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Hi I'm Leslie

I'm a full-time farmer in Western Wisconsin where I raise meat goats and sheep on pasture using regenerative and rotational grazing practices.

I created this website because
I had so many people reaching out, both locally and beyond, wanting to know more about how I was raising and marketing goats.

I also recognized that it IS so hard to find information in this space. I wanted to share what I've learned along the way and reduce your time searching the depths of the internet.


Texas Extension Report: Growing demand for meat goats

There’s growing demand for meat goats, according to a recent report put out by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. The report [found here] looked at the U.S. industry as a whole, but focused on herd numbers and livestock market trends in Texas.

The state has a fairly large segment of the goat meat industry in terms of raising meat goats and also has several stockyards that sell the largest number of meat goats for consumption in the country. Since the USDA doesn’t track meat goat industry numbers as extensively as other livestock, this report is probably one of the better representations of the current pulse of the meat goat industry.

Here are a few takeaways from the report, along with my own thoughts and reflections. If you’ve heard me speak about our industry before, these are probably statistics or points you’re not unfamiliar with:

Goat meat industry numbers

  • The median herd size is 20 head of meat goats, according to a 2019 USDA survey referenced in the Texas report. (Note: the median is the middle point between a set of numbers, versus an average). This number surprises me a little bit, but yet I can see how it may be true. I know of many farmers raising meat goat herds at much larger sizes. However, there are likely just as many or if not more people just getting into goats on smaller acreage or scale, simply because you can raise goats with less space. 
  • While Texas goat inventory numbers were referenced in the report, the USDA annual Sheep and Goat Report states the inventory for meat goats in 2024 is 1.95 million head, while in 2023 it was 2.0 million (2024). The USDA’s annual inventory of goats (included with sheep) includes data that’s self-reported by farmers and ranchers raising goats. This is true of the earlier survey referencing the herd size. Given that goats require a smaller footprint of land, are smaller in stature than other livestock, and there are fewer commercially focused meat goat producer associations, I wouldn’t be surprised if the herd size and even the total inventory numbers of goats in general reported annually are not close to the actual number of hooves on the ground. 
  • About 10,000-12,000 goats per week are processed in larger USDA facilities, says Jake Thorne, Ph. D., AgriLife Extension sheep and goat specialist. USDA isn’t fully tracking numbers of meat goats being harvested at processors/butchers, especially with smaller facilities and custom/non inspected facilities. This means numbers aren’t comprehensive.
  • Since the Texas AgriLife report is in the context primarily of livestock markets (sales barns or stockyards), it’s important to note the USDA is only selectively reporting and tracking goat market reports. Specifically it produces weekly market reports for market goats in 3 states and linking to the market reports in 20 states. Market trends, regionally, or even nationally are lacking. Texas does give the best snapshot, given the larger numbers of goats raised, size of livestock markets, and university and extension faculty/staff focused on the goat industry. However, regionally, there will be differing trends in consumer preferences, livestock buyer preferences, goat availability, price trends, and other factors. 
  • The Texas AgriLife report indicated market prices have trended upwards to an average of $3.50 per pound from $2 average in the last 10 years. This price trend is likely due to the increase in demand with consumers and continued increase in diversity in our country. With increase of diversity, so does the increase in demand for a more diverse selection of dietary preferences and flavors.

While these are the numbers we have to evaluate the current meat goat market, it does make me wonder what the full context of the industry is if we had a more representative picture of herd numbers, processing, sales, and even direct market sales data. Unfortunately, this will probably our industry’s reality until we have more strength banding together as commercial meat goat producers seeking comparable assessment of the industry as with other livestock species from the USDA. Additionally, a lack of a marketing board also slows down the effort for building continued demand and awareness with consumers, which helps fuel the market outlook for goat meat as a whole.

Market opportunities for meat goat farmers/ranchers

Even though as meat goat farmers we hear recommendations to sell our animals during a wide range of cultural holidays that are usually in the fall, Thorne says “he’s not convinced producers should target marketing their animals [during this time] because a significant number of animals are marketed at these times.” 

Given that goat meat is hard for consumers to find in grocery stores, there’s obviously market demand and opportunity for goat meat. Since the infrastructure in the go-to-market distribution and sales approach is very underdeveloped compared to other livestock species, there’s an opportunity for farmers and ranchers to close that gap themselves.

This can be done by selling directly to consumers or working with wholesale buyers or distributors themselves. However, it does take quite a bit of effort since these farmers are not only selling the meat, but often adding the task of building consumer awareness for goat meat. In other areas of livestock, this latter component is often happening with a federal check off/marketing program, which does not exist for meat goats.  If you’re interested in learning more about direct marketing opportunities with goats, take a look at my Goat Meat Marketing Academy

Read the full Texas AgriLife Extension report: Demand for meat goats continues to grow by Susan Himes here.

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