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Meat goats


The unimpressive goat is, in reality, one of nature’s most useful animals. It can be used for meat, fibre, milk, skins and manure. Owing to its great adaptability it can survive almost anywhere in South Africa.

  • Goat milk is highly prized for its quality of being less prone to cause allergies in humans than cow’s milk.
  • Mohair is one of the rare noble fibres of the world.
  • The Boer goat’s meat contains less fat, fewer calories and higher levels of protein and iron than meat from beef, pork, lamb and chicken. It is often called “chevon”, and from young animals, “cabrito”.

This page looks at the meat aspect and the information that is common to all goat enterprises, whether they be meat, mohair or milk. See the separate pages that are more specific to mohair and goat milk.

International business environment

South Africa is a relatively minor role player when it comes to goats, possessing approximately 3% of Africa’s goat population and less than 1% of the world’s. China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are the major goat producing countries. In Africa, Nigeria, Sudan and Kenya are where you will find most of the continent’s goats.

The developing world accounts for some 96% of the world’s goats. Developed countries are the dominant market for goat products though. Were production systems to be improved, this has the potential to become a major earner of foreign exchange for developing countries.

Further reference:

  • The Goat Market Value Chain Profile provides information on the international business environment. Find it on the Directorate Marketing web pages under the “Old website” option at

South Africa: exports and imports

Namibia is the only recognised exporter of goats to South Africa. Goats coming in (unofficially) from Botswana and Eswatini bring biosecurity risks (Alcock, 2023).

There is a huge verified demand for goat meat, particularly in African countries and export opportunities need to be explored (Mbatha, 2023).

Goats were included in a study undertaken by the Trade Research Advisory on the opportunities for various industries to grow and/or diversify their exports. Refer to article “Study highlights potential export markets for South African, SADC products” (May 2022) under the last heading on this page. Refer also to TradeProbe 86 (August 2021).

Find the “Marketing”, “International / Export” menu options on

Local business environment

South Africa has an estimated 5.2 million goats, with black farmers owning 78% of this livestock (Motiang, 2023). The Eastern Cape (39%), Limpopo (17%) and KwaZulu-Natal (13%) are the largest goat producers, with nearly 70% of the total production (DALRRD, 2023). Gauteng has the biggest demand for goat meat “due to its diverse cultural community” (Mbatha, 2023).

Small-scale producers mainly work with indigenous goats in a communal farming system. Commercial farming is done with Boer goats and Angora goats. 

The Boer goat, Savanna and Kalahari Red are currently recognised as commercial goat breeds for the production of meat and skins and small quantities of cashmere. Mohair is produced from Angora goats. Saanen, Toggenburg and Alpine goats are mainly kept for milk production. Gorno Altai goats produce cashmere. The several indigenous breeds are very well adapted to South African conditions, and seldom get foot rot. Some types are also resistant to Heartwater.

Almost all goats are marketed live. The marketing channels for live goats in South Africa are

  • Live animal auctions
  • Carcass auctions
  • Out-of-hand sales (buyers buy directly from producers)
  • Transactions by means of Liaison Services (agents who connect people but do not handle money in the process)
  • Speculators

Slaughtering of goats at abattoirs is recorded with sheep, so figures are difficult to gauge. Also, most goats are slaughtered on an informal basis and/or for traditional purposes (weddings and funerals). The commercial sector is responsible for less than one percent of the goats slaughtered in the country. The informal market of goats thus drives the South African goat industry.

It has long been a hope that Boer goat farming and exporting will attract thousands of black emerging and small-scale farmers. Local herds and breeding material have been too small to meet overseas demands.

Further reference:

  • A vital document for understanding the local business environment is the Goats Market Information Day Report (2023) which can be accessed at It includes the following (i) Goat Marketing Lessons Learned: KYDA Project: Dr Morake Motiang (ARC) (ii) Animal Improvement Act and Goats: Ms Mmaphuti Setati (DALRRD) (iii) South African Goat Meat Market and Its Potential: Supply and Demand Tried and Tested: Mr Buhlebenkosi M.J. Mbatha (IGME) (iv) Goat Market in KwaZulu-Natal: Goat Agribusiness Project.
  • The Goat Market Value Chain Profile provides information on the local business environment. Find it on the Directorate Marketing web pages under the “Old website” option at

Farming with goats

Find the Boer Goat Management option at and other useful resources under the “Websites and publications” heading.

National strategy and government contact

“Data shows that most goats are in poor rural areas … the success of the goat market could benefit these impoverished areas through poverty alleviation” (Alcock, 2023).

