Increasing viability of meat goat farms

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2005: $49,284.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $34,752.00
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Dr. Michael Thonney
Cornell University

Annual Reports


  • Animals: goats


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, parasite control, grazing - continuous, feed formulation, feed rations, preventive practices, grazing - rotational, winter forage
  • Crop Production: agroforestry
  • Education and Training: extension, mentoring, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Pest Management: integrated pest management

    Proposal abstract:

    United States goat meat consumption has more than tripled since 1991. Much of this consumption is centered in the Northeast where about half the goats in the US destined for meat are slaughtered. Extension educators and the Empire State Meat Goat Producers Association (ESMGPA) increasingly report small farmers transitioning into meat goats. However, ESMGPA farm leaders and extension associates find that many producers cannot match market demand with quality animals, several new farms fail, and year-round market supply is insufficient to keep buyers committed locally. We propose to initiate grading and market readiness workshops, develop a kidding season mentoring curriculum that includes sample budget spreadsheets and farm business summaries, and study four to six herd management practices on real farms to develop fact sheets evaluating the productivity and expense of these herd practices. Farmers will improve the viability of their meat goat enterprises by using the kidding mentoring curriculums to mentor new farmers through their first kidding season, using the sample budget spreadsheets, business summaries and herd management practices fact sheets to better estimate the expenses, labor costs and income associated with various meat goat enterprises and management practices, attending market readiness and advanced grading workshops to improve both farmer and market coordinator ability to evaluate animals for health, selection grade, market readiness and suitability for different markets, and reviewing the management practices fact sheets to better identify for their own farm the costs/benefits of management practices such as creep feeding, flushing does at breeding, out-of-season breeding, feeding locally grown whole grains and byproducts, and use of clean hayfield regrowth/browse/woodlands to control worms.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Of the 1300 Northeast goat farmers contacted, 100 will attend the workshops and 50 will improve the health and market quality of their goats. Twenty will attend the advanced workshops and ten will more confidently grade goats for market pools or graded auctions, thus increasing grading availability and quality.

    Forty farmers will contribute income-and-expense information modeled on federal tax farm business forms, 12 will provide in-depth information for sample budgets, while 200 active or prospective farmers will access web or paper versions of these spreadsheets and summaries and 25 percent will complete the forms to improve suvivability of their goat farms.

    Two hundered farmers will request kidding season mentoring notebooks, 50 will engage in informal mentoring, and 12 beginning farmers will formally mentor with experienced producers, resulting in improved kid and farm survival through their early years.

    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.