Raising Goats for Profit …The fact of the matter is that raising goats can be very profitable. Most North American farmers tend to focus on cattle, pigs, and chickens. However, the goat market is becoming increasingly large and popular, with the demand of goat’s milk and goat meat rising on a yearly basis.
Raising goats for profits is very doable, as long as you do it right.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about raising goats for profit along with some goat breeds to consider. In addition to dairy goats and meat goats, you can also raise goats for fibers. Get creative and research the market in your area. You can rent out goats to clear pasture. Goat yoga is something to consider as well.
Is Raising Goats Profitable?
Over the past years, there has been an increasing demand for goat meat in the United States. The demand for goat meat and milk over the past two decades has risen quite drastically. According to the N.C. Cooperative Extension, the rise in the demand can be attributed to the increase in the population of various ethnic groups residing in the US.
These ethnic populations are demanding healthier and leaner red meat, which is exactly what goat meat is, especially when compared to other sources of red meat, such as beef and pork.
Raising goats is absolutely profitable, which is one of the main reasons why the raising of goats for both meat and dairy in the US has been on the rise over the past two decades.
Research shows that of the major consumers of goat meat in the United States, the three major groups of consumers include Hispanics, Muslims, and people from the Caribbean.
It has been shown that Hispanic and Caribbean people prefer Cabrito, younger milk-fed goats which weigh between 15 and 25 pounds live, or Chevon, which are goats slightly older than Cabrito, weighing up to 60 pounds live.
On the other hand, Muslims seem to prefer leaner and heavier goats, weighing up to 70 pounds live.
Additional Benefits to Raising Goats for Profit
If you have pasture in which they can free range, all the better, as this will not cost you anything to feed your goats.
Some people rent their goats out for income to graze weeds, pastures, etc. This can be an additional income source. In addition, many gardeners use goat waste as compost for their fruit, vegetable, and flower gardens.
Goat Market Statistics for the United States
Let’s take a look at some goat market statistics for the US for the past three decades.
- From 1999 to 2011, the consumption of goats in the US increased by 320%, with a 150% increased between 2002 and 2011.
- In 2002, there were an estimated 2,530,466 goats being raised in the US. Of those:
- 1,938,924 were meat goats
- 290,789 were milk goats
- Rest were used for fiber
- The years between 2002 and 2006 saw a sharp increase, with the total number of goats in the US totaling 2,934,000, with a full 2,400,000 being meat goats, and 296,000 being dairy goats.
- In 1999, there were roughly 463,000 goats slaughtered for meat in the US. Compare this to the nearly 780,000 goats slaughtered for meat in the US in 2010.
- According to the NASS in 2018, the total number of meat goats being raised in the United States came in at roughly 2.1 million heads. This was actually a slight decrease from 2017, and quite a sharp decrease from 2007, which saw over 3 million goats being raised in the US.
- According to official statistics, there was a drastic increase in the imports of goat carcasses in the US between 1990 and 2014. In 1990, the US imported 2,994 million pounds of goat meat worth $1.9 million. There were 43,188 million pounds of goat meat imported with a value of $94.7 million in 2014.
- In 2006 it was shown that the US produces roughly 750,000 less goats for meat than the demand, which therefore leads to massive import. Currently, Australia accounts for well over 95% of the goats being imported to the US.
Prices in the United States
In the US, you will earn a higher price if your goats are 100% grass fed. The average market price for a pound of 100% grass fed goat meat from a farm is $20 per pound, depending on the cut and your geographic location.
When you sell a whole, grass fed goat, you account for the premium cuts as well. While there is a discount for buying the whole goat, the price per pound is overall higher, typically about $22 per pound.
Therefore, a 100% grass fed goat that weighs 25 pounds, at $22 a pound is $550 on average.
Although the numbers of goats in the US has risen and fallen several times over the past years, there is an ever-increasing demand for goat meat.
The simple fact of the matter is that the US does not produce enough goats to meet its current demand, which is increasing the quantity of goat meat being imported.
One of the reasons for this appears to be that meat goats are relatively hard to raise. The increasing demand for goat meat should spur increased goat production numbers in the US.
However, the difficulties associated with raising goats are to blame for the decrease in the number of goats being raised in the US between 2005 and the current day. With everything said and done, raising goats can still be very profitable, if done the right way.
