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Developing a plan for raising meat goats

by Jack Mauldin

After nearly 30 years with IBM, I have found that whatever you want to do successfully you should develop a plan to help ensure success. This is just as true for starting a business of raising goats as it is for starting a retail business. A plan helps you develop a vision of what you want your business to be, define how you will build it and determine if it is working as planned. Without a plan, you make tactical decisions that may or may not effectively lead you to where you really want to be. It is also difficult to really understand if you are successful if no objectives were set earlier to measure against. The plan will include the following phases:

 Vision of the Goat Business You Want to Develop

You need to seriously think about the type of goat business you want to develop. This is an essential part of the plan because every action you take should be compared to if it helped, hindered, or did nothing to help reach the vision. If an action does not help reach the vision, you should consider why you are doing it. The goat business can be divided up into four basic categories:

  1. Boer Show Goats
  2. Boer Goats for Breeders moving into Boers
  3. Percentage Boer Goats for Breeder herd improvement
  4. Meat Goats

Your vision statement should clearly identify which of these you want to participate in. It should also identify how you expect to participate in these areas. Are you going to produce high quality and high prices or medium quality and lower prices; are you going for volume, quality, etc? What is the timeframe of when you expect to reach the vision?

Our vision statement for Double J Boer Goat Farm was: "Raise quality fullblood  boer goats to be sold as breeding stock to new and existing breeders. Have a high buyer satisfaction with doing business with us. Have our vision be a reality at the end of two years."
1998 was the end of our two year period and we believe we have succeeded in reaching our vision statement.

 Expected Investments in Goat Business

You need to consider the amount of money you expect to invest in the business and the timeframe. Without this you can have problems with spending more than you expected or not enough to make the vision come true. Review my article "Total Cost of Raising Goats" to help identify all of the potential costs. As you decide the amount of money you are willing to invest, you should consider if the amount will be sufficient to make the vision come true. If it will not, you should change either the vision or the amount of investment. As you proceed through the other phases you should continue to evaluate if the expected investment is sufficient for the plan being developed and make adjustments as required in either the investment or the plan.

Objectives for Goat Business

Objectives are major things that must occur for your vision to become a reality and they must be measurable. These will be how you know if you are headed in the right direction. Our objectives were:

  1. Have 20 fullblood adult boers for breeding by 1999
  2. Have no loses of goats to predators
  3. Have name recognition with potential buyers by 1999
  4. Have high buyer satisfaction with our animals, prices and communication with us
  5. Have some animals that can successfully participate in Boer Shows by 1999

All of these objectives are directly related to the vision we stated and are measurable. You can also test your objectives against the vision. If we successfully complete all of our objectives, will we reach our vision? We believe so. If the answer would have been no, we would have to revisit the objectives to see what was missing and adjust it. For example, if we did not have #4, buyer satisfaction, we could have all the animals, not lose them to predators, have buyers know about our farm, but not purchase them because we were not competitive in pricing.

 Issues with reaching our Vision

There will always be issues ahead of you that may not let you reach your vision. This phase has you anticipate what the major issues could be and plan to overcome them. Examples of issues may be:

Later in the Actions phase, you must define actions that will remove these issues so they are not a factor in your reaching the vision.

Critical Success Factors

This is an important phase. As you think about creating a successful goat business, you need to identify 3-4 key factors that must be successful for you to be successful in developing your goat business. There are many things that you will need to do in developing your goat business but a few are critical. Our critical success factors were:

 Actions and Tasks required

Now you must identify all of the actions/tasks required to make all of this happen. The actions must be prioritized and dates defined when they will occur.Review the "Total cost of raising goats" for all of the categories that must be covered by your actions.

Your action plan should cover the following type of questions:

After you have developed the list of actions, they should be reviewed against the vision, objectives, issues, investments, and critical success factors. Below are some review questions you should ask:

Continue to refine the plan until you feel comfortable about all of the phases being covered.

 Measure Results

The defined objectives need to be reviewed on a regular basis to see if you are on track. This can be an annual event where you evaluate how you have done with the objectives and refine your plan for the next 12 months. If you discover that you have not reached your objectives, you should consider if the plan was not sufficient, you did not execute the plan correctly, or the objectives were set too high. Then adjust according to your findings.

I hope that is article will be of some benefit to you. If you have any questions and need some help with it, feel free to email us. Best of luck with your goat business.