Goats are wonderfully resourceful animals. They are very efficient feeders, converting rough browse and at times, noxious weeds into marketable products. If the manager can learn how to take advantage of the goats’ natural abilities, they can use a low cost, low maintenance farm animal to add to the bottom line.
First, it is very easy to use goats to maximize range utilization on marginal land. If your land is choked with leafy spurge, for example, goats will thrive there and control the spurge. It is important to differentiate between the word “control” and the word “eradicate”. Goats will not eradicate spurge. But they will happily feast upon it and prevent it from reproducing sexually. They also slow down asexual reproduction of the spurge by continuously taxing the plant by nibbling away at its above ground parts. As the spurge expends energy to regrow its above ground parts, it cannot put as much energy into its below ground parts. Hence, it can be said to be controlled.
Meat market sales are the most significant portion of cashmere goat income sources. Fat wethers will sell for $3 a pound on the hoof in the right markets. Putting pen to paper, if five or six goats are equal to one cow in terms of how much they eat every year then it can be said that 5.5 goats + 1 cow. One cow will have one calf every year and that calf is worth maybe $500 at the end of the season (in a good year). Five and a half goats will have 11 kids and those kids are worth $240 each at the end of the season. The math comes out to $1320 gross income from the goats, but you need to subtract for some kid mortality, care & feeding and also for the cost of transporting those kids to a market which may not be very close. But the potential is there!!. Add the fact that cattle and goats will choose to use different parts of your rangeland and things start to make sense… dollars and cents.
The best way to make money from this industry is to value add the fabulous fiber that these goats produce. If you are a handspinner or weaver, the products made from cashmere will be worth a lot more than the raw fiber. Enough even to pay for your time in making the items. If this is something you enjoy or if you have an entrepreneurial underpining yearning to be free, goats are the way to go.