Best Goats to Raise for Profit
Something which you as a potential goat farmer may be wondering is whether it is more profitable to raise goats for meat or for dairy. The fact of the matter is that both meat and dairy goats can be very profitable to raise, but is one more profitable than the other?
Let’s take a closer look at the difference between raising meat goats and dairy goats.
In terms of body shape and size, dairy goats tend to be quite tall with long legs. These goats are long, and they have barely any body fat.
Perhaps the most profitable type of dairy goat is the Saanen goat. These goats can produce up to three gallons of goat milk per day. This high yield makes them the most popular dairy goat in the world. Another heavy milker is the Alpine goat. (Alpine wethers are also good for meat.)
On average, American farmers will price their goat milk between $8 and $12 per gallon. Therefore, with a maximum-yielding Saanen, this would translate up to $36 worth of milk per day.
Dairy goats, in terms of their personalities, tend to be quite easy to raise due to their upbringing.
Depending on how much time you want to spend milking and your milking setup, there are goats that are heavy producers as well as goats that are still considered dairy goats but don’t provide as much milk as other goat breeds. One of these moderate milkers is the Toggenburg goat.
Nubian goats provide milk for home consumption or to make cheese. They aren’t prolific milkers and can be ideal for those starting out with a small herd.
Feeding goats with a bottle
For the most part, dairy goats will be bottle-fed by their owners, which results in a more tolerant and sociable goat, particularly toward children.
The reason why dairy goats are often bottle fed is to provide them with the maximum amount of the right nutrients, fats, minerals, and vitamins necessary to produce large quantities of high-quality milk. Learn when can baby goats go outside.
There is an increased amount of care required to raise dairy goats. The production of milk, high quality and large quantities of it, requires some pretty specific parameters.
Goats for dairy have a high maintenance level and require lots of care. They need to be fed the highest quality of foods, as well as lots of it. It is also worth noting that goat milking equipment is quite costly. In addition, the milking process itself very time-consuming.
You will also need to be sure the milking equipment and area are clean. There is also the fact that the dairy coming from goats needs to be licensed and regulated.
Simply put, raising goats for dairy can be costly, time consuming, and effort-intensive. Dairy goats are actually very profitable as they can also breed and produce young goats, therefore increasing the herd size.
Also, keep in mind that farmers of dairy goats should milk their goats every 12 hours. Keeping with this time schedule can be another difficulty associated with dairy goats.
There are a few popular meat goats which farmers prefer raising. One of the most profitable meat goats being the Boer goat, which when fully grown will come in at roughly 40 pounds.
Taking into account that in the US, at the current market value of $22 per pound for an entire goat, a 40 pound goat would therefore sell for around $880. There are also processing fees (slaughtering, processing, packaging, etc.) to consider.
Australia has relied on the Boer goat to become the No. 1 exporter of goat meat in the world. Kiko goats are also excellent meat goats.
Now, one of the reasons why farming meat goats is more popular is because they do not require as much time, effort, or money to raise.
Meat goats are fed normal food. They drink their mother’s milk. Besides basic care and maintenance, there is nothing special required. If there is no dairy being produced, there are no licensing and dairy regulation issues to deal with.
Farmers do not have to bottle-feed goats expensive nutrients either. With meat goats, past basic care and feeding, there is not much time or effort required to raise them.
Meat goat farmers typically never actually slaughter their own animals.
Meat vs Dairy Goats: The Verdict
The bottom line is that meat goats are much easier to raise and care for, but generally do not produce quite the same profit as the more time and energy-intensive dairy goats.
You can slaughter a meat goat only once, but a dairy goat will continue producing milk for many years, as well as offspring too, which can then be used for more dairy or meat production.
Raising Meat Goats for Profit
Something you should be aware of is just how profitable it is to raise meat goats, how much it costs to raise them, the profit margin, and everything else related to finances as well. Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know about raising meat goats for profit.
Is Meat Goat Farming Profitable?
The fact of the matter is that farming meat goats can be and is very profitable. In fact, meat goats are far more profitable than either sheep or cattle. Remembering that goats can be worth up to $20 per pound on average, whereas cattle goes for much less. (Think of your grocery store prices.)
