Cabrito Markets

Markets for goat are centered around ethic populations in urban environments. Arabs, Greeks, Hispanics and Asians are significant consumers of goats. Therefore, cities such as Los Angeles, Vancouver, Miami and Houston are prime examples of good goat market centers. However, it is not possible to waltz into the local Safeway, Piggly Wiggly, HEB or Albertsons and buy cabrito off the shelf. It’s just not available. The reasons for this fact are both varied and convoluted. It is very difficult to locate a slaughterhouse that will kill and wrap your market animals. They cite the possibility of “scrapie” (a very bad disease that doesn’t occur in goats and is related to mad cow disease) in goats as the reason they won’t handle the goat offal (non-meat leftovers). This makes no sense, but that doesn’t change the facts. Slaughterhouses that charge per pound of meat processed also refuse to process goats because they are used to the skinny little dairy goats that are sometimes presented for kill. They can’t make money killing those goats and they assume that all goats are created equal. Not so.

The third most cited reason is that they often don’t have enough goats on any given day to assure kill line efficiency. This has been a problem in the past. It’s almost a chicken-and-egg conundrum. If we had enough good, fat goats to process we could do it cheaply and efficiently. But we can’t get enough goats unless we slaughter a few at first and establish our markets.

Weed Control Using Goats

Goats are highly preferential feeders and if the plants on the top of the goats’ list are also available, goats will eat those plants exclusively until those species are gone. The major drawback is that the most preferred goat foods are also species that are valuable and prized by humans… plants such as ornamental shrubs, trees and flowers. Guard these species carefully or else the goats will strip them bare. But if goats can be confined in a pasture that is dominated by some noxious weed, such as thistle or better yet, leafy spurge, the goats will happily munch on these plants to the exclusion of others. Especially with spurge, to which the goats become addicted, palatable species such as Timothy hay, clover and other hayground species will go practically untouched as the goats nip every available spurge flower. There are tracts of land in the northern tier states (North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska) that are virtually 100% spurge. The going rate for leasing spurge eating goats is $4 per head per month. Add it up. Even with providing fencing or supervision, this can be a significant income source.

Handspinning Cashmere

What do handspinners want when they buy raw cashmere? First, they want good style. Style is the degree of crimp that each cashmere fiber. It is style that allows the fibers to hang together during the spinning process. Second, they want clear differentiation. Differentiation refers to the difference in diameter between guard hairs and down. The guard hairs should be straight; not wavy in any way. Thirdly, they want handle. Cashmere should have that indefinable feel of the softness of fine cashmere. Lastly, the length of down is important. While the longer fibers are easier to spin, the shorter, and frequently finer, cashmere fibers can be wonderfully carded and blended together with another compatible fiber. Merino and cashmere blends are lovely as are others. Click here to read more about spinning cashmere.