Well, I'm glad that you ask! After all, I am in LOVE with goats, but I still feed goat meat to my family about once a week. I hope that by the end of this article, I can convince you that goat meat is a tasty, ethical and healthy option that you should consider including in your menus.
But goats are so interesting!
Goats are the cutest little suckers with fantastic personalities and a good deal of intelligence. We love their bouncy little bodies and cuddly young lives, and we truly need their foraging skills to improve the land each year by browsing blackberry brambles, pine saplings, and other 'weeds' that interfere with our goals of a native Virginia silvopasture.
Because we produce milk for our herdshares and cheese, baby goats are a necessity and pleasure to have on the farm. If you want milk, you have to have babies. As everyone knows, 50% of births are male, and 50% are female. In livestock, the females are the valued prize and 99% of male livestock are not kept as breeding stock, and so must be 'used' in some way. With goats, the options are A. Pets and B. Meat.
Goats make great pets in the right situation. But new livestock owners have a hard time with the delicate digestive systems and weak resistance to parasites (worms). This makes for a rough life for a goat. Most skilled goat owners have goats for a reason (meat, milk, or fiber), and don't need a bunch of neutered males eating up their valuable grass. I don't want to have to market my goats as pets (it is a lot of work), and I don't want them being (accidentally) mistreated and unhealthy. So on to option B.
You have a few options here - process the goats yourself or take them to the auction to be shipped off for commercial slaughter. I took one set of male goats to the auction in 2017. They were terrified at the new surroundings and were treated a good deal rougher than my usual petting and singing to them. I still feel guilt about the last week or so of their little lives being so different and full of fear. It is not something that I want to repeat. EVER.
Because of that hard experience, I vowed that I would do my best to keep our goats on the farm from cradle to grave. This way, I know that they live healthy, happy lives with their friends and siblings, eating what they evolved to eat and running around in the woods. It might be a short life, but it's a happy and fulfilled one.
Goat Meat is incredibly nutritious
For those of you watching your fat or cholesterol intake, goat is a fantastic red meat alternative to beef. Three ounces of goat meat has about 122 calories, 0.79 grams of saturated fat and 3.2 milligrams of iron. In comparison, the same cut of beef has 179 calories, three grams of saturated fat and 2.9 milligrams of iron.
Goat Meat is eco-friendly
Goats are lighter in terms of their carbon footprint, and so are a more sustainable choice than beef. As browsers, they are easier on pastures than cows or sheep, and thus less petroleum-based fertilizers are required to maintain their forage (we use none - they feast on what naturally grows here). They also require less input to reach market weight, and are processed at 6-8 months and before winter, requiring little to no hay (or the fuel required to collect, bale and transport it).
What are my favorite ways to cook goat meat?
Goat meat, particularly young goats (under 1 year) is very mild and tastes amazing! However, it is incredibly lean, so you can't abuse it or it will be tough.
I like to cook the chops and kabobs quickly on the grill or in a cast-iron pan. You can just season with salt and pepper, or do a traditional greek marinade for a few hours (lemon joice, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic). Cooking medium or medium rare will give you a tender, flavorful meal.
The stew meat and shanks are better used in stews and braising. Low temp and slow, you can make a curry, meat and potato stew, or soup. Young goat (the type we produce) is very mild and can be used in almost any lamb recipe. I also commonly swap goat into my beef stews and soups. Here are a few of my favorite goat meat recipes, and you can find tons more on Pinterest: