A goat is a goat…? WRONG!
by Robert Spencer
old notion "a goat is a goat" does not apply any more. There are
two primary categories, meat goats and dairy goats. While a few breeds of
goats are raised for their fiber, their numbers are very few.
goats are generally not dairy goats, but many dairy goats end up as meat
goats. People with extended backgrounds (old people) will tell about
"back in the day" a goat was a goat and all they were good for
is cleaning brush. Yes, a farm family might have owned a dairy goat, but
those families were very few and were probably considered
"different;" times have not changed much.
goats have been domesticated for thousands of years, throughout the
goats and dairy goat farms are sparsely scattered across the United
States yet are probably more common today than they ever have been.
These days, many "cottage farms" raise dairy goats to provide
their own milk and make their own cheeses. Fresh goat milk makes the
best tasting fudge and ice cream. People who are lactose intolerant can
generally drink goat milk without any problem. A good dairy goat will
produce approximately a gallon of milk a day.
of the more common breeds of dairy goats include: Alpines, Nubians, La
Manchas, and Saanens. On our farm, the goat milk my wife gathers from
spring through fall is used in making soap. What she now makes is
basically the old fashioned lard and lye soap except goat milk and other
fixed and essential oils are mixed in. Rumor has it Egyptian royalty
bathed in goat milk to keep their skin soft and young looking. After
four years of using the soap, my wife thinks I have begun to feel a
little bit royal.
goat meat has been consumed for as long as goats have existed, there is
a breed of goat that originated in South Africa which has become very
popular in the United States, the Boer Goat. Yes, brush goats, myotonic
(Tennessee Fainting) goats, miniature goats, and dairy goats are used
for their meat; but Boer Goats are to the goat industry what Angus
Cattle are to the beef industry. They are visible through much of the
countryside, with their distinct white bodies and dark brown heads. Boer
Goats were brought into the United States in the early 1990s; thanks to
their meaty carcass, rapid growth, and distinctive appearance their
popularity has skyrocketed.
recent years, other less easily recognizable "meat breeds" of
goats such as the Kiko and Savannah Goat have caught the attention of a
few goat producers, but the Boer Goat dominates the goat industry.
Buyers seeking meat goats and ethnic groups that prefer goat meat
generally choose Boer Goats over other breeds of goats.
the United States, many people of non-Caucasian backgrounds given the
opportunity will choose goat meat over any form of meat. Goat meat is
popular in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, S. E. Asia, Mexico
and South America. Goat meat is the most consumed red meat in the World.
Consuming goat meat is healthier for us than beef or chicken. Processed
correctly, the taste of goat meat falls between beef and venison.
that you have a better understanding about the goat industry, I hope
those of you unfamiliar with goats will have a new found appreciation
for why we goat producers enjoy raising goats. For goat lovers there are
goats and there are breeds of goats. When looking out over my pastures
and seeing those stocky white goat bodies with their dark brown heads
and knowing the history of goats gives me great satisfaction. Despite
that all of them may look alike to the novice, each of my breeding stock
have names and as much personality as a human.
Spencer is Agribition Center Facilities Manager at Alabama A&M