Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Feb 1, 2010
Project End Date
Jan 31, 2014
Grant Year
Project Director
Recipient Organization
BATON ROUGE,LA 70803-0100
Performing Department
School of Animal Science
Non Technical Summary
The meat goat industry is the most rapidly growing livestock category in the U.S., but is highly unstructured compared with other livestock industries. Goat meat producers are mostly small and medium-sized producers. Specific information is needed about each segment (producer, animal and meat, consumer) so that potential common market and product linkages can be identified and relative product values in each segment can be distinguished. The purpose of the project is to gather information from each segment. Consumers representing the national population of the U.S. will be contacted for participation in an internet survey to determine the desires, expectations, and preferences for goat meat. The yields and palatability of goat meat from commercially marketed kid and yearling goats will be determined after measurement of live traits and carcass characteristics. Producers will be surveyed on their production, management, and marketing practices to allow cost efficiency and production system analyses. Consumer focus groups will be conducted to link the information from consumer surveys with the meat traits identified by trained sensory panelists. The results of producer surveys will be integrated with the consumer information and the animal and meat characteristics to make recommendations for management and marketing decisions by producers to improve their economic viability and efficiencies. The information and recommendations from the research will be disseminated to meat goat producers, processors, and retail segments through presentations at seminars, fact sheets, and bulletins to allow them to make informed management and marketing decisions. The long term goal is to improve profitability of goat production by increased numbers of domestic goats and goat meat products that match consumer preferences for ethnic and healthy food sectors.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
The purpose of this project is to identify production practices and product traits at each segment of the meat goat industry that will increase the net economic benefits and productivity of meat goat producers. Specific objectives of the proposed research are to 1. Survey a representative sample of consumers to determine desired traits for selected goat meat products and to estimate consumer willingness to pay for the desired traits; 2. Measure the live, carcass, and meat traits of kid and yearling meat goats and evaluate the palatability of goat meat from the types of goats representative of those marketed in the U.S.; 3. Survey producers to determine current production and marketing practices and the changes needed to increase net margins and productivity within the next 5 years. The expected outcomes are presentations at regional seminars and development of fact sheets and bulletins that give detailed findings of the research and recommendations for improved production and marketing practices for meat goat producers. Key achievements and accomplishments from the project are expected to be identification of important live animal, carcass, and meat traits for prediction of yield and palatability of goat meat, information on desirable characteristics and consumer preferences for goat meat from representative consumers, and changes in production and/or marketing practices by goat producers that would improve net profitability and continued production of meat goats. Target dates for the major phases of the project are for consumer survey activities to begin by January, 2010 and be finalized by January of 2011. The collection of live, carcass, and sensory data will begin as soon as the project award is finalized to sample the largest numbers of goats available at this time of year. The data collection on live goats and goat carcasses will be completed by December in each of the first two project years. The sensory studies will begin in May of 2010 and be concluded by December of 2011. Proximate analyses of samples will be conducted throughout the first two years as samples become available from the leg and shoulder cuts. The producer surveys will be sent in January, February, and March of 2010 with finalization of data in January of 2011. The results from the three project components will be collated in early 2012, with final project reports submitted for project completion in September of 2012.
Project Methods
Major project activities will be consumer surveys on purchases and preferences for goat meat, determination of live and carcass traits related to meat yields and palatability, and queries of meat goat producers on suitable production and marketing practices for profitability and expansion of operations. Households (n = 5,000) representing a national cross-section of U.S. consumers will be invited by a market information company to complete an internet-based survey developed by project investigators. Current household food consumption, a choice-based conjoint experimental design for selected goat meat attributes, and demographic and socio-economic characteristics will be analyzed by a mixed conditional logit model. Willingness by consumers to pay for products with different characteristics, grades, and/or specifications will be identified through conjoint analysis of response variables. Meat goats (n = 550) will be purchased in the relative proportions of weights and conformations of kid and yearling goats currently being sold. Live goats will be measured for linear body traits before slaughter and carcass characteristics will be evaluated before fabrication into hind leg, foreleg, shoulder, back, shank, and rib cuts. The right side major cuts will be manually deboned to determine boneless lean yields. Muscle samples from boneless leg and shoulder cuts will be cooked to 70C for trained sensory panel and Warner-Bratzler shear force. Raw and cooked boneless leg and shoulder cuts will be analyzed for proximate composition. Prediction equations for palatability and yields of goat meat will be developed from the relationships between live measurements, carcass traits, and palatability and yield factors. Consumer focus group panels will identify the relationships between goat meat samples and the desired characteristics and expectations for goat meat identified in the consumer survey. Production, management, and marketing practices that influence numbers and kinds of goats produced; net margins of operations; factors that are limitations to further expansion or increased profitability; and general meat goat industry opinions will be determined through a mail survey of a random sample of 2,000 U.S. goat producers. Statistical analyses will be used to determine relative status of the meat goat production industry. Follow-up interviews with 125 willing farmers will give detailed information of costs, returns, and cost and technical efficiencies for data envelopment analysis and/or stochastic production function frontier analysis to allow correlation of technical efficiency with producer and production. The data sets from the three principal components will be collated into a single database for computation of relationships among specific consumer responses, producer practices, animal and carcass traits, and meat properties using previously established models developed by the project statistician. Regional producer seminars will be conducted and fact sheets and bulletins will be disseminated to explain the project intent, results, and recommendations.

