Goat Farming

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Goat Farming

Goat farming is not a new enterprise. Rearing goats is a profitable business. Goat has been rearing since the time immemorial. Generally, goat farming means rearing goats for the purpose of harvesting milk, meat and fiber. At present, goat farming has become a profitable business and it requires a very low investment because of its multi-functional utility. Commercial goat farming business is contributing greatly to the economy and nutrition of a country.

Goats are multi-functional animals. You can produce a wide variety of products from goats, such as milk, meat, fiber, manure etc. Goat’s milk is used for producing full cream goat powder, skimmed goat milk powder, goat butter, goat milk cream, fresh goat milk etc. Goat meat is a great source of consumable meat which is very testy, nutritious and healthy. And goat’s wool is being used in many purposes and skin of goat plays a vital role in leather industry. However, here we are describing more about the advantages of goat farming business and the required steps for starting a lucrative business.



There are various goat breeds are available throughout the world. Some of those goat breeds are suitable for meat production, some are popular as dairy goats. Some goats produce high quality skins and some goats are raised for their fiber/mohair production. Some people also prefer raising goats as pets. There are more than 300 goat breeds available throughout the world. This goat breeds are different from one to another by their size, shape, characteristics and production type. Generally goats are raised for milk, meat, skin and hair/mohair production. For specific production purpose, you have to chose specific goat breeds. Not all goats are suitable for all types of production purpose. And in case of commercial goat farming, you must have to choose best breeds for your business. Goat breeds are classified in different groups according to their production.

Dairy Goat Breeds: This type of goats are famous for their milk production. Saanen, Toggenburg, Barbari, Jamunapari etc. are highly milk productive goat breeds. Some dairy goats also suitable for meat production.

Meat Goat Breeds: This type of goats become highly meat productive. Some goats produce good quality meat. Boer, Mato, Black Bengal etc. are some highly meat productive goat breeds.

Kids Productive Goat Breeds: This type of goats produce numerous baby goats per kidding. Black Bengal, Katjang etc. are highly baby productive goat breeds.

Skin Productive Goat Breeds: This type of goats produce high quality skin. And their skin is very popular and valuable in the international market. Black Bengal, Maradi etc. are some good quality skin productive goat breeds.


Breed name, production purpose and origin of some popular goat breeds are listed in the following chart.

Breed Name Purpose Origin
African Pygmy Milk, Meat, Pet Cameroon
Alpine Milk French Alps
Altai Mountain Fiber Altai Republic
Anglo Nubian Milk, Fiber United Kingdom
Angora Fiber Turkey
Appenzell Milk Switzerland
Arapawa Meat, Milk New Zealand
Argentata dell’Etna Milk Italy
Aspromonte Milk, Meat Italy
Barbari Meat India
Beetal Meat, Milk Punjab Region
Bionda dell’Adamello Milk Italy
Black Bengal Meat, Skin, Reproduction Bangladesh
Boer Meat, Reproduction South Africa
British Alpine Milk United Kingdom
Cashmere Cashmere Wool Vary
Chamois Colored Meat, Milk Switzerland
Changthangi Meat, Fiber Tibet
Damascus Milk Syria
Danish Landrace Milk Denmark
Dera Din Panah Milk Pakistan
Don Milk, Skin, Fiber Russia
Dutch Landrace Milk Netherlands
Fainting Meat, Pet United States
Garganica Milk, Skin Italy
Girgentana Milk Italy
Golden Guernsey Milk United Kingdom
Icelandic Meat, Fiber Norway
Irish Meat, Milk Ireland
Jamunapari Milk India
Jakharana Meat, Milk India
Jining Grey Fiber, Skin China
Jonica Milk Italy
Kaghani Meat, Fiber Pakistan
Kamori Milk Pakistan
Kalahari Red Meat South Africa
Khari Meat, Skin Nepal
Kiko Meat New Zealand
Kinder Meat, Milk United States
Kri-Kri Meat Eastern Mediterranean
Kutchi Meat, Milk India
Lamancha Meat, Milk United States
Laoshan Milk China
Maltese Milk Malta
Marwari Meat, Milk India
Mehsana Meat, Milk India
Mini Oberhasli Milk United States
Murcia Granada Milk Spain
Murciana Meat, Milk Spain
Nigerian Dwarf Milk West Africa
Nigora Milk, Fiber United States
Oberhasli Milk Swiss Alps
Orobica Milk Italy
Osmanabadi Meat India
Peacock Milk Switzerland
Pygora Fiber United States
Pygmy Meat, Milk, Pet Cameroon
Rove Meat France
Russian White MIlk Russia
Saanen Milk Switzerland
Sahelian Meat, Milk, Skin West Africa
San Clemente Island San Clemente Island
Sarda Meat, Milk Italy
Sirohi Meat, Milk India
Spanish Meat Spain
Sojat Meat, Milk India
Somali Meat, Milk, Skin Somali
Stiefelgeiss Meat Switzerland
Surti Milk India
Tauernsheck Milk Austria
Thuringian Milk Germany
Toggenburg Milk Switzerland
Valais Blackneck Meat, Milk Switzerland
Verata Meat, Milk Spain
West African Dwarf Meat, Milk West and Central Africa
White Shorthaired Milk Czech Republic
Zalawadi Meat, Milk, Fiber India
Zhongwei Fiber, Skin China




