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18 Best Goat Breeds for Meat – A Complete Guide
Goats were among the first animals to be domesticated for meat and dairy use, and since then, they have become one of the most popular domesticated farm animals. This is largely due to their hardiness and ease of keeping, but their meat is also delicious and a healthier alternative to beef, as it contains low amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol while still being a great source of protein.
If you have decided to raise goats for meat, there are specific breeds that are best for the purpose, and certain breeds that are best for milk production. While these two virtues do cross over into dual-purpose goats, certain breeds are far more suited toward meat production.
In this article, we take a look at 18 goat breeds that are the best for meat production. Let’s get started!
The Anglo-Nubian is a dual-purpose breed that is typically more revered for its milk production than its meat but produces great meat nonetheless. They are large goats that can reach up to 175 pounds in weight and are often used for meat due to this large stature. They were first developed by crossing British goats with African and Indian varieties in the 1870s.
Known more for their luxurious fleece production than for food, the Angora still produces great meat and dairy. They have a thick, sheep-like coat that densely covers their entire body, making obtaining meat slightly more difficult, as they need to be skinned. Their skin comprises 10-15% of their body weight, and this can result in losses for the producer. For home breeding, however, they are hardy and useful goats to have around.
3. Australian Rangeland
Otherwise known as Australian Feral goats, Rangeland goats are extremely popular for meat production. In fact, almost 90% of goat meat in the industry comes from this breed. Rangelands are low maintenance, can live in extremely dry conditions, and can readily breed with other species, and this largely why they are such an extensively used breed.
Found primarily in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, the Beetal is a highly revered and important breed in these areas and is a popular source of meat and milk for the locals. They are hardy, adaptable, and tough animals with short coats and extremely long ears and are great dual-purpose animals for both milk and meat production.
5. Black Bengal
The tiny, dwarf-sized Black Bengal goat is a popular meat animal in Bangladesh and India, and although they are small, the quality of their meat makes keeping them worthwhile. They have short coats with black, brown, white, or grey coloring, with short ears and a characteristic beard.
The Boer goat is arguably one of the best goat breeds to raise for meat, as they are extremely hardy with an amazing capacity for adaptation and the excellent ability to withstand common goat diseases. They were first developed by the “Boer” (farmers) of the Eastern Cape region in South Africa and produce excellent quality meat. These goats have large, muscular white bodies, long legs and ears, and strong backward-curving horns.
Brush goats are not a specific breed, but rather a group of similar breeds that were developed from crosses between meat and dairy goats. They are adaptable and hardy animals that are commonly used to eat unwanted vegetation and brush, hence the name. They are also commonly known as Hill goats, Briar Goats, or simply native goats and kept for both milk and meat production.
Native to Syria, the Damascus goat, also known as the “Aleppo,” is a popular dual-purpose breed for both milk and meat production. They are truly unique-looking goats that are beautiful when young but grow up with unique characteristics. They have large, bulging noses and long ears and are known on the internet as one of the world’s ugliest animals! Still, this rare breed has become extremely valuable and catch fetch thousands of dollars among collectors.
9. Jebel Akhdar
The Jebel Akhdar is one of the largest breeds of goat and as such, is a popular animal for meat production. The breed hails from Oman in the Middle East and represents around 20% of the total goat population in the country. They are golden brown animals with soft, medium-length coats, have a fast growth rate, and produce a superior amount of meat.
10. Kalahari Red
Hailing from the hot, desert regions of the Kalahari in South Africa, the Kalahari Red is, as you’d expect, an extremely hardy animal that can withstand hot, dry conditions with ease. They are popular in meat production because their meat is lean and far more tender than most other breeds. They are tall animals with a reddish-brown coloring that makes them easily hidden in their natural surroundings.
The Kiko is a breed hailing from New Zealand and was created in the mid-1980s. The breed was developed by crossing feral goats with Anglo-Nubians, Saanen, and Toggenburg goats in order to create a hardy, strong meat goat. These goats are highly adaptable, easy-to-care-for, and hardy animals that can survive in most climates. They are favored both for their milk and meat.
The modern Pygmy goat is primarily kept as a pet but is also popular in meat production because they have compact bodies, are prolific breeders, and are easy to care for. The breed originated from the West African Pygmy breed and are kept as pets, for meat production, and in zoos. Because of their small size, they are also commonly used for scientific research.
A well-known breed of goat for milk production, the Saanen is also a popular meat breed in their native Switzerland. They are the largest breed of Swiss goat, with a short white coat and calm, docile nature. They are hardy and adaptable animals and are one of the most widely distributed dairy goats in the world.
The Savanna goat originated in South Africa and was developed from the white Boer goats. They are prolific breeders, easy to care for and hardy, and highly drought and heat resistant, making them ideal for meat production in arid areas. They are a relatively new breed in the U.S., only being imported in the late 1990s. They are fast-growing with great milk production capabilities and are ideal dual-purpose animals.
The term Spanish goat more accurately refers to a group of goats that are all similar in appearance, size, and temperament, like the Brush goat. In the past, they were one of the most popular meat breeds, but the development of the Boer goat eventually overtook them. They are still highly sought-after for meat production, however, as they are hardy and adaptable animals.
16. Sudanese Male Desert Goats
A vitally important goat breed in Sudan, the Sudanese Male Desert Goat is widely used for meat and milk production in the semi-desert regions of northern Sudan. They are hardy, adaptable animals that are highly tolerable of the hot and arid conditions of the region, and their meat is known to be far more tender than many other goats in the area.
17. Tennessee Fainting Goat
Also known as Stiff-Leg Goats and Woodenlegs, the Tennessee Fainting Goat is the breed of legend and is one of the only goat breeds that originated in the United States. They are myotonic goats, meaning that when they are frightened, their muscles stiffen and they fall — or faint. They are primarily kept for meat but are also great milk producers and are one of the most popular pet breeds.
Known for their unique, massive, twisted horns, the Verata hails from Spain, and they are an extremely durable, hardy, and strong breed. They are highly adaptable to most climates, are easy to look after and manage, and under the right conditions, are prolific breeders. This makes them ideal for milk production, but their meat is great too, and they are typically ready for meat at around 45 days old.
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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.