Web-based Training and Certification Program for Goat Producers
Dairy goat enterprises have been a small but stable livestock sector in the United States. Demand for goat cheese and other dairy product is increasing. Dairy goat producers are a mixture of small farms with few goats to large commercial farms using complex milking parlors and equipment. Both sectors of the industry have a need for current, science-based information to safeguard their animal’s health and well being in order to produce wholesome products in demand by family, friends, and consumers. Topics in this certification course include basic information on management, reproduction, nutrition, and health, among others, as well as information on topics needed by dairy goat producers including legal issues of dairy goat farming, financial issues, marketing, and quality assurance. Further, for newer producers modules on making goat milk cheese, soap, and yogurt can add fun to their endeavors, become a hobby, or a potential source of income. To see the modules included in the Dairy Goat Producer Certification Course click here.
The United States has over 2 million meat goats; however, those numbers do not fulfill the country’s demand for goat meat as evidenced by an ever-increasing amount of goat meat imports. Domestic production of goat meat has increased as more producers see a viable market. Industry growth has been accomplished through established meat goat producers increasing herd size and through new producers entering the goat business. Many new producers entering the meat goat industry have little or no experience with goats, while other new producers may have no livestock raising experience. Topics in this course include production, management, nutrition, and health as well as chapters on fencing and using dogs, donkeys, and llamas as livestock guardians. Other modules may be of interest to some producers, such as home harvest, tanning goatskins, and pack goats. To see the modules included in the Meat Goat Producer Certification Course click here.
New producers, as well as some established producers, have an expressed need for current, correct information on how to raise goats and produce safe, wholesome products in demand by the public. Information is needed in all areas, from basic housing and management to nutrition, herd health, reproductive issues, marketing, product safety, and value-added products. There are few institutions or universities with personnel dedicated to providing goat production information to producers, county extension educators or young farmer advisors. Furthermore, as goats are considered a minor species by many, little goat information is included in curriculum designed to educate students who then may work in the public arena disseminating information to producers.
Many producers also obtain information from the World Wide Web. While proper, science-based information does exist on the internet, producers with little to no livestock experience have no background to discern "good" versus "bad" information. In some cases, information posted could be harmful to animals and to the economic viability of goat enterprises. The lack of information available to goat producers also extends to printed media. As the goat industry grows and evolves, a quality assurance program, that is compatible with HACCP-like programs, is essential. Such a program ensures the production of a safe, healthy product that satisfies consumers and increases profit for the production industry.
The objectives of this web site are:
- to provide reliable educational information incorporating a Quality Assurance Program that is suitable for dairy and meat goat producers, county agents and other agriculture professionals and
- to provide testing methodologies allowing for certification of dairy and meat goat production for those producers desiring certification.
At the end of the certification process (successful completion of the required modules), a fee of $25 will be required for processing the certification.
The web-based training and certification program for dairy goat producers was developed with funding from USDA/NIFA project #OKLXMERKEL11 entitled "Extension Education Delivery Tools for Dairy Goat Producers: a Web-based Certification Program and E-book."
The web-based training and certification program for meat goat producers was developed with funding from USDA/FSIS/OPHS project #FSIS-C-10-2004 entitled "Development of a Web-based Training and Certification Program for Meat Goat Producers." Collaborating institutions/organizations for the meat goat certification include Alcorn State University, American Boer Goat Association, American Kiko Goat Association, American Meat Goat Association, Florida A&M University, Fort Valley State University, Kentucky State University, Langston University, Prairie View A&M University, Southern University, Tennessee Goat Producers Association, Tennessee State University, Tuskegee University, United States Boer Goat Association, University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, and Virginia State University.