Although the following figure is from Australia, it still provides a good estimate of what an average meat goat farmer can expect to earn in a single fiscal year.
“For the 2015-2016 financial year, 18 female goat farmers reported earning an average of $66,127 — significantly more than their 22 male counterparts, who reported an average earning of $44,495.”
What is the Best Breed of Goat for Meat?
This really depends on who you ask. Generally speaking, the Boer goat is often considered to be the best type of meat goat out there in terms of quantity and ease of raising.
A Boer buck can weigh between 200 – 340 pounds, therefore producing a lot of meat in pounds. On the other hand, if you are going for the best taste and the highest quality of meat, the best goat is considered to be the Black Bengal goat.
Below is a list of the 10 best meat goats to raise on a farm based on general consensus and various studies related to ease of raising, the quality of the meat, and the amount of meat produced.
10 Best Meat Goats to Raise
- Black Bengal goat
- Boer goat
- Kalahari red goat
- Kiko goat
- Fainting goat
- Nubian goat
- Rangeland goat
- Sirohi Goat
- Spanish Goat
- Verata Goat
How Much Does it Cost to Raise a Meat Goat?
Raising a meat goat is not overly expensive. It can definitely lead to some pretty decent profits. Let’s go through a breakdown of how much money you can expect to spend on raising and maintaining a single meat goat.
Once you have your fixed costs of fencing, shelter, watering systems, etc., the ongoing costs are minimal. The monthly costs are approximately $20 – $25 per goat, not factoring in medical or veterinarian expenses which you may or may not require.
Keep in mind, meat goats should get most of their nutrients from foraging. Ongoing monthly costs include:
- Indoor bedding (hay)
- Hay, alfalfa, etc. — They can eat up to four pounds a day
- Periodic supplements
Costs for raising a goat for meat
Therefore, for a single meat goat, expect to spend between $60 – $150 raising it, depending on how the type of goat and how many months it takes to raise.
Labor for raising a goat for meat
Now, these are the pure costs, but what you must also then factor in is how much labor is required to raise those goats. On average for 10 goats, expect to spend a minimum of two hours a week taking care of the goats. You will need to change bedding, sweep and clean, provide water, and feed the goats. Learn what to feed goats to gain weight.
How Long Does it Take to Raise a Goat For Meat?
This depends on the type of goat meat you are planning to produce the market with. If you are raising goats for the purpose of selling Chevon meat, these goats will generally be slaughtered between 3 and 6 months of age.
Most goats, even the older ones, are slaughtered within the first 12 months of life, sometimes up to 14 or 16 months. Therefore, you first need to figure out exactly what your goals are and what kind of goat meat you plan to supply the market with.
Paying attention to the demand for specific types and ages of meat is therefore crucial to success.
How Much Do Meat Goats Sell For?
Once again, this depends on the exact market, the demand, the location, and the type of goat. On average, to the end customer, 100% grass fed goat meat will sell for approximately $20 per pound. The actual price depends on the cut.
- Ground goat may sell for $11 per pound
- Traditional grass fed goat stew bone-in meat can sell for $18.95 per pound
- Leg of goat at 2.5 pounds sells for approximately $59 ($23.60 per pound)
- A goat shoulder can sell for $80 for three pounds ($26.66 per pound)
If we are talking about Chevon, which is meat from young goats up to 60 pounds, you may get a premium price.
That being said, if you are going for the popular Boer goat, the most popular goat for farming, a mature Boer buck can between 200 – 340 pounds.
Tips for Raising Meat Goats Profitably
Let’s go over some tips that you need to follow if you plan on successfully raising meat goats for profit.
- Carefully evaluate your financial resources before beginning to raise meat goats. Calculate what you can expect to spend on them compared to the expected returns.
- Remember, certain breeds of goats are better for meat farming purposes than others.
- Do what you can to save money, which could include using the wasted hay which goats have not eaten for bedding.
- Goats are strong, good jumpers, and escape artists, so one of the most important tips here is to make sure to use a tall and strong fence, or else you will be constantly dealing with escaped goats.
- Consider predators in your area and be sure to install barriers.
- The quality of the feed and supplements will make a difference in terms of the growth rate, the final weight, and the quality of the meat. Simply put, you get what you pay for.