Goats have featured in various national and provincial government initiatives, be it national strategies like the Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan (AAMP) or provincial ones run by bodies such as the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development or the Ntinga OR Tambo Development Agency

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) Directorate: Animal Production. Goat statistics can be found on


  1. The Animal Improvement Act (AIA) of 1998 (Act No. 62 of 1998) governs the breeding, identification, and use of good-quality animals to improve production and performance in South Africa.
  2. The Animal Health Act, 2002 (Act 7 of 2002) provides for measures promoting animal health and controlling animal disease, regulates import and export of animals, genetic materials, and animal products.
  3. The Animal Identification Act (AIDA), 2002 (Act 6 of 2002), determines legal ownership and deters stock theft.

Role players


Note: Click to expand the headings below. To get a free listing on our website like the ones below, visit here for more information or place your order hereDisclaimer: The role player listings are not vetted by this website.

Kalahari Kid Corporation – It works with co-operatives and emerging farmers. Kalahari Kid Corporation also offers a training programme for emerging farmers wishing to specialise in goat production through the Kalahari Kid Training Programme, which is a SETAaccredited training programme in the Northern Cape.
Embryo Plus – Read about the Boer Goat and Kalahari Red under “Info” and then “Other” on the website.
 Representative Bodies
 Training, Consulting & Research Service Providers
 Community, NGO and NPO Service Providers

Further reference:

Agricultural Colleges, working closely with the Provincial Departments of Agriculture, offer courses on goat production. Examples include Cedara, Fort Cox and Glen College. Find contact details of all Agricultural Colleges on the “Agricultural education and training” page.

Websites and publications

Refer to the publications and websites listed earlier on this page e.g. and

  • Find the “Resource” option at, website of the Goat Agribusiness Project of KwaZulu Natal for instructional videos and training material.
  • Find the Indigenous Goat Production Handbook (Revised Edition) produced by MdukatshaniHeifer International SA and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development at
  • Smart, M. 2010. Goat Production Manual: A Practical Guide. Indiana: iUniverse. Available at
  • The ARC and the National Department of Agriculture compiled a series of very informative Info Paks (booklets) that covers various aspects of sheep/smallstock: (i) “Breeding in sheep and goats” (ii) “Common & Important diseases of sheep and goats” (iii) “Feeding reproductive sheep and goats” (iv) “Feeding of sheep and goats” (v) “Goats vaccination programme” (vi) “How to estimate the age of goats and sheep“, and (vii) “Reproduction management of a sheep and goat farming enterprise”. Most of the Info Paks can be accessed at
  • Goat Info Packs can also be accessed at the Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute (GADI) website The following breeds are covered: (i) Angora goat (ii) Boer goat (iii) British Alpine (iv) Indigenous veld goat combined (v) Kalahari Red (iv) Saanen (vii) Savannah and (viii) Toggenburg.
  • The Shepherd Manual by Dr JJ Olivier is part of a computer recording programme for sheep and goats. Read more at
  • Call the ARC-AP – 012 672 9111 – for the following publications: (1) Commercialisation of indigenous goat production and products in South Africa (2) Goat management manual.
  • The Goatkeepers’ Animal Health Care Manual (ISBN-13 978-1-86849-352-4), edited by AF Vatta, MA Abbott, JF de Villiers, SA Gumede, LJS Harrison, RC Krecek, BA Letty, N Mapeyi, RA Pearson, is available in English, Afrikaans, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu and Tsonga. Contact the ARC-OVR at 012 529 9111 or the KZNDARD at 033 355 9100.
  • Ekarius, C. 1999. Small-scale Livestock Farming – a grass-based approach for health sustainability and profit. North Adams, USA: Storey Publishing.
  • Visit for the following: (1) Natural Goat Care (2) Raising Meat Goats (a comprehensive manual for profitable meat goat production) (3) Small stock management (4) A DVD on successful meat goat production.
  • A number of resources are available from Boergoats SA, which include: (1) Farming with Boer Goats – A practical guide for Southern African conditions by Johan Steyn. ISBN 978-0-620-46942-5. (2) A 30-minute DVD covering the management aspects of boer goat farming, detailing dipping, tagging, deworming, inoculating and the like (3) The Boergoat Production Management planner, record cards and handling facility layout plan (4) The website, which is very informative.
  • International Goat
  • Livestock Research for Rural Development runs articles on goats frequently. See
  • Monau P., Raphaka K., Zvinorova-Chimboza P. & Gondwe T. 2020. “Sustainable Utilization of Indigenous Goats in Southern Africa”. Diversity. Available at
  • Find the “Goats” option at

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