South West Farm Press Logo

Meat goat demand continues to rise

The price of meat goats has been steadily on the rise for the last decade. Learn more, plus the latest on the Texas Crop and Weather Report.

Susan Himes, Communications Specialist

May 2, 2024

14 Min Read
The goat meat market in the U.S. has been steadily increasing for a decade. Courtney Sacco

The nuances of the meat goat market make numbers harder to track compared to other livestock, but demand definitely continues to rise, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

Jake Thorne, AgriLife Extension sheep and goat specialist, San Angelo, said meat goats are a specialty item and not marketed via traditional livestock producer-to-consumer logistical chains.


“Meat goats do not typically follow the traditional livestock harvest pattern of other livestock. You don’t have large numbers going to a feedlot for several months, harvested at a large-scale commercial facility, and individual cuts distributed to retail grocery stores,” he said. “Some goats are fed and then processed at a heavier weight, but many are not. And it is common for whole carcasses to be sold as opposed to just individual cuts.”

Meat goat numbers harder to track than other meat animals

Herd numbers and the economics of the meat goat market are difficult to pinpoint because the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t track them with the same detail as cattle, hogs or even lambs.

Most meat goats are taken to butchers or smaller harvesting facilities that might handle 100 or less animals per week, making the actual number of meat goats processed harder to gauge.

Related:Will producers see interest rates decrease in '24?

For example, during a recent weekly sale at Producers Livestock Auctions in San Angelo, 2,500 goat kids designated for processing were sold. Sales in Fredericksburg, Goldthwaite and Hamilton, the three next largest small ruminant auctions in Texas, combined for 8,000 meat goats.

USDA does report the number of animals processed in larger federally inspected facilities, however, and for goats, Thorne said that number is consistently around 10,000 to 12,000 animals per week.

“That shows you there is a significant percentage of goats that aren’t being accounted for in the USDA report,” he said. “Texas accounts for 33% of the nation’s meat goat inventory, and those four auctions make up the bulk of Texas sales, so it gives us a rough idea about total nationwide.”

The median herd size is around 20 animals, according to the 2019 USDA goat industry study, which Thorne said is the most comprehensive study of the national goat industry available. And whereas the number of meat goats has decreased some over the last several years, prices continue to rise, which is good news for producers.

Rising prices, seasonal demand

The price of meat goats has been steadily on the rise for the last decade, Thorne said. As the U.S. population continues to grow, and more people immigrate to the U.S. from countries where goat meat consumption is the norm, Thorne expects demand and prices to remain strong.

Related:Farmers have herbicide options despite dicamba ruling

“Going back about 10 years, we can see average prices have increased from about $2 a pound to an average price now of about $3.50 a pound,” he said.

Thorne said those numbers can go up during times of higher demand, which tend to peak before religious and/or cultural holidays where goat is traditionally consumed. The middle of summer, usually after the Fourth of July, is typically the low point for the goat market. Prices can fall as much as $1 per pound.


Thorne said prices for producers can be based on the ebb and flow of supplies at sale barns as much or more than seasonal demand.

Goat prices trend higher in the late winter and early spring and then fall in the middle of summer and early fall. Goats are typically sold for processing between 3 to 5 months of age and at weights between 50-70 pounds.

And while Thorne said there are clear indicators that consumption increases on seasonal trends, he is not convinced producers should target marketing their animals to meet increased demand because a significant number of animals are marketed at these times.

“The premiums that typically come with an increase in demand don’t always come to reality because of the sudden spike in supply,” he said.  

Related:AI tech conference closes gap between researchers, farmers

Lower prices in the summer are related to the glut of 3-4-month-old goats born in the spring coupled with lower seasonal demand, he said. On the other hand, producers who can raise fall-born goats can capitalize on the higher prices driven by fewer animals and increased demand in January, February and March.

More producers, smaller herds, COVID impact

Despite the strong market, goat prices and herd numbers have slipped compared to pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, goat numbers for Texas were about 842,000 compared to less than 790,000 now.

The pandemic impacted livestock markets in various ways during market and logistical disruptions in the following years, Thorne said. Producers experienced astronomical prices above $4 per pound in 2021 and 2022.

As goat inventories decreased and prices increased over recent years, Thorne said more producers began raising goats.


Thorne said increasing land costs and fragmentation have made goats an attractive and feasible option for producers with less acreage. Goats can fit a production system of 5-50 acres. In Texas, they are also an attractive option because regions with more brushy plants provide browsing.

