MARKETING MEAT GOATS: CHANNELS, SUPPLY AND DEMANDNo. M-03
Extension Goat Specialist
Livestock Marketing Economist
Livestock Marketing Specialist
Extension Goat Specialist
This fact sheet is abstracted largely from a recent study
conducted by the authors for the Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC),
Mississippi State University (Pinkerton, et al, 1993). The major problem
addressed was the lack of farm-level information concerning meat goat marketing
channels, constraints, pricing patterns, and opportunities for market expansion.
This problem was, and is, pervasive even in the leading meat goat producing
states of Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama; for those newly emerging
production areas of Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina,
Mississippi, and Louisiana, the problem is particularly acute. Inadequate meat
goat industry marketing information is thought to be due to lack of
research-based Cooperative Extension Service efforts, to insufficient interest
by many state Departments of Agriculture and, equally important, to the nature
and structure of the industry itself.
The major objective of the SRDC study
was to identify and characterize production, marketing channels and price
margins for southern goats. A corollary objective was to disseminate the
findings via Factsheets and other means.
In 1990 the production and marketing of goats and goat meat
was widely perceived by southern goat owners and Extension Service personnel to
be largely unorganized, unobserved and unrecorded and was, accordingly, thought
to be erratic overtime and place as to numbers, price, availability of retail
product and consistency of quality. Equitable distribution of marketing margins
across producers, middlemen, processors, and purveyors was also thought to be
only imprecisely achieved (Pinkerton, Scarfe, and Pinkerton, 1991); (Pinkerton,
Producers and prospective producers, being virtually without relevant,
accurate market information are seriously disadvantaged in basic decision-making
concerning production opportunities and marketing options. Such disadvantage
contributes to very cautious enterprise entry and/or expansion and also to
delayed market response by small-scale farmers, part-time agriculturists, and
established ranchers alike. Fuller, more equitable participation in this
fledgling industry could appreciably benefit southern farmers with resources
suitable for goat production. This economic development prospect was first
recognized by Winrock (1986) in their benchmark study, "Strategies for Expanding
Goat Meat Production, Processing, and Marketing in the Southeastern U.S." It
assessed the economic and technical feasibility of production, evaluated
potential demand, and modelled processing plant flows.
We initially contacted goat industry personnel already known to
us and thereafter contacted persons and firms identified by the original
informants as being market players of various magnitude. We then interviewed on
site those who agreed to share information concerning industry production,
processing and marketing practices. We also gathered assorted statistical data
from state agencies, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, Canadian
government entities, and from certain public livestock auctions.
interviewees provided additional investigative leads while they were imparting
historical and current knowledge of the goat trade across time and place. As
expected, interviewees varied widely in willingness to share operational aspects
of their firms. Many held quite divergent attitudes toward their suppliers and
customers. Moreover, some interviewers spoke only guardedly while others spoke
rather freely about their competitors. Considerable variation in assessments of
future industry developments and prospects was also encountered. As always in
such situations, we were obliged to make value judgements on the validity of the
respondents replies and observations and, subsequently, to search for
affirmations and contradictions among the aggregate findings.
Under the terms
of the SRDC Grant, we focused on goat production in the South and markets along
the northeast and southeast coasts. There are, of course, other production areas
and particularly strong markets in California and Mexico.
A marketing channel describes the movement of a product or
commodity from the site of production to the place of consumption. It may
include transportation, handling and storage, ownership transfers, processing,
and distribution. Principal flow of meat goats originate in the inland areas,
mainly the southwest, and terminate in the major metropolitan areas in the
northeast and in Florida, Texas and California. Substantial and increasing
quantities of goats are now originating from the southeastern and midwestern
Numbers of meat goats can be estimated from the U.S. Agricultural
Census (total goats less dairy and fiber goats). About 75% of meat goats and 80%
of all goats are found in the southern U.S. (11 states from Texas, Oklahoma to
the Atlantic). Production of goat meat, from all sources, is undoubtedly more
wide-spread and of greater volume than earlier believed.
Traditionally, principal players in goat marketing channels
were entrepreneurs who carved out a portion of the trade through shrewdness,
determination, and economic or political leverage. Because the industry is now
rapidly developing, market channels are becoming discernable, points of origin
are better defined, and new processing plants and marketing techniques designed
to better meet consumer needs are increasingly evident.
Figure 2 presents a
flow chart of goat and goat meat movement. The chart depicts a relatively
complex industry structure involving middlemen who function as traders, brokers
and purveyors. The heavily marked lines indicate the major paths that goats take
from producer to consumer, but there are regional differences in these pathways
The nation's largest Angora and meat goat auction is at
Junction, Texas; nearby San Angelo handles mostly meat goats. Other high volume
auctions are located at Goldthwaite, Texas, Hackettstown, New Jersey and
Lancaster, Pennsylvania with lesser auctions in Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama.
The largest processors are located in Texas; New Jersey, and Connecticut;
Privacy Laws prevent publication of more detailed information.
move into the marketing channel as "trader" animals, frequently changing hand
several times prior to slaughter.
