The demand for high quality, lean, healthy red meat is the one of the underlining forces behind the development of the American meat goat industry. With a growing base of ethnic consumers, the demand for goat meat continues to increase in the United States each year. The importation of goat meat into the United States is estimated over 30 million dollars annually, and over half of the goat meat eaten in the U S is from feral goats imported from Australia.
Prior to the early 1990's most of the goat meat produced in the United States came from unwanted male dairy goats and either Spanish or Spanish-cross goats. The increasing numbers of ethnic immigrants in addition to a growing demand for high quality, healthy, lean red meat created a demand for goat meat that could not be met by American producers. The arrival of the South African Boer goat in the early 1990's along with the collapse of the goat fiber market led to a period of growth as producers began to cross their fiber and other goats with the Boers, which resulted in a heavier muscled goat that yielded more meat. In spite of the growth in the American Meat Goat Industry, even today, the importation of goat meat into the United States is estimated to be over 30 million dollars annually, and over half of the goat meat eaten in the U S is from feral goats imported from Australia.
Goat meat is called either cabrito or chevon. Cabrito is from kids harvested within the first week of birth. Chevron is from older kids. Goat meat is leaner than poultry and other red meats, low in fat and cholesterol and is a source of conjugated linoleic acid. Meat goats totaled 1.3 million head in 2016 (NASS).