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The Top 5 Meat Goat Breeds

Before embarking on your own meat goat raising journey, there are several factors to consider, one of those being what meat goat breed to choose. This blog post will cover the best breeds of goats for meat as well as their various attributes, both positive and negative, so you can make the right decision for your future herd and farm.

top 5 common meat goat breeds with photos of each breed of goat

Boer Goat

Originating from South Africa, the Boer goat is often considered to be the most common or quintessential meat goat – and considering their large frames and heavily muscled bodies, it’s easy to see why.

Their larger size does mean Boers might require more feed than other meat goat breeds but they’re generally very hardy and resilient, while being docile and easy to handle.

The red head and white body coloration is typical for the Boer goat breed though there are variations as well.

Learn more about the Boer goat with the American Boer Goat Association.

Boer goat in snow

Spanish Goat

Descended from goats brought over by Spanish explorers, the Spanish goat (sometimes called a wood goat or hill goat), is another meat goat breed that is often visually characterized by long, spiraling horns.

They’re extremely hardy and have great mothering instincts, though they’re less muscled and can be more difficult to handle.

As far as meat goats go, Spanish goats pretty easy to find, especially if you live in a southern state, and can develop a variety of colorations. 

Learn more about the Spanish goat through the Livestock Conservancy.

Spanish Goat with kids

Spanish Goat Photo Credit: Thank you to Bear Family Farms of Texas for permission to use this photo. You can learn more about the farm on their YouTube channel.

Savanna Goat

Also originating from South Africa, the Savanna goat is built large like its Boer goat cousin though they’re objectively more hardy and disease and parasite resistant because of the environment in which they were raised – the savanna.

Though Savanna goats growing in popularity stateside, they’re still relatively uncommon compared to other meat goat breeds and therefore have a limited genetic base.

Savanna goats are nearly all pure white in color but have distinct black skin, noses, horns and hooves.

Learn more about the Savanna goat with Cooperative Extension.

Savanna goat with kid

Savanna Goat Photo Credit: Thank you to Blue Stone Goats of Poynette, Wis., for permission to use this photo. You can learn more about their farm here.

Myotonic Goat

A meat goat breed native to North America and sometimes called the Tennessee Fainting Goat, the Myotonic goat’s most famous trait is in its name. It’s often known as a fainting goat.

When startled they will appear to fall over and faint with their muscles locking up in an episode of what’s called myotonia.

Because of this, the Myotonic goat certainly cannot be called a predator resistant breed of meat goat and they tend to be slow to mature but they are good mothers and are known for their heavily muscled bodies and tender and juicy meat.

Myotonic goats can have both short and long haired coats and can come in a wide variety of color variations.

Learn more about the Myotonic goat with the International Fainting Goat Association.

myotonic goat in woods

Kiko Goat

Originating from New Zealand, the Kiko goat is a meat goat breed growing rapidly in popularity here in the US. Boer-Kiko crosses are extremely common (it’s what I raise on my farm!) and for good reason.

Kiko goats are easy keepers, require very little extra maintenance and mature quickly with large and meaty frames. Being more active and energetic than other meat goat breeds can make them more of a challenge for first time goat owners.

Many Kiko goats have an all white appearance, but vary greatly in coloring in shades and patterns.

Learn more about the Kiko goat with the American Kiko Goat Association.

kiko buck on pasture

FAQs about meat goat breeds

How many breeds of meat goats are there?

There are about six common breeds of meat goats in the U.S. The Boer, Kiko, Myotonic, Savanna, Spanish and Texmaster.

How many breeds of goats are there?

There are over 80 breeds of goats. You can learn about the different breeds of goats on the Oklahoma State University Goat Breeds website.

What meat goat breeds are best for cold climates?

The best choice for meat goats for cold climates is not specifically the breed of goat. Instead, farmers should be purchasing meat goat breeding stock from other farms in similar climates. This is true for cold climates as well.

Additionally, goats who have cashmere characteristics in their hair coat can be advantageous for goats raised in colder weather. This is because this additional fiber gives more insulation for the goats.

Learn more about how to transition goats to winter in this article.

What breed of goat is the best for meat?

Every meat goat farmer most likely can tell you their favorite breed for meat, which will likely vary. However, the most common and popular breed of meat goat is the Boer. This is due to it’s large, meaty build.

Can you mix goat breeds?

Yes, goat breeds can be mixed. In fact there is the potential for greater positive outcomes with goat kids who are from crossed breeds. This is called heterosis, which is the increase in performance of the offspring of the purebred (single breed) parents.

Research in livestock have show increased maternal ability, reproduction, lifespan, vitality of kids, rate of gain. Learn more about hetrosis in livetock in this article from South Dakota State University.

Can different breeds of goats live together?

Yes, different breeds of goats can live together. However, goats of different genders and ages may need to be kept separate depending on the time of the year. For example, outside of breeding season, bucks are usually kept separate from the does.

Where did Boer goat originate?

Boer goats originated in South Africa in the mid-to-late 1600s. It is thought that they originated from a cross of indigenous African goats with European dairy breeds, likely Nubians.

Source: Story’s Guide to Raising Meat Goats.

Why do myotonic goats faint?

Myotonic goats faint due to what’s called “myotonia congentia,” which is a a neuromuscular condition where the goats muscles will stay contracted for a longer period of time whenever a goat may be startled. They actually don’t faint, they remain awake while their body is stiff.

Source: Story’s Guide to Raising Meat Goats.

Are myotonic goats the same as fainting goats?

Yes, myotonic goats are the same as fainting goats. They are sometimes also called Texas Wooden Legs.

Are Nubian goats meat or dairy goats?

Nubian goats are dairy goats. However, they are the most dual-purpose breed of dairy goats due to their solid built, stocky frame. They are a good choice as a dairy goat breed that can be also used for meat.

Are Nigerian Dwarf goats good for meat?

Nigerian Dwarf goats are a breed designed for dairy production. Due to their shorter size and dairy frame, which carries less muscle they aren’t the best breed for the main purpose of meat production.

However, they can still be used for meat. Some dairy goat farmers will cross-breed their Nigerian Dwarf does with a meat breed buck to produce thicker, stockier kids with the goal of being raised for meat.

Are Alpine goats goat for meat?

Alpine goats are dairy goat breed. Due to their dairy body frame, which carries less muscle they aren’t the best breed for solely meat production.

However, they can still be used for meat. Some dairy goat farmers will cross-breed their Alpine does with a meat breed buck to produce thicker, stockier kids with the goal of being raised for meat.e used for meat.

Are Angora goats good for meat?

Angora goats are raised usually as a fiber goat. They can be crossbred with other traditional meat goat breeds to product kids with more meat-breed characteristics. Angoras also usually require they be sheared 1-2 times a year.

Are Lamancha goats good for meat?

Lamancha goats are a breed designed for dairy production. With their dairy body frame they carry less muscle, making them not designed primarily for meat production.

However, they can still be used for meat. Some dairy goat farmers will cross-breed their Lamancha does with a meat breed buck to produce thicker, stockier kids with the goal of being raised for meat.

Are Pygmy goats good for meat?

Pygmy goats are not a meat goat breed.

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