How to Starve a Profit Out of Meat Goats

Starving meat goats? Does the term Wack-A-Doodle come to mind. This is my daughter’s term for “crazy” people. She would say, “That Wack-A-Doodle just ran out into the middle of the street”. I can clearly remember sitting in Dr. Taylor’s Ag Economics class at Purdue and him saying “Oh you can not starve a profit out of those animals”.   I learned so much from that class and the excitement and enthusiasm that he exhibited each class period made my freshmen year one to remember, however what if Dr. Taylor was wrong. What if, I can “starve a profit out of meat goats”?

IMG_0087The past couple of weeks, I have been reading a lot of different publications and books on raising meat goats. I believe that you never stop learning and that no one has all the answers. Some the articles/books, I would classify as “Wack-A-Doodles”, however even with their crazy ideas I see value in my operation. A couple of the better books that I have been reading on the subject (available from Amazon) are, “Raising Meat Goats In a Commercial Operation” by Greg Christiansen and “Raising Meat Goats For Profit” by Gail Bowman. Both Greg and Gail take an approach of “commercial” goats rather than the “show goat” approach. It is refreshing to see others that are trying to incorporate meat goats into a long-standing cattle operation. And more refreshing is that in both books each author explains “failures” as much as “successes”.

This morning, I was sitting in my office going over the profit/loss statements of my goat herd. Did I say profit/loss; I meant loss statements. I was analyzing the feed, veterinarian, and vaccine cost verses the average market price of a kid at the local sale barn. This is what my current statements look like. I am showing this at a single doe level, so it can be applied fo any number of does.  I am certain that some will say that I am Wack-A-Doodle and that is OK.  I am just looking for answers and documenting the results.

 Supplemental Feed Cost

We are currently feeding a combination of store bought feed and home grown corn. No matter the source of the feed, it all has a value.

Doe Feed (Corn/Supp) Cost Total
165 days/year (Winter) 1 lb. per day $16/50 lbs.

(165 lbs. x $.32/lb.)

200 days/year (Summer) ¼ lb. per day $16/50 lbs.

(50 lbs. x $.32/lb.)

Doe Supplemental feed cost is equal: $68.80


Kid Feed (Corn/Supp) Cost Total
Creep feed (45 days) ¼ lb. per day $16/50 lbs.

(11.25 lbs. x $.32/lb.)

Post Weaning

(30 days)

1 lb. per day $16/50 lbs.

(30 lbs. x $.32/lb.)

Kid Supplemental feed cost is equal: $13.20

My Boer X goats are excellent goats and I enjoy them greatly, however they are not cattle and do not convert the grain to weight in the same manner. I am hoping that with breeding and university studies we can increase our rate of gain, however for now the amount of feed consumed is a fixed cost.

Forage Cost

Alfalfa they say!! High quality forages come in many different forms. Alfalfa is known for it high crude protein level, however a quality brome grass with some timothy and clover will provide just as good if not better forage for goats.

Doe Hay Cost Total
165 days/year (Winter) 5 lb. per day $50/1000 lbs.

(825 lbs. x $.05/lb.)

Doe Hay cost is equal: $41.25


Kid Hay Cost Total
Post Weaning

(30 days)

5 lb. per day $50/1000 lbs.

(150 lbs. x $.05/lb.)

Kid Hay cost is equal: $7.50

But what about the summer forages. Our pastures have cost too. Even though we are not renting the pasture, I have plenty of local farmers that would love to have a little extra pasture. So, I am including a pasture rent cost against my does.

Doe Pasture Cost Total
7 Does/Acre $50/Acre rent $50/7 $7.14
Doe Pasture cost is equal: $7.14

Medical Cost

Sick days 🙂 Who does not love sick days, just sitting around the house in your pajamas watching Netflix. As a matter of fact, I think I getting “sick” right now. Well it might be fun for us to get a cold and have to lay around for a day or two, however when my goats get sick it is no fun for anyone. We are doing a lot better with sick goats. Through intense culling and vaccinations, we seldom have a sick animal however even the ordinary care still cost. We have the vet come out at least once a year, for no other reason than a second opinion. I learned a long time ago that I am not the smartest person I know and I need all the advice that I can get, so again the vet comes out.