Thorne said larger-scale meat goat production in the Edwards Plateau usually includes a mixed-animal ranching model with cattle and/or sheep.

“The traditional range here in the Edwards Plateau is a combination of grass and brush, which is a nice model for multi-species grazing and goats fit perfectly since cattle and sheep graze the grass and goats browse,” Thorne said. “But goats can become a nice little feasible enterprise for producers with less land.”

Other sources of revenue from goats

About 90% of the U.S. goat inventory is raised for meat. But they are also raised for their milk, hair, and other ancillary demands, such as livestock shows, pets, and targeted grazing.  

Commercial market kid goat hair, the finest hair for textiles, usually brings $13-$17 per pound and even lower quality hair from mature goats can still bring $6-$8 per pound. Each animal can be sheared twice a year, resulting in a total of 6 to 10 pounds of Mohair per goat.

Goats are also increasingly being used for brush control with cities, companies and even government agencies hiring producers. This service is also utilized for wildfire prevention.


As targeted grazing becomes more popular, the number of producers providing this service are growing as well as their herd size. In Texas, targeted grazing is utilized more on the eastern side where overgrowth is more common.

“They’re an excellent biological tool to graze land that is maybe overgrown or has the potential for wildfire,” Thorne said. “I don’t foresee the demand for goat meat, goat products or goat services doing anything but growing in the next decade.”

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:



A wide range of rainfall amounts were recorded over the past week and soil moisture was good. Two tornadoes were confirmed in Navarro County and hail scattered throughout the district. Pastures had improved, although weeds were prevalent. The winds caused lodging in wheat in some areas and caused significant directional lean in corn, which should rebound over time. Peach growers were finishing up thinning with lots of doubles this year. Producers were able to assess tree losses in pecan orchards, which resulted in at least 25% loss of trees in both irrigated and dryland orchards. Small grains were grazed out, and producers cut oats and wheat that were inadequate for hay or silage. Some wheat and oats were laying over due to plentiful rains. Corn and grain sorghum looked very good in most areas. Cotton planting began, but soil moisture delayed progress. Producers were preparing for hay season; those who cut before last week’s rains will have an extended drying period and quality will be diminished. Livestock were in good condition and fattening up.


Widespread rain led to a few isolated areas of flooding, but it was a positive for soil moisture and livestock drinking-source reserves. Many producers were cutting and baling wheat for livestock hay but there were concerns over the decreased quality of hay that was cut and rained on before it could be baled. Wheat was beginning to mature quickly, and stocker calves were being taken off wheat pasture.


Dry and windy conditions persisted, rapidly depleting topsoil moisture and necessitating rain for field crop growth. Pasture conditions began to decline, and high winds exacerbated moisture depletion. Fertilizer and herbicide applications continued on hay fields, with some hay cuttings ongoing. Approximately a quarter of the rice crop was flooded. Corn neared tasseling, but additional moisture was needed soon for sustained growth. Cotton producers were scouting and spraying for insects and weeds, with cotton replanting occurring in areas affected by heavy rainfall. More rain was needed as the region continued to experience dry conditions. Livestock remained decent, with calves gaining weight. Cattle prices remained high, and pastures were drying quickly, prompting many to begin cutting hay for the first time this season.


Scattered rain showers fell across the district earlier in the week, but winds caused the topsoil in many of the fields to dry out. The high winds and warm temperatures brought in a storm that dropped at least a 1/2 inch of rain. Adequate subsoil moisture remained in most of the district. Some farmers started planting corn to take advantage of the moisture and fields were being prepped for cotton planting. Wheat was starting to head out. Many producers pulled cattle off wheat pastures before the rain and those fields were starting to head out. Many other fields were heading out as well due to increased moisture and temperatures. Cattle were in good condition with warm-season grasses emerging.


The high winds were rough on recently planted crops. Overall soil conditions ranged from adequate to short, and wheat yield prospects continued to decline with above-normal temperatures and windy and dry conditions. Irrigated wheat looked good, but the dryland declined as many fields were going into heading. The number of growers planting corn increased as mid-afternoon temperatures gradually warmed. Fields planted to alternative oilseed crops reached the bloom stage. Range and pastures were still greening up, and spring calving was ongoing.


