Extension@YourService ~ Meat Goats

— Written By and last updated by Leeann Crump

Richmond County is well known for its meat goat production, particularly the South African Boer Goat. There are over 100 farms that have an interest in meat goats in Richmond and surrounding counties. Twenty-five of our 4-H youth from the Richmond County 4-H Livestock Club showed goats in the 4-H Farm Credit Showmanship Circuit and the NC State Fair this year. Over 50 local businesses sponsor the Richmond County 4-H Goat Show. Iron Horse, a local auction company, along with NC Farm Bureau sponsored $7500 for a market supplement for the youth that showed wethers (castrated goats) at the State Fair. Iron Horse also purchased the reserve champion wether at the State Fair for $4100. Meat goats are a big deal in our county!

The South African Boer Goat was introduced into the United States in the 1990’s. Since then, the breed has been gaining a lot of popularity because there is an increased demand for goat meat. This is because of the growing population of ethnic groups that have been moving to North Carolina and other parts of the United States. These ethnic groups have a preference for goat meat in their diet since goat meat is the most widely eaten meat in the world.

The foundation of the meat goat industry depends on the natural resources that we have. Richmond County has the land, water, forage, and brush base to support goats. Many farmers have fenced-in wood and weedy areas to help control brush such as blackberries. Goats have really small mouths that they are able to work around thorns in order to pick off the very nutritious leaves. They like to climb and jump to eat leaves off trees. Most cattle farmers have enough pasture so that they can raise 1-2 goats per cow with no additional cost. This is because the cattle prefer to eat the grass, and the goats prefer weeds. Goats are able to eat and digest many weeds such as pigweed that is poisonous to other animal species.

To help with educational topics and networking opportunities for meat goat farmers in our area, Richmond County Cooperative Extension hosts the Adult Meat Goat Club every first Monday of the month during the fall and winter months at 6:30 p.m. Topics throughout the year include fencing, nutrition, hoof trimming, deworming, forages, and kidding management. The next meeting in December will be on Monday, December 2nd and will be a joint meeting with the 4-H Livestock Club. It will be a covered dish meeting where members can learn about showmanship opportunities for our youth who are the future of the meat goat industry. For additional information on the Adult Meat Goat Club, meat goat production, or Livestock, please contact Tiffanee Conrad, Agricultural Extension Agent at 997-8255 or email at tiff_conrad@ncsu.edu.