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Goatherds aren't so lonely anymore

Staff writer

Despite having a reputation as stubborn animals, goats have become more popular statewide.

Matt Cantrell, owner of Hidden Springs Farm outside Canton, has been raising Kiko goats since 2015.

“That market has been strong for the last three years or so,” he said on the price of goat meat. “Last year in particular, it was really strong. They’re a livestock alternative that has a really strong demand right now.”

According to Cantrell, goats are $3 to $4 per pound of meat. Cattle bring in $1 to $1.15 per pound.

“I don’t eat as much of it as I could because I make more money selling it,” he said. “I raise goats and eat beef.”

County extension agent Rickey Roberts has noticed 4-H members choosing goat projects over beef projects.

“The cattle take a lot of money. They’re expensive to buy, they’re expensive to feed, and they’re expensive to get ready,” he said. “I think the goats, same with the sheep and the hogs, require fewer resources to do.”

Multiple goats can be raised with the same amount of resources a single steer would take.

“Prices are up right now, but you can buy a goat a heck of a lot cheaper than a steer,” he said. “Sure, if I want to buy a Hummel champion goat, it’ll cost me thousands, but I can buy a goat for far less. Buying a goat’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying a calf.”

Dairy goat farmer Elaine Puckett said it was easy to grow a large goat herd.

“If you want to raise goats and not become overburdened with the number of goats, you have to sell them,” she said. “You can double your herd every year: they often have twins, and half of those twins are female.”

Some 4-H members will be “leased” nanny goats to raise and show, then eventually return them to farmers.

“It’s a way for a producer to get their best females shown without having to lose them permanently,” Roberts said.

The dairy goat market has not increased as much, according to Puckett.

“As far as the 4-H kids, they would much rather have a project during the summer, sell at a premium, and get money as opposed to a goat you have to milk and take care of all year long,” she said.

Ownership has increased, however.

“There is a movement for more self-sufficiency, more rural living, that type of thing,” she said. “You keep that animal for years once you have a good, productive doe.”

Puckett thinks the trend won’t stop soon.

Last modified Sept. 2, 2021

 

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