. Marketing Goal: Determine goat and goat meat marketing strategies and marketing intelligence to promote optimal distribution of products. The working hypothesis is that demand for goat meat can be increased through studying currently used strategies and devising additional/more effective strategies. The hypothesis will be tested through surveys given by all consortium partners to producers and other related organizations in their respective states.  The surveys will identify current marketing strategies for use in devising and disseminating new strategies. Specific objectives under this goal will:
    • Identify producers’ challenges and opportunities in marketing goats and goat products.
    • Develop viable strategies for marketing locally produced live animals and animal products.
  3. Production Goal: Evaluate novel methods of sustainable internal parasite control for raising healthy, productive, and profitable goats. The working hypothesis is that a new method of internal parasite control will be equal to or better than currently used methods. The hypothesis will be tested through both on-farm and on-station research comparing efficacy and cost of incorporating Duddingtonia flagrans to current control methods. Specific objectives under this goal will:
    • Evaluate potential synergistic effects of Duddingtonia flagrans (Livamol® with BioWorma®) and copper oxide wire particles (COWP) in controlling Haemonchus contortus.
    • Investigate the selective supplementation of LivamolÒ with BioWorma®

The proposed objectives will provide critical knowledge and information that the industry currently lacks.  Results will be used as a foundation for moving the industry towards increased, production, marketing, profitability, and subsequent sustainability.

 

Research

Materials and methods:
  1. Consumer Preference – leaders: Fort Valley State University, Langston University
  1. Goal: Determine factors affecting consumers’ preference to purchase and consume goat meat and methods to change those factors.

The demand for goat meat has increased in the US in recent years while the supply has decreased, yet, the US does not produce enough goat meat domestically to satisfy local demand (Ekanem et al., 2013).

Several studies show that demand for goat meat in the US is driven by population diversity, health values of goat meat, and knowledge about healthy dietary habits. Consumers’ preferences are correlated with demographic, socioeconomic, and psychographic factors. Consequently, products should be developed to satisfy the specific needs of a group of consumers, who are target consumers. Previous studies found that the demand for goat meat among the target consumers to be inelastic (Pinkerton et al., 1991). As the population of Americans is projected to increase by 17% by 2040 (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2015), and if preferences continue to follow current trends, demand for goat meat in the US will increase.

Understanding the dynamics of goat meat consumption and its implications are key issues for goat producers and marketers to better respond to consumers demand. Thus, identifying consumer preferences and attributes is important. The project will conduct consumer surveys across states to characterize preference for goat meat, the level of consumption, and identify other potential factors that influence goat meat demand. The survey questionnaires will include several categories of questions including sociodemographic, economic, and other factors that influence goat meat consumption. The survey questionnaire will gather information from participants in the states of Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, and Virginia where the collaborating institutions are located. Surveys will be administered via mail, telephone, and in face-to-face interviews by trained staff to maximize response rate. At-home or on-farm slaughter price points will also be evaluated.   Strategies for expansion of markets to consumers currently not eating goat will help expand producer markets.

Objective 1.1 Identify factors affecting consumers’ willingness to purchase goat meat

Consumer Survey

A practical question involves identifying factors that increase a consumer’s willingness to pay for and consume goat meat. Specifically, what product attributes (quality of goat meat, ease of preparation, etc.), in relation to consumer demographics, are responsible for shaping a customer’s willingness to pay for and consume goat meat? The survey instrument will be developed comprising three categories of questions: 1) demographics; 2) household information with a focus on the introduction of goat meat products, food habits, and consumption levels; and 3) identifying factors that affect goat meat consumption. The survey results will be analyzed by Agricultural Economists from Langston and Fort Valley University with support from other project team members. These members are highly trained and experienced in survey research method and econometric skills.  Surveys will be administered by extension practitioners in respective areas.  Students will be hired and trained to assist with administering questionnaires.  Potential respondents in each study area will be selected based on randomized sampling methods.  All effort will be made to select ideal sample sizes that will be representative of the consuming population in each participant state. 

