Writer: Dr. Joe Paschal, 361-265-9203, firstname.lastname@example.org
As I drive up and down the roads of South and Central Texas, I often see a pasture with goats, mostly Boers now.
In the late 1980s, when I was still a young extension specialist, C. Wayne Hanselka, extension range specialist (now retired), and I decided to compile as much information about meat goat production as possible from folks in the business at that time.
Other than dairy breeds and Angoras, goats back then were called “Spanish.” The Boers (“Boer” means “farmer” in Afrikaans) – from South Africa via Australia, New Zealand and Canada – were still a few years from being imported into the U.S. Our objectives were twofold: the first to see how goats could be used to enhance and prolong mechanical or chemical brush treatments and the second to see how they could be used as an income and protein source for small landowners.
Neither one of us were “goat experts,” so we set about looking for those who were. We visited several meat goat breeders and producers in south and southwest Texas to talk about production and marketing. We also visited ranchers using goats for brush and weed control. We even visited one rancher who “grazed” 1,000 or so Angora stocker wethers north of Beeville for a fee while getting the benefit of some brush and weed control. The only youth “meat” goat shows at the time were in the counties along the southern Texas border. Hard to believe now.
We collected data on goat carcass composition, both the traditional kid as well as the more mature yearling, and spoke to goat meat processors who were buying anything that looked like a goat for markets in the northeast. We even participated in a project to see if folks would purchase goat meat from a major retailer, and to their surprise, the product was very well received. We developed a meat goat management calendar and even conducted a marketing survey to determine the best goat size to be marketed at various holidays.
We held a few meat goat conferences, one at Texas A&M University-Kingsville (it was Texas A&I University at the time) and another in Laredo. We were surprised at the huge number of folks who either were raising meat goats or were interested in raising them. At both conferences we had folks who cooked goat meat using a variety of methods, and we even published a meat goat recipe book.
In the early 1990s, the Boer goats were beginning to arrive in the U.S., primarily as frozen embryos. Speculation drove the prices of these and live goats to exorbitant values. Now, after 25 years, the Boer influence is seen both in the pasture as well as the show ring, and prices of good breeding stock are in line with commercial meat goat production. There is still some Spanish stock around, but there is concern their unique genetics for adaptability to South Texas could be lost.
A former classmate, now a researcher involved in collecting and saving genetics of what are called “heritage breeds,” called the other day looking for Spanish goats to collect DNA, eggs and semen to freeze and store in case they become extinct.
Meat goats, either Boer or Spanish or perhaps another breed or cross, are much more prevalent now. Protection from predators, herd health management, and marketing are much better than they once were, and there is the added benefit of weed and brush suppression. Goats make an ideal livestock operation for small and novice landowners.
Joe C. Paschal is a livestock specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Corpus Christi. Contact him at email@example.com or 361-265-9203.
via source the Victoria Advocate | The forgotten goat has grown in popularity
For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Maggie Tucker at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 845-1542.