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Meat Goats and Sheep
Meat Goats and Sheep

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A Fast-Growing Livestock Industry for Alabama

Nate Jaeger
(800) 392-5705, ext. 4221

The Alabama Farmers Federation Meat Goat and Sheep Division is comprised of goat and sheep producers from throughout the state. The division represents producers at the local, state, and national levels and has committees in 28 Alabama counties as it continues to grow. Goat and sheep producers who make up these committees come together at the local level and develop policies and program ideas to address their needs and concerns. Those policies are then discussed at the state level and may be transformed into state and national initiatives by the organization.

Alabama's meat goat industry saw nearly 40,000 goats sold through the major goat auctions in the state during 2005. Although Alabama doesn't have a large number of sheep compared to some states, Alabama boasts some of the highest quality sheep and show lambs in the eastern United States.

Most of Alabama's sheep and goat producers are considered small or medium-sized producers who generally produce their products on small acreage. The beauty of this is that it allows people with small amounts of land to be involved in agriculture. Due to the popularity of the meat goat business in particular, more and more small landowners have become involved in agriculture over the last few years.

Goals and Issues

Goals of the Meat Goat and Sheep Division are determined by a state committee, which is elected by other producers from throughout the state.

Issues and challenges facing producers are evaluated each year, and priority is placed on each to determine a focus for the division's efforts. Goals include:
  • Utilize checkoff monies to promote sheep and goat industries through improved production, marketing and research.
  • Work with area organization directors and county boards to organize new county committees.
  • Work with Alabama A&M, Auburn University and Tuskegee University to secure additional funding for goat and sheep production and marketing research.
  • Continue previous efforts to encourage coalitions between universities in the stae and across the Southeast to cordinate research and Extension effoerts.
  • Work with 4-H and FFA to support and enhance youth sheep and goat shows.

Due to the increased population of ethnic groups within the Southeast, producers of goats and sheep have enjoyed a good market in recent years. Hispanics and other ethnic groups are the major consumers of goat and lamb products.

However, agricultural markets don't remain steady, and the Alabama Meat Goat and Sheep Producers Division is poised to face those challenges.

Activities and programs planned for the year include:
  • Communicate relevant information to producers through Alfa Farmers publications and email.
  • Continue to seek new marketing opportunities, including the support for commercial goat and sheep processing facilities in the state.
  • Relay producer research and education needs to Alabama A&M, Auburn University and Tuskegee University.
  • Promote consumer awareness regarding goat and sheep products.
  • Continue to support and plan goat and sheep seminars, workshops and field days in Alabama.
  • Plan and promote the Commodity Producers Conference.
  • Distribute the Alabama Small Ruminant Pocket Guide to goat and sheep producers.
  • Administer the Alabama Sheep & Goat Checkoff Program to benefit all goat and sheep producers in the state.

The Meat Goat and Sheep Division works with other state and non-profit organizations to promote lamb and goat products, improve the quality of those products, and improve or enhance animal health standards. Those groups include Tuskegee University, Auburn University, Alabama A&M University, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, and the USDA Livestock and Grain Market News. The Division also works with experts in sheep and goat production at the state's land grant universities. In addition, the division serves as the state association representative to the American Sheep Industry Association.
Valuable information for producers also can be obtained from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System's Small Ruminant Publications & Links website.

Members of the 2013 Alabama Farmers Federation State Meat Goat & Sheep Committee are, from left, front row: Tammy Doughty, Pickens County; Clay Mims, Chilton County; Second Vice Chairman Stacey Nestor, Montgomery County; First Vice Chairman Jimmy Parker, Cullman County and Chairman Sam Abney, Autauga County; back row: Eugene Blair, Chambers County; Mike Dole, St. Clair County; Charlie Thompson, Lauderdale County; Drexel Johnson, Coffee County; Melvin Price, Henry County; J.C. Holt, Colbert County and Federation Meat Goat & Sheep Division Director Nate Jaeger.

Alabama Farmers Federation at Work for Alabama Producers

As a part of Alabama Farmers Federation, Alabama Meat Goat and Sheep Producers is represented at the state and national levels through departments of Governmental Affairs and National Affairs. The Department of Public Relations provides communications about important issues and notices through its monthly magazine, Neighbors, and biweekly newsletter, Cultivator.

The Local Connection

County Farmers Federations, with the assistance of Area Organization Directors, provide support and a mechanism to address issues on the local level. Herein lies the strength of Alabama Farmers Federation. Each county may establish its own Meat Goat and Sheep Committee. Needs and requests from producers in the county are the beginning of policy development and the direction of Alabama Meat Goat and Sheep Producers. You may contact your county Meat Goat and Sheep Chairman, or if none currently exists, the Area Organization Director in your region or your County President for more information.

Why Should I be a Member of Alabama Farmers Federation and Alabama Meat Goat and Sheep Producers?

The Alabama Farmers Federation brings farmers of all commodities together for a common cause. Together, we can accomplish more for everyone's benefit. The more producers actively participating in Alabama Farmers Federation and Alabama Meat Goat and Sheep Producers, the more effective the organization can be on issues affecting them. With membership in the Alabama Farmers Federation come many benefits.

Did You Know?

  • Alabama has about 11,500 sheep on about 445 farms
  • Alabama's goat population is near 39,800 head on approximately 2,259 farms
  • The combined products of Alabama's goat and sheep industries are valued at $1.5 million
  • Goat meat sells for as much as $3 a pound in ethnic grocery stores.

For more information, contact Nate Jaeger, Director of Alabama Meat Goat and Sheep Producers, P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, AL 36191-0001. Phone: (800) 392-5705, ext. 4221.

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