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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1) Don't buy goats before determining 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 70-75 pounds liveweight in three months are not what you want; they will be too big for that market and you'll lose money. You may discover that there is no market for meat goats in your area.

2) 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 little to no cost to you. You may find that you want to introduce new breeds and new genetics into your area and get a "leg up" on your competition.

3) Don't believe all the hype you hear about how easy it is to raise goats and the quick money you can make. Goats are not easy to raise unless high mortality doesn't concern you. Much misinformation has led to lots of bad management. An organized meat-goat industry is still in its infancy in this country. Double-blind studies offering useful statistics on goat nutrition and growth are limited. Studies on feed conversion, ADG (average daily gain), and live-animal pasture testing are new to goats and some of the studies are flawed. Even some university studies may be tainted by financial contributions from special interest groups that desire a certain outcome. (Think of the global warming/climate change hoaxes that have been reported recently.) So-called pasture tests consistently ignore the home field advantage of local goats and do not provide time for goats imported from other areas to ADAPT to the environment into which they've been placed for testing. 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. 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 products. Ask questions. If it seems too be good to be true, it usually is.

4) Don't believe that good genetics will trump bad management. Some of you are trying to raise goats in unsuitable climates and conditions -- too wet and/or too crowded, 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: When goats are brought into a new area, people tend to buy from each other, resulting in interbreeding that brings bloodlines too close. You need to bring into your herd better meat goats as well as new genetics to avoid the problems that occur when meat goats are linebred. Highly adapted hardy goats when put into overly-managed conditions will lose their adaptability within a few generations. Changing breeds without changing management conditions will not solve your problems.

5) Don't assume you can get good information about goats from friends, neighbors, teachers, universities, or even veterinarians. Oftentimes the best information about goats comes from knowledgeable producers. But there is both good and bad information on the Internet and you will have lots to read and evaluate. Use your common sense to question 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 since 1998. ChevonTalk has over 3000 subscribers and most folks silently monitor posts until they have a goat health, management, or nutrition problem. MeatGoatMania, my on-line magazine, is on Yahoogroups, is free, and is published mid-month. 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) Don't believe that show goats are 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.

I continue to be amazed at what some people consider to be a quality meat goat. I see pictures of goats advertised for sale that I would be embarrassed to own. You cannot develop quality genetics without going outside your area to obtain new and better gene pools. Learn how to manage goats to help them maximize their adaptability so that good genetics do not elude you. There is no quick fix to anything when raising goats. If it is cheap or easy, it doesn't work with goats.

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 uninformed than I was in January 1990 when I bought my first goat. I never owned an animal of any kind 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. If you already understand some of them, then pass this information on to other goat raisers. These guidelines 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.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, ONION CREEK RANCH, Texas 12/7/14

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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