Questions about the future of goats

Discussion in 'Goat Frenzy' started by chad3006, Oct 5, 2010.

  1. chad3006

    chad3006 New Member

    Apr 5, 2010
    It has been a while since I’ve logged in here. I’ve been crazy busy for the last several months. I’ve got some hypothetical /philosophical questions for anyone who’s interested in such things.

    I feel I should preface this question somewhat too. It was born out of the idea that the world is overcrowded with people. It will continue to be more and more difficult to feed everyone and at some point, it seems likely that the task will be impossible. So, the vision is not so much a post apocalyptic world, but more of a universally third world one. If such conditions serve to invert our current dependency on manufactured food items, creating forced agrarian reforms, what role would goats have in the world’s future?

    Already in current third world nations, chickens and goats are popular choices for the day to day survival of people who live there. I suspect it’s because both these choices are efficient in that they require fewer natural resources than other types of livestock. Is there any empirical evidence to support or reject that theory? Is a goat indeed a good choice for people of limited means? Does anyone raise goats in more urban areas – what are the challenges to such situations? Chickens are once again becoming popular in backyard settings, what are the limitations of goats in such roles?

    I’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts on the matter and feel free to brainstorm too.
  2. nancy d

    nancy d Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    near Seattle
    Good question! The US is importing millions of tons of goat meat. The American market cannot keep up. There is something very wrong with these stats.
    70% of the worlds population conumes goat meat & white America is way behind both as consumers & producers.

  3. WarPony

    WarPony New Member

    Jan 31, 2010
    You know, I generally plan for the apocalyptic sort of situation, especially since with me living so rurally it would take longer than one generation (in other words, my life time) for population to overspill into my area enough to direct effect me in that way. It would effect me much the same way as an apocalyptic scenario in that there would be a loss of infrastructure and I would have to proceed with taking care of myself. Our roads/power grid/gas and oil pipelines are already breaking down and we just do not have the money to keep them running the way they need to be. This is, IMO, a more likely situation for us than some massive bomb or plague changing our world... a slow descent into abject poverty and overpopulation feels decidedly likely right about now.

    I think looking at places where this is already their life makes it clear how much of a value goats are and how quickly we would turn to them for sustenance. The problem is that in a "universal third world" situation (good term for it!) I suspect our truly urban areas would very quickly empty due to a lack of food supplies, poor sanitation due to a lack of infrastructure, and increased crime. Smaller towns and cities might continue to function but in a third world situation high rises won't remain livable for long. I suspect it would take very little time for the rural areas immediately around the city to fill up with refugees living in tent cities and camps. It would be at this point that the small livestock and poultry would come in to play.

    I've often wondered how well small livestock would do in a more urban environment post some sort of "game changing" event. I think the success or failure depends almost entirely on how much greenspace you have in that urban environment and what your seasons are like. Above all else you need a food source for your chickens and goats. I would expect a fairly significant exodus to more rural areas for that reason alone.
  4. kannm

    kannm New Member

    Mar 18, 2009
    This is an interesting topic.

    I believe that goats would play an important role in survival if the U.S. were to drastically change.

    Chickens would too.

    But our eating habits would likely change most of all. We would not be able to afford eating as much meat as we currently do. Also, we would not be able to waste food like we do now. Our energy reserves (i.e. fat) would definitely decline.
  5. chad3006

    chad3006 New Member

    Apr 5, 2010
    Thanks for the posts so far. :thumb:

    As you said, War Pony, one of the problems with large infrastructure is it requires increasing amounts of money/resources to keep it up; it is already in disrepair throughout the country. At some point all that infrastructure becomes more of a burden than a boon. Likewise, my rural setting and my age will most likely not require me to face any serious lifestyle changes. The required greenspace you mentioned is precisely the limitation I’m concerned with.

    Kannm: I think you’re right about the affordability of eating as much meat as we currently do. A goat in the backyard would probably be more valuable as a source for milk and fiber, than meat, (eat the chicken and you get one meal, but then you’re out of eggs for breakfast.)

    I think of these things for my current goat breeding. I like to keep a high percentage of Spanish goat in my herd (why waste all those years of natural selection and acclimation). I also try for a type of general purpose goat that can satisfy several needs. I had the pleasure to know Mr. Don Huss ( who also bred multipurpose goats; he probably influenced me.
  6. Oat Bucket Farm

    Oat Bucket Farm New Member

    Dec 13, 2009
    I think you are absolutely right with your view of the way we are heading. I live on a third of an acre and my goats and chickens are quite literally in my back yard.Food availability would definitely be a bit of an issue although this is a very small town and it would only be a walk of a couple of blocks to plenty of browse for the goats. I have serioulsy considered planting Kudzu here because it grows great, is nutritionally comparable to alfalfa, goats love it and can actually keep under control. In fact one lady I spoke to who lives in the south said that her grandfather's land had Kudzu growing all over until he turned a herd of goats out on it. They ate it down then dug down and ate on the roots too. He no longer had Kudzu on his property.

    But yes, the possibility of us becoming universally third world weighs on my mind a lot. I am only 32 and have three kids. I am young enough that I may see drastic lifestyle changes. I look at my kids and worry about their future. I think goats and chickens are both going to be very important animals in the future they will live in.
  7. FunnyRiverFarm

    FunnyRiverFarm New Member

    Sep 13, 2008
    Hudson, MI
    I think if things got that bad I wouldn't have to worry about keeping goats because I am sure people leaving the city looking for food would forcibly take them from me.
  8. Realfoodmama

    Realfoodmama New Member

    Apr 12, 2010
    Santa Fe, NM
    I currently live in an urban area and own both goats and chickens. I worry about a lot of things given that I am literally in the center of town. The commuter train runs close to my back yard and half my neighbors are commercial businesses.