Preliminarily, the dependent variable for evaluation is willingness to consume goat meat. In order to gather consumer’s information, the dependent variable/consumers will be grouped into three categories: 1) respondents who previously consumed goat meat, 2) respondents who are willing to try goat meat, and 3) respondents unwilling to consume goat meat.

The consumer survey will contain a series of questions related to issues such as potential preferences by various ethnic groups; average purchase and consumption level of goat meat; and identify potential consumers who never purchased but may do so in the future. The survey questionnaire will also include questions pertaining to the psychographic information on how consumers perceive product characteristics, including freshness, convenience, cholesterol content, fat levels, calorie content, and price levels. Additionally, sections of the questionnaire will cover broad meat choices and perceived optimal consumption levels. As demand theory explains, substitutes and complements affect consumption levels and, therefore, information about other meat including chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and seafood will be collected. The last section of the questionnaire will consist of demographic and socioeconomic information such as household income, household size, educational level, gender, and ethnicity.  Data generated from production related objectives and activities in this study, from previous studies as well as from existing databases will be incorporated and used for model building and econometric analysis and estimations. 

Objective 1.2. Identify factors influencing consumer preference for goat meat

Statistical Analyses: Probit Model

In this study, our dependent or the endogenous variable (yi*) is the willingness to consume goat meat. This endogenous variable is a “yes” or “no” response to the question.  A probit model will be estimated and factors affecting consumers’ willingness to consume goat meat will be identified.

The larger the value of yi*, the greater the individual’s utility received from choosing the option yi=1, therefore the greater Pi, probability of yi occurs. In this probability model, Pi which yi = 1 varies between one and zero and, therefore our probit model can be explained as follows:

Pi= F (Ii) = yi* = xi΄β + εi ,  εi ~ NID(0,σ2)

yi = 1 if y* > 0

    = 0 if y* ≤ 0,

where F(I) is the cumulative distribution function of the standard normal N (0,1) random variable observed at Ii, which is the utility index.

Including the demographic and socio-economic factors (i.e., age, gender, income, household size, ethnicity, and educational attainment), perception of goat meat, other meat consumption (beef, chicken, etc.), and consumer attributes (price) in the consumer survey, the specification of the probit model can be illustrated as follows:

Yi* =  β1ETHNICITY  + β2GENDER + β3AGE +  β4HSIZE + β5EDU +  + β6VIEV + β7BEEF+ β8CHICKEN + β9PRICE

Yi =   1 if respondent is willing to try goat meat

           0 if respondent is unwilling to try goat meat

Objectives 1 and 2 of the consumer cluster will, therefore, be accomplished by performing the probit analysis.

 

  1. Marketing– leaders: Tuskegee University, Virginia State University, Florida A&M University

 

  1. Goal : Determine goat and goat meat marketing strategies and marketing intelligence to promote optimal distribution of products

Small-scale, limited-resource goat producers in the Southeast are facing challenges in marketing their animals and/or animal products despite increasing demands for those in the US. Australia is the major exporter of goat meat to the US and the supply is increasing each year, with around 11 million pounds in 2000 to close to 42 million pounds in 2017 (MLA, 2018). The preliminary results of an ongoing marketing research project led by Tuskegee University shows promising prices for goat meat sold in Southeast markets – ranging from $4.49/lb to $8.99/lb depending on the city and type of meat (Karki et al., 2018).  However, producers are still struggling to get a fair price for their products. This team aims to investigate the reason for this gap by identifying the challenges goat producers are facing in marketing their product and develop strategies to help them overcome such challenges.

