Goats and sheep a growing industry in LaRue County

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New meat products benefit local farmers

By David Harrison

According to the 2007 USDA Agricultural census, LaRue County ranks sixth in goat production and about 25th in sheep production in the state. While sheep numbers have declined for several years, goat production has done just the opposite – numbers have increased significantly.

Much of the increase in goat numbers has been the introduction of meat type goats such as Boer goats from Africa and other foreign countries. This has generated an increased supply of higher quality goat meat for consumers.

Along with this, the demand for goat meat has increased considerably, principally because of increased ethnic populations in the area and state that are accustomed to eat goat products, and indeed, prefer it for daily consumption and specifically for certain ethnic holidays. Now, goat meat, also called caprine, is being more accepted by the general population.

As the demand for goat products has increased, the Extension Service has provided information to producers who have entered goat production. Today, there are two small ruminant (goat and sheep) extension specialists in Kentucky, one at the University of Kentucky and one at Kentucky State University. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is involved with goat and sheep production and has marketing specialists that assist in goat marketing development.

Locally, a Goat and Sheep Association has been functioning for several years.  The organization has been the administrator of several Tobacco Phase 1 Goat Diversification grant programs. They meet every other month for educational programs and business of the association.

This month’s meeting will be tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the LaRue County Extension Service office in Hodgenville. The meeting topic will be the Oct. 1 referenda for goats and sheep. Ray Bowman, executive director of the Kentucky Sheep and Goat Development Office Association will participate in a round table discussion on this topic. A meal will be served and anyone interested in goat production is invited to attend.

As mentioned above, LaRue County, as well as all Kentucky sheep and goat producers may vote on separate check-off referenda 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Oct. 1 in County Extension Offices. There are two different referenda, one for sheep producers and one for goat producers.

The referenda ask whether sheep and goat producers wish to assess themselves at a rate of one-half of one percent (.50 percent) of the net market price of their animals.

If the check-off is approved, the Kentucky Sheep and Wool Producers Association and the Kentucky Goat Producers Association would administer the funds in the areas of promotion, consumer information, producer communication, industry information, and research.

Persons directly involved in the production of sheep and goats will be eligible to vote in their county of residence. Producers will be required to provide identification and complete a certification attesting that they are eligible to vote. Corporate producers and eligible producers who reside outside of Kentucky may vote only in the county where their farm is located. Eligible producers may vote by absentee ballot.

Votes will be tabulated in the agriculture commissioner’s office in Frankfort. If approved, collection of check-off funds would be mandatory, but reimbursement of funds paid would be an option to the producer.

As a part Extension’s commitment to goat production, two new publications are available. One is about the breeding season for goats and the other is about the kidding season. Both of these publications, as well are others, are available at our office.  Most are also available on line at www.uky.edu/Ag/AnimalSciences/goats/goatinfo.html A monthly newsletter is also published by state specialists.