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Hi there, I'm just trying to work out the realities of a meat goat farm, and I am wondering what the minimum number of goats you would need to make a reasonable income. I have found lots of awesome templates of expenses/income but I don't know what numbers to plug in to start with. Following that question would be how much land would you need for said goats? I have found all sorts of different answers on this topic. Thank you!

In case anyone is wondering, I really, really hope to own and operate a meat goat farm in the future. My husband is a butcher and I enjoy farm work more than anything so I think it is a great idea. Also there is a large south asian population where I live so there should be a good market for it.

P.S. I can probably just google this, but also I am wondering the legalities of slaughtering/cutting/wrapping, if it can be done on the farm or if they have to go to an actual meat packers. With my husbands line of work we could be totally self run! I live in BC, Canada by the way. Thanks!
 

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I know in Ontario animals can be sold live off the farm directly to the customer. From there he or she can butcher themselves or bring it to a butcher. All animals That I sell as meat must be sent to a government inspected facility where a health inspector can examine the animal before and after processing.
 

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This has a lot to do with your goals, your facilities, your area, and your niches. If you have tons of pasture and are willing to do rotational grazing, you can reduce your feeds required for most of the year, and that is VITAL. Moving pastures ever week or so will also drastically reduce your parasite problems, which is equally as important. Your facilities available (or that you'd build) would need to be adequate depending on your climate and when your desired kidding season will be. Sheep can have minimal housing most of the year unless lambing in early spring/winter, but goats are not as waterproof as sheep (nor as wooly) so they do need at least a run in all year. If you want to kid out in cold weather prepared to practically live in the barn through winter and have clean, well ventilated barns with lots of kidding pens to bond does and kids at least for about 2 days.

Where will you sell a kid crop? Will you raise them out? Do you want to raise quality breeding stock or just terminal crosses? Do you have access to healthy seed stock?

I do not know for Canada but there is an exempt animal product law in MI, mainly so you can butcher your own, but it's not for resale. You could loophole it where you sell the animals on the hoof, but then butcher free as a favor - but then you have to sell the one by one to people which can be a pain. (and really include the butchering price in the sale price). Personally if I were to raise goats on a large scale, I'd have a steady outlet of the bulk of them but would be willing to do smaller sales as well, if someone showed up cash in hand to buy... (no tire kickers).

Strict and SMART culling will be your best friend. Assist a doe having trouble kidding, but it's a ding against her. Assist her next year, and she goes to slaughter along with her offspring. It NEVER makes sense to 'let them kid out or die trying' - it is not humane to allow suffering to continue even if it would be the 'natural' outcome (and even that's arguable as domestic goats are not natural) but a simple assist means instead of having to dig a hole to bury a doe or kids, she instead is still allowed to raise her kids and gain some weight back before all of them are sent to slaughter at a potential profit. I always call the mentality where farmers don't assist their livestock, 'stupid' culling. :p

For small herds, I personally gravitate towards purebred, quality breeding stock operations because there should be lots of culls if your program is correct - and those can be sold as meat, whereas the good ones can be sold for much higher prices than meat can. :)
 
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Hi there, I'm just trying to work out the realities of a meat goat farm, and I am wondering what the minimum number of goats you would need to make a reasonable income.

The first question is how do you define "reasonable" Are you looking to supplement your husbands income, or are you looking for these goats to take up the slack in supporting a family? The 2nd question is how much experience do you have with livestock? The 3rd question is will you be doing this alone, or is your husband willing to help? Kidding out goats - even 20 head - is a full time job if you want live kids - especially in cold weather. I don't know much about Canadian holidays, but the 2 best markets in the US are Easter and Thanksgiving/Christmas. Don't rely on niche markets - hit as many as you can to cover your bases at least for the first few years until you see a pattern on what sells well when. I'm not trying to scare you off, but the reality is that a goat kid only weighs around 10 lbs or so, and the smaller the body mass, the quicker the animal can and will freeze or become chilled, and will not be able to nurse. If you are not there to intervene, that baby will not live.

I have found lots of awesome templates of expenses/income but I don't know what numbers to plug in to start with. Following that question would be how much land would you need for said goats? I have found all sorts of different answers on this topic. Thank you!

Do you know what the stocking rate for cattle is in your area? If not, call your department of agriculture and find out. 1 cow equals 8 to 10 goats on dry land pasture. I split the difference and go with 9. If you have reliable irrigation for your pasture, then you're talking 9 goats per acre under most circumstances. Do you know what kind of prices goats are bringing in your area? If not, start googling market reports and see what they are bringing at several sale barns in your area. That will give you an idea of where to start price wise. Do you know what holidays have a high demand for goat meat? If not, find out.

