IHello Fellow Goat Ranchers!
In reference to harvesting and promoting Goat Meat: We have been extremely active in both for the past year.
We purchased our first Meat Goats nearly 4 years ago. During the past 12 months, have harvested over 80 goats and sold just a few as whole cabritos, the rest of them as "Special Cuts" via Farmers Markets and a couple of small family owned stores that focus on Locally Grown products. It has been our quest to introduce health focuced, main stream Americans to the benefits and flavor of Goat Meat. Personally, we do not like the "Robust" flavor of Buck meat, nor do we enjoy the tough, stringy texture of old cull does, they are best turned into ground and/or sausage.
Originally, we banded before they were 6 weeks old, however, we have discovered that the bucks will grow better if left intact, you have to make certain to cut or band them around 4 to 5 months of age or you will end up with "robust" flavor meat. The small bander will not work at the older age, we use the Elastrator from No Bull Enterprises on the larger goats or harvest them if they have reached at least 80 pounds. Time of year will also dictate when, how , and If due to flies, etc. Our ideal weight to harvest for select cuts and to make the cost worth while is over 100 pounds, but, less than 1 year of age. You will yield approx 1/3 of the live weight back in special cuts. A good quality meat goat should have a hang weight of no less than 50% of it's live weight.
If you have sub standard meat goats, or dairy mix, you may never reach that weight, in that case, you are better to sell them at auction and invest in better genetics. It took a lot of time, effort, samples, and faith to get the ball rolling these past few years and now our sales stay pretty steady. In fact, we are completely out of goats to harvest until next summer. We took our last few into the processor and I anticipate the inventory will be gone by the end of January.
While it is true that certain groups of people like the Robust Buck flavor, most do not. Personally, I think it is absolutly horrible! However, we are looking into making raw pet food with it.
We even pick up our scarps ffrom the processor for our LGD's and have some of the hide's processed a a local tannery.
Additionally, the Italian Sausage and Ground Goat have been our #1 sellers, followed by boneless stew meat and leg roast. The leg roast range between 1.25 and 2.50 lbs. each and are wonderful in the slow cooker. We mix the Italian Sausage and Ground to make burger patties and they are requested everywhere we go to BBQ!
I sincerely urge all you meat goat producers to promote your product. Don't sell youself short by taking them to the auction for $1.00 lb. on the hoof. Yes, it takes some effort and passion, but it will sell for you if you get it out there. Just be certain to check with your state meat inspection office to see what the requirements are. Here in SC, I use two different processors, one is USDA inspected and the other is State inspected. How many of you have tried your own product?
I hope this helps answer some of your questions.