WESLACO, Texas – Small-acreage landowners are turning to goats for profit, and consumers are enjoying the results, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert who has organized an upcoming goat conference to help more producers get involved.
AgriLife Extension and its Sustainable Ag Committee will host the AgriLife Extension Goat Workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 13 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco, 2415 E. Highway 83.
“Goats are a great way to introduce animals to a farm system, and consumers snap up the varied and high-quality products goats produce,” said Barbara Storz, AgriLife Extension horticulturist in Edinburg. “This conference pulls in goat-raising experts whose talks will benefit everyone from the beginner to the veteran goat producer.”
The cost of the goat workshop is $20, which includes lunch. Seating is limited and preregistration is encouraged. For more information and registration, contact the AgriLife Extension office for Hidalgo County at (956) 383-1026.
“We held our first goat conference last year and found that many small landowners were very interested in both meat and dairy goats,” Storz said. “In fact, one of last year’s workshop participants just opened a goat milk dairy in Hidalgo County.”
Goat-related products are very popular among farmers market customers and chefs, Storz said.
“Goat products are so high in quality, they almost sell themselves,” she said. “Goat milk is popular with people who have allergies to cow’s milk, and dairy goats provide milk that makes excellent cheese, yogurt and ice cream. Goat-milk soap and lotions are also popular. And goat meat can be roasted on the barbecue pit or made into jerky, while the hides make beautiful rugs.”
The workshop program includes professionals from the International Goat Research Center at Prairie View A&M University, Storz said.
“We’re really excited to have these experts address us,” she said. “Two veterinarians from the center will share their expertise. Dr. Barbara Johnson will speak about managing overall goat health, and Dr. Kellye Thompson will discuss parasite prevention and treatment. Dr. Gary Newton, the research scientist leader at the goat research center, will give an introduction to goat breeding and reproductive health.”
Other speakers include Katie Carlson, a goat dairy operator who sells her products in Austin and Houston, will give a talk on operating a goat dairy and marketing goat milk products. Dr. Rick Machen, a professor and AgriLife Extension livestock specialist in Uvalde, will provide information on forage and pasture management.
“After the final speaker, all the speakers will join in a panel discussion to answer questions from members of the audience,” Storz said.
Goat conference participants will also have the opportunity to help schedule a future workshop on artificial insemination.
“A survey of producers found that that’s what they were most interested in, so we’ll discuss setting up a separate workshop for that in October. It will be led by Dr. Newton, who specializes in reproductive health.”
The goat workshop July 13 is made possible by a grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency and the National Center for Appropriate Technology, Storz said.