Higher quality goats are available in
lesser numbers but they do find a significantly better market than the more
plentiful lower quality animals. Even for goats of superior quality, producers
should attempt to access markets only through established channels and with
reputable firms. To do otherwise could lead to frustration and financial loss.
Processors and brokers marketing other animals could possibly expand into goat
marketing with requisite planning and execution. In any case, there seems little
question that the demand for both high and lesser quality goats is such that
many more animals could be taken.
Figure 3 shows the current ranking of southern meat goat
producing states. There are apparent discrepancies between goat inventories,
auction runs and slaughter numbers reported.
Supply is more than simply an
amount. Rather, it is a schedule of corresponding quantities and prices over a
period of time which is designed to reflect the "production personality" of an
industry. The concept of economic supply can be used to predict how a change in
goat prices, for instance, would cause adjustments over time in the number of
goats being produced.
Because the meat goat industry is rapidly developing,
and because useful price data is as yet largely unreported, any estimates of
economic supply would necessarily be poorly documented. Currently, the supply of
goats seems to be expanding, mainly in response to an increase in demand and to
improved potential for producer profits. Figure 4 provides evidence of this
expanding supply in federally inspected slaughter numbers. However, there is
also evidence that demand for both slaughter and breeding stock in certain
production areas has reduced farm inventories, particularly in Texas.
response is often triggered by changes in farm policy programs. The demise of
the Wool and Mohair Act, announced in mid-October, 1993, has encouraged some
fiber goat producers to shift to meat goats. Moreover, better conditioning of
surplus Angora goats prior to sale could lead to increased acceptability in the
slaughter trade and thus influence aggregate supply.
The economic concept of
"elasticity" also relates to supply and measures the sensitivity between changes
in production and price. A product with an elastic supply function would respond
more dramatically to changes in price than a supply calculated to be inelastic.
We can say that the supply of meat goats seems rather elastic, meaning that
sustained improvements in prices offered would result in substantial increases
over time in the production of meat goats.
However, many producers and
prospective producers of goats in this country face resource limitations. These
limitations may be mostly financial, but they may also be either knowledge,
time, or land area and suitability. In any case, such limitations can delay
response time for increasing goat numbers even when favorable prices are
encountered. Beyond stating that the supply function for meat goats is shifting
upward and appears to be elastic, it is best to concentrate at present on how
many and what kind of meat goats there are, and how and where they are being
Types and "breeds" of goats for meat:
With the exception of the South
African Boer goat imported via New Zealand in early 1993, there are no true meat
goat breeds in the U.S. There are, however, three types of goats used for meat:
dairy, Angora and "Spanish." There is much diversity between and within these
types as to production and carcass traits. Indeed, it is so great that many goat
industry players feel it is a serious impediment to orderly production and
There is little research to characterize these types of goats for
meat production and carcass merit. However, four key traits amendable to genetic
improvement in goats used primarily for meat production have been identified
(Shelton, 1990). These are: 1) adaptability to environmental and production
conditions, b) reproductive rate, c) growth rate and d) carcass value. To date,
no single U.S. breed or type possesses an acceptable array of these traits.
Geographic Areas of Goat Production:
By informal estimates, Texas is home
to approximctely 350,000 Spanish goats; perhaps another 150,000 head are found
primarily in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Virginia and the Carolinas
under various aliases (brush, woods, briar, hill, scrub). Texas also has about
90% of the 2,000,000 Angora goats with the remainder in New Mexico, Oklahoma,
Arizona and Michigan plus smaller quantities elsewhere. The U.S. dairy goat
population, totaling about 1,000,000 head, is widely scattered, but the major
areas are the west coast, the mid-west, the northeast, Texas, Pennsylvania, New
York and Florida.
Systems of Goat Production:
The majority of Spanish goats and almost all Angora goats are
managed within an extensive system, primarily in arid and semiarid regions, with
brush, forbs and grasses being the primary sources of nutrients year round. The
seasonal availability of nutrients markedly affects production facets such as
rate of gain in kids, body weight changes in adult animals and, of course,
reproductive performance. In commercial practice, supplemental feeding of
protein and energy is restricted to winter and drought periods.
southeastern U.S., many Spanish goats are also raised under extensive
conditions. Since the temperatures, rainfall and soil types differ markedly from
southwestern goat lands, the available type, quantity, and quality of forage is
considerably different. Carrying capacities in these "wet brush" areas may be
2-3 goats/acre initially and thereafter 1-2/ac for the long growing season as
compared to 2-4 acres/goat in the more arid southwest.
These goat enterprises are usually small (20-100 head) and use
few but productive acres. Many feature improved pastures, rotational grazing,
supplemental forage and concentrates and better medical care than usually found
in extensive units. When well managed, does kidding may approach 100% and
weaning rates may be 180% with kids considerably heavier than their extensively
grown counterparts. The relative profitability of intensive systems is subject
to many variables reflecting site-specific operations.