Progress 02/01/10 to 01/31/14

Target Audience: Target audiences for the seminar and workshop presentations wereprimarily meat goat producers and personnel adjunct to goat production as suppliers or government officials providing goods and services to meat goat producers. Survey data from the producer surveys and consumer survey were presented to fellow scientists at professional meetings. Both genders were represented at all industry and professional meetings and there were some audiences with individuals from economically disinfranchised groups, ethnic and racial minority attendees. Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? The project was not designed to specifically train individuals in gaining greater proficiency, but did provide information so producers could gain increased knowledge or skill in the goat production area of expertise through attendance at presentations made at conferences and seminars. Presentations and talks at professional scientific meetings about the surveys and their results that were conducted and about the evaluations of live goats, goat carcasses, and goat meat characteristics allowed colleagues of the project scientists to gain greater understanding of the research and assisted them in attaining greater proficiency about the specific concepts of the goat industry and goat meat production, processing, and consumption. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? One of the purposes of the project was to inform goat producers and affiliated industry and government personnel about the project and the results of the project to assist them in making informed decisions about their operations and the meat goat industry. Presentations were given to more than 400 attendees at seven field days, workshops or seminars related to the meat goat industry in different parts of the country. This included the Annual Goat Education Day in Califormia, Sustainable Agriculture Workshops in Kentucky, Goat Expo in Nebraska, Goat Update Seminar in Tennessee, annual Goat Field Day in Oklahoma, Grazing Workshop in Missouri, and Small Ruminant Field Day in Louisiana. Additionally, presentations about the project and project results were made to the scientific community at annual meetings of the Southern Agricultural Economics Association, Joint Annual Meeting American Dairy Science Association and American Society of Animal Science, and annual meeting of the American Agricultural Economics Association and Canadian Agricultural Economics Society. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Nothing Reported

