Laugh about goats all you want. People have laughed at some who raised sheep in corn and soybean country in Indiana for years. But in case you haven't been to a local livestock auction barn recently, here's an update- a good lamb at 125 pounds will often gross as much or more than a 275 pound market hog. And a Boer goat ready for market won't be far behind.
Why? Ethnic demand for goat and sheep meat cuts is part of the reason. Also, former hog producers are finding that their facilities convert easily to goat production. Kentucky started a meat grading program for goats a few years ago with money that came out of tobacco settlements. Purdue Extension personnel have been fielding more questions about goats and sheep recently, and not just from 4-H members or parents with a couple of animals.
As a result, there's a video series underway that you can view at 19 sites within Indiana. The first program aired last week. But you still have time to catch the second and third programs in the series. The second one airs Tuesday, Nov 2 at 7 to 9 p.m. EST. Tuesday's focus is on forages, and features specialists from both Purdue University and the University of Kentucky. Like fro any livestock species, getting through this winter could be difficult since many people in drought-stricken areas in central and southern Indiana began feeding hay and other forage supplied well before they intended to do so this fall. One of the topics to be discussed is alternative forages for these animals.
The third and final video program will be Nov. 9 at 7 to 9 EST. The focus is on health programs for sheep and goats. If you're just beginning to produce these animals, this would be a great way to catch up on the kinds of vaccinations they need, and the most common health problems to watch for. If you're used to cattle and hogs, expect sheep to react differently when sick. They tend to not have the ability to rebound as well as some other species. Keeping them healthy in the first place is crucial to success.
Find out where these programs will be shown and how to get involved by contacting your local Extension office. They should be able to direct you to a county office hosting the program series.