Methods:

Objective 2.1. Identify producers’ challenges and opportunities in marketing goats and goat products

Pre-structured survey questionnaires will be developed with open and close-ended questions to survey goat producers in the Southern SARE Region. The questionnaire will include questions relevant to farm size and facilities, producers’ description (name, gender, education, etc.), market outlets that producers are using, costs and inputs involved in production, challenges they are facing in marketing their produce, their suggestions to overcome such challenges, and more. The draft questionnaire will be submitted to the Institutional Review Board at each collaborative institution for approval. The approved questionnaires will be pre-tested with a small sample of producers (5% of the expected survey participants) and necessary improvements made to develop the final set of questionnaires to be used in the survey. The project team will contact their producers, producer cooperatives and associations, county agents and other educators involved in working with goat producers in each participating state.  We will inform them about the survey, along with its goal and objectives, and find out their willingness to participate in the survey. The project team will also reach out to the American Goat Federation, Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, Sustainable Agriculture Network, various goat-breed associations, and similar other goat-related initiatives or organizations in the region to involve as many producers as possible in the survey. The network of the National Goat Consortium will be used to expand the effort of reaching out to producers. Questionnaires will either be mailed to willing producers, conducted in face-to-face interviews, provided a SurveyMonkey link, or as feasible based on participant producers. Social media, email, and other similar outlets will be used to reach out to a wider producer community for the survey. Producers participating in educational and outreach events conducted by the collaborating institutions during the survey period (Year 1) will be informed and encouraged to participate in the survey. For this effort, survey-promotion flyers will be developed including the SurveyMonkey link and steps to completing surveys as well as the importance of taking the survey. The link for SurveyMonkey will be shared through eXtension Goat Industry’s site, National Goat Consortium’s web site, and web pages of the collaborating institutions and their network throughout the states. Survey booths will be installed at the relevant conferences, such as the National Goat Conference, Professional Agricultural Workers Conference, Small Farm Conference, annual conference of Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, and Annual Farmers Conferences to be hosted by the collaborating institutions, and the conference participants will be informed and encouraged to take the survey (producers) or to disseminate the information to their clientele and encourage them to take the survey (Extension educators and other agricultural professionals). We target to reach 1000+ producers. Several reminders will be sent to the potential survey participants during the survey period (Year 1). The survey data will be verified (for completeness, responses are legible for the hand-written version), entered into a spreadsheet, and analyzed for identifying the challenges. Additionally, marketing data will also be collected from farmer’s markets, online retailers, and USDA/AMS web site. Data will be analyzed for descriptive statistics, correlation, and regression (or more) based on the nature of information collected from the survey.

Objective 2.2. Develop viable strategies for marketing locally-produced live animals and animal products

Based on the survey results obtained from Objective 1 on challenges faced by producers and opportunities they have realized around their locality, strategies will be developed to guide producers to tap into available opportunities effectively. Strategies will be matching their production/breeding cycle with the high-demand time, such as different celebrations and festivities. Additional strategies will include keeping records of animal performance, expenses, and incomes, and use these pieces of information to calculate the sale price. Another strategy will be creating local producers’ coalition and working together for marketing their animals and products for the best possible price. Adding value to the product and selling value-added products may be a feasible strategy for some producers. The project team will prepare a set of strategies based on the findings of the survey (objective 1) and secondary marketing data (USDA/AMS, local stockyards, slaughterhouses, and grocery stores). The strategy document will include easy-to-follow features, such as decision tree, flow chart, and spreadsheet for making marketing decision relevant to different farm sizes.These strategies will be discussed and evaluated in a stakeholder meeting consisting of producers, educators, consumers, wholesalers, and retailers in participating states. Useful inputs/feedback and suggestions  obtained from the meeting participants will be incorporated into a final document and shared with producers and other stakeholders for their information and decision guide (county offices, websites of participating institutions, Southern SARE site, eXtension Goat Industry webpage, and National Goat Consortium webpage). Links for the electronic document will be shared with producers and other stakeholders through emails, social media, blog posts, and other outlets. The strategy document will serve as a valuable educational material for training and educating professional, who work with goat producers, and educating goat producers during and beyond the project period.

