Good taste, immigrants’ preferences help create demand in state

Goat meat, popular with farmers for its profitability and with consumers for its taste, is becoming big business in Pennsylvania, a livestock specialist said last week at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show.

“Farmers can make more profit per dollar invested in goats than in any other form of livestock,” said Dr. Robert D. Herr of Narvon, a Farm Show goat meat judge. “There’s a growing market for goat meat. There never will be enough goats to meet that demand.”

Goat meat, known as chevon, is a very lean and rather light red meat with a taste between veal and rabbit. It can be roasted, barbecued or ground.

Herr, whose family runs a feedlot for 500 goats at their Lancaster County farm, judged the 15 goats in the first Farm Show market goat class, held in conjunction with the dairy goat judging.

“Pennsylvania sends more goat meat to market than any other state in the East,” Herr said. “The Lancaster Stockyards alone sell 25,000 goats a year. Unfortunately, there are very few Pennsylvania farmers who raise more than 30 goats annually for market, so most of the goats we sell come from other states.”

Herr said the market for goat meat is growing, “because each day, 8,000 people who consider goat meat a primary meat come into the United States.”

He said goat meat is popular with ethnic groups such as Italian, Greek, Puerto Rican, Cuban and African.

“Every goat who goes through the auctions has a home,” Herr said. “I’m not sure goat meat ever will go mainstream, but it is a good, low-fat, healthful meat.”

Goat Meat for Sale also is profitable for farmers, Herr said.

“Beef and pork prices have great fluctuations,” he said. “But goat prices over the years have only become stronger even as more goats have moved into the marketplace. It is one segment of the meat industry that has lots of growth.”

Herr said the junior market goat show was fairly quiet, partly because it was new to the the Farm Show and partly because the snow kept people away. The dairy goat show was equally quiet. Show superintendent Carol Schurman of Indiana, Pa., said she expected 210 goats but got only 65.

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