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Demand for Goat Meat Grows in US

Experts suggest some things to consider before starting production. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

American farmers are raising more goats for meat these days. The Department of Agriculture says the United States had about three million meat goats in July. That was a five percent increase from July of last year.

Goat meat is high in protein and lower in unhealthy, saturated fat than many other meats. Even so, the industry is small compared to chicken, beef and pork. But immigration has brought more of a taste for goat to America from all over the world.

In some cases, people who are not even Muslim buy goat at halal markets because other local stores might not sell it.

Experts from the University of Illinois offer some questions for people to consider if they are thinking about raising goats.

First of all, do you understand that goats are like other farm animals -- there always has to be someone to care for them?

How much land do you have available? And how good is it? The experts say poor ground may support two to four goats on half a hectare. Better grassland can support six to eight.

If goats and cattle share the land, one or two goats can be added for each cow. The goats will eat weeds and other plants that cattle do not like.

Do you have buildings for the number of female goats you plan to keep during winter? Each doe will need about two square meters of space. The experts say an open, cold barn that is dry is better than a closed, warm barn where the air is wet.

Do you have the equipment to clean barns and to harvest hay to feed your goats? Or will you get someone else to do it, or buy the hay?

Do you have the right fences and all the other equipment needed to care for goats?

The experts at the University of Illinois say a profitable business in goat meat may take three to five years to establish. And, of course, there are no guarantees.

American farmers commonly raise Boer goats, native to South Africa. They also raise wild goats from Australia and New Zealand. Some raise Nubians, which provide both milk and meat, or Pygmy goats, which are small.

Spanish goats are raised mostly in central Texas. And then there is the Tennessee wooden-leg goat, one of several names for an unusual animal. When frightened, the goat may fall over as if its legs were suddenly made of wood. The attack usually lasts for less than thirty seconds and then the goat gets back on its feet.

And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. To learn more about goats, go to I’m Faith Lapidus.