NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – So much for where’s the beef? These days, its where’s the goat meat?
Nationwide, agriculture researchers say there’s a demand for goat meat because of a growing population of ethnic groups within the United States that consume it, not to mention an increasing number of Americans who are choosing goat over other meats, like chicken and beef, because it’s healthier.
To meet the demand, much of the goat meat now in the U.S. is imported from other countries. But Tennessee State University is leading research that seeks to boost goat production in the U.S.
“I probably give 10, 12 talks a year across the country on the research,” said Dr. Richard Browning, the lead goat researcher in TSU’s Agriculture Department. “We have a lot of ethnic groups that have goat as a main part of their diet, and that’s why there’s a demand for goat meat. But we don’t produce enough here.”
According to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, all goat inventory in the U.S. on Jan. 1, 2016, totaled 2.6 million, down 1 percent from 2015.
“Right now, we are importing way more meat than what is being sold within the United States,” said Emily Hayes, a TSU graduate student and research assistant.
TSU’s research herd is comprised of approximately 250 breeding does representing diverse sets of Boer, Kiko, Spanish, Myotonic and Savanna genetics. The university began its goat research in 2002, and TSU officials expect to be awarded federal money from the USDA this year to expand their research.
Browning said much of the research focuses on breed characterization and genetic evaluations.
“Our primary target is female fitness in the doe population, in the breeding herd,” he said. “We’re looking for animals that are able to stay healthy and reproduce with limited inputs.”
The research is shared with producers, farmers, to help them be more effective in their goat production.
TSU junior Moet McFall is focusing on goat reproduction and recently presented her research at the 2017 American Society of Animal Science Southern Conference. While she enjoys the opportunity to help producers, she also appreciates the hands-on experience she believes will benefit her in the workforce.
“Hands-on research looks really good,” McFall said. “You can learn in a classroom, but hands-on experience is what most jobs look for. They want to see that you’ve actually put what you’ve learned to the test.”
Whether goat meat is produced in the U.S. or imported, researchers and restaurant owners who sell it say part of the draw to goat meat is its healthy appeal.
Goat meat is naturally lean, meaning it is much lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, having a naturally higher HDL count (the good cholesterol) and a naturally low LDL count (the bad kind of cholesterol), according to the National Kiko Registry. It is also lower in calories than other meats, like beef, and is easier to digest.
Dr. Sandria Godwin is a family and consumer science professor at TSU, as well as a registered dietician. She has worked with Dr. Browning to produce goat meat recipes.
“It is definitely a healthier choice,” Godwin said.
Ouida Bradshaw owns two Jamaicaway restaurants in Nashville and has had goat meat on her menu since she opened 14 years ago.
“Over the years, it has become a very popular entree,” said Bradshaw, who has been featured on the Food Network. “A lot of people come from far away just to get goat meat.”
Heritage Foods USA is an online butcher based in Brooklyn, New York, that supports farmers who raise livestock, including goats. Its cuts are sold to customers in all 50 states, as well as carried in 130 restaurants from New York City to Los Angeles.
The company is an advocate for more U.S. production of goat meat.
“Goats are environmentally low-maintenance and easy to raise,” said Patrick Martins, co-founder of Heritage Foods. “Goat is actually the most widely consumed meat in the world – and America is slowly learning what the rest of the world already knows – that goat meat is delicious, lean, versatile, healthy, and sustainable.”
To learn more about Tennessee State’s goat research, visit:http://www.tnstate.edu/faculty/rbrowning/.
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.