Meat Goat Profit Calculator
There are a wide array of factors and costs associated with meat goat farming. Below is a breakdown of the costs which you can expect to deal with when raising meat goats.
How Much Does a Goat Cost
First you must calculate the total number of goats you have, both male and females, and how much you paid for each. You must then calculate the total weight of all goats.
You then must do research to figure out the price of a live goat per pound and then multiply this per pound cost by the total poundage of goats. If you breed meat or dairy goats, you will not have the upfront costs.
Cost of Goat Feed
You must now figure out how much the feed for goats is going to cost. This means figuring out how many baby goats are going to be born and how much feed must be consumed by each baby goat to achieve a target weight within a certain period of time.
Figure out the cost of the feed per pound, and multiply this be the amount of feed you will require.
At the same time, if raising adult goats, you must also calculate the total amount of adult goats you have and how much feed they require.
Add together the feed for raising the baby goats and adult goats, and then factor in the transportation cost for the feed. This will be your total feed cost. What Do Goats Eat
You must then calculate other costs, which would be shelter + vaccination + labor + green fodder growing costs.
Now you need to figure out exactly how much your goats weigh in total poundage, and multiply this by the average cost of goat meat per pound.
You will then subtract the total running costs (feed cost/other costs) from the total poundage value.
Simply put, you need to subtract your total investments and costs from the final sale price, which will provide you with your overall returns. It’s important to know the exact breakdown of all costs and how to calculate your returns with all necessary factors.
Using a comprehensive meat goat profit calculator will tell you exactly how much profit you can expect to make from your meat goats.
List of Meat Goat Breeds
Let’s quickly go over some of the most popular and widely farmed breeds of meat goats which you may be interested in.
Raising Spanish Goats
The Spanish goat, also known as the scrub goat, originally came to the US from Spain via Mexico. This is a goat widely used for meat farming and brush clearing purposes in the US.
However, since the 1980s, Boer goats have become more popular for meat. Spanish goats have a straight profile with long horns that flare up laterally.
- Spanish goat bucks can be up to 25 inches in height and weigh up to 250 pounds.
- Does can be up to 17 – 20 inches in height, weighing up to 150 pounds.
Raising Pygmy Goats
Pygmy goats originally come from the Cameroon Valley in West Africa. These small goats are commonly kept as pets or meat goats.
Male pygmy goats can be up to 20 inches in height and weigh up to 60 pounds. Females often top out at 15 inches in height and 60 pounds.
Pygmy goats are quite small and slender. They can come in a variety of colors, and they are a very hardy breed of goat.
Raising Kiko Goats
The Kiko goat was first developed in the 1980s in New Zealand. Kiko goats are relatively large goats.
They are not very long, and they have very compact and thick bodies, kind of like a barrel. Some would call their appearance “fat”. Kiko goats are popular to use for meat farming because they:
- Are hardy
- Are low maintenance
- Reach slaughter weight quickly
Kiko goats are used for both meat and dairy production.
- Male Kiko goats can weigh up to 200 pounds.
- Kiko does weigh between 100 – 150 pounds.
Raising Fainting (Myotonic) Goats
The origins of fainting goats can be traced back to the early 1800s, when a farmer named John Tinsley brought a few of them to Tennessee. It is thought that he came from Nova Scotia, Canada, although this has not been confirmed. Fainting goats are of course known for fainting and going stiff when they feel threatened.
These goats are often used as meat goats, pets, and to protect larger goat herds.
- Males can grow up to 25 inches tall and weigh up to 200 pounds.
- Female Myotonic goats are decidedly smaller, coming in at around 17 inches in height. The does average of 60 – 80 pounds.
Raising Dairy Goats for Profit
Of course, besides raising meat goats, raising goats for dairy production purposes is another profitable option to consider.
Is Dairy Goat Farming Profitable?
Dairy goat farming is often regarded as being extremely profitable due to the high demand for goat milk across the world. Worldwide, although North America has a penchant for cow’s milk, across the whole world, goat’s milk is actually more popular.
As an example, Pam Lunn from the United States makes nearly $10,000 per year from her small dairy goat operation.
In the US, farmers can sell goat’s milk for up to $3 per quart, or about $3 per 0.95 liters. This comes close to $12 per gallon.
