December 22, 2004 | By: Aimee Heald-Nielson
LEXINGTON, Ky.

Because of an increasing presence of meat goats on the market, demand is up and farmers are receiving a higher price than any other time. Kentucky goat producers saw the highest price for slaughter goats in the country in 2004.

“Prices have been as high as $1.55 per pound and only as low as $1.09 for the Kentucky graded sales,” said Terry Hutchens, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Extension associate for goat production. “Unlike many livestock commodities, supply and demand for goat almost totally dominates the price of goat.” 

He said ethnic holidays can have some effect, but the number of goats available for the market is the key in price forecasting.

Supply is dictated by several factors including breeding season, feeding systems, forage availability and management decisions. Goats are bred from June through January and kid from November of the current year through June of the following year. Because of this breeding and kidding cycle, the most common time to market goats is April through December.

“Under conventional management schemes, forage is plentiful in the early part of the production year and then summer heat and dry weather take a toll on un-rejuvenated pastures,” Hutchens said. “Kids are sold in mid-summer on low-price markets because of poor forage availability and frequent deaths due to overgrazed, parasite-infested pastures.”

Hutchens said one reason for this type of marketing tactic is that producers don’t remove the buck from the herd, or don’t remove him often enough.

“All breeding, kidding and marketing responsibilities have been passed on to the herd buck,” he said. “Due to the previous breeding and kidding cycle, each year’s market plan, as well as the market price outlook, is virtually the same as the last year’s.”

Hutchens said producers need to remember the buck’s main job is to impregnate the does and that production and marketing strategies should be up to the producer.

Breeding and kidding times create a national seasonal effect on the supply of goats and the price of slaughter goats.

“There are fewer slaughter goats on the market early in the year and as kids are taken off pastures in Texas and the southeast, large supplies of winter-born kids hit the markets in June and supplies remain high until the end of October,” Hutchens said. “At this point, goat supplies decline and prices increase. Holiday meat demands also impact the low supply frenzy after October and continue to impact price well into the spring of the following year.”
 

Contact: 

Writer: Aimee D. Nielson 859-257-4736, ext. 267
Contact: Terry Hutchens 859-257-2465