Breeds of Goats

Goats have been in North America for hundreds of years, beginning when the settlers brought Swiss breeds along with Spanish and Austrian goats from Europe in the 1590’s. A 1630 census of Jamestown lists goats as one of the most valuable assets. The early 1900's was a period of explosive growth in the number of dairy goats being brought into the US.

Dairy Goats

The Dairy Goat industry experienced rapid growth in the early 1900's when several dairy breeds were brought to the US from Europe in large numbers, and the first dairy goat show in America was held at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. Goat milk has long been a staple product for people who suffer from allergies, and in recent years the demand for additional goat products, including soaps, cheese and lotions has added to the market for dairy goat products.

According to the USDA, as of January 1, 2017, the United States had 373,000 milk goats. The largest number of milk goats are found in Wisconsin (44,000 head) and California (41,000 head), followed by Iowa (30,000 head), Pennsylvania (15,000 head) and New York (13,700 head) (NASS).

Fiber Goats

The Fiber Goat industry has been in existence in the United States for over a hundred years. Natural fiber was the first available material for clothing and some of the most extravagant fibers are produced by goats. These include mohair from the Angora goats and cashmere which is from the undercoat of different breeds of goats that have been selected for good fiber production. The fiber industry has struggled in recent years and numbers have been lost as many producers switched to other breeds of goats. Today, these fibers are still in demand, but at reduced levels and efforts are being made to grow the industry.

Meat Goats

Prior to the early 1990's most of the goat meat produced in the United States came from unwanted male dairy goats and either Spanish or Spanish-cross goats. The increasing numbers of ethnic immigrants in addition to a growing demand for high quality, healthy, lean red meat created a demand for goat meat that could not be met by American producers. The arrival of the South African Boer goat in the early 1990's along with the collapse of the goat fiber market led to a period of growth as producers began to cross their fiber and other goats with the Boers, which resulted in a heavier muscled goat that yielded more meat. In spite of the growth in the American Meat Goat Industry, even today, the importation of goat meat into the United States is estimated to be over 30 million dollars annually, and over half of the goat meat eaten in the U S is from feral goats imported from Australia.

Goat meat is called either cabrito or chevon. Cabrito is from kids harvested within the first week of birth. Chevron is from older kids. Goat meat is leaner than poultry and other red meats, low in fat and cholesterol and is a source of conjugated linoleic acid. Meat goats totaled 1.3 million head in 2016 (NASS).

Brush Control Goats [various breeds, special use]

While we do not have a specific number of goat rental companies across the U.S., they are continually increasing as the awareness of environmentally friendly goat grazing to control weeds, forages, brush and other ground cover becomes more prevalent. Goat grazing mitigates fire danger, increases the health and beauty of grazing lands when they are properly managed while creating milk products that are nutritious and often can be used by people with allergies, and the most healthy and widely consumed red meat in the world. Further, goats can be grazed effectively with other species as they prefer plants that many other species such as cattle refuse.

Pack Goats [various breeds, special use]

Goat packing was popularized in the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s by John Mionczynski of Atlantic City, Wyoming. He developed a herd of large mixed-breed goats and used them as early as the 1970s to pack supplies for scientists working in the mountains and later to carry food and gear for tourists on hiking trips. Goat packing is popular with both young families, and older individuals who want to be able to go into the wilderness and need help carrying all their gear. Goats are herd animals and also easily socialize to people. When grouped together they will naturally establish a lead "boss" goat who rules the group and the others will follow that lead goat.
American Goat Federation © 2018                                 The American Goat Federation is a 501 (c)(5) Nonprofit Organization                 Office Hours: 10am - 5pm (eastern time) Mon thru Fri

MEMBER: National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) ~~~ United States Animal Health Association (USAHA) ~~~ International Goat Association (IGA)
On the Executive Board of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI)

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