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 them.
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 are sold.
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 30 acres.
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.
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:
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.