What was accomplished under these goals? The impact of this project has been to determine and disseminate accurate information about meat goat production by goat meat producers, consumer preferences for goat meat and live goats, and live goat, goat carcass, and goat meat characteristics. Agricultural economists analyzed results of surveys from 584 meat goat producers and determined which specific production practices were being practices, types of goats being raised, marketing options for goats, and pricing of goats. Challenges to the meat goat industry and goal structures of goat producers were also identified to determine the priorities of producers for assistance in decision making. Agricultural economists also conducted surveys of 000 consumers from the general U.S. population and 2,000 consumers who had eaten goat meat in the past year before the survey was conducted. The reasons for consumers not eating goat meat, the preferences for purchasing of goat meat or live goats by consumers who ate goat meat in the past year, and the prices that consumers were willing to pay for various types of goat meat were determined. Animal scientists purchased a total of 725 kid, yearling, and aged doe meat goats in 21 groups of differing conformation classes, sex, and breed from private goat producers in seven states and Texas auction markets. Live linear measurements, live conformation score, and weight were determined before sacrifice, carcass characteristics were measured after 24 chilling, and lean yield was determined by manual deboning of one carcass side. Physical composition and sensory characteristics of the Semimembranosus muscle from selected representative carcasses were evaluated by food scientists. The results allow each segment of the goat industry, including producers, processors, and retailers, to make informed decisions regarding specific practices and their applicability and potential profitability. The different components of the meat industry are interrelated such that the practices of an industry segment influence the live goat characteristics or the goat meat traits in the subsequent segment. The various combinations of production practices affect the live goat traits, which in turn have an effect on the carcass and meat characteristics. Consumers have specific preferences and price restrictions for goat meat so the determination of the important factors in each segment can be used to optimize efficiencies and income returns in a given part of the industry. The project has provided a system approach to linking the separate components of the meat goat industry and established the decision elements common between segments. The first project objective was to survey a representative sample of consumers to determine desired traits for selected goat meat products and to estimate consumer willingness to pay for the desired traits. In the general population of 2,000 individuals that was sampled, 13% had eaten goat meat in the past year, with 87% of those purchasing goat meat cuts, 4% purchasing live goats, and 9% purchasing both goat meat and live goats. Of the survey respondents who had not eaten goat meat in the past year, 76% had never eaten goat meat. Reasons were because the consumer had not heard of eating goat meat and it was not available in the grocery or meat shop. Of the 24% of general U.S. population who had consumed goat meat at some time in the past, goat meat was not eaten regularly because it was not available (52%), not part of the culture (33%), not known how to cook (26%), didn’t like taste (19%), and too expensive compared with other meats (11%). More than 62% of those consumers would be willing to eat goat meat more often if it were an appealing menu item served in an ethnic restaurant or at a social gathering that included goat meat as part of the meal. Only 8% would never eat goat meat again under any circumstance. For the survey of individuals who had consumed goat meat within the past year, 40% of those respondents ate goat meat 25% or less of the time in restaurants while 38% ate goat meat more than 75% of the time in restaurants. Goat cut was more important to the respondents than price, source, or color of goat meat. Age of goat and location of slaughter were important attributes to customers purchasing live goats for meat (32 and 33%, respectively) while sex and price were less important (18 and 17%, respectively). Knowledge of the desired goat meat attributes and purchasing behaviors of consumers allows producers and processors to adjust their production and processing practices to provide goats that result in the desired meat characteristics. The second project objective was to measure the live, carcass, and meat traits of kid and yearling meat goats and evaluate the palatability of goat meat from the types of goats representative of those marketed in the U.S. The goats were selected to represent the goats currently available in commercial channels, with many different breeds and crossbreeds, ages, and conformation types among the 725 goats. Linear body measurements and weight varied within and among groups. Carcass conformation and body circumference were related to live conformation and barrel circumference, respectively, for some groups. Lean yields from half carcasses were related to carcass body dimensions and external fat scores. The differences in proximate composition of moisture, fat, protein, and ash of Semimembranosus muscles from the goats were minimal. This information improves communication within the marketing channels, providing for more direct price determinations and profitability predictions from production to retail outlet.. The third project objective was to survey producers to determine current production and marketing practices and the changes needed to increase net margins and productivity within the next 5 years. An agricultural economist and his graduate students surveyed 1,600 meat goat producers and received 584 returns, for a 43% return rate. Data were collected from the ten page questionnaire in 8 sections to determine production practices, breeding practices, breeding stock attributes, price differentials, selection of marketing channels, perceptions of challenges facing the industry, meat goat producer goals, producer demographic and financial information. The respondents had an average of 200 acres with 58 acres devoted to 36 doe goats, with an average of 40% of the net farm income received from the goat operation. Almost all goat producers had sheds or barns while other facilities and equipment for goat production such as scales and working chutes were less frequent. All meat goat breeds and types of production systems were reported, with Boer being the predominant. Most goats were sold for meat purposes or breeding stock, with 16% sold for showing. There were 1.4 kid goats reported per doe, with 72% having twins or triplets. Only 38% checked pregnancy of does, with less than 24% reporting usage of any advanced reproductive practices. Challenges identified as having a significant negative impact on goat producers were high cost of goat production, lack of a clear marketing system, lack of a close goat meat processor, and internal parasites. Lack of steady demand, diseases, predators, and surplus supply of foreign goat meat were not deemed to have significant impact by most producers. Producer goals primarily focused on profit, involvement of the family in agriculture, and avoiding years of loss or low profit while increased net worth, weed control, and increasing farm size were also considerations. Selling of goat meat, size of farm, and percentage sale of slaughter goats were positively associated with profit of the goat production enterprise. The results were presented to industry groups of goat producers attending goat seminars and workshops and to other scientists at scientific meetings.


