October 27, 2011
by Allan Nation
NEWPORT, Neb: Chad Peterson has learned a few things about meat goats in the last five years.
A beef and bison rancher, Peterson added 75 meat goats in 2000 to see if they would eat some weeds and brush on his ranch.
They did and so he got a few more.
And a few more after that.
Today, he has around 2500 mature nannies and you could say he has been on a steep learning curve over the last five years.
I asked him to make a list of the top 10 things he has learned about meat goats and here is what he sent me.
1. It’s not if they will get out, but when.
2. They will clean up brush far faster than you can imagine.
3. They will figure out the one place on your ranch they should not be and they will go straight to it. On my ranch is was the top of my grandmother’s car.
4. Loading them onto trucks is easy. Unloading them is even easier.
5. They know when you are not watching.
6. If you can’t find them, search in the direction the wind is blowing. Goats always travel into the wind.
7. If they start running to camp in the middle of the day, get prepared for bad weather. They are great barometers.
8. They will eat your wife’s flowers.
9. They know when they have been bad and they don’t feel sorry about it.
10. Did I mention that they will get out?
Peterson’s goats quickly ate themselves out of their preferred forages on his home ranch. This led him to start custom grazing the goats for landscaping purposes.
He said this service business is now more lucrative than selling meat kids.
The goats are out-wintered in canyons in southern Nebraska and do fine as long as they can get out of the wind.
You need to build into your grazing plan a place to set-stock (stop the rotation) during kidding season. This is the primary problem with using production nannies for land clearing.
Dry nannies and wethers are easier to manage but probably not as profitable.
He has not had a dramatic drop-off in kidding rate by pushing production nannies to clear land.
He said the first item on his list is number one because confinement is still his biggest problem.
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