Sheep & Goats
Goats were among the first animals domesticated by humans. Worldwide, more people eat goat meat and dairy products than the meat and dairy products of any other animal. Goats have proven to be an enduring source of tasty, low-fat meat and high-calorie milk for people in some of the globe's harshest climates. However, in the United States goat consumption is just beginning to take off.
Experts estimate that there are more than 3 million goats in the U.S. today. They fall into three categories: meat, dairy and angora. Popular breeds include: Boer, Kiko, Spanish Meat Goat, and Tennessee Fainting Goat (meat); Alpine, LaMancha, Nigerian Dwarf, and Nubian (dairy); and Angora and Pygora (angora). There are also Kinder goats which are used for both dairy and meat, and Pygmy goats that are mainly used for pets.
The largest segment of goat production in the U.S. is the meat goat segment. There are an estimated 2.6 million meat goats in the U.S. Most of them live in Texas, but Georgia has the fourth-largest goat population east of the Mississippi River.
The growing Chicano and Latino populations in the Southeastern United States and in Texas have brought with them a historical preference for goat meat, also known as chevon. And this cultural preference has turned into to big business for those producers who can meet this steadily increasing demand for goat products.
Sheep are found all over the world. Most of them are domesticated, but some of them live in the wild. They are very social animals and live in groups called flocks.
Domesticated sheep may live on small farms or on large ranges. They like to graze and eat grass, but farmers may also give them hay and grain to eat. It is very important that they have lots of water to drink and shelter in very hot or very cold weather.
Commercial and Professional Publications
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- Goat meat demand increasing in Georgia
- Goats Resources
List of useful links for goat producers.
- Impact Statements: Sheep
Descriptions of Extension efforts to improve knowledge and practices related to sheep.
- American Sheep Industry Association
National organization representing the interests of more than 82,000 sheep producers located throughout the US. Site features reports, hot topics, a research journal, online education, commercial resources, order forms for materials, and industry news.
- Fort Valley State University Georgia Small Ruminant Research and Extension Center
Information about facilities and topics offered at Fort Valley State University.
- Georgia Dairy Goat Breeders
A non-profit organization dedicated to helping owners of dairy goats, and to the improvement of all dairy goat breeds. This site features membership application, officer details, calendar, members directory, information for kids, photo albums, articles, products, upcoming shows, and useful links.
- Georgia Sheep
An overview of sheep in Georgia, including production constraints and opportunities, breeds, feeding, health and safety, and research and education.
- Southern Goat Producers Association
Dedicated to learning more about goat husbandry as well as production of goat products such as milk, fiber, cheese, milk, and pet goats. Their site offers a newsletter, calendar, meeting information, classifieds, and membership information.
Cooperative Extension offers training within local communities on a wide array of topics. To see if there are training events in your area, please visit our calendar.