March 9, 2015

Raising goats adds a fun and interesting element to any farm, but it can also be profitable. Adding goat meat to your farm’s offerings can expand your customer base and increase your marketing opportunities. Keep in mind, though, that selling goat meat might take some creativity and persistence to pay off. The number of goats raised for meat has risen rapidly since the 1980s and will only continue to increase as goat meat gains popularity. By planning ahead and taking time to cultivate the right market, goat meat can become an important source of revenue for your farm.

1. Think Globally

Of all red meat consumed globally, 63 percent is goat. For this reason, much of the goat market in the United States has been targeted at ethnic populations longing for a taste of home. Advertising goat availability in local ethnic communities, community centers and places of business is a good place to start your efforts, but keep in mind that goat has potential beyond this traditional market.

2. Promote Health Benefits

Goat is a healthier meat option, with 50 percent less fat than beef and 40 percent less saturated fat than chicken. It also has more iron than beef, pork or lamb.

In addition, goat meat is a perfect option for consumers concerned about hormones in their food because it’s illegal to use hormones to promote goat growth. Consumers might not be aware of the legal regulations surrounding growth hormones and meat, so take time to educate them about federal regulations, as well as your farm’s standards.

3. Provide Recipes

Providing good goat meat recipes is essential in encouraging your customers to try goat. The more knowledge you can share with your customers, the more likely they are to attempt to cook an unfamiliar meat. Experiment with recipes at home to see what works best with your particular inventory, and print up your favorites to share with customers at market or via your farm website.

As a general rule of thumb, popular lamb cuts are also desirable for goats, so goat meat can usually be substituted into lamb recipes. However, because of goat meat’s extremely low fat content, recipes that include a lot of moisture, such as braises and stews, are most desirable when preparing goat because slow cooking is essential to achieving tender meat. Preparing goat meat is also a great way to try out international cuisines, particularly those from the Middle East or Caribbean.

4. Sample, Sample, Sample

The idea of eating goat might seem too foreign for many of your current customers. You can help win them over with the unique and delicious flavor of prepared goat by offering samples of your favorite recipes at market. (Before you do this, be sure you have any certifications or licenses necessary for sampling at your farmers’ market.)

If you don’t sell at a farmers’ market, host a meal on your farm for CSA customers and others. This is a great opportunity for your customers to taste your products—not just goat—in their best light, because you can prepare them using recipes that you know have a wow factor.

5. Seek Out Wholesale Markets

If you can’t drum up business for goat meat with your retail customers, think about offering goat as a wholesale product. Many upscale restaurants now feature goat on their menus, and if they don’t, the lack of a consistent, local supplier might be the thing holding them back. Ethnic restaurants are another potential source for goat meat sales.

6. Skip the Butcher

While USDA-inspected, prepackaged meat cuts might work best for large animals, including cows and pigs, consider selling whole goats right off the farm. Many ethnic populations in particular might prefer slaughtering and preparing the animal whole as part of their religious or holiday celebrations.

7. Share Your Goat Story

As more and more customers become concerned with how their meat is raised, it’s important to let potential customers know how your farm treats your goats. Goats thrive in a free-range environment and with a minimum of chemical inputs and processed foods. It’s incredibly important to emphasize the sustainable and humane way your farm is raising goats, through online sharing as well as frequent farm tours open to the public.

While opening up a market for a new farm product can seem daunting, don’t let it overwhelm you. If you have developed a personal relationship of trust and loyalty with your customers, they’ll be eager to try any product you have to offer. Education is key to winning over any skeptics. It is also important to believe in your own product—if you love to eat goat meat, your customers will, too!

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