  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Gillespie, J., N. Nyaupane, and K. McMillin. 2013. Producer perceptions of important challenges currently facing the U.S. meat goat industry. Prof. Anim. Scientist 29:333-344.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Gillespie, J., N. Nyaupane, K. McMillin, and R. Harrison. 2013. Results of the U.S. Meat Goat Production Survey. Proceedings of the Langston University 28th Annual Goat Field Day 28:8-10.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Harrison, R., J. Hill, J. Gillespie, and K. McMillin. 2013. Consumers Preference for Goat Meat in the United States. Proceedings of the Langston University 28th Annual Goat Field Day 28:11-13.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: McMillin, K., J. Gregorie, K. Braden, R. Cope, and F. Pinkerton. 2013. Live Animal and Carcass Measurements of Meat Goats: A USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Project. Proceedings of the Langston University 28th Annual Goat Field Day 28:14-16.
  • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Gillespie, J., N. Nyaupane, K. McMillin, and R. Harrison. 2013. Results of the 2012 U.S. meat goat production survey. Meat Goat Monthly News 20(5):8.

Progress 02/01/11 to 01/31/12

OUTPUTS: Preliminary information on consumer survey results and characteristics of goats from some of the sacrifice groups were given in presentations at goat industry seminars and field days in Oregon, Texas, and Georgia. One abstract was presented at a national meeting. PARTICIPANTS: K.W. McMillin (PI), M. Persica, R.W. Harrison, J.W. Gillespie, LSU AgCenter; F. Malekian, J. Gager, and S. Gebrelul, Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center; G. Kannan and Brou Kouakou of Fort Valley State University and K.W. Braden of Angelo State University; and F. Pinkerton, retired from Langston University. TARGET AUDIENCES: Target audiences for the current results were other scientists interested in projects to benefit small and underserved farmers and ranchers and other segments of the livestock and food industries seeking additional knowledge about meat goats and meat goat production. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

A nationally representative sample of 2,000 consumers who indicated they had eaten goat meat in the past year and a nationally representative sample size of 2,000 red meat eaters from the general population were collected for the consumer survey portion of the project. The survey was comprised of questions that elicited information regarding goat meat consumers' and red meat consumers' attitudes, perceptions and behavior regarding goat meat. Questions regarding socio-economic and demographic variables were also included in the survey. Final results and analysis is expected to be completed next year. Once all data has been compiled and analyzed, the results will be used to construct optimal product recommendations for the goat industry, as well as insights into target marketing including best pricing, distribution and retailing strategies. The first stage survey of goat producers was completed and the results are being analyzed. The second-stage survey of goat production costs and returns will be sent out after approval of the finalized questionnaire by the University Internal Review Board. A list of producers willing to participate in the second-stage cost of production survey based upon the first-stage survey respondents has been compiled. Collection of the data will be completed within three months for analyses and estimation of production costs and returns separated by different production systems. Eight groups of goats totaling 313, mostly male and female kid goats but with 30 does of varying ages, of known breed types and ages were purchased for the project. Live weights and linear dimensions were measured before sacrifice. Carcasses were evaluated for conformation, fatness, muscling, size, and flank muscle color before fabrication into standardized goat cuts for determination of lean goat yields. Semimembranosus muscles were sampled for compositional analyses and trained sensory panel evaluations. Preliminary results indicated that consumers preferred chops and cubes over whole and half carcasses. They were willing to pay a higher premium to receive these cuts. Imports had a negative Willingness To Pay, indicating that consumers did not place a high value on imported goat meat. Color of goat meat was not as important to consumers as the other attributes. Unavailability or lack of knowledge about cookery were major factors of consumers who have never eaten goat meat or only consume goat meat occasionally. These results will help guide the meat goat producers and processors in producing meat more highly desired by consumers who eat goat meat and to provide goat meat with desired properties to consumers who currently do not purchase goat meat. The live, carcass, cut, and meat information will be statistically analyzed to determine if the currently available meat supply has the characteristics identified as desirable by the representative individuals in the consumer survey. Results of the producer production costs and returns will provide information about successful and profitable goat operations and dissemination will allow producers to have increased decision options for improving their enterprises.


