Animal Production / Consumption / Goats / Markets / North America / Small Ruminants

Ontario: Where goat is hot

Goat in a market in Nigeria

Goat for sale in a market in Nigeria (photo by ILRI/Mann).

‘. . . In Ontario agriculture, there’s no question: 2010 is the Year of the Goat.

‘Ontario farmers are catching up with the rest of the world by discovering the virtues of goats as livestock. The province has long had a strong livestock sector, but goats were outsiders. Space was available, so people typically consumed meat from large animals that needed room to be raised on pasture or in barns – cattle, pigs and sheep, among them.

‘But with urban sprawl, space is shrinking. And while prices fetched for traditional Ontario livestock are making a comeback, they’ve been in the dumps for years. Some producers turned to goats.

‘Goats don’t require as much land, feed or water. They can produce meat and milk; the latter makes superb high-protein, low-fat chevre cheese that’s become trendy and highly sought by well-heeled North Americans. In fact, some of the best goat milk cheese is made locally. And although the sector is still quite young, Ontario farmers produce 30 million litres of goat milk a year.

‘Goat’s rising popularity has prompted food aficionados to dub it “the new black,” as it muscles in on items that have traditionally appeared on high-end menus. Even Ottawa calls goat one of Ontario’s hottest opportunities. And Ontario Goat, the Guelph-based commodity group representing the species, says goat is “farming’s new frontier.” Goat is hot.

‘But goat meat and milk is more than a fad or flavour-of-the-month, thanks mostly to demand from the province’s growing immigrant and ethnic population. Many immigrants have arrived from countries where goat is a dietary staple – the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean and some Asian countries. Some of those countries have semi-arid climates, which suits goats just fine, and position the animals well for climate change that leads to warmer temperatures.’

More: Guelph Mercury, All kidding aside, it’s the year of the goat, 23 August 2010.

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