Goats generally produce more milk than a cow from the same quantity of nutrients. The nutrient conversion efficiency for the production of milk in goats is 45.71 per cent, whereas a dairy cow averages 38 per cent. It has been observed that goats are 4.04 per cent superior to sheep, 7.90 per cent superior to buffaloes, and 8.60 per cent superior to cows in crude fibre utilization. The goat uses more useless feeds for its maintenance than a cow.


The secret of successful feeding is in devising a cheap and efficient ration. While preparing a ration for goats, factors like bulk, palatability, availability, price and digestibility should be considered along with the nutritive quality of the feed. Abundant clean, fresh water, changed every morning and evening should be made available to goats at all times. Some of the most serious diseases of goats result from the drinking of dirty water from shallow pools. Water troughs should be thoroughly washed at least twice a month. Goats in milk require more water than dry goats and should be watered regularly at least three times a day.


Feeding Habits

Goats are sensitive animals with peculiar feeding habits. By the means of their mobile upper lips and very prehensile tongue, goats are able to graze on very short grass and to browse on foliage not normally eaten by other domestic livestock. Unlike sheep, goats relish eating aromatic plants in areas of scarce food supply and hence can penetrate deep into deserts. They are fastidious about cleanliness and like frequent change in the feed. Feeds given must be clean and fresh, since goats eat nothing that is dirty or foul-smelling. They dislike wet, stale or trampled fodder. For this reason, it is advisable to feed them in hay-racks or hang the feed in bundles from a peg in the wall or from a branch of a tree. Double-sided portable hay-racks are the most suitable and convenient for stall feeding. It is preferable to serve them small quantities at a time; when served in large quantities at a time, they waste a lot of it by trampling.

Goats are very fond of leguminous fodders. They do not relish fodder like sorghum/maize silage or straw. Goats do not relish hay prepared from forest grasses, even if cut in early stages, but very much relish hay prepared from leguminous crops. Some of the common green roughages liked by goats are : lucerne, berseem, napier grass, green arhar, cowpea, soyabean, cabbage and cauliflower leaves, shaftal, senji, methi, shrubs and weeds of different kinds; and leaves of trees such as babul, neem, ber, tamarind and pipal. The common dry fodders liked by goats are straws of arhar, urid, mung, gram, dry leaves of trees, and lucerne/berseem hays (which are the main forage crops for milch goats).


Nutrients Required

The nutrients needed may be divided into maintenance, production and pregnancy requirements: –

  1. a)      Maintenance ration: As goats have a higher BMR than cattle, their maintenance requirements are higher. The maintenance requirement is 0.09 per cent DCP and 0.09 per cent TDN. For its size, a goat can consume substantially more feed than cattle or sheep, viz. 6.5-11 per cent of its body weight in dry matter when compared with 2.5-3 per cent for cattle or sheep. This means that the goat can satisfy its maintenance requirement and produce milk from forage alone.
  2. b)      Production ration: Requirements for the production of 1 litre of milk with 3 % and 4.5 % fat is 43 gm of DCP and 200 gm of starch equivalent (SE), and 60 gm of DCP and 285 gm of SE, respectively. The nutritional requirement of a goat weighing 50 kg and yielding 2 litres of milk with 4% fat may be met by feeding 400gm of concentrate mixture and 5 kg of berseem or lucerne. The ration should have 12-15 % protein content.

