Wednesday, November 2, 2011

African refugees hope to start goat farm in Utah

By Julia Lyon, Salt Lake Tribune
SALT LAKE CITY - For many of Utah's newest immigrants, a delicious, home-cooked meal begins with a goat. Boiled in a stew, roasted over a barbecue or chopped in a curry, goat is a staple in many parts of Africa and Asia and increasingly a standard in small markets.
Some of it travels thousands of miles from Australia before reaching stoves in Salt Lake City, but other goats bleat locally before being slaughtered, sliced and wrapped in plastic.
With an eye to the growing demand, three African refugee groups hope to start a goat farm to use their native skills, create jobs and make money -- not to mention fashioning a reliable pipeline of goats to be killed in the Muslim halal tradition. For many, goats need to be killed in the name of God and sliced at the throat with a sharp knife while it faces the holy city of Mecca.
Ismail Mohamed, president of the Somali Bajuni community in Utah, is among the refugees dreaming of a goat farm and talking to 31-year-old Swan Workman, who believes the goat business has big potential. Collaborating with the refugees could mean taking advantage of their years of expertise.
With Boer goats' short gestation period -- about 150 days -- Workman's herd of a dozen could expand quickly. The refugees may seek a grant to help seed the farm, which some also envision for growing corn, pumpkins, watermelons and other produce. Profits may take a while and eventually could be funneled back to the community to pay for refugee classes or other needs.
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