I get questions regarding the best time of year to breed/kid to meet peak demand or carcass meat and thus get highest prices for slaughter goats. The short answer is to have slaughter goats ready for sale/shipment one to two weeks prior to Christmas and Easter.
These two holiday markets always pay highest prices/lbs., particularly for smaller carcasses, 15-25 lb., from goats weighting 35 to 55 lb. on farm. However, the demand is so high goats weighing up to 75—80 lb. are readily taken at prices only 25 cents/lb. or so below the smaller goat prices.
On the other hand, producers should recognize that there are numerous other holiday demands for slaughter goats that can drive selling prices upward, however temporarily. On her thinks of religious, political and civic holidays celebrated by Muslims, Latinos, Blacks, Jamaicans, Quakers, Amish, Mennonites, Nepalese/Bhutanese, Filipino, Chinese, etc.
So of the celebratory days change with the calendar year. I understand that very few producers target holiday other than Christmas and Easter, but I have observed that large-scale Texas producers tend to be very aware of certain Muslim high-demand dates and get their offerings to the sale barn in good time.
Texas, OK, TN, and MO ranchers and producers in Southeastern states tend to kid late winter/early spring so that does and kids can benefit from economical spring and summer grazing. This practice leads to a multitude of slaughter kids ready to go in the late fall and Christmas markets. It, in fact, creates a seasonal market, as do those that kid in the fall to supply the Easter market.
Readers should understand that this seasonality of goat production does not meet the need for goat meat, which is year-round, no matter the peak. Accordingly, wholesale purveyors of goat meat are forced to import goat carcasses, primarily from Australia and some from New Zealand, to meet consumer needs.
My colleague, Dr. Ken McMillin, and I have conducted research projects to determine if there were any organoleptic differences between imported and domestic goat meat (taste, tenderness, juiciness, overall satisfaction). The taste panelists (from various ethnic groups, male/female, old/young) etc.) could not distinguish between domestic and imported goat meat (not even when we froze domestic goat meat like the Australians send here in six-packs (2 shoulders, 2 rear legs, 2 rib sides).
Imported goat meat can be sold here for lower prices/lb. than domestic goat meat because of cost differences in production/processing/shipping. Our consumers simply believe that our fresh, unfrozen product and, to date, they prefer it in carcass from, rather than retail-cut format like lamb and sheep meat.
There are many U.S. goat producers who purposefully kid year-round in pursuit of more uniform use of family labor and also the desire to have monthly incomes for expenditures and profit-taking. Those producers who practice semi-confinement management are particularly prone to use this year-round system because they have facilities and labor that support such an endeavor.
Insofar as I know, there have been no research studies to ascertain the cost-benefit ratios as between year-round and seasonal kidding. I would be pleased to hear from readers who have tried both systems and selected the one that best fits their site-specific location, and, with permission, I would share your experiences with readers.
By Dr. Frank Pinkerton
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