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Small Ruminant Youth Programs

 

Club Goats

Dramatic growth in meat goat numbers has taken place in the Southeastern U.S. over the past 20 years. This growth filtered over into the junior livestock program as today meat goats are added as project animals to teach life skills to young people. This addition has created a demand for show quality club goats to be used in the junior livestock program. Market goats can be of any breed or cross breed of goat with the Boer crosses being the most preferred. The opportunity to create a market and provide a service to young people could never be better for goat breeders. Market goats were included in the Mississippi 4-H Livestock Program in 1999 at the district show level.

The Dixie National Round-Up Show in February is the most important show for market goat exhibitors in Mississippi. Market Meat Goats were added to Dixie National Junior Roundup in 2001, with 67 head exhibited and the goats were included in the Sale of Junior Champions at Dixie National in 2002. The Grand Champion sold for $2,862 and the Reserve Grand Champion sold for $2,400. Today all eight division champions are eligible for the sale as well as the champion MS Bred market goat. A commercial meat goat doe show has been added and additional premiums and awards are earned on MS Bred goats in the State Fair and Dixie National Junior Round Up shows. Today each exhibitor is allowed to show three head of market goats at Round Up provided one is MS Bred. Exhibitors can show up to six head of commercial does at Round Up.

The commercial meat goat industry in Mississippi is growing with all classes of goats bringing extremely good prices. By industry standards, commercial market goats are ready for harvest at a weight somewhere from 40 to 100 pounds depending on the targeted market, with highest prices usually paid at the 60 to 80 pound weight range. Prices may vary based on size, breed type, sex, condition and weight. As long as production continues to fall below demand, the meat goat industry will remain viable.

Extra income derived from club goat sales is usually above expected income for any traditional market goat enterprise. Most club goat prospects will sell from $200 to $500 per head (or more) at 8 to 10 weeks of age depending on quality. Extra value is dependant upon the demand for quality genetics that can provide a project animal which will last for the duration of the show year. Wethers (castrated males) or does (females) are eligible to show at the Dixie National Junior Round-Up market goat show, but market goats must be disbudded or have no more horn growth than 1 ½” above the skull. Does can only show in one show (either market or commercial doe). Does showing in the commercial meat goat doe show are allowed to have horns.

For information on Mississippi Club Goat Association Membership go to http://msclubgoat.com/

 

Mississippi Bred Goat Program

The Mississippi Bred Goat Program is administered by the Mississippi Club Goat Association. This program was established to reward exhibitors for showing MS Bred goats. Breeders must purchase tags for each goat they intend to nominate for awards. (Forms are available from MCGA for tag purchase as well as replacement tags.) This money goes into a fund to be paid out to exhibitors based upon placing in the shows. Mississippi Club Goat Association pays premiums in the classes and rewards Champions from this fund. All money received from the sale of MS Bred ear tags each year is given back to exhibitors as an additional premium or award. MS Bred ear tags must be in the ear of the nominated goat prior to September 1. This is to insure that the goat has a tag at the time of retinal imaging for proper identification. For information on Mississippi Club Goat Association MS Bred Program go to http://msclubgoat.com.

Junior Meat Goat Program Overview

  1. Market meat goats should be ready for harvest in terms of condition and arrive at their terminal show (Dixie National) at an ideal market weight range of 60 to 100 pounds to be competitive and to fit within industry standards.
  2. For the Dixie National shows in February, a March/April born goat should meet ideal weight if carrying a high percent Boer influence. A February/March born kid may work better when there is less Boer influence genetics.
  3. Ideally a market meat goat should not have shed the temporary incisors (milk teeth) prior to harvest or their final market show. A commercial meat doe kid must have retained their milk teeth or have no permanent incisors visible at the District show.
  4. Both wether and doe kids are eligible to show in the market meat goat shows in Mississippi. However, the same doe kid cannot be shown in both the market and the commercial meat doe shows.
  5. Market meat goats were added to the 4-H Livestock Program in 1999 at District level shows, and then added to the Dixie National Junior Roundup in 2001. A commercial meat doe show was added to Dixie National for 2009.

Market meat goats and commercial meat does can be of any breed or cross breed of goat with the Boer cross being the most preferred by meat goat exhibitors.

