This month we found out a little more about one of our clients who have been specialising in Goat meat.
Maxine Tarry and her partner, Ian Garden are farmers in Aberdeenshire. Between them, they manage an arable, sheep, beef, and goat enterprise, specialising in High Health Status Goats for both breeding and meat production. They have a regular contract for their weaned goat kids and also supply finished carcasses to local butchers. Additionally, goat breeding stock are sold from the farm.
The sheep and cattle are commercially farmed and they supplement their animal feed from their own arable crops. I met Maxine met on a fresh spring day, with clear blue skies overhead.
Q: How long have you and Ian been goat farming?
A: We started nine years ago with the traditional Boers and then diversified into full red Boers in 2013. Unsurprisingly, Boers originate from South Africa.
Q: You have breeding sheep as well as breeding goats – what do you see as the main differences?
A: Goats are a more specialist market. You need more money to invest in the breeding stock and feed costs more than with sheep. Goats are friendlier to work with – they each have their own distinct personality. And sheep are more prone to dying!
Q: You went to South Africa last year to obtain your qualification in goat stock judging – what was the most interesting part of that experience?
A: It was all quite amazing, but the most exciting part of that trip was seeing the difference in the stock and the stock handling compared to here. The genetics that have been developed over the years due to the warmer climate were interesting to observe.
Q: What have you changed in your own farming practices on the back of this training?
A: Having been given the insight into what makes an excellent quality stock, we have a better understanding of the breed and what to look for; such as length, conformity, and genetics. For show animals, you are looking for horn shape, coat and hoof condition, a good rump, and shape of the head.
Q: And have you noticed an improvement as a result?
A: We are progressing into better genetics on the back of this deeper understanding. This will give us improved animal quality and increased carcass weight.
Q: How much demand is there for goat meat?
A: There is a growing demand for it as it is a very lean product. It is still quite a niche market, although is used fairly extensively in ethnic cooking.
Q: Is it good for you?
A: As with all lean meats it is good for you as it is high in protein and low in fat.
Q: What does it cost?
A: Prices are comparable to lamb.
Q: What dishes can be made with goat?
A: Curries, burgers, sausages are all popular or they can be enjoyed as a joint or a steak.
Finally, what advice would you give to someone looking to start in goat farming?
Make sure you have good housing and dry pasture – which is not easy in the current weather conditions! Don’t expect a quick return – like a lot of farming activities, it takes time to see a return on investment. Buy the best quality you can afford and with the best High Health Status available.