The following concentrate mixtures may be used to feed the goat:

  • 1 part of wheat bran, 2 parts of maize grain, and 1 part of linseed cake, or
  • 2 parts of maize grain, 1 part of barley, 2 parts of mustard-cake, and 2 parts of gram husk, or
  • 1 part of wheat bran, 2 parts of barley grain, and 1 part of groundnut cake, or
  • 2 parts of gram grain and 1 part of wheat bran. The above mixtures should also contain 2 % each of mineral mixture and salt.
  1. c)       Pregnancy ration: The foetal growth in the last 2 months of pregnancy is rapid and the metabolic rate of the goat rises rapidly. During this period, the content of ration should be increased to the level of production ration. A week before she kids, the doe should be provided with more succulent type of food. For three or four days after kidding, the level of diet should be lowered and made more fibrous. This is necessary to minimize the shock to the goat’s udder. After this period, the feeding should be done at a normal rate.
  2. d)      Feeding of young stock: Performance of the adult stock depends on how they are reared when young. Feeding schedule for kids should be such that a weekly growth rate of 0.6 kg is obtained. The kids should be fed 56-112 gm of colostrum 4-5 times a day, depending on its birth weight, for three days. From the fourth day onwards, they may be fed the following ration schedule: –


Body weight


Milk Concentrate*

mixture per day (gm)

Green fodder

(lucerne/berseem) kg

Morning (ml) Evening (ml)
2.5 200 200
3.0 250 250
3.5 300 300
4.0 300 30
5.0 300 300 50 ad lib.
6.0 350 350 100 ad lib.
7.0 350 350 150 ad lib.
8.0 300 300 200 ad lib.
9.0 250 240 250 ad lib.
10.0 150 150 350 ad lib.
15.0 100 100 350 ad lib.
20.0 350 ad lib.
25.0 350 1.5
30.0 350 2.0
40.0 350 2.5
50.0 350 4.0
60.0 350 5.0
70.0 350 5.5
Concentrate mixture should contain (in parts) : gram 20, maize 22, groundnut-cake 35,  wheat bran 20, mineral mixture 2.5, and common salt 0.5.
  1. e)      Mineral mixture: the requirements of calcium and phosphorous for maintenance are 6.5 and 3.5 gm, respectively, per 50 kg body weight. Goats require slightly larger quantities of calcium than sheep. The mineral mixture may be included in the concentrate ration at the rate of 2 per cent.
  2. f)       Salt: Salt licks or lumps of rock salt of fairly good size should be hung up in some suitable place where the goats can easily get them. This is important as goats secrete a good amount of sodium and chloride ions in the milk.
  3. g)      Vitamins and antibiotics: Goats particularly need vitamins A, D and E. Vitamin A can be supplied by feeding green forage and yellow maize; 1 kg of lush-green fodder will provide 1500 IU. Vitamin D can be obtained by exposure to sunlight. Vitamin E is present in adequate amounts in most normal rations. Synthetic vitamins A and D may be supplemented in the ration of growing kids. Feeding of aureomycin or terramycin increases the growth rate of young kids, reduced the incidence of scours and other infectious diseases and improves the general appearance of the kids.

Goat Feed

If you’re just starting a goat herd, you will know that goats require some knowledge to feed them right. Whether raising goats for meatestablishing a dairy herd, or just practicing sustainable living on your homestead, goats need attention to their nutrition to thrive. One good rule of thumb: don’t make drastic changes to your goats’ diet all at once. Don’t feed them large amounts of a new food. Either of these practices can lead to a major digestive upset for your goats.

Change their diets slowly, giving the bacteria in their rumen (their first stomach, made for the initial step in the digestion of the plants they eat) time to adjust.


Range: Browsing and Pasturing Goats

Goats are well-known for their ability to pasture on anything from lovely green grass to scrubby woods, where they can eat young trees and hardy shrubs. They are browsers versus grazers (for example, cattle, sheep, and horses are grazing species). For this reason, they are excellent at clearing rough, overgrown land.

Let go of the myth, if you’ve heard it, that goats make good “lawnmowers.” They would prefer to browse if given the choice.

