Sheep Processing and Marketing

Marketing, Slaughtering and Processing Sheep Goats and Sheep in Florida

By Basil Bactawar, Duval County Extension

One of the challenges of the goat and sheep industry is the lack of established marketing infrastructure by which animals are distributed from farms to consumers. This infrastructure may be a reality when there are larger volumes of locally produced sheep and goats. The small ruminant industry is growing. This is evident in the goat industry in particular. Given that this growth may continue, the question that arises is how will these animals be marketed and slaughtered.  Based on a preliminary survey conducted at the first goat and sheep conference in Florida in 2006, it was found that 65% of the respondents had markets for their animals, and they felt that they received a fair price. Additionally, 34% of them said they direct marketed their animals and 31 % sold their animals at the auctions. In general, goat sales are highest during April to June and lowest during January to March in Florida.  USDA reported that meat goats are available for sale through the year as referred by this document, The Goat Industry:  Structure, Concentration, Demand and Growth. A growing small ruminant industry with production generally through the year holds good potential for those who want to raise goats and sheep. However, they must be able to compete with imported goat meat. Most of the goat meat imported annually comes mainly from New Zealand and Australia as frozen carcass. There are cut and wrapped for consumers who live mainly in cities in with large ethnic population such as Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Based on my personal experience, I think there will always be a need for more slaughtering and processing facilities in Florida because demand for goat meat continues to outstrip domestic production. This notion should be confirmed by an updated study to determine the current state of goat and sheep industry in Florida.

A common question from producers is where I can have my goats and sheep slaughtered and processed. There are several USDA-inspected slaughtering and/or processing facilities located throughout Florida. New and existing producers may wish to look for one of these facilities close to them. The following University of Florida publication is available on its website USDA-Inspected Livestock Slaughter Facilities in Florida1. Information on Custom and Retail Exempt Meat Processing  is available as well.