P.S. I can probably just google this, but also I am wondering the legalities of slaughtering/cutting/wrapping, if it can be done on the farm or if they have to go to an actual meat packers. With my husbands line of work we could be totally self run! I live in BC, Canada by the way. Thanks!
Unless there is someone on here who slaughters on farm for resale, you will have to either google it or talk to your department of agriculture. I have no clue about Canada's laws. I know in the US, individual people can buy goats on the hoof, and slaughter them at their place and it's legal. To slaughter them at my place would require me to have methods of disposal for the waste set up and, I believe, have the premises inspected by the USDA to insure it meets regulations as far as sanitation goes. Slaughtering/cutting/wrapping for the public would absolutely require USDA inspection in the US - just like any other slaughter house. I don't allow slaughter on site because I don't want to deal with that.

As far as the realities of raising meat goats for profit, the most expensive part is going to be fencing. That old saying about "if you want to know if your fences are goat proof, throw a bucket of water at it - if the water goes through, so will the goats" is more than a little bit true! I have discovered over the years that my goats and kids can untie baling twine, undo wired gates, unhook chains, and scoot under gates/fences that are higher than ankle height. You will need more pasture than you initially anticipate to compensate for drought years, a good management protocol, a good worming protocol, more than adequate facilities for shelter and kidding to compensate for those times that everything comes together, something breaks and renders a pasture/pen unusable, or you have a brain fart and end up with more kids than facilities. There is much, much more, but it's late, I'm tired, and I can't seem to get a handle on what I'm forgetting. I'm sorry, and I hope this helps.

ETA: What breed are you thinking about starting with?
 

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Awesome, thank you everybody. I have posted this elsewhere and get a lot of flack about being naive, etc. so I really appreciate the kindness.

I would start with Boer's I suppose as they seem to be pretty all around ideal.

It would be ideal to me to sell kids at slaughter weight to avoid them going to the, in my opinion, less integral, feeds lots. So in that case I think they would either be sold at auction or sold directly to that niche market that I talked about, where they would be slaughtered halal style. (Not sure what facility's host that but something to look into.) Allow me to digress a moment while briefly on the topic... if you're unfamiliar halal is a muslim practice where they pray before slitting the goats throat through to the spinal cord. Is this considered inhumane? It is my understanding the best way to go is a bullet behind the skull, but is anything less than that terrible or just less efficient? Thanks.

Reasonable income would be defined as at least $30,000/yr which would, yes, be a supplement to my husbands income, but would be my full time work. His participation in the endeavor would depend on if it were required I suppose. I think laws here would be the same where we couldn't sell meat, just goats, so his main skill set wouldn't be applicable anyways.

Apologies if I am probably glazing over the most important questions, but my answers are pretty much "I don't knows."

I have posted on sites offering free labour in exchange for knowledge on this topic, because there is certainly a ton that I don't know. Nobody has thus far been interested however. Any suggestions? There are goats in my area... would it be terribly rude to pull up there driveway one day and say "Hey!" ?

My experience with livestock is unfortunately only with horses. I am really good at handling them and competent in basic vet care (I'm also a small animal vet assistant).
Also I have chickens and bunnies (pet, not livestock) and therefore have lots of experience banging fences together!
 

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I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but you're not going to make $30,000 a year in a meat goat operation any time soon. You're talking somewhere around 500 goats - if not more - and premium prices to accomplish that on a regular basis. The market doesn't work that way and, based on your post, you don't have the experience or knowledge to be able to handle or manage that many goats. I kidded out 60 does this year, ended up with 125 kids, and it took me and 2 other people an hour and 45 minutes to tag them. Had I chosen to band and vaccinate, it would have taken at least twice that time to do that.

I am NOT breed bashing here but, given that you are inexperienced, the last breed you would want to start out with for this kind of endeavor is Boer's, unless you like fighting with dams to get the kids nursing or raising bottle kids. I bought into that hype 8 years ago, and it was a train wreck - partly due to my inexperience, but mostly due to the fact that Boers tend to be poor mothers, poor milkers, abandon kids on a pretty regular basis, and have no hardiness. After I lost more kids than I care to remember, I started digging deeper and I found study after study where Boer's, Kiko's, and Spanish goats were compared side by side in actual working conditions, and Boer's came out last in almost every category in every test/comparison. I'm not the only one who has experienced this either. I traded in my Boer's for Kiko's, word has spread, and I've had a couple of people call me this summer wanting to buy my goats because they are tired of fighting with Boer's to get kids nursing.