 

  1. Production – leaders: Langston University, Prairie View A&M University, Tennessee State University

 

  1. Goal: Evaluate novel methods of sustainable internal parasite control for raising healthy, productive, and profitable goats.

In 2015, USDA APHIS reported that 86,701 goats, or almost 1 in 4 nonpredator caused deaths, died due to internal parasites. Haemonchus contortus is the most pathogenic, laying thousands of eggs daily that contaminate pastures and are consumed by goats, resulting is anemia, lost productivity, and even death. Resistance of this worm to chemical dewormers is a worldwide problem.  Alternative strategies to chemicals include smart drenching, use of tannin-containing plants, copper oxide wire particles (COWP), selective breeding to increase genetic resistance, pasture rotation, and mixed species grazing (Soli et al., 2010).  The American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control website states “15% of the wormiest animals contribute 50% of the total eggs on a pasture and 30% of the wormiest animals contribute 75% of the eggs.”

A control method recently introduced into the US is feeding grazing animals the nematode-trapping fungi, Duddingtonia flagrans, in a product called Livamol® with BioWorma® (LB). The fungus passes through the animal intact and is deposited in the feces where it entraps and consumes the larval stages of roundworms thereby reducing the number of infective larvae on pasture (Healey et al., 2018).  As this is a new product, producers will have questions on its use and cost.

Methods:

Objective 3.1. Evaluate potential synergistic effects of Duddingtonia flagrans (Livamol® with BioWorma®) and COWP in controlling Haemonchus contortus

Question: What combination of LB and COWP is the most efficacious and/or cost-effective? The working (null) hypothesis is BioWorma® is equal to COWP and both are equal to no treatment.

  • The research will occur on the farms of 14 goat producers who were involved in the planning of this proposal.
  • University research herds will also  be involved and will provide a possible greater control of experimental procedures.
  • Test sites will be visited before project implementation to guide producer cooperators in maintaining the integrity of the treatments. 
  • Approximately 24 yearling meat goats will be used at each location in the trial. Yearlings are sensitive enough to yield meaningful and statistically significant treatment responses of endoparasite indicator traits (Goolsby et al., 2017).
  • Prior to the experiment, animals will be ranked on fecal egg count (FEC). FAMACHA scores and blood samples for packed cell volume (PCV) will also be taken.
  • Animals will then be dewormed using an anthelmintic or a combination of anthelmintics based upon previous use on each farm and efficacy of anthelmintics assessed.
  • A 2 x 2 factorial treatment arrangement in a split-plot design with two whole-plot paddocks per site replicate. with each treatment having equal FEC numbers and utilizing two paddocks.

Groups

COWP

No COWP

LB supplementation 

A

B

No LB supplementation 

C

D (Control)

  • Animals will be housed on pasture with water and a trace mineral block freely available.
  • LB will be mixed with a small amount of grain, adjusted for farm animal numbers, roughly 100 g/animal/d.
  • The No LB group will receive an equal amount of a daily grain/supplement having similar nutritive value.
  • Duration of the experiment will be 90 – 120 days, beginning in the spring when average daily high consistently reaches a minimum of 50°
  • Producers will be given the option to conduct the experiment as described or to drop the COWP treatments and test only LB supplementation. This may be useful for producers with few animals or for producers not wishing to use COWP.
  • Measures taken at biweekly intervals by the goat producers
    1. FEC
    2. FAMACHA
    3. PCV
    4. BW
    5. Diet quality – samples of forage/pasture and supplemental grain biweekly, - dry matter, organic matter, crude protein, and neutral detergent fiber
    6. Weather data – temperature, humidity
    7. Cost of supplemental grain and LB. Extra labor to mix and feed the supplement will be estimated and a cost applied.
  • Sampling periods will be no more than 4  (start, end and one or two central period samplings). Frequencies may be greater at the campus sites.
  • Pasture rotation will not occur at any test site.
  • Cooperators will rest their test plots before the start of the study. The length of pre-test rest will be documented. Preference will be given to test pens that are adjacent and not separated by substantial distance.
  • Fecal cultures will be conducted; however, not all universities may have the capabilities of fecal culture. Thus, those with capabilities will receive samples from those without.  Zoom training sessions for personnel not normally conducting fecal culture are possible.

