Is the Meat Goat Enterprise Profitable & Sustainable?

Dennis L. DeWitt, Livestock Field Specialist, Northwest

Problem Statement:     

The rapid growth of meat goats in Iowa is confirmed with the 2007 Census of Agriculture.  There were 1,793 farms with 32,901 goats on inventory in 2007 compared to 813 farms with 9,666 goats in 2002.  Lyon and Sioux counties recorded the most farms and goats sold.  Lyon County had 26 farms with an average inventory of 32 head and Sioux county had 36 farms averaging 52 head.  The Iowa average is only 18 head per farm and the other top Iowa meat goat counties were those that have a meat harvesting facility or a large metropolitan area.

Programmatic Response:

Iowa meat goats sell for more money per pound than any other typical livestock enterprise. This income is not sufficient to cover the entire cost of production in most cases.  It is difficult to determine if the meat goat enterprise is profitable or sustainable without good records and budgets.

The local meat goat market has declined due to the weak economy and increasing unemployment.  The high feed cost has drastically increased the cost of production. The skyrocketing transportation cost to large harvest facilities out of state has significantly reduced profitability.  Marketing alternatives are still a major concern.

Outcome Statement:     

Short-term results were two meetings, one in northwest Iowa and one in northeast Iowa to provide educational information to reduce cost per kid.  Medium-term results was development of an excel software program to predict current breakeven prices per kid.  This program assumes producers know cost of production. 

Long-term result was the development of an enterprise analysis software program to track yearly costs and income to identify weaknesses.  The small number of goats on inventory per farm makes it easy to exit.  A 2009 survey indicates 1/3 of the producers attending a meat goat education meeting in the last 3 years have exited the meat goat business.  Typical problem areas identified include: high feed cost, miscellaneous expenses, low kidding percentage and low net market price. 


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Page last updated: August 5, 2009
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