Estimating the Sustainability and Productivity of a Meat Goat Operation on New York Pastures
This two-year project will develop information on the economic feasibility of meat goat operations in New York. While goats are effective eradicators of woody plants, extension agents generally recommend that a producer shift to a different livestock or crop enterprise once goats have improved an abandoned field. Goats prefer browse to grasses, and there is a high incidence of dangerous worm loads in goats that graze grasses. The recommendation assumes that the goat herd can be moved to another field in need of browse control, and that the costs of the specialized fencing goats require can be absorbed. However, few goat meat producers are in the position to readily convert to other enterprises or continually move their herd. 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 New York pastures compare economically and ecologically to other small farm enterprises? These are the questions this project seeks to answer.
Ithaca, NY 14850