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How do I Start Raising Meat Goats?

Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee

Raising meat goats can be a profitable farming venture. If you want to start raising meat goats, you should be aware that meat goats, while considered easier to care for than some meat animals, still require some skill to raise. Good breeding stock is generally considered important to raising good meat goats. Meat goats typically need good nutrition. They generally benefit from protection from predators and parasites.

If you want to start raising meat goats, you may first want to consider whether there is a market for your meat goats. Ethnic populations, including some Muslims, people from the Caribbean and Hispanics, are considered most likely to be in the market for goat meat. The costs of land and goat feed can substantially diminish your profits, depending on where you're beginning your meat goat raising enterprise. Many farmers recommend raising meat goats on uncultivated land used by larger farming operations, such as cattle farms, rather than investing in land specifically for the purpose of raising meat goats.

A young kid on a goat farm.
A young kid on a goat farm.

One of the factors you may want to consider if you would like to start farming meat goats is fencing. Fencing can help protect your goats and your investment. Traditional cattle fences are often inadequate to hold in goats. Cattle panels generally make a more efficient meat goat fence.

An electric fence with a minimum charge of 4,000 volts is generally considered effective against meat goats. Barbed wire goat fences should contain at least eight strands of evenly spaced horizontal wire. Smaller goats and kids can often slip through the gaps in many non-electrified fences.

Meat goats require good nutrition and protection from predators.
Meat goats require good nutrition and protection from predators.

Meat goats need shelter from rain, snow, and cold weather. A south-facing, open shed can provide shelter. The shed should be about 4 feet (1.2 meters) to 6 feet (1.8 meters) high at the rear eave and 6 feet (1.8 meters) to 8 feet (2.4 meters) high at the front eave. Each goat should be able to have 5 square feet (1.5 square meters) to itself.

To ensure the success of your meat goat enterprise, you may want to choose the healthiest possible goats for your breeding stock. Meat goats should generally be purchased from reputable goat breeders. Choose younger goats with shiny coats and sturdy horns, teeth, and udders. Goat breeders can typically tell you how many kids their goats produce and how many of those kids survive to adulthood.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best breeds of goats for meat production?

Boer goats are renowned for their excellent meat quality and fast growth rate, making them a top choice for meat production. Kiko and Spanish goats are also popular due to their hardiness and good foraging ability. According to the American Boer Goat Association, Boer goats can reach market weight faster than other breeds, which is a key factor for profitability.

How much land do I need to start raising meat goats?

The amount of land required for raising meat goats varies depending on the quality of pasture and the management system. Generally, you can sustain 6 to 8 goats per acre on good quality pasture. However, if you're practicing intensive management, you might need less space. It's crucial to ensure adequate forage and space to prevent overgrazing and maintain animal health.

What should I feed my meat goats to ensure proper growth?

Meat goats require a balanced diet consisting of forages like grass, hay, and browse, along with a commercial goat feed that provides essential nutrients. Providing a mineral supplement is also important for optimal growth. According to the National Research Council, goats need specific nutrients such as protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals for proper development and weight gain.

How do I manage the health and well-being of my meat goats?

Regular health management practices include vaccinations, deworming, and hoof trimming. It's essential to establish a relationship with a veterinarian who can provide guidance on health care and disease prevention. Monitoring your goats for signs of illness and maintaining clean, dry housing will also contribute to their well-being. The American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners offers guidelines on health management protocols.

What kind of shelter and fencing do I need for meat goats?

Goats require a shelter that protects them from extreme weather conditions and predators. A simple three-sided structure can suffice. Fencing should be sturdy and at least 4 feet high to prevent escapes and deter predators. Electric fencing is often recommended for its effectiveness in containing goats and deterring predators, as noted by the USDA National Agricultural Library.

How do I ensure my meat goats are market-ready?

To ensure your meat goats are market-ready, focus on achieving the optimal weight and condition for your target market. This typically involves reaching a live weight of 60 to 80 pounds for most markets. Regular weighing and body condition scoring can help you monitor progress. Additionally, understanding market demands and seasonal price trends is crucial for timing sales for maximum profitability.

Discussion Comments


@irontoenail - That's one reason I'd say that raising goats of milk is completely different to raising them for meat and people need to be aware of which would suit them better. I know more than one person who bought goats with the intention of eventually putting them in the freezer and ended up thinking of them like members of the family. And I know people who bought goats intending to milk them who ended up failing miserably because they didn't have the time and effort to put into the enterprise.


@pastanaga - I just want to point out that the fact that goats will eat anything can be a good thing and a bad thing. When raising goats for meat it's usually a good thing because it means you can get good conversion rates on bad grazing land. But it also means they could potentially eat something poisonous that other animals would avoid.

Basically you get out of this whatever you put in. If you're hoping to buy a handful of goats and just let them loose on scrub land without taking much care of them you aren't going to end up with much return.


Do a lot of research before buying your first goats. They can be an excellent animal for smallholders to raise, but they are sensitive, creative and intelligent and that makes them very difficult to contain without using the proper techniques. You can fence them in the same way you would fence in sheep or cattle. They will just climb or leap over an ordinary fence.

And they will nibble on anything that looks interesting in their vicinity. They aren't quite up to eating tin cans like they do in cartoons, but that particular misconception comes from their habit of eating the paper labels from tin cans if they get hold of them.

This is what makes them so good to help clear land, because they will eat plants too thorny or tough for other animals.

Raising meat goats can be profitable and satisfying, but it's not easy and you need to be able to take care of the animals before you start.

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    • A young kid on a goat farm.
      By: Gerhard Seybert
      A young kid on a goat farm.
    • Meat goats require good nutrition and protection from predators.
      By: BVVBOR
      Meat goats require good nutrition and protection from predators.