Considering that your highest producing dairy goats can make up to three gallons of milk per day, a single dairy goat could produce potentially $36 per day in profits.
What is the Best Breed of Goat for Milk?
There are a few different breeds of goat which are considered to be the best and most profitable milk producers. Here is a list of the top breeds of goat for milk production.
- Nigerian dwarf goat
- Nubian goat
- LaMancha goat
- Saanen goat
- Alpine goat
- Oberhasli goat
Others, such as Toggenburg goats, give good milk but not as much as other dairy goat breeds. Their milk is low in butterfat, making it suitable for drinking but not suitable for making butter and cheese.
Before you choose any one goat for milk production, there are a number of factors you should consider. These include the following factors:
- Amount of milk the specific breed can produce – More milk isn’t better if you can’t milk the goats.
- Difficulty of raising the breed in question
- Taste and quality of the milk
- Butterfat content and the milk’s viability to make cheese, soaps, and other related products
- Cost of raising vs overall profits
How Many Liters Can a Goat Produce in a Day?
Your average dairy goat is going to produce between 1 and 3 gallons of milk per day, or up to around 12 liters. During a 305-day lactation period, your best dairy goats will produce up to 1,800 liters of milk.
Goat Milk Prices
As stated before, goat milk can be sold for as high as $8 – $12 per gallon. On average, a pound of goat’s milk cheese is sold for $14.95 per pound in the US.
How to Raise Dairy Goats
- Choose a breed based on all important factors (costs/production length/ease of maintenance etc.).
- Dairy goats need a clean and dry environment, which during winter months means needing an enclosed barn.
- Always ensure that you have large and tough fences, as goats in general are notorious escape artists.
- For feeding a variety of hay, shrubs, grasses, woods, and supplements should be provided.
- In order to prevent young goats from consuming all of their mother’s milk, dairy goats should be milked twice per day.
Breeds of Dairy Goats
Let’s quickly take a look at the most popular dairy goat breeds from around the world. They are:
Raising Nigerian Dwarf Goats
As the name implies, these goats originate from Nigeria. Nigerian Dwarf goats have very thick and stocky bodies with short legs. These goats are not overly large and can grow to about 21 inches tall and 75 pounds.
Raising Nubian Goats
This type of goat has its origins in the Middle East, but was first developed in Britain during the 19th Century. Nubian goats tend to be larger than other breeds of dairy goats with a good deal of meat on them.
Bucks can grow to 35 inches in height and 310 pounds, with Nubian does growing to 31 inches in height and 240 pounds.
Raising LaMancha Goats
This type of goat has its origins in Spain. One of the defining characteristics of LaMancha goats is their distinctly small ears or lack of ears.
- LaMancha bucks will grow to roughly 30 inches tall and at least 155 pounds.
- Does will grow to at least 28 inches tall and 130 pounds.
Raising Saanen Goats
The Saanen goat comes from the Saanen Valley in Switzerland. This is a fairly average looking goat with a white coat. Saanen goats usually have short and glossy hair.
- Saanen males can grow to 90 cm and over 200 pounds.
- Female Saanens grow to around 80 cm and 140 pounds.
Raising Alpine Goats
The Alpine goat has its origins in the French Alps. These are fairly long and skinny goats with thin builds. They can come in a variety of colors.
- Male Alpine goats usually grow to 32 inches tall and 130 pounds.
- Female Alpine goats average 30 inches tall and 110 pounds.
Raising Oberhasli Goats
The Oberhasli goat was imported to the US in the 1900s and has its origins in Oberhasli, Switzerland. These goats are known for having the facial shape of a dog.
- Oberhasli goats usually grow to around 34 inches and 150 pounds.
- Female Oberhasli goats grow to 30 inches and 100 – 120 pounds.
Raising Goats for Profit
The bottom line is you can quite easily raise goats for profit. It’s a continuously growing market with a massive and ever-growing demand.
Whether you want to raise goats for dairy or meat production, fibers (from angora goats), if you do it right, you can make a decent yearly profit. Get creative! Can you get zoning to do a petting zoo for schools? Perhaps you can rent out your goats to clear pasture in neighboring areas. You can host goat yoga on your property or bring your goats to a country club or other facility for outdoor goat yoga.