Doe Medical Cost Total
Vet cost will be divided by 10, because she always checks at least 10 before she leaves. 1 visit by vet ($100/# does)

4 vaccines ($.60/dose)

3 wormings ($.60/dose)

Vet – $10.00

Vaccines – $2.40

Wormer – $1.80

Doe Medical cost is equal: $14.20


Kid Medical Cost Total
Vet cost will be divided by 50, because she always checks at least 50 before she leaves. 1 visit by vet ($100/# does)

6 vaccines ($.60/dose)

1 wormings ($.60/dose)

Vet – $2.00

Vaccines – $3.60

Wormer – $.60

Kid Medical cost is equal: $6.20

Opportunity Cost

Remembering back to Dr. Taylor’s class, he would always talk about opportunity cost. It does not matter if you love the goat business, what else could you or your property be doing to earn a living. Hence opportunity cost. I take an example of planting corn. It is easy we can plant an acre of corn in about an hour total (disk/plant/spray/harvest/etc) and it makes about $20 per acre profit. Not too bad, but then those cute little kids would not be running around.

Doe Opportunity Cost Total
What if I plowed the pastures? (7 does / acre) Planting corn on the pastures. 1 acre of corn is about $20 profit


Doe Opportunity cost is equal: $2.80


The Totals

It scares me every time I run the numbers, because the margins are just that close. It is costing me an arm and leg to have this cute little kids run around the farm.

Animal Feed (Corn/Supp) Hay Pasture Medical Opportunity Cost Total
Doe $68.80 $41.25 $7.14 $14.20 $2.80 $134.19
Kid $13.20 $7.50 N/A $6.20 N/A $26.90

Where is the Upside

If you are lucky enough to have raised a kid to market weight, you have the chance to make a little bit of money. When we first started in the goat business, it was anything but profitable. The poor little kids seemed to die faster than they were born. I tell people the difference between a live goat and a dead goat is 5 minutes.

Since we started saving our replacement does and started increasing the mineral, vaccines usage, we have had a much higher success rate. My family and our friends travel to a different university each year to see what the latest innovation in the goat industry might be and maybe see the goats in a little different light.

Let’s talk numbers. I strive to have a 208% kid crop each year. I want to wean at least 166% and sell 130% of my kids at market time. That gives me my replacement does and allows me to cull a couple my low performing herd does.  The most practical solution would be to strive as close to 200% marketable animals and with better management, I think we can get there.

At the time of this article, the local sale barn is paying $2.30/lb. for 60 lb. market kids. This will be the number of basing profit and loss. $ 2.30 * 60 lb. – ($4 handling + $1 sale fee) = $133.00


Item Doe Expense Kid Expense Kid Expense Kid Expense Kid Expense Sale Price $133 Profit/Loss

Doe +

1 kid

$134.19 $26.90 $133.00 -$28.09

Doe +

1.3 kids

$134.19 $26.90 $8.07 $172.90 $3.74

Doe +

2 kids

$134.19 $26.90 $26.90 $266.00 $78.01
Doe +

3 kids

$134.19 $26.90 $26.90 $26.90 $399.00 $184.11


Can I starve a profit out of my animals


I opened with this question and I will close with it too. Dr. Taylor is right as usual; you can not starve a profit out of the goats. As you reduce the feed provided, the kidding numbers fall and as the kids fall so goes the profit. But one last thought. What if I changed the inputs? What if I fertilized my pastures more and reduced the summer supplemental feedings to almost zero. What if I culled all my animals based on record keeping rather than my own love of certain ones.

I can reduce my input cost by becoming a better manager. Maybe my next book I need to read is my old AgEcon 200 book.