Objective 3.2. Investigate the selective supplementation of LB

Question: Could LB be fed every other day and still obtain reduced GIN infection? The working (null) hypothesis is every-other-day administration is effective.

  • Same procedures as Objective 3.1 except LB will be administered every other day, reducing costs by half.
  • Data and economic analyses will be compared to Objective 3.1.

Dissemination: Educational materials on using Duddingtonia flagrans with other methods of internal parasite control will be developed.  Factsheets, brochures, how-to manuals, stories in goat magazines, and other publications will be developed as a preferred means of outreach for many producers.  Many producers want visual, hands-on opportunities to gain knowledge and consortium partners will conduct one-on-one demonstrations and discussion sessions along with large group trainings.  Consortium partners will also take advantage of  Zoom and YouTube.  These on-line venues provide training opportunities to producers who do not have time to travel or who cannot travel to training opportunities.

Statistical Analyses: Data will be analyzed using repeated measures method.  The statistical model will be:

y = Xβ + Zu + e

where, y is the vector of dependent variables (FEC, FAMACHA, PCV, or BW); X is the incidence matrix of fixed effects, β is the vector of fixed effects e.g. covariates, location, and treatments A, B, C, and D for Objective 3.1 and Objective 3.2, Z is the incidence matrix of random effects, u is the vector of animal IDs on which repeated measure are taken, and e is the vector of random errors.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

25 Consultations
1 On-farm demonstrations
2 Published press articles, newsletters
1 Webinars / talks / presentations
1 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

35 Farmers
20 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

The dissemination and outreach plan ensures that the dissemination of information moves from the agricultural professional to the local producers.  As such, information related to the project will be shared throughout the goat industry community with producers, universities, NGOs, industry, government, and other stakeholders. The results from this project will be made available through several avenues.

The multidisciplinary team assembled for the project will summarize project results, including the development of training tools that will be disseminated through brochures, newsletters, university, and department websites, and digital files (via eXtension, social media, electronic documents, etc.) to target audiences in the goat industry communities. The project’s research results will be published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Extension, Small Ruminant Research, and Journal of Animal Science among others. Research findings, extension strategies, survey results, and producer impacts will be presented at conferences, e.g., the National Goat Conference, and professional society meetings, e.g., International Goat Association, Professional Agricultural Conference, 1890 ARD Biennial Research Symposium, and recorded in on-line and print proceedings.

Consortium member institutes will use the pooled data and information received through the different Approaches outlined above to create extension bulletins, fact sheets, manuals, and “how to” handbooks for use by university extension personnel and farmer educators from other goat industry groups such as breed organizations or NGOs.  These extension-oriented materials will be available in print and electronic form.  Presentations and training sessions will be held at producer meetings and workshops

Further, PowerPoint presentations will also be developed from the research results and presented during workshops (e.g., Master Goat Programs, Sunbelt Ag. Expose Small Ruminant Workshop), and in seminars, training meetings, goat field days, and local or regional fairs in each state. Moreover, one or more dissemination events will be held at each consortium institution involved in this study during Years 2 and 3.  Collaborating producers on this grant will host farmer-to-farmer training sessions on their farm site that will include other farmers from local and surrounding communities. The dissemination materials indicated above will be available at these venues. 

