While Iowa has long been the leading producer of hogs in the nation, goat farming is being touted as an alternative niche market. Eric Finch lives near Marshalltown and got into goat farming almost by accident. He says his wife worked at a vet clinic and brought a nurse goat for some orphan lambs. The goat came with twins, and he says some Hispanic friends said they could sell the twins. It took off from there and he now has around 170 goats. Iowa State University experts say goat is the “meat of choice” among many Hispanic populations, and also for immigrants from Bosnia, Sudan and other African, Middle Eastern and East European countries. Finch says he’s tapped into that need. He says most of their goats go directly to the Hispanic population and they come right out to the farm. He says most of his customers come from Marshalltown, but they’ve had people come from as far away as Perry. Finch says you don’t have the large buildings needed for hogs or cows and goats require less investment to get them ready for market. He says it’s quite a bit cheaper than cattle because of a quicker turnaround time. He says they market their goats in the 40 to 60 pound range. He says that takes about two to three months, that’s about the time when they wean the goats, so there’s only the cost of grain for the doe goat, not the kids. Goats sell from two-dollars and 50 cents to three dollars a pound. Finch thinks there’s room for more goat farmers in Iowa. He says he thinks there’s a huge demand for it. He says he’s worked with a slaughterhouse in Illinois where they were slaughtering 350 goats a week and he says the demand has picked up to where he could run 500 head through. Finch will talk about his operation during a seminar at the Iowa Valley Continuing Education Center on the campus of Marshalltown Community College on May 4th.
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