    I got my animals in order to have a reliable food supply in the event of the worse case scenario. But I can't realistically support them myself - the chickens forage well, but I only have 1/4 acre and I can't let my goats strip it bare because the gardens grow food for my family. So I still rely on local farmers to grow alfalfa and feed for them. I suppose if things really went south I could let the goats mow through the yard next door, but I don't think they'd eat that stuff... :laugh:

    I like to think that in the event the infrastructure were to really break down that we would be forced to start focusing on local relationships and economy in order to continue to sustain ourselves. Unfortunately I also know that not everyone is willing to do the work, and some people are downright malicious. I worry that people will steal or harm my animals. Recently there was a shooting in Santa Fe involving a was a drive by shooting and the animals were in the front yard of a city resident, something allowed by law here.

    I remember I saw a television program once called "The Colony". It was a reality program that was supposed to subject the participants to a realistic version of an apocalyptic future - basically they took thirteen people and gave them a huge warehouse, no electricity, nothing but canned food, etc - an urban landscape with no infrastructure/law get the idea.

    The reason why it stood out in my mind was that they "found" some goats. It was a doe, in milk, and her kid. The majority of the people wanted to EAT THE GOAT. Not milk it and use it as a constant resource, but have a huge feast on the goat to celebrate the fact that they found some food. I was so disgusted I turned it off so sadly I can't tell you what was finally decided.

    This turned into a bit of a rant lol...but I suppose my point is that I see a lot of people near me who are moving towards self sufficiency, even in an urban setting. I hope that as this happens there will be more people like myself and the folks here than like the people who think it is fun to shoot at people's livestock or are so shortsighted that they will eat an animal rather than use it as a resource.

    Frankly in my situation if we were to loose the things upon which we rely most (i.e. fuel) I would be hard pressed to find great forage for the goats that didn't include my own fruit trees. I would certainly be hard pressed to maintain the standard "dairy ration" as my feed comes from nearly 40 miles away (which is incredibly close atm but would be quite far if I had to walk). On the other hand, if the fit hit the shan, I wouldn't be at all shy in taking my goats down to the local parks and letting them graze on the grass.

    I admit to worrying about my goats being stolen or harmed - more so since the random shooting here - but I think if I lived in a more rural area I would worry just as much about animal predators. :shrug:
  9. beefy

    beefy New Member

    Aug 2, 2009
    South Georgia
    im afraid that in that type of situation that so many like to try to prepare for (y2k, ..2012.. etc), when the goat pellets really hit the fan the people who have saved up and prepared will just be pillaged and/or murdered over all of their hard work. and no matter how much ammunition you have stocked up you will not be able to stop the masses when they are starving. on the bright side, i estimate 1/3 of the population will succumb pretty immediately due to rioting (hurricane katrina), laziness and ignorance, and not being able to acclimate to life without fuel and air conditioning, etc. the others will make their way to the country to steal from the "haves". i think there is already a move to more efficient types of livestock now. maybe horses will be worth something again some day when we have to rely on them again
  10. WarPony

    WarPony New Member

    Jan 31, 2010
    Logic prevailed and they kept the goats alive, if I remember correctly.

    I suspect that once things settled down we would have situations where communities would work together and it would be a be a bit like peter in Heidi. Someone from the community would travel through town collecting the goats from each home, taking them out to the hills to browse for the day then returning them to their owners in the evening in exchange for whatever they could barter to the goatherd for his services.

    I would gladly volunteer for this job, hehe.

    Security would certainly be an issue for anyone who was prepared if word got out that they had enough to get by. That is why it is high on our list even now. We have a plan to protect ourselves and our livestock, and have good neighbors on either side who are of like mind. As a group we would be able to defend ourselves fairly well. One of the best methods of defense is to be difficult to find. You need very little ammo to defend yourself if no one knows you are there in the first place.
  11. MissMM

    MissMM New Member

    Oct 22, 2007
    McGregor, MN
    I'm loving this thread!!!! We too have neighbors that are striving to be less dependent on fuel, commercial foods, etc, but we are all wondering, if there is a catastrophe, how are we going to bale hay if fuel is not available for the tractors? Even if we did have a means for storing up fuel (the county does not allow that any more) I think it would get stolen quickly... I cannot imagine baling 3,000+ squares by hand (just for our farm, doesn't include others).
  12. Oat Bucket Farm

    Oat Bucket Farm New Member

    Dec 13, 2009
    My thoughts on people leaving the city and ravaging the country side for food is this:

    Most people will never make it out of the city. Look at how big cities are. If the pellets hit the fan, that vast majority of people will wait to be rescued by the government. By the time that they realize that no one is coming to rescue them, it will be too late. The roads will be massive traffic jams and for the great majority, walking will be the only way out. Most people cannot fathom walking through a grocery store parking lot for too far and will cirlce the parking lot several times for the closest space. They are not going to be able to walk for miles to get out of the city. Combine this with the lawlessness that will reign and not only will they have the physical challenge of walking for miles, they will have the challenge of riots and such to get through. Without the neccesary infrastructure, disease will be rampant.

    For those truly in the urban enviroment, once they get out of the city, they will enter suburbia which for the most part will offer them nothing. Because the people who lived there sustained themselves on fast food or the convience meal in the grocery freezer ( I can't count the number of times I have heard people say they wouldn't have enough food to get through two days much less two weeks) there will be little to glean from the cupboards. Because they have kept manicured lawns and been so vigilant against "weeds" there will not even be wild food