Common Meat Goat Questions and Answers

  1. What is a male goat called? - The male goat is called a Buck. Some may refer to a buck as a Billy or Billy goat. Unlike cartoons, goats do not eat tin cans! Six mature goats can graze on the same area as one cow on native Mississippi pasture.
  2. What is a female goat called? - A female goat is called a doe. Sometimes referred to as a nanny, but properly as a Doe. A doe will normally produce between one to three kids per kidding. Kidding is the process of giving birth to babies, known as kids. Kids are normally born in the spring of the year. Goats can kid twice per year under ideal conditions. However, most producers kid only once per year.
  3. What products come from goats? - Major items goats provide include meat, milk, cheese, and hide to be used for gloves and boots.
  4. What is a Market Goat? - Any goat that is produced for meat and of proper market weight (typically 60 to 80 pounds is ideal) is a market goat. Any breed can be a market goat; even dairy breeds. However, most market goats today are part Boer for the added growth, performance, and muscle.
  5. What is a Club Goat? - A goat that is produced especially for the 4-H or FFA exhibitor to show for the entire show year. These goats are genetically engineered to peak within a 60- to 100-pound weight range while exhibiting tremendous muscle, structural correctness, length and depth of body, high percentage of hind saddle, a combination of style and balance, and proper condition or finish.
  6. What is a Boer goat? - The Boer goat was developed in South Africa as a breed meant solely for meat production.  It is known for rapid weight gain and heavy muscling. Since the Boer goat was selectively improved for its efficient meat production, the addition of a Boer buck to a commercial meat goat herd can improve the meat characteristics of the offspring.
  7. What is the gestation period for goats? (How long does it take for a doe to have kids after breeding?) - Goats will kid on average around 150 days; 70 to 80% of gestations will range between 147 to 153 days. Additionally, estrus periods run at about 20-day intervals. Females will normally produce from one to three kids (babies) per kidding depending on condition and genetics.
  8. What grazing density is recommended for meat goats? - A good rule of thumb would be six mature goats equal one cow on native or improved pasture or 10 goats equal one cow on browse or brushy areas.
  9. How often should I deworm and with what products? - It is recommended that a strategic, mid-winter treatment be implemented. Other treatments should be coordinated with pasture management and justified by fecal egg counts. There are only three compounds approved for use in small ruminants; Ivomec, TBZ, and Tramisol or Levasol (trade names). It is recommended to rotate products annually or when resistance develops. 
  10. What is flushing and why should I do it? - Flushing is the process of providing the doe with a high-energy feed prior to breeding in order to produce twins or triplets at kidding.  If good management practices are followed such as flushing, kid crops can be increased substantially. Providing supplemental feed 45 days prior to breeding and continued for 45 days after breeding provides the doe with the extra energy necessary to increase conception rates and provide maximum kidding potential.
  11. What is ketosis and how can I cure it? - The female gives a lot of her energy to produce milk for the kid. A chemical imbalance occurs that can kill her quickly. Watch the doe for signs of stress or lowered energy about a week before to a week after kidding as this is the most prevalent time for this condition to exist. If the female appears weak during this time, the therapy is simple and can save her life. A mature doe will need approximately 60cc of Propylene Glycol in a drench form three times per day until symptoms cease. In a tight, Karo syrup and water will work.  This gives the animal some simple sugar into the system to restore a balance for lost energy during the kidding process.

Small Ruminant Livestock Educational Video Presentations

Educational videos and slides on market goat evaluation, selection, and showmanship are available on the Mississippi State University Extension Service small ruminant website. Click on the links below to view these videos and slides.

Market Goat Evaluation and Selection Video and PowerPoint Presentation

Market Goat Showmanship Video and PowerPoint Presentation

Mississippi Disease and Disaster Preparedness Program

Youth can be part of the solution to protect the health of Mississippi's livestock herds. It is very important that Mississippi goat and sheep owners and managers move forward as an industry to safeguard the health of their livestock. The danger of a contagious disease outbreak among goats or sheep, whether by natural occurrence or terrorist attack, makes it imperative that the location of goats and sheep be readily available to animal health officials. Small ruminant livestock owner cooperation is essential for rapid disease response in the instance of a contagious disease outbreak. In the event of an animal health emergency, basic livestock owner information will be used to rapidly respond to the emergency to protect individual animals and Mississippi's livestock industries through the Mississippi Board of Animal Health.

 

Mississippi Animal Disease and Disaster Preparedness Program Brochure