Goats are ruminants, animals that eat plants and digest them through a four-compartment stomach. However, they are more like deer in terms of nutrition than they are to sheep or cattle, which eat lots of grass. In fact, goats should not eat a diet of entirely fresh grass.


Hay is the main source of nutrients for goats apart from their range. It’s what they mostly eat in the winter when they don’t have access to the range. Hay can be a grass or a legume, like clover or alfalfa. Each goat needs about two to four pounds of hay per day, minus what they might forage on pasture.

Hay can be fed free choice or twice a day. If a good range isn’t available, dry grass hay of a horse quality is acceptable. Goats require additional hay, which is roughage, for their rumen to function properly. The long fiber is necessary for this. The rumen is the first stomach compartment, rich in live bacteria, that begins to digest the fiber. A healthy goat has a large rumen that feels spongy.

Alfalfa hay is also popular for feeding goats and has more protein, vitamins, and minerals than grass hays, typically. It can be a good choice for feeding milkers as it has more calcium as well.


Chaffhaye is made by cutting early alfalfa or grass, chopping it, mixing it with molasses and a probiotic culture called bacillus subtillis and vacuum-packing it. The hay ferments in the container, adding beneficial bacteria for the goats’ rumens. Chaffhaye can be fed as a hay alternative, with more nutrient density than hay. One 50-pound bag of chaffhaye equals roughly 85 to 100 lb of hay.


Grain Feed

Grain feed or pelleted grain mix can add protein, vitamins, and minerals to your goats’ diet. Most farmers supplement with grain feed when necessary – such as does who are raising multiple kids or in bad weather – but foraging and browsing is the foundation to good goat nutrition.

Grain should not be overfed: it can make goats fat, cause illness and even death.

Some goat farmers like to have a livestock nutritionist formulate a goat pellet for use when supplements are needed. The local livestock nutritionist can tailor the feed to your area conditions, minimizing problems. You can also have your hay tested to add to the information that your livestock nutritionist will use for formulating this feed.



Loose minerals formulated for goats should be offered free choice. Feed minerals individually, not in blocks that contain combinations of them.


Kitchen and Garden Scraps

Goats will do fine eating your compost, for the most part. Egg shells can be problematic, but most other basic kitchen and garden compost is fine for goats as long as they’re used to it.

Raisins and corn chips, just a few, or a slice of bread, make nice “treats” for goats but don’t overdo them.

Feeding Equipment

You will also need some equipment for feeding your goats. Nothing fancy, but storing hay in a manger will help goats access it and waste less. And food containers or buckets will also help reduce waste. Metal or plastic feed storage containers with tight-fitting lids will keep pests out of your feed.

  • For your goats you may need:
  • Feed storage containers
  • Food buckets
  • Water buckets
  • Hay manger
  • Mineral feeder
  • Water

Of course, your goats need access to fresh, clean water at all times. You may want to raise your water bucket off the ground onto a platform or in an old tire so it’s less likely to get kicked over or pooped in. In winter, you will need to use a waterer heater so that your goats’ water isn’t freezing cold and doesn’t turn to ice.




How to Setup Your Goat Farm

  1. Pasture– Acquire a good grazing ground that grows plenty of grass verities. Goats are relatively clean animals. They eat a wide variety of plants that are nutritious to them. They are foragers of weeds and leaves and could eat different types of plant at different season and even days. However, production animals feed on grass, silage, hay and grain just like cattle. Look for where land is cheap and acquire some acres depending on the number of animals you want to keep.


 Diagram of Standard Goat House Design
Diagram of Standard Goat House Design

Goats need large expanse of land, they like moving and moving while eating plants that are not too close to the ground to avoid worm infested plants. They like keeping enough distance from each other, this way, they reduce contaminating each other. Goat don’t like over crowded condition, ensure you have enough acres of land for your goats to roam about free while grazing and feeding.

How many goats should be kept in an acre? On a good pasture ground, maximum of 10 goats should be kept in an acre of grazing land, if you intend to keep up to 500 goats, you will need 50 acres of pasturage. Understand that goat multiply very quickly – a pregnancy will always result to the birth of twins. Sometimes they can give birth to single kid or even triplet which is very rare.

