Raise Meat Goats or Get a Minimum Wage Job for Income?
We get questions on a regular basis related to the ability to make some income by
raising meat goats on a small 5-10 acre farm. Many times they want to know if they
can make around $20,000 or more raising meat goats on 5-10 acres. We tell them it
would be very rare for them to reach that goal. It would be easier for most people
to make more money easier by getting some job that pays the minimum wage rather than
raising meat goats. That doesn't mean a person can't make money raising meat goats
or that they will be happier with a minimum wage job. It is important that people
look at both sides of this equation and how important a steady income will be for
Minimum Wage Job
Lets look at a minimum wage job of around $8 per hour, working 8 hours a day for
5 days a week. That is a salary of $64 a day, $320 a week, around $1,400 a month
and around $17,000 a year. There are little to no expenses a person incurs with a
typical minimum wage job. At the end of the eight hour day, the person has no other
responsibilities or concerns to worry about. At the end of the week, the weekend
is free to do whatever you want to and free to travel. For many of those jobs, the
person may be inside and out of the weather.
Raising Meat Goats
There are several different categories in the industry of raising meat goats but
the most basic category is raising meat goats to sell for meat. So lets consider
that option first related to the minimum wage job. Meat goats are sold by the pound
so lets take a general price per pound of $1,50. That can be high or low but it allows
us to do some basic calculations. Lets also assume the breeder will sell their animals
at 80 pounds each. At $1.50 a pound and an animal weighing 80 pounds will result
in a price of $120. Lets pretend there are no fees for selling the animals at an
auction or hauling them to a sale. If the person can get $120 a head, they would
then need to calculate how many animals they would have to sell each year to get
the same income as the minimum wage job of $17,000. At $120 a head, a person would
have to sell 140 animals to make around $17,000. That also assumes the breeder did
not have to incur any expenses in raising the animals and all of the kids lived.
That means there would be no feed purchased, no medicine purchased, no vet expenses,
and no equipment.
The general rule of thumb related to how many goats a person can run per acre is
6-7 goats per acre. That also means all the acreage has ample forage for the animals
to eat year round. At 7 goats an acre, $120 a head and you are wanting to have an
income of $17,000, you would have to have at least 20 acres. This also does not count
the breeding does and bucks that would be required to produce the animals to be sold
for slaughter and assumes every kid born will survive and be healthy up until they
There can be considerable expenses in raising meat goats. There are no 8-5 work hours
or only Monday thru Friday work days. Goats generally require some basic shelter
and minimum medicine requirements. It is next to impossible for goats to live exclusively
off the land without some feed supplements. A new breeder will also have to purchase
the initial herd. Our does generally average a little over two kids per each birthing.
In order to have 140 kids to sell, generally that would require around 70 does and
around 3 bucks. At 6-7 head per acre, the initial breeding herd will increase the
required acreage by an additional 10 acres bringing the minimum acreage to around
Most goat raisers on small acreage farms, are not trying to make big money doing
it. There are several reasons why they may be doing it.
In Texas, there are tax exemptions for land that is used to earn some type of farm
income. That can be a big reduction on the land taxes.
They raise goats because their kids are in 4H or FFA and show goats.
Once most people have been around goats like the Boer goat, they fall in love with
them and get a great deal of satisfaction out of raising them.
Goats help keep pastures clear of most weeds.
Alternatives to Slaughter Animals
As I stated earlier, there are several categories of raising goats and the other
categories can bring in higher prices on the animals. The categories are:
Show wethers - This is one of the best long term growth areas in raising goats. Kids
love to show goats and it is becoming more and more popular across the US. Kids also
normally require more than one wether each year and will need new wethers each year.
The prices for show wethers have a wide variation and can be between $200 - $6,000.
Very few will sell for $6,000 +. It is common for show wethers to sell between $250
Breeding stock upgrades - As more people consider raising goats for fun or for profit,
they have to purchase them somewhere. Prices can depend upon if the animals are registered
fullbloods or percentages or unregistered animals. The general prices can be between
$200 - $700.
Show Quality Registered Animals - The top of the line category in the meat goat industry
at this time is show quality registered Boer goats. The number of Boer goat shows
have dramatically increased and are spreading across the US. The price for show quality
animals can vary between $800 - $10,000 or more. Animals are selling in this price
range every year and will likely continue into the future. However, there has to
be some justification for animals to bring prices like that. They have to have some
winning reputation, produce offspring that win or have some outstanding genetics.
Many people see these prices and have hopes they can produce animals to sell in these
price ranges. Many people got into the goat industry hoping for prices like that
and many of them are now out of the business because it is rare to sell animals at
those prices unless you are in the political circle that helps make the animals winners.
We recommend that people seriously consider what their expectations are before getting
into the goat industry. If it is to make a good income on a small amount of land,
they should probably consider getting a minimum wage job and save their self some
heart ache. However, if you want to have the joy of raising some of the most lovable
animals, Boer goats may be just your cup of tea. you can make money raising goats
but it is a secondary consideration to us now. Many people have asked us what we
will do as we get older and will no longer have any Boer goats. I certainly can understand
we will continue to get older but I can't imagine not having Boer goats in our life
no matter what age we are. They have become a part of our life that we don't want
to consider them ever not being around us. They can be the joy of your life... but
not necessarily make you rich.