If you were to sell your kids at auction, they will go to a feed lot type environment. I raise meat goats, and that is where every buck I raise that isn't sold private treaty goes when it comes time to ship him. The chances of you being able to sell even the bucklings - let alone all of the kids - produced by the number of goats it would take to clear $30,000 a year private treaty are slim to none.

As far as cutting a goats throat to slaughter - there are far more humane ways to slaughter.
 

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Sounds like you've got the makings of a great hobby.

It's really hard to make money by selling meat animals unless you have a large operation. We have bought beef from a family grass fed operation where they raise about 10 cattle per year. They make enough money where they break even on the cattle and enough profit to pay to feed and house a couple of dairy cows and some sheep. On the flip side, we've got a large local farm nearby that makes a hefty profit selling beef and milk, but they also have about 1,000 acres of pasture, a highly profitable farm share program, and revenue in the multi-million dollar range plus more than a dozen full time employees. I'm sure the farm itself is valued in the double digit millions. The more land and resources you have, the larger opportunities you have for profit. If you're starting out with nothing, or with very little, making a $30,000 profit from meat goats is unlikely. A $3,000 profit might be easily obtainable though :)
 

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Siiiiiigh. Well good to know! The number $30,000 was from the fact that here that is considered minimum livable yearly income, if any one was wondering. Lol.

Honestly, it sucks to hear it, but you guys are absolutely right, with these figures you're giving me, it will never be more than a hobby, unless my husband and I and more family were to all go into it together, but they don't have the gusto I have about it, so I wouldn't want that.

Now I can move on and let that one go. Thanks again.

I still hope to have goats enough for the family one day so all information is still wonderfully appreciated. :)
 

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You can definitely make money with goats if you have pasture, understand raising livestock, and know how to manage them. My goats are dry-lotted year round - I don't have a choice on that without buying my own place and that is not possible at this time. Even on dry lot, my girls have paid for themselves almost every year, and I have a little left over.
 

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I think what people are trying to say here, is that it is something you are going to have quite a bit of investment before making money, especially making $30,000 a year. For meat goats, that will take a lot of land and goats. Making that much with dairy goats, would require fewer goats, but more resources/overhead and better marketing. There are a lot of things to think about. Ideally, you have a lot of money to start with for investment, would sure make things easier. ;) And profits to be had faster.
 

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Yes, that last post was me feeling a bit crushed. Lol. I do understand that however, Frosted Mini's.

I seriously just want to stress how kind you all are. I really appreciated getting such respectful replies despite my lack of, well everything realistic. lol
 

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I came to the conclusion with 20 acres available, using heavy rotational grazing techniques for maximum land load I might get somewhere around 10- 12 k in my area raising meat goats a year. But I did calculate that on market prices not direct to buyers for grass fed pastured goat. And that's after building up the herd, building fences and watering options and culling for worm resistance.

It's not impossible to make enough, it just takes start up time and learning curve for raising goats. Also, 30k seems high for minimal living costs (not judging just wondering), Are the land taxes really high there? I figure with gardening, barter and goats/rabbits/ chickens our actually yearly cash expenses are closer to 15k including land tax and insurance. But then again we have land in the middle of no where Georgia and Florida.

Good luck though, goats are a joy!
 

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It probably depends how many people are in your family, cost of living for your area and what all expenses you have too, CraterCove. Cost of living is very low in Idaho, but we still struggle with the hubs the only one working at a real job and 2 children and our rent PLUS utilities only total to like $500 a month at the most.
 

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So I have been pondering. I think we all need to know more. For instance do you already live on an acreage? Do you work outside the home? Do you have small children? The reason I ask is to calculate value you have to know the variables and establish their worth. If you have an acreage and currently buy all your meat, commute thirty miles daily and pay childcare it means something . value can be lifestyle. Can be a reduction in current expense. Can be an increase in Hubby's productivity. All these influence value. Thirty thousand value is different than thirty thousand cash.
 

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I would start out slow with a few or several to get your feet wet. Unless you've raised goats before they are a huge learning curve regardless of breed.
My Boers are all excellent mothers & have plenty milk to feed babies. Some don't bother weaning till 6 mo or more!
The exception was one who rejected a doeling on her first kidding.
She tried the same thing on subsequent kiddings; always trying to reject the smallest doeling. We came to an understanding on that, it was HER job to feed all kids. Working with her several times a day I would force her to take the kid & she did not get let out of that stall until I knew she was nursing her.
 
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