- Animals: goats
- Animal Production: parasite control, animal protection and health, free-range, grazing management, livestock breeding, manure management, mineral supplements, grazing - multispecies, pasture fertility, pasture renovation, preventive practices, probiotics, range improvement, grazing - rotational, housing, stocking rate, vaccines, watering systems, winter forage
- Crop Production: food product quality/safety
- Education and Training: demonstration, display, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, workshop
- Farm Business Management: marketing management, market study, value added
- Soil Management: composting
We live in a small rural community where establishing a business that sells a ‘new’ product such as goat meat is a challenge. Public perception of goats is often based on tin can-eating cartoon figures. Raising livestock profitably is always difficult, but a shortage of customers makes a viable meat business nearly impossible. Simon Boers seeks to grow local awareness and enthusiasm for goat meat, especially grass-fed goat meat. This will benefit not only our farm but also other meat goat farms across the state. Our project can enhance the quality of life of farmers and ranchers, helping to ensuring the viability of rural communities. Many ranchers are learning that goats are a great way to diversify the family farm. Through Western SARE funding, hundreds of people will learn how great goat meat is, while dozens of local meat producers will learn how to market their own quality product. Meat goats are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. livestock industry, and 80% of the world’s population regularly eats goat. Goat meat is much lower in fat than beef, lamb and even chicken, but most westerners have no experience dining on delicious goat meat. Grass-fed meat is healthful and sought after and is more environmentally-friendly than feedlot meat. A huge market exists nationwide for meat from goats, but so far that demand is mainly in large cities. Producers can truck goats to central California or even Chicago, but the prices paid at those locations rarely offset shipping costs, and trucking is stressful to livestock. Most small producers take their market animals to local sale yards, where prices vary widely and quality is usually ignored. Simon Boers has sold goat meat for two years; fresh whole goat carcasses to restaurants in the Boise and Sun Valley, Idaho areas and packaged frozen cuts online through Idaho’s Bounty. We provide free samples to chefs, usually a package of loin chops or rib steaks. Many chefs are willing to try goat meat, and we have several repeat customers. The only USDA plant available to us is located 100 miles from our farm. Taking the animals in and picking up the packages means driving a total of 400 miles. Our product is stored in two old and energy-inefficient, family-sized freezers. We may be the only farm in Idaho selling USDA processed goat meat to restaurants and the general public. With wise and efficient marketing efforts, it is possible that we will see goat meat becoming widely accepted in the western states. Simon Boers belongs to several organizations; Idaho Preferred, Idaho’s Bounty, Snake River Meat Goat Association, Mountain States Meat Goat Association, Oregon Meat Goat Association and the American Boer Goat Association. We are licensed by South Central District Health and our facilities are inspected. We attend annual events sponsored by Idaho Preferred and Idaho’s Bounty. Through connecting with other goat ranchers, attendance at educational clinics and through competition in numerous shows, we have learned what to look for in a good meat goat and our herd shows the results. Since 2005 we have bred, exhibited and sold high quality Boer goats. Our goats have earned numerous championships in several states. Our herd of 60 Boer goats is comprised of high quality does and one excellent, top quality buck. Small farmers raising goats for the first time often call us for advice, and we are happy to help. We frequently get calls from meat goat ranchers asking how to best market their goats and how to start a meat business. Often they want to add meat goats to a farm that has cattle or sheep, as goats can complement these species with their grazing and browsing habits. Diversification is one way family farms are staying in business. Western SARE funding will help us help others, as well as to keep our farm alive. Chefs and other potential customers will more readily try our product when they see professional quality labels and brochures instead of our current nondescript, generic packaging. We will help to erase the ‘bad rap’ that goats have long been given. We know that with our product appearing more professional by branding and attractive labeling, we will help to improve the public’s perception of goat meat. An information-gathering trip to a sausage and jerky processor will help us to learn about value-added products, and this in turn will create more awareness of what can be done with goat meat.
Project objectives from proposal:
To increase local awareness of and enthusiasm for, nutritious and delicious goat meat, and to educate other goat ranchers about marketing their product.
Farm Day Open House
Local chefs will be invited from several areas; Treasure Valley, Magic Valley and the Wood River Valley, Idaho. Chefs that have experience with our product will be able to share their views and may agree to prepare the goat meat samples for the farm day. We will invite goat producers and families interested in raising meat goats. Attendees will learn how delicious goat meat tastes, and they will discover the incredibly light ‘mouth feel’ other chefs rave about. They will see the packaged product, see live meat goats of all ages and learn how they can raise and market their own goat meat. They will take home educational materials such as nutrition fact sheets and brochures. Chefs will receive a sample of frozen, packaged goat meat to take with them. We will highlight Western SARE involvement. I anticipate good interest from other goat ranchers, with several likely traveling from throughout Idaho and possibly Oregon and Utah.
We will attend at least four marketing events throughout 2011 to promote grass-fed goat meat and share goat meat samples. Event dates are not set but will include Taste of Idaho in Sun Valley, Idaho and two Farmer-Chef Collaborative events in Boise and Sun Valley, Idaho. Other options include farmers markets, and we have received invitations to local foods stores and markets to discuss goat meat.
We look forward to assisting other goat ranchers and interested parties in learning about grass-fed goat meat and goat ranching, by sharing educational and marketing materials. Short presentations will be given in 2011 at a Snake River Meat Goat Association meeting and an Idaho’s Bounty producer’s meeting.
We will develop marketing and educational materials to improve the public’s perception of goat meat. Logo design will be completed at once, followed by labels, brochure, Open House poster, educational materials and website updates - before the Open House in August 2011.
Hundreds of people will learn how great goat meat is, while dozens of local meat producers will learn about marketing their own quality products. This project will benefit not only our farm, but other meat goat farms across the state. Our project can enhance the quality of life of farmers and ranchers, helping to ensure the viability of rural communities.