  • Hill, J., R.W. Harrison, K.W. McMillin, and J.M. Gillespie. 2012. Consumer Preferences for Goat Meat in the US: An Application of Choice-Based Conjoint Analysis. Southern Economics Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana (Abstr.).

Progress 02/01/10 to 01/31/11

OUTPUTS: Progress on meeting the project objectives has been given at the annual meeting of NIFA Prosperity of Small and Medium-Sized Farms and Rural Communities grant project directors. Information was published in conference proceedings and a book chapter and presented at scientific and project meetings. PARTICIPANTS: K.W. McMillin (PI), J.W. Gillespie, R.W. Harrison, LSU AgCenter; F. Malekian, J. Gager, and S. Gebrelul, Southern University; G. Kannan, Fort Valley State University; K. W. Braden, Angelo State University; F. Pinkerton, retired from Langston University; and S. Solaiman, Tuskegee University. TARGET AUDIENCES: Target audiences for the current results were other scientists interested in projects to benefit small and underserved farmers and ranchers and other segments of the livestock and food industries seeking additional knowledge about meat goats and meat goat production. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Three groups of goats (total 95) were purchased and sacrificed after recording live weights and linear measurements. The kid and mature goats represented known ages and breed types from meat goat producers and goats purchased at auction. The live conformation was estimated by experienced goat evaluators when live weight and body dimensions of length, width, height, and circumference were measured. Carcass data and standardized goat cuts were collected to determine lean goat meat yields. Sensory panel, shear force, and compositional analyses of semimembranosus samples are in progress. The consumer survey on household food consumption and purchase of representative U.S. households is being finalized for sending to an internet market information company. The survey will have questions and pictorial depictions of consumer choices on cuts, prices, and meat color. The choice-based conjoint experimental design for goat meat attributes and demographic/socio-economic characteristics will generate data that will indicate consumer preferences and consumption behavior for goat meat with estimates of frequency, sources, amounts, and prices paid. Local producers were solicited to answer preliminary questions about production, management, and marketing practices on numbers and kinds of goats produced; net margins; expansion or profitability; and meat goat industry opinions. Their responses and critique of the producer survey are being used to finalize a random mail survey that is being readied for mailing. Mailing lists are being collated from lists of goat meat associations and internet addresses. The surveys are being developed in a deliberate and progressive manner to provide maximal information from meat goat producers and goat meat consumers with the provided project funding. Information on desired consumer goat meat traits will allow production, processing, and marketing strategies to improve producer productivity and profitability. The procurement, harvest, and evaluation of live goats, carcasses, and meat has indicated that the availability of goats is seasonal; prices for live goats and goat meat has increased even during the short time of the project; and interest in participation has been generated among additional scientists. Research on yields and/or palatability of goat meat and data on consumer purchasing habits and desires will relate price sensitivity to goat meat and goat meat traits. Survey results on production practice and profitability research information will provide useful recommendations to goat producers.


  • McMillin, K., Webb, E.C., Donkin, E.F. and Pinkerton, F. 2011. Goat meat production systems. Chapter 2 in Goat Meat Production and Quality, O. Mahgoub, I.T. Kadim, and E. Webb (Ed.), CABI, Oxfordshire, UK, pp. 15-32.
  • McMillin, K.W., Gillespie, J.W., Harrison, R.W., Malekian, F., Pinkerton, F., Gager, J.V., Gebrelul, S., Braden, K.W., Kannan, G. and Solaiman, S. 2011. Enhanced economic benefits for meat goat producers through production, meat yield and palatability, and consumer information. USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Prosperity for Small and Medium-Sized Farms and Rural Communities Program Project Director Meeting, Miami, Florida. (Abstr.).
  • McMillin, K.W., Tangkham, W., Preiss, D., Cope, R. and Braden, K. 2011. Live and carcass traits and cut yields from crossbred and purebred Boer wether kid goats. Proc. Intl. Congr. Meat Sci Technol 57:P026. 4 p.