This publication estimates the costs and returns for raising a herd of 25 Boer or Boer/Spanish cross meat goats in southern Nevada. It is intended to be used as a guide providing an example operation; individual costs and returns will vary depending on the market and location.
For this publication, the herd is raised on a 5 acre parcel desert lot. Although there is some native browse available to the herd, supplemental feeding is necessary on desert vegetative lots.
The 5 acre parcel in this example is divided and fenced into two adjacent 2½-acre sections in order to allow for rotational grazing of the vegetation. Field fencing with a 4-inch-by-4-inch spacing from top to bottom, Class 1 zinc coating, hinge joint knot, 12.5 inside gauge wire, 10 top and bottom gauge wire 4 feet tall by 330 feet long per roll is used. This smaller than usual and consistent spacing helps to confine small and stubborn animals.
Seven rolls of fencing are needed at a cost of $270 each, for a total cost of $1890. Three hundred eighty five 6-foot “T” posts are needed, one every 6 feet of fence, at a cost of $3.50 each, $1,347.50 for all. Total fencing costs including rolls and posts is $3,237.50, not including labor costs. Labor is estimated to take two individuals working eight hours to install the fencing.
Portable corrals are needed to restrain the bucks during the time they are not breeding with the does. One portable corral is needed within each 2½-acre area. For these corrals, four 12-foot corral panels, one of which is a gate, are used for each corral, giving each buck a 12-foot-by-12- foot corral. The combined eight panels cost $90 each for a total cost of $720, not including labor costs. Labor is estimated at one hour.
Shade is a necessary provision in southern Nevada. While shade structures can be built, some producers have found that the easiest, most time and cost effective shade structures are carports. They require little to no maintenance and hold up well under all weather conditions, including extremely high winds. A 12-foot-by-20-foot carport with a height of 7 feet can be purchased from chain home improvement stores for approximately $1,500, for a total cost of $3,000, one for each enclosure, not including labor costs. Labor is estimated to take two individuals working eight hours to install the shade structures.
This example operation uses four 70-gallon structural foam stock tanks, one in each doe enclosure and one in each buck corral, at a cost of $85 each, for a total cost of $340 for troughs.
Vehicles and Equipment
In addition to land, fencing, corrals, shade and water, the example operation requires a truck, a flatbed trailer to haul hay, a gooseneck or livestock trailer to haul livestock and a scale to weigh them. Estimated costs for these items can be found on the investment summary spreadsheet that follows.
The initial herd of 25 does will be purchased; 6-month to 1-year-old does will have a cost of $150 each. Replacement does will be offspring of the current herd.
Bucks have a purchase cost of $250 each. Two bucks are needed for the 25-doe herd. Bucks are replaced after two breedings, with a new buck being purchased every year to prevent inbreeding. Culled bucks are sold for $200 each, resulting in a net cost of $50 each.
The herd is fed twice daily. On desert vegetative lots with browse, goats require, on average, 4 pounds of feed per day per goat in fall and winter. Dry does will require less than 4 pounds of feed; pregnant does in late gestation require up to 4.5 pounds; lactating does require up to 5.5 pounds. Feed should be cut back in spring (usually in March) so the goats are thin by summer to reduce death and loss from overheating, bloat and pneumonia. Feed consists of a grass-alfalfa mix at a cost of $200 per ton. Salt and mineral blocks are used as a dietary supplement.
All medical procedures for this example operation are performed by the producer. These include ear tagging, disbudding and injection of antibiotics as needed. The most commonly administered antibiotics are penicillin or LA 200. Injected antibiotics are able to be administered to those animals in need, rather than as a routine treatment. New legislation requires that antibiotics added to water or feed be administered by a veterinarian.
Does are bred twice yearly. First time mothers usually produce a single kid and twins or sometimes triplets in subsequent births. This example operation only keeps does that are prolific, those that twin after their second birth and those that consistently breed successfully. It is estimated that five does per year will not measure up to these standards. They will be culled in October and replaced with offspring from the herd.
The 804 hours per year consist of:
- 2 hours per day feeding/watering
- 30 minutes per week recordkeeping
- 15 minutes per year per doe kidding and medical
- 16 hours per year purchasing and transporting bucks and hay
- 20 minutes per sales transaction
Accounting and legal fees are for yearly tax preparation. Maintenance costs are based on a percentage of the purchase price. Interest on operating capital assumes that a loan will be taken for 80 percent of the necessary funds needed to operate for the year. The interest rate is based on Farm Service Agency rates. Ownership costs include replacement costs and the costs of doing business, including self-employment taxes.
Kids are sold on the farm “on the hoof” at 6 months of age and weigh approximately 120 pounds. Marketing is done through a webpage and through word of mouth. Costs of sales include web fees and business cards. Sales occur in May and November.
Bowman, Gail. Raising Meat Goats for Profit. Bowman Communications Press, 1999.
eXtension. Goat Glossary of Terms. Goat Glossary of Terms
Van Saun, Robert J. Feeding the Pregnant Doe: Understanding the Need for Supplements, Minerals and Vitamins. Penn State University. Feeding the Pregnant Doe: Understanding the Need for Supplements, Minerals and Vitamins
Wade, Cally. Personal Communication.