The meat goat business has been one of the fastest growing agricultural sectors in the last ten to fifteen years. Unfortunately, there are many obstacles and road blocks in the way. But before spending thousands of dollars, consider several misconceptions and alternative solutions before investing.

Misconception # 1: It will be easy to make money.

Too many people spend too much money on pens, trailers, special feeds, and more, putting too much faith in the desired outcome of making it back. Few do. With current state of the economy, regardless of the quality of your animals, it will take much more effort and strategy to sell your goats while making a significant profit. Also, because the market goat industry has seen a drastic increase in new ranchers, as well as improved quality of the animals, marketing top quality goats becomes a challenge. Is it possible to make a profit or break even? You bet!

First, take an analytical look at what is possible and what is not. There is no need to buy the largest trailer, fanciest truck, or invest in expensive pipe fencing in the beginning. ROI should justify expenses. Focusing on the necessities—quality and not quantity—and keeping to a practical goal will keep your new business running for years. Don’t jump in planning to become instantly rich and ultimately regretting it in the end.

Misconception # 2: I can raise goats to market to multiple parts of the industry.

Currently, three loosely defined market areas exist—those who raise market goats specifically for meat purposes, those who raise breeding goats for the show and sell registered offspring to breeders, and those who have breeding goats and sell kids as wethers to 4-H/FFA exhibitors. Although the number one attribute is still meat, they all have different standards within the industry. In the meat goat market there is a demand for animals below 100 pounds and closer to 80. However, for 4-H and FFA shows we do selective breeding so wethers will gain at a rate that will exceed that 80-pound limit within a show season.

The market and meat goat shows lack uniformity. Within the breeding goat business we look for an animal that has width, depth, and overall body capacity able to carry the kids through the five- month gestation period and produce offspring with muscling. However, in the market goat show the judging trend is to pick narrower and smaller-framed animals. Considering these three sectors of the market goat industry, potential problems are more than evident. Can you do all three at the same time? Yes.

Consider if it is practical, easy to be successful, and feasible to make a profit while working in all three segments.  No one answer fits all. But concentrating on one area will allow you to gain recognition of the group you are marketing to much quicker. This will allow you to understand the demand within a specific market, (longer bodied, stronger-topped wethers) and keep quality higher as you will be concentrating only on a specific kind of goat rather than different qualities for different markets.

Some ranchers are truly the "jack of all trades" and successful as such. They raise beef cattle, breeding stock, and even do eco-tourism, while still being successful at livestock shows. So, what is their secret?