Relatively few dairy goats are kept for commercial milk
production; the majority are kept for home milk consumption, for showing, for
hobbying, and for sale as breeding stock. In all cases, there is a surplus of
male kids, non-replacement doelings and cull does and bucks. Currently, most are
being sold for slaughter; in the past, however, prevailing meat market prices
discouraged deliberate growing of kids for this purpose. Alternative milk usage
is the overriding economic concern of producers because kids can not be
economically fed milk that could be sold for fluid and/or cheese
Regardless of the system used for producing meat goats, herd
reproductive rate is of paramount importance to gross income and net profit.
According to Shelton (1984), most meat goat producers follow a practice of
running males with the females on a more or less continuous basis. This is the
simplest management practice and may well contribute to maximum production,
typically 1.25 to 1.5 kids weaned per doe exposed under extensive conditions.
Most meat and dairy goats are seasonally polyestrous with recurring estrual
periods from mid-summer through mid-winter. Some matings outside these dates
occur. Under Texas range conditions, kids tend to be born in mid-winter and late
spring. Dairy goat kids tend to be born February, March and April.
controlled breeding/kidding sequence may be useful to: a) exploit special market
situations, b) avoid mid-winter kidding, or c) more closely fit seasonal forage
supplies. Breeding "out-of- season" has been accomplished by taking advantage of
the well-known buck effect and in dairy goats by "lighting." Manipulating light
exposure of bucks and does will result in induced estrus cycle and will prompt
the bucks to mate. Another method is the administration of hormones to induce
estrus. Presently, those products are not approved for use in goats.
Christmas, Easter, and Ramadan demand, producers need to have 25-40 lb kids
ready for sale in mid-December and mid-February through late March. Well managed
kids can usually reach these weights in 6-12 weeks. The gestation period for
goats is about 150 days.
1. The present systems of both goat production and marketing are rather
haphazard with substantive variations in animal availability, body weights and
condition at slaughter, and variable carcass characteristics. There is also a
lack of standardized processing techniques and an inadequately developed product
2. Rationalization of production and marketing of slaughter goats is
essential if future demand is to be met and if all players in the marketing
channel are to receive reasonably equitable returns; modifications in industry
practices, though obviously needed, will likely be slow in coming.
3. The current industry practices of marketing mostly whole or half carcasses
should be altered over time and place to sales of primal and retail cuts and
4. University research and extension programs in production, processing and
marketing of goat meat are scarce and should be initiated and sustained to
assist in rapid, orderly industry development.
5. While yet a predominately adolescent industry, signs of maturity are
beginning to emerge. Major players, with some notable inter-city exceptions,
will not likely be the same five to eight years from now. As sale volumes
continue to increase, so also will sophistication in transportation, processing,
The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support
from SRDC which has made this endeavor possible. They also recognize the many
producers, traders, processors and purveyors whose contributions are found
throughout this report.
Special gratitude is extended to Mr. George Dealaman,
Dealaman Enterprise, Inc., Warren, NJ whose family firm has been processing
goats for over 70 years. Without his sustained, personalized assistance, we
could not have gained sufficient access to the NYC wholesale trade. We also note
with appreciation the help of Dr. John Addrizzo, MD, and owner of NY State Meat
Goat Associates, Mt. Marion, NY., who shared his experiences in raising goats
and in custom processing and distribution of product. Both added immeasurably to
the content of this report.
We are also indebted to Dr. Robert Herr, goat
broker and feedlot operator, of Navron, PA and to Mr. Mike Lange and Mr. Gerald
Moffett, Texas goat brokers, who shared their industry experiences. Special
thanks are due to Mr. Tim McKinney, Langston University 4-H Goat Specialist, who
was a dedicated collector of auction data, rain or shine, for 24 months and to
Ms. Pat Miller, Florida A&M Extension Specialist, who contributed much to
our understanding of goat marketing in Florida.
Gudahl, D.J., 1987. Potentials for improved marketing of excess goats -- Part
I. Dairy Goat Journal, December, P. 24.
Pinkerton, F., A.D. Scarfe and B.W. Pinkerton, 1991. Meat goat production and
marketing. Fact Sheet No. M-01. E (Kika) de la Garza Institute for Goat
Research, Langston University, OK.
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(Kika) de la Garza Insitute for Goat Research, Langston University, OK.
Pinkerton, F., L. Harwell, N. Escobar and W. Drinkwater, 1993. Marketing
channels and margins for slaughter goats of southern origin. Southern Rural
Development Center, Mississippi State University.
Shelton, M., 1984. Meat goat production. IN: Extension Goat Handbook, USDA.
Shelton, M., 1990. Selection for meat production in goats. IN: Proceedings.
Meat Goat Production Seminar, December, Texas A&M University, San Angelo.
Winrock International, 1986. Strategies for expanding goat meat production,
processing, and marketing in the southeastern United States. Winrock
International, Morriton, AR.