We will partner with the National Goat Consortium on their initiative that focuses on broadening awareness of the health benefits of meat, milk, and non-food goat products. Specifically, an educational module(s) that can be adopted by 4-H, Jr. MANRRS and other youth groups will be developed. The module(s) will include recipes for food as well as beauty and health products, such as lotions and soaps. The module(s) will also have a youth marketing project/plan to make and sell said items, particularly targeting at minimum goat cheese, lotions, or soaps. The module will include interactive videos that will demonstrate recipes using goat products, and the videos will also be made available/linked to existing cooking apps and internet websites. 

Many avenues for disseminating results and production recommendations have been outlined in the Approaches section.  These include print format, articles in trade magazines (e.g., Goat Rancher, HoofPrint, and others) electronic formats such as PDF documents that will be posted on consortium university websites, on-line video platforms such as YouTube and recorded Zoom training sessions, and as part of a rebooted eXtension Goat Community of Practice.  Today’s goat producers have a diverse set of communication skills and these will be used to inform producers of the grant project, advertising meetings and trainings, and driving on-line traffic to materials posted.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms will be used to “spread the word” and to present information.  As an example, Facebook Live will be used to transmit training sessions to producers unable to attend meetings.  Zoom webinars/meetings allow the opportunity for far flung audiences to interact and ask questions of presenters and are a good means of engaging producers and establishing relationships between extension personnel and goat producers.

Evaluation

To gauge the effectiveness of the dissemination plan and its impact, all participants will be asked to complete a summative evaluation within 12 months.  The evaluation will collect information on three levels: 1) educator practices, 2) organizational changes, and 3) client outcomes.

The first level will assess the changes in the agricultural professionals as a result of participating in each of the professional development programs. This assessment will occur immediately following the activity, and participants will be asked to describe changes in how they think, what they believe, and what they plan to do in the field by describing their professional growth and evaluating the program in meeting their personal and professional goals.  Changes in participants will be determined at this level through questionnaires and observations.

The second level will assess the ways in which the participant has changed his/her organization, as effective professional development allows individuals to obtain knowledge and develop new skills.  This level will be assessed through questionnaires with a focus on the development of increased collaborations, an improved relationship between administration and agricultural professional, and general changes in the culture of the organization to which the agricultural professional belongs. 

Lastly, the third level will determine the effect of the professional development process on the knowledge gained by the agricultural professional’s client (the producer). This level will be determined through questionnaires and observations during field visits and will be used to evaluate the increase in goat numbers and/or improved management practices by the clients with which the agricultural professional’s interface. Where youth are concerned, an increased interest in youth participating in activities associated with goats or other livestock animals, such as goat shows, will also be used as a measure.

Results of the evaluation will be used in an assessment process to improve delivery methods and ultimate impact on producers.  The Deming Cycle (Plan, Do, Check, and Act) or similar assessment tool will be used to see progress on grant outcomes in all areas with the ultimate grant goal being to improve production, farm sustainability, and farm profit.  The assessment cycle calls for Planning activities, such as those outlined in the proposal; Doing the activities, the research and outreach actions to present results to the target audience; Check (or Study) the intermediate results; and Act to improve the process.  Using this or another assessment tool will improve grant conduct and outcomes.

Partners

Representatives of the National Goat Conference (Dr. Kesha Henry is a member of the NGC organizing committee and is a Co-PI on this project), the American Goat Federation (West Lafayette, IN), the American Boer Goat Association (San Angelo, TX), the American Kiko Goat Association (Wynnewood, OK), and other trade associations will be contacted at the beginning of the project and will become ex officio members of the consortium and will serve in a advisory role for implementation, evaluation, and dissemination.

Ethnic Consumers

A special effort will be made to reach out to ethnic consumers, especially in Objective 1 (Consumer Preference) and assess whether their preference and purchasing decisions are in agreement, that is, whether the purchase of goat meat is feasible due to the high cost relative to other protein sources and what that breakpoint is.

American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control

Dr. Dahlia O’Brien is a Co-PI on this project and is a member of the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control.  She will disseminate findings on the ACSRPC website (www.wormx.info).

 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.