Larger Slaughter Kids Bringing Top Dollar


As I mentioned in last month's column prices for slaughter goats are at record highs, and have been most of the year. What I didn't mention last month was that not only are prices at record highs, but there seems to have been a rather dramatic shift in the type of goat being demanded.

The table accompanying this column was prepared by analyzing auction results reported by Producers Livestock Auction, San Angelo, TX from January 1, 1998 through April 20, 2004.

I utilized the data for the first 16 sales each year. From 1998 through 2001 the data used was for Choice and Prime grade kids. For 2002 through 2004 the data for Selection 1 kids was used.

Also, during 1998 through 2001 Producer's reported data for kids weighing less than 60 lbs., kids weighing 60-100 lbs., and kids weighing more than 100 lbs. Starting in 2002 the data was reported for kids weighing less than 40 lbs., kids weighing 40-60 lbs., kids weighing between 60-80 lbs, kids weighing between 80-100 lbs., and kids weighing more than 100 lbs.

As a result the data for several weight groups of kids during the earlier years is identical since the data was unavailable for the smaller weight range groups. This also makes it difficult to make comparisons between prices prior to January 1, 2002 and those after.

The prices shown are an average of the high and low price reported during each period for each weight group.

Looking at the table you will see that historically the 30-40 lb kids have commanded the highest average prices per pound during the first 16 weeks of every year.

Normally, the price per pound then declines as the size of the kid increases, but that has not been the case this year. This year premium prices are being paid for the larger kids, and there have been several weeks this spring where even the 80-100 lb kids sold for the same price per cwt as the lightest kids.

Of course, a 100 lb kid that sells for $130.00 per cwt produces over 3 times the revenue of a 30 lb kid that sells for the same price per cwt. If you are raising those kids on pasture, the extra $91.00 per kid is nearly pure profit.

If this continues it will be a no brainer for producers to retain their kids until they are larger, and I have several reasons for believing the trend will continue.

First, the amount of time and effort it takes to kill and butcher a large kid is not significantly greater than the time and effort required to kill and butcher a small kid. However, the amount of meat obtained from the larger kid is much greater. Therefore, the cost per lb. of meat produced by a packer is dramatically lower for the larger kid, and makes it easier to justify paying higher prices per lb. to obtain those kids.

Second, the supply of goat meat in the US continues to fall dramatically short of supplying the growing demand. This spring many does that should have been sold for breeders were sold for slaughter because of the high prices that even mature does were bringing from packers. This will only reduce the supply next year.

One way to increase the supply is to utilize larger kids. By using 80 lb. kids instead of 40 lb. kids you basically double the supply of goat meat without adding a single doe to the nation's herd.

So, what does this mean to the average commercial producer?

Many producers will need to reevaluate their kidding schedule. Kidding in January, then selling the 35 lb. kids for Easter may not be such a great idea anymore. Producers may want to kid in the fall so the kids will be 80 lbs. by Easter, or kid later in the spring so they will have 80 lb. kids ready for Ramadan in the fall.

Using cheap bucks just to get some kids on the ground was alright when the kids just needed to be 35 lbs. in a couple of months, but the time to produce an 80 lb kid can be dramatically longer if you are not using the right genetics. Top lines can produce an 80 lb. kid in 4 months while inferior lines may take 8 months or longer to accomplish the same thing.

Evaluating the mothering capabilities of your does becomes much more important too. Any doe will produce 35 lb kids within a couple of months, but excellent does bred to superior bucks raising kids under the right conditions will wean kids that are nearly 80 lbs.

The closer the kids are to the desired weight at weaning the less time and expense a producer will have in producing that kid crop. If the kids can be taken off their dams and sent directly to sale, then the producer will only have to handle them once, and will not need additional pasture to raise the kids after weaning.

If the shift in demand to larger goats that we have experienced this spring continues, many producers will have to make significant adjustments to their operations to succeed in the new environment.

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This page updated 05/16/04