April 9, 2004 | By: Aimee D. Heald
LEXINGTON, Ky.

When the U.S. Census of Agriculture data are released in June, Kentucky will likely be in the top three goat producing states in the nation. More and more farmers are adding goat enterprises to their farms, and new county and regional goat associations are popping up around the commonwealth.

University of Kentucky Agricultural Economist Lee Meyer believes the economics behind goat production is solid. 

“Texas is by far the largest goat producing state with Kentucky and North Carolina following behind,” he said. “While we’ll have a better idea which is the larger when the Census data are released, that’s just for bragging rights. The bottom line is that goats fit Kentucky farms quite well and, for that reason, are an increasingly important enterprise.”

Goats, by nature, are browsers. They prefer brush, weeds and woody plants. They will even choose Kudzu over low-growth pasture. Usually goats that browse are healthier than goats eating purchased feed or grazing on pasture, Meyer said.

“From an economic perspective, moderate levels of productivity on extensive systems tend to be more profitable than intensive goat systems using high levels of purchased inputs,” he added.
Meyer said that extensive systems are those with about one nanny per acre. Intensive systems may have stocking rates at high as three does per acre, but depend more on purchased inputs. 

While most people don’t normally see goat meat on display at the grocery store, it is a popular and commonly consumed meat in the state. Meyer said most ethnic groups, aside from Western European, consume goat meat and that’s a big reason why goats are a viable enterprise.

“We estimate that about half of the goat meat consumed in the United State is imported,” he said. “That opens the door for domestic production to replace imports if Kentucky and other states can produce the right type and quality of product at a competitive price.”

Kentucky goat producers use three marketing systems – livestock markets, direct selling and through Kentucky Department of Agriculture special, graded sales. Several conventional livestock markets have weekly goat sales. Lee City, London and Mayfield are among the most popular markets, each selling between 150 and 300 goats each week. Market news for Kentucky, as well as the key New Holland, Pa. and San Angelo, Texas sales, is available from KDA’s Kentucky Livestock and Grain Market Report found on their Web site or by calling (502) 564-4896.

Contact: 

Writer: Aimee D. Heald 859-257-4736, ext.267
Source: Lee Meyer 859-257-7272, ext. 228