GREAT FALLS - Goat meat production is expanding across the United States, and that’s why a new program is underway in Montana.
More than two dozen people showed up at a workshop at the Mountain View Co-op store in Great Falls recently to ask questions and listen to experts.
The workshop was one of the first two held to effectively kick off the new meat goat production program.
"We're just kind of trying to get ahead of the curve,” MSU Extension State Sheep and Wool Specialist Brent Roeder said.
"Really what we're just trying to do is get some educational programming out for goat producers, commercial goat producers, around the state," he continued.
"We know those numbers have been building, the markets have been good for goats the last couple of years, Roeder explained. "So really just trying to build some foundation meetings for those producers that are out there."
Demand for goat meat is increasing as consumers become more health conscious and ethnic communities expand.
Joel Farkell who lives near Conrad came to the workshop because his daughters are in 4-H and getting into meat goat production. He has been interested in production for a few years.
"We have some basic questions on the production, (making) sure we're headed in the right direction in setting up our pins correctly and being aware ofthe predator control,” Farkell said.
Also speaking at the workshop were Dr. Reid Redden, the sheep and goat specialist for Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, and Texas rancher Carl Whitworth.
"I do a lot of different things with Brent Roeder, so he invited us to come up,” said Redden. "We’re going to talk about just kind of general goat management, how goats are run in Texas, what's the pros and cons of the goat industry."
As a sixth generation goat producer, Whitworth offered this advice to anyone looking to get into the business.
"Do your homework. Find somebody that's been doing it (and) pick their brain,” Whitworth said.
If you weren't able to make one of the first two workshops, not to worry.
There will be other workshops as well as webinars, on-farm training, and even mentoring over the next two years. To learn more, visit the GoatMT website.