WHAT ARE GOATS?
A goat is a frisky, short-haired domesticated mammal with small
horns. A female goat is a doe, a male goat is a buck and young goats
are called kids. A common name for a milk goat is a nanny.
WHERE ARE GOATS PRODUCED IN BC?
Goats are raised throughout much of BC.
HOW MANY GOATS DO WE HAVE IN BC?
There are an estimated 9,000 to 10,000 goats on 900 farms in BC.
Many of these producers raise goats as pets or as a hobby, but
there are also farms where goats are raised for production purposes (i.e. milk, meat, fiber or breeding stock) as well.
HOW ARE GOATS PRODUCED?
Goats are relatively clean animals. They eat a wide variety of
plants, including types that sheep and cattle don't eat. However,
production animals feed on grass, silage, hay and grain just like cattle.
Goats need protection from coyotes, roving dogs, or even cougars & bears if they are kept on pasture. Some producers use protection dogs to keep predators at bay.
Special 1.2m fencing may be required to keep goats in. As goats
like to go around obstacles, electric fencing is sometimes used.
Many producers provide 'play areas' with things to climb to amuse
them and to prevent damaging behaviour as well.
It is important to provide extra feed for the doe during
breeding, pregnancy and nursing. An underfed doe will have problems.
The gestation period is about 150 days (145-155 days). Kids are "dropped", or
born, from January to May unless in a dairy production herd
and then the kids are born year-round. Pregnancies often result in the birth of twins, although singles or triplets can also occur.
WHAT ABOUT GOAT PRODUCTS?
There are three main uses for goats and their products: milk,
meat and fiber. Many goats are milked. The milk is used for drinking
or for cheeses. Goat milk can be made into a wide variety or cheeses, both ripened and unripened, and ranging in texture from “soft” to “hard”. Common types of goat cheese include chevre, brie, feta, tomme and cheddar.
Goat meat, called cabrito or chevron, has little fat. Some people say that it tastes
better than venison. Goats are marketed for meat at various ages, with some animals raised for specific social or religious celebrations. Some goats are raised for both meat and fiber.
Goats that are raised for their fiber are clipped or combed once or twice a year and the fiber is used by spinners and weavers. Cashmere is the soft downy undercoat most goats produce for winter insulation. Angora goats' fleece is called mohair. The adults produce 4 to 7kg of mohair a year. The goats may require shelter after being clipped.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE GOAT PRODUCTS?
To ensure a safe and wholesome product, milk must be marketed quickly. Only licensed processors do this. Some producers are processors themselves and make their own cheeses.
Meat goats are slaughtered, butchered and the meat packaged for sale. The animals must be slaughtered at a licensed facility.
The fiber can be sold “raw” to spinners and weavers or the producer can add value to the product by sorting and washing the fiber themselves.
WHAT CHALLENGES DO GOAT PRODUCERS FACE?
Currently, there is limited processing and marketing capability
and infrastructure. There is no supply management. Producers are
responsible for ensuring their own processing contract and sometimes
are even required to do marketing and delivery to stores.
Commercial goat producers must be self-reliant, innovative and
business oriented to make a profit from goat farming.
WHO'S INVOLVED IN PRODUCING GOAT PRODUCTS?
- Goat owner
- Artificial insemination workers
- Breed association workers
- Dairy Herd Improvement advisors
- Feed industry representatives
- Milk processors
- Livestock haulers
- Milking equipment suppliers
Interesting Fact About Goats:
Goats were domesticated as early as 7000 BC. They were brought
to North America, with sheep, by settlers in New France in the
Contacts and other resources: