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Goat and lamb production for ethnic markets

Respecting and understanding ethnic food choices can help your bottom line

The growing number of diverse ethnic and religious groups in the United States means opportunities for agricultural diversification, especially with goat and lamb meat. Religious guidelines or cultural preferences often dictate food choices.

Susan Schoenian is an Extension sheep and goat specialist at the University of Maryland. She says lamb is tied more to religion and time of year, whereas goats are usually associated with culture. Respecting and understanding these parameters helps you market your animals.

"Halal is a certain method of slaughter and you have to be ok with that. You don’t have to do it yourself, but you have to respect it. It helps you produce the type of animal they want," says Schoenian. "Like, this is more with lambs than with goats, but for the Festival of the Sacrifice they want an unblemished animal. Meaning, that lamb was born with a tail, you keep that tail on. You keep those testicles; you keep those horns."

Schoenian says there are many ways to offer your animals to ethnic markets. Get involved in your target community by attending cultural and social events and post multi-language flyers at religious or cultural centers. And, if your state laws allow it, bring people out to your farm.

"In some states it’s permissible for the buyer to kill the animal on the farm because the farmer’s not providing anything other than, ‘hey you can do it here’, but he’s not providing a service or anything. He has to sell a live animal, he can’t help with the slaughter," says Schoenian. "Or, when they take them to a sale barn by their timing and by the type of goat they take, that’s another way to sell in the ethnic market."

Where you live and how ethnically diverse it is will dictate the availability of these specialty markets.

Learn more about producing meat for ethnic markets

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