Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
Onion Creek Ranch "Chevon, cabrito, goat... No matter what you call it, it is the HEALTHY red meat™
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This article is written in the first person because I want to speak directly to meat-goat producers who are wanting to purchase quality breeding stock. There already exists an article on what to look for when purchasing meat goats on www.tennesseemeatgoats.com on the Articles page. This article's purpose is to tell you what to avoid.

Most of you don't know what you need to be looking for -- and neither do your neighbors. This is nothing to be ashamed of; we all have to begin somewhere. No one could have been more of a "greenhorn" than I was in January 1990 when I bought my first goat. I never owned a pet until I was 42 years old. I lived in a townhouse in Houston, Texas and sold real estate. If I can learn about goats, so can you. That you are reading this article is an indication that you wish to educate yourself about meat goats. If my comments apply to you, then learn from them and don't be offended. If you already understand some of them, then pass these concepts on to other goat raisers. We need to share information. These guidelines are not breed specific but rather apply to all meat breeds of goats. Detailed articles on most of these topics can be found on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.

1) Show goats are not meat goats. If you wish to raise commercial animals or breeding stock, stay away from show goats and their producers. This is a totally different market.

2) Determine your market. The type and breed of goat that you buy should be suited for the market for which you need to produce animals. Example: If your market is Hispanic, then kids that will achieve 70-80 pounds liveweight in three months are not what you want; they will be too big for that market and you'll lose money.

3) Don't buy based upon what your neighbor is buying. Don't assume that he knows more than you do. He usually doesn't -- even if he has been raising goats longer than you have. Don't be a lemming. Because you don't know a lot about meat goats doesn't mean that you are stupid; educate yourself. Good sources of information exist at no cost to you.

4) If you aren't on the Internet, get on it. There is both good and bad information on the Internet and you will have lots of information to read and evaluate. Use your common sense to question what you read and challenge information that doesn't sound right to you. Join a meat-goat discussion/education group and "lurk and learn." My free meat-goat education group ChevonTalk on Yahoogroups has been on the Net for over a decade. ChevonTalk has over 2100 subscribers and most folks silently monitor posts until they have a goat health, management, or nutrition problem. Avoid "chat" groups that focus on people rather than on goats. Smart people talk about ideas and facts; petty and ignorant people talk about other folks. You have better things to do with your time. Stick with information-based groups. Choose your mentors carefully.

5) Exhaustive studies producing useful information on goat nutrition and growth have not been done. An organized meat-goat industry is still in its infancy in this country. Information collection studies on topics like feed conversion, ADG (average daily gain), and live-animal pasture testing are new to goats and some of the studies are flawed. This kind of information has long been available in the cattle and sheep industries, but goats are the "new ruminants on the block." Too few research studies have been done on goats to produce much useful data to date. Take what you read, especially in advertisements, with a "grain of salt." Numbers may be incomplete or improperly arrived at; vital factors could have been omitted -- not necessarily deliberately, but still affecting the outcome. Any industry has its share of people who will manipulate the numbers in order to sell their animals. Ask questions. If it seems too be good to be true, it usually is.

6) Adaptability and new genetics/bloodlines. These concepts are either unknown to some goat producers or are misunderstood or ignored. Some of you are are trying to raise goats in unsuitable climates and conditions -- too wet, for example. Looking for a quick fix, you might believe that the solution to adaptability issues is to buy goats from within the same geographic area that are (supposedly) already adapted. This can work up to a point, and that point is this: When goats are brought into a new area, people tend to buy from each other, resulting in interbreeding that brings the bloodlines too close/narrow. You need to bring into your herd both better meat goats as well as new genetics to avoid the problems that naturally come with linebreeding (too often resulting in inbreeding) meat goats. Changing breeds without changing management conditions will not solve your problems. Highly adapted hardy goats when put into overly-managed conditions will lose their adaptability within one or two generations. I repeat: Changing breeds without changing management conditions will not solve your problems.

I continue to be amazed at what some people consider to be a quality meat goat. I see pictures of goats advertised for sale in national publications that I would not let set foot on my ranch. You cannot develop quality genetics without going outside your area to obtain new and better gene pools. There are ways to handle adaptability. Learn them and use them so that good genetics do not elude you. There is no "quick fix" to anything when raising goats.

Meat Goat Mania

Important! Please Read This Notice!

All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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