2. Fencing – 
Construct short perimeter fence round your pasture or barbwire fence, I prefer barbwire to short perimeter fence for obvious reasons – Barbwire is more protective and impossible for goats to scare through while keeping the animal safe from predators. “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 behavior”

3. Housing – Build a suitable house for your goats, house is required to keep them safe from rain and other climate factors like cold. Goat don’t like bad conditions, they like to stay indoor when it is raining, they like to stay under share when the weather is hot, and like to stay outside and graze when the weather is perfect and enjoyable.

Goat likes some measure of privacy when they are indoors, so it is required you build separate houses for few number of goats or you construct it in a way that it will be spacious enough to give each animal some level of privacy. Goats like laying down and chew the cord while resting in a quiet condition. Make sure the housing is made comfortable for them. Some even suggested building dog house for each goat.

4. Species
 – There are large number of goat breeds suitable for different purposes of rearing. Some are very good for milk production, some are good for the meat, other are preferable for the fiber. However, there species that can combine all that. Some does well in certain area than the other, you need to go for the one that is most popular in your locality, they could be important reason why farmers prefer certain species in your environment. Check the list for available goat breeds in your country and choose according to what you need.

 Goats in a pasture ground
Goats in a pasture ground

Having decided on the goat breeds to go for, source for healthy kids. It must have history of De-worming and Vaccination. Goat is susceptible to stomach worm and other internal parasites. Get the healthiest of goats possible to start with.

5. Veterinarians– You will need to have appointment with a veterinary Doctors near you for periodic check up and vaccination. This is very important if you hope to keep the mortality at the lowest or completely eliminated. You can use Government agencies near you or appoint a private vet doctor.

With all these in place, you are very good to go in your goat rearing business. Since goat does not necessarily feed on processed animal feeds, your cost of production will be highly reduced because they will be eating natural nutritious plants in their pasture that grows on their own.



Processing Goat Milk and Types of Dairy Goat Products

Standardization of milk composition is essential to ensure the uniformity and legality of the finished dairy goat products. General manufacturing conditions for various cultured goat products are listed in (Table 2.)

Beverage Milk

Fluid milk includes skim or low-fat milk, whole milk, and cultured milk products, and differs depending on the method of processing. For example, a low-fat beverage milk is processed and adjusted to 2 percent fat and 10.5 percent MSNF (milk solids not fat) before it is high-temperature, short-time (HTST) pasteurized, homogenized, and packaged in 946-ml containers.


Cheeses hold the greatest economic value among all manufactured goat milk products. Agricultural Handbook No. 54 of the U.S. Department of Agriculture describes over 400 varieties of goat cheese and lists over 800 names of cheeses, many of which are made from goat milk or combinations of goat with cow, ewe, or buffalo milk. The general procedures of cheese manufacturing are: 1) standardizing the milk, 2) setting the temperature, 3) adding starter cultures, 4) adding rennet, 5) cutting curds, 6) cooking, 7) draining whey, 8) salting, 9) hooping, 10) pressing, 11) packaging, and 12) aging. Soft cheeses are made by natural draining without pressing.

Buttermilk, Yogurt and Sour Cream

Buttermilk is usually made from skim milk (less than 0.5 percent fat) using the by-product from churning butter out of sour cream. Yogurt is made from whole milk (3.25 percent fat), low-fat milk (0.5 percent to 2.5 percent fat), or skim milk. Sour cream must contain 18 percent fat in most states. Acidophilus milk can be made by the activity of L. acidophilus, which is capable of converting a greater proportion of the lactose to lactic acid (2 percent).


Kefir is an acidic, slightly foamy product made from pasteurized and fat-standardized or decreamed (partially skimmed) goat milk that has passed through a combined acidic and alcoholic fermentation of symbiotic lactic acid bacteria and yeast kefir grains. The finished product, kefir, contains 0.6 percent to 0.8 percent lactic acid and 0.5 percent to 1.0 percent alcohol.


Yogurt, one of the major cultured products, may be made from skim, low-fat, or whole milk. It is made essentially the same way as buttermilk, but a different combination of microorganisms is cultured at a higher incubation temperature. Goat yogurt is softer and less viscous and often lacks the typical flavor of cow yogurt.

