Estimating the Sustainability and Productivity of a Meat Goat Operation on New York Pastures

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 1999: $6,286.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $32,200.00
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Dr. tatiana Stanton
Cornell University Dept. of Anim. Sci.

Annual Reports


  • Animals: goats


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, parasite control, grazing - continuous, feed rations, free-range, pasture fertility, pasture renovation, preventive practices, range improvement, grazing - rotational, stockpiled forages, winter forage
  • Crop Production: agroforestry
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, hedgerows, wetlands, hedges - woody
  • Pest Management: cultural control, prevention
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: soil analysis, soil quality/health

    Proposal summary:

    There is little information on the sustainability and economic reality of NY meat goat operations. Goats are effective eradicators of woody plants. However, extension officials generally recommend bringing in a different livestock or crop enterprise once goats have improved an abandoned field, citing the preference of goats for browse verses grasses and the high incidence of dangerous worm loads in goats grazing grasses. It is assumed that the goat herd can move on to other fields in need of browse control and that the costs of the specialized fencing goats require, can be absorbed. In reality, meat goat producers are rarely in position to readily convert to other farm enterprises or to continually move their herds to new farm sites. Once goats have rid land of browse, do they have a role on the improved pasture that evolves? Can pastures be managed to sustain browse forage year after year for goats? And if not, can they be managed to keep internal parasite loads within healthy levels for goats? Finally, how does a meat goat operation on NY pastures compare economically and ecologically to other small farm enterprises? This study will address these questions.

    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.