The district received various amounts of rainfall over the past week, including storms that brought damage and rainfall totaling 3-8 inches, which caused some areas to flood due to already saturated soil. Topsoil and subsoil moisture conditions are adequate to surplus across all counties. Pasture and range averaged from excellent to good to fair for counties within the region. Wheat and warm-season grasses were all progressing well. Corn was up, but there were some issues with early growing and excessive moisture being a concern. The pastures were green, and the ponds were full. Feral hogs were becoming more active throughout the region. Livestock were in good condition, but the horn fly population began to increase with all the moisture.


The average reported temperatures for the week ranged from lows in the 60s and highs in the high 80s to 90s. Average rainfall ranged from 1/3 inch to 1 inch. The dry conditions led to a small wildfire west of Alpine, but the fire was quickly controlled. Producers were preparing fields for cotton, and wheat has been rolled for hay for livestock. Corn, sorghum and melons were taking off and growing. Producers were controlling weeds and building beds in preparation for cotton. Soil moisture levels ranged from short to adequate, but more weed control was needed with the recent rain. Pecan trees were pollinating. Range conditions showed a slight increase in forage due to rainfall the previous week. Pastures were beginning to green up and looked much better, especially in the northern part of the region. Cattle were beginning to be put back to rangeland and off hay. Lambs and goats were finishing up with late works in the coming weeks.


Average rainfall ranged from 1-2 inches this past week with soil conditions looking good. Several small grain fields were cut but were waiting to dry to bale. Warm season forages were being fertilized, and herbicide applied for weed control. Sorghum fields were starting good and some baling of wheat and oat fields continued as producers try to replenish depleted hay stocks while others were choosing to graze out fields. Weeds were abundant due to the rain and last two years of drought. Tree damage was seen on multiple species, including pecans having die back and live oaks dying from hypoxalon canker. Wheat remains in fair to good condition and cotton producers were spraying weeds and preparing fields for planting. Winter wheat has headed across the county and many producers have planted sorghum and sudan and have established stands. Pecan crops remain hopeful. Cattle were good as spring and summer grasses began taking off. Livestock remained in good condition. The market opened with good demand on most classes of calves and yearlings. Stocker steers and heifers both sold $5-$10 higher. Feeder steers and heifers sold steady from last week, as well as packer cows and bulls. Pairs and bred cows sold in good demand on a limited test.


Weather conditions were slightly cooler than normal with moderate winds occurring throughout most of the daylight hours. Rain fell throughout the region, with amounts ranging from none to about 2.25 inches. More rain was in the forecast, and it was cloudy with humidity rising. Soil moisture was good, and crops were responding well. There was some pest presence with caterpillars heavy in trees. Ladybug presence was also relatively high, indicating a proportional response to pest insect presence. Final hay cuttings of cool-season grasses in the south generated a good supply of round bales. Forages continued to progress with consistent rain. Pastures were thriving, and continued fertilization and weed control was still evident. Supplemental feeding slowed as pasture and range conditions improved. Livestock conditions remained good, with producers still selling stock. Spring lambing and kidding was completed while spring shearing continued. Wildlife were more active with plenty to eat.


Conditions in the district ranged from cool to mild and humid with some areas receiving rain while others received little to none. The rain should benefit forage production and help forage sorghum crops. Strawberry crops were slow. Wheat and oat crops were being prepared for harvest while corn continued to develop and cotton planting was complete in some areas. Corn and grain sorghum crops in some areas were starting to stress and yield potential was shrinking due to windy, warm and dry conditions, while others were progressing well with most corn at the silking stage and grain sorghum in the soft dough stage. Cotton plants were growing well but will need to be watered once plant height increases. Row crops in some areas looked good but will need some rain soon for good yields. Onions were still being harvested and citrus was being irrigated. Some hay meadows were being irrigated and some have been baled. Sugar cane aphids were causing issues for sorghum acres, but other crops remained pest-free for the most part. Pastures remained in fair to good condition but were starting to slowly deteriorate due to the lack of moisture. In Maverick County, planted crops were emerging as normal and the coastal Bermuda was producing good hay bales. Irrigation water from the local canal system was being reduced in Maverick County due to the current drought and lack of water in the Rio Bravo River. Beef cattle producers were closely monitoring their herd size to maintain their range and pasture conditions. Beef cattle prices remained high and looked to stay that way due to lower overall numbers. In Live Oak County, ranchers were still actively selling their cattle and prices suffered some due to highly pathogenic avian influenza, which was found in a few dairy herds throughout the U.S. Livestock and wildlife continued to flourish thanks to good range and pasture conditions in late winter and early spring.

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Susan Himes

Communications Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like