Frozen Products

Ice cream and frozen yogurt are also manufactured from goat milk. Three popular flavor formulations of goat ice cream are French vanilla, chocolate, and premium white mixes.

Evaporated and Powdered Products

Evaporated and powdered goat milk are manufactured and marketed in the United States. Evaporation is usually carried out under reduced pressure, primarily to allow boiling at a lower temperature to prevent heat damage. Powdered products available include whole milk, skim milk, whey, and infant-foods formulae.

Other Products

Ghee is an Indian clarified butterfat product manufactured by fermenting whole milk into curd and churning out the butter, followed by heat clarification at 105-145°C. Additional goat milk products made in India include chhana, khoa, and paneer, a cheese. Chhana is an acid- and heat-coagulated milk product, and a chhana-based sweet is made by kneading chhana and cooking it in sugar syrup over medium heat. Khoa is a heat-desiccated indigenous milk product used for various sweets. Cajeta in Mexico and Gjetost in Norway are also popular caramelized sweet products made from goat milk. Cosmetic products such as goat milk soap and hand lotion are produced and marketed in large quantities in many countries including the United States.



Marketing Goat Milk Products and Its Challenges

The most important quality standard for goat milk is acceptable, attractive milk odor and taste. Two formidable barriers exist in marketing goat milk products: 1) negative public perception of goaty flavor, and 2) seasonal milk production, which prevents year-round uniform marketing. To overcome these barriers and develop a sustainable dairy goat industry, effective strategies have to be sought.

Technological approaches are needed to resolve the seasonal milk supply, such as ultra-filtration of milk, freezing and storage of curds, spray-drying, and production of mixed-milk cheeses. Ultra-filtration is or has been used for the production of retentate — very high-fat and high-protein liquid — to make the pre-cheese fraction that is subsequently made into cheese. Goat cheeses can be made during off-season using the ultra-filtered, spray-dried retentate, which can be reconstituted into cheese and stored frozen for later use.

Key factors for successful marketing of dairy goat products include:

1) consumer perception of safety and nutrition;

2) quality of flavor, body texture, and appearance;

3) availability of specialty types;

4) attractiveness of packaging;

5) relative price of products, and

6) establishment of proper distribution and marketing channels.



Marketing of Goat meat

Commercial marketing of meat goats involves identifying the market, correct husbandry and nutritional management, proper assessment of goats suitable for marketing and the correct preparation of goats prior to dispatch to the market.

This article discusses the correct preparation of meat goats prior to dispatch to the identified market.


Preparation of goats for market begins with the identification of the market being targeted. From this point a plan of the appropriate mating, nutrition and other required management practices will follow.

Market requirements can vary with seasons and between years so it is important to contact potential buyers, agents or your marketing network in advance to ensure that you clearly understand the current market requirements.

When goats are being prepared for market, the producer must time their work carefully to ensure that the buyer will accept delivery of the goats on time and according to specification. During the months prior to delivery, husbandry operations must be carefully planned to enable goats to arrive at the correct specifications and appearance.

Ideally, goats delivered for slaughter will:

  • meet specification;
  • be outside any chemical withholding period
  • be healthy
  • be clean and dry
  • have short fleeces
  • have no bruises
  • have clear identification
  • be delivered in the agreed sized load
  • be ready on time, and
  • be accompanied with a National Vendor Declaration.
  1. Meet specifications

It is critical to only sell goats that closely match the specifications of the buyer. Usually buyers will specify the age, live weight or carcass weight and condition score of the goats they wish to buy. The assessment procedures required for the marketing of goats are discussed in the Agnote “Assessment skills for goat meat marketing”.


Inspect all goats being considered for sale. Reject any goat that does not match the specifications so as to avoid penalties for failing to meet specifications. If inspection occurs well before marketing you can decide if goats that are currently unsuitable will benefit from additional feeding before sale.

Measure live weight

Live weight can be directly measured on live stock scales made for the purpose. Girth tapes can be used to estimate live weight provided that they have been calibrated for goats. For producers with small numbers of animals, bathroom scales can be used. This method is only suitable for smaller animals.

Condition score

The condition or fatness of carcasses can be monitored by using body condition scoring. Farmers should learn this technique and practice it whenever goats are handled. Goats that do not have the correct condition score should not be sold. See Agriculture Note on assessing goats.


The age of sale goats should be determined from your farm records or from dentition (teeth development).

  1. Be outside chemical withholding periods

Producers must maintain and carefully check farm records to ensure that goats being sold will be outside the withholding periods for any chemical treatment.

In Australia, it is common for goats to be treated with veterinary drugs such as vaccines, drenches to control internal parasites and chemicals to control lice. Each chemical treatment has an associated specified withholding period. Withholding periods are designed to ensure a reasonable time period between chemical treatment and slaughter so that any chemical residues that may exist in the food are below the relevant maximum residue limit.

Maximum residue limits apply to all food products sold in Australia and are legally binding. The withholding period is printed on chemical and drug labels.

Approved products are listed on the inside cover of the National Vendor Declaration book.

Export slaughter interval

Producers selling goats destined for export need to be aware of the Export Slaughter Interval (ESI). The ESI reflect the differences between Australian and overseas maximum residue limits. The ESI will be longer than the withholding period in order to satisfy lower overseas maximum residue limits. Breaking the ESI can place producers and the entire industry at risk of trade sanctions.

It is the responsibilities of producers to ensure withholding periods and ESIs are honoured. Products without goats on the label should not be used on goats for export meat production unless there is a permit for the use issued by the National Registration Authority.

  1. Be healthy

Only healthy goats should be sent to market. It is a breach of the Code of Accepted Farming Practice for the Welfare of Goats (Victoria) and the Code of Practice for Welfare of Farm Animals during Transport to send sick or injured animals to market. Animals with broken limbs, broken horns or other physical injuries should be removed from any mob of goats being sold and carefully treated.

Weaning capretto kids

Capretto kids should be weaned from their mothers just prior to transport. This means that you must be well organised so as not to delay the transport carrier. Capretto kids do not have a large gut full of food. Prolonged periods of food deprivation will result in dark and dry carcasses that will be unsuitable for the capretto market.

  1. Be clean and dry

Goats contaminated with mud, weed seeds, dags or scours should be cleaned up. Wet and dry dags must be removed from the breech, tail and legs.

Where practical, goats should be loaded when they are dry. If it is raining and the yards are muddy, keep stock under cover and if possible arrange to load stock out of a shed.


Fasting means going without food and water. Goats should have access to water up until the time of shedding or yarding. Feed and water should be withheld for 12 hours prior to transport of adult goats. This will result in cleaner and safer transport and make unloading easier.

There is no advantage in having goats ready earlier as prolonged deprivation of feed and water results in a loss of body and carcass tissue weight. Weaned goats have a large gut content of food and water. During a 24-hour period of fasting, typically the gut content will decline 2 to 3 kg.

Load only into a clean transport vehicle. Do not put straw or hay onto the floor of the vehicle. Such material will blow about and become lodged in the fleece of the goats.

If you have to hold the sale goats for some time, place them in large holding yards or paddocks with ample feed, shade and water. Avoid using overhead hay racks as goats can become covered with seeds and litter.

Scouring animals

Animals suffering from scouring should be removed from the consignment. Scouring animals: foul themselves; foul other animals in the consignment; and lead to higher rates of carcass contamination that will reduce the shelf life of meat products.

Animals given a chemical treatment to stop scouring or reduce internal parasitism, cannot be sold until the withholding period has expired.

  1. Have short fleeces

Goats are best sold with short fleeces, ideally less than 3 cm long. Mohair and cashmere goats should be shorn preferably 3 weeks prior to slaughter. A 3-week period will allow any cuts and bruising to heal. A short fleece will enable goats to be transported more efficiently. Mohair goats should have sold no later than 10 weeks after shearing.

A short fleece will also reduce any contamination and make slaughter more efficient. Goats destined for the “skin-on” trade should have short fleeces, as it is difficult to remove long fleece during processing.

  1. Have no bruises

Bruising and dog bites result in downgrading, severe trimming or condemning of carcasses in the meat works. Bruising costs growers and marketing agents hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Any bruising caused by, physical blows or pulling of the fleece will show on the carcass possibly leading to trimming and downgrading.

To minimise bruising, handle goats quietly and carefully. Do not use electric prodders. Ensure that there are no projections in your yards and races. Keep handling to a minimum. Do not frighten the goats with dogs, loud noises or noisy bikes. All dogs should be muzzled. Do not pull fleeces. Rough handling causes bruising.


Draft goats into groups of similar sex and size.

When transporting, keep the pens small and not overcrowded. Goats tend to pack down and small pens avoid large pile-ups and suffocation of goats at the bottom.

The transport vehicle should drive and stop carefully. The vehicle should stop occasionally and the driver should check to ensure that the goats are comfortable.

Transport drivers should be familiar with the Code of Practice for Welfare of Farm Animals during Transport.

Transporters are expected to have a Quality Assurance system in place such as Truck care. Truck care has been developed for livestock transporters by the Australian Livestock Transporters Association.


  1. Have clear identification

Clear identification of each goat supports you being paid for your product. Discuss identification with the agent before you dispatch the goats on the transport.

Identification can be with ear tags, ear notches, leg tags, raddle or colour mark on the head or horns of the goats. Do not mark the body or fleece with coloured marks as this will downgrade the value of the skin.

The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) has been developed to ensure national recognition for your identified livestock. One benefit of NLIS identified livestock is that they cannot be lost in the system. More information on NLIS can be obtained from Meat and Livestock Australia.

If you are disposing of several grades of goats at the same time, make sure different grades are marked with different identifiers such as different colours. It is also essential that the agent knows what your identifiers mean.

  1. Deliver agreed load size

It is very important to deliver the number and type of goats you agreed to sell. Agents organise their purchases to match deliveries along the supply chain. Carcasses cannot be stored for extended lengths of time and will deteriorate.

Delivering too many or too few goats or not on time causes disruption to orderly marketing arrangements. Make sure you know what you are selling by following the guidelines discussed in section 1 on specifications.

  1. Ready on time

Goats should be ready for loading when the carrier arrives. Transport drivers do not appreciate long delays while they wait for you to move animals. Usually transport drivers have complex timetables to meet, in both collecting and delivering animals to a range of locations.

Please be considerate of the driver and the next farmers by having your animals handy at the agreed upon time.

  1. Fill in a National Vendor Declaration

A National Vendor Declaration (NVD) form for goats must be correctly filled in before the livestock carrier arrives. A NVD allows you to guarantee the integrity of your product and provides a means of describing the product. These forms are available from agents and State Department of Primary Industry. If you are unsure about items on the NVD discuss the matter with your livestock agent. The livestock carrier should sign the NVD, take a copy and leave a copy for your records. NVDs help protect your product from being lost or sent to the wrong place.

Carriers do not want to wait while you search for or fill in the forms. Prepare them the night before. Be organised and keep a supply of the correct forms in your office.

If you will not be present when the carrier arrives, arrange for a safe and dry place for the NVD form to await collection by the carrier.

Further information

Further information can be obtained from Meat and Livestock Australia (external link).

Codes of practice and other advisory notes on goat production can be obtained from the DEPI website.



Time table for selling

Table 1 gives the outline of routine activities to be completed before the dispatch of goats for slaughter. This table can be used as a checklist by ticking each activity when completed.

Table 1. A suggested list of routine activities to be completed before the sale of goats for meat. The table can be used as checklist by ticking each activity when completed.

Time before sale        Activity Tick
6 months Research suitable markets.
Contact agents to determine market specifications.
(     )
5 months up to sale Implement correct nutrition and husbandry practices.
Record chemical usage.
(     )
6 weeks Ensure compliance with any withholding periods.
Organise shearing or crutching if needed.
(     )
4 to 5 weeks Contact agent to reconfirm marketing arrangements.
Evaluate (weigh and condition score) all potential goats for suitability for market.
Adjust nutrition as needed.
(     )
3 weeks Shearing and crutching must be completed. (     )
2 to 7 days Evaluate each animal (weigh and condition score, health) for compliance with market specification.  Reject animals not meeting specification.
Move to paddocks near yards.
(     )
0 to 1 day Draft suitable animals into the agreed size sale lines.
Identify different sale lots with raddle only on head.
Adult goats given 12 hour fast.
(     )
0 to 1 day Fill in all declaration forms.
If wet, put into clean undercover shedding.
(     )
Day of transport Wean capretto kids before transport arrives.
Driver signs and takes copy of declaration forms.
(     )
After marketing Make contact with agent or market group to obtain feed back on sale.



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