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Meat goats in Iowa —

By Staff | Jul 9, 2010

It’s feeding time for the meat goat animals on the Hasara Goat Ranch in Lakefield, Minn.

SIOUX CENTER – With an increased number of Iowa producers interested in starting up meat goat operations, Iowa State University ag researchers Dennis Dewitt, Tom Olson and Daniel Morrical saw a need to provide tools for these producers to make their business ventures more successful.

The trio developed a two-program grant focusing on building a software analysis program for these goat producers to track, analyze and evaluate expenses income and profitability.

Unfortunately, this program was deemed unsuccessful and scratched, the researchers said, because finding producers able to give the time and effort necessary was difficult.

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistic Service is showing that the number of meat goats in the state went down from a statewide inventory of 32,500 on Jan. 1, 2009, to 25,000 at the start of 2010. These numbers are a result of those contacted and who participated in the official count.

Adam Fedders, of Sioux Center, is the president of the Iowa Meat Goat Association.

A Black Kiko buck.

Fedders has been raising goats since 2003. He came to Iowa from California with his goat operation in 2005. The animals Fedders is raising are mainly for show and breeding stock.He is also the president of the Sioux County Youth Fair board.

He has raised awareness of the animal through his work with the Northwest Iowa Club Goat Sale and the “Never Boering Goat Show,” scheduled for today and tomorrow, at the Sioux County fairgrounds, with 300-plus entrees expected.

“People are starting to realize that they will probably need to have herds of 100-plus goats to make this profitable,” said Fedders about the outlook for Iowa meat goat production.”The last prices I heard were $2.50 per pound with prices typically running $1.50 to $2 per pound”

Fedders said that producers are finding more outlets for goats. Many of these market animals are shipped to packing plants in Illinois or even further out to the Pennsylvania/New York area.

Recently a new packing facility opened up for Midwest producers in Cologne, Minn.

“Our feed prices range from $200/ton to $600/ton,” Fedders said. Depending upon what we are feeding. The show feed will cost more than the average commercial feed. Feeding programs are essential to the growth and longevity of one’s herd, he noted, adding that a poor feeding program usually results in added kidding and health issues later on.

He said ISU is currently working on a Federal Drug Administration trial using a cervical dorsal rami. This plastic implant is often used in dairy and beef heifers for synchronization of estrus and for synchronization of return to estrus.

This would, in theory, help to improve the timing and efficiency of a producer’s breeding program.

According to Fedders there are several producers who are interested in participating in this trial beginning in August.

In regards to herd health, Fedders says he sees these services continue to improve, but results vary through the state.

“There are a number of producers that do not have willing veterinarians to help out with this,” Fedders said, “but (some) vets are slowly coming to realize that meat goats are viable business.”

The bottom line, said Fedders, is:

“I am told that if you are able to sell your market goats for $1 pound you should be making a profit. With that said, most of the producers that are in the business of producing market goats should be making money, if they are managing their feed and vet bills properly.”

Contact Robyn Kruger by e-mail at rangerob@hickorytech.net.

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