Cotswold farm turns a dairy by-product into healthy food.
It’s lower in cholesterol than chicken but it has more iron in it than beef. There’s a ready supply of this meat, and there’s a growing market for it and it’s highly sustainable. So why aren’t more people farming goat kid meat?
Lizzie Dyer is doing just that with her partner, Jamie Beard, on his farm in Gloucestershire. She gets her male, Billy Kid, goats from dairy farms shortly after they are born: “They are a by-product of the goat dairy industry,” Lizzie explains, “in order for a dairy goat to produce milk it has first to produce a kid. Some of those will be Billy Kids which are of little value to the dairy farmer so are usually destroyed at birth. We take them and rear them for meat instead.”
It’s this, moral argument, which convinced Lizzie to farm kid meat: “I wanted to rear kid meat because I feel it is a fantastic product and should be on the market. Nutritionally it sells itself. And morally, if you enjoy eating cheese and drinking milk, then you have an obligation to consider the meat which is a by-product of the dairy process. You have to decide whether you are happy for Billy Kids to be killed at birth or whether you are prepared to support them and not see them wasted. I could have bred specifically for meat but it would have been scandalous to do that when there were already Billy Kids available and not being utilized. So, to me it is a complete no-brainer; you have a unique opportunity to farm in an exceptionally sustainable way.”
But kid meat is not easy to farm; the kids have to be fed on expensive milk substitute for up to 10-12 weeks, they need secure fencing and, unlike lambs, they have no protective lanolin in their coats so require proper shelter. And getting them to market is not easy either: “There is not a recognised market as yet – it is growing as people see the benefits – but you are not going to be able to take them to a livestock market like any other animal, there is only one wholesaler who buys direct from farm.”
So, most kid goat farmers sell direct to restaurants and the public – with all the associated slaughtering, meat handling, marketing, and accounting costs associated with dealing with multiple customers. Lizzie also offers training and consultancy services and sells kidskins and furniture from Dartland Farm. “There is never a dull moment” she says.
Lizzie would encourage others to get into kid goat farming – but only if they really believe in it: “You have to have a passion for food and what you do, that translates directly into your sales pitch. It would be a tall order to spread the love for your product if you did not believe in what you do.”
You can find out more about Lizzie’s company, Just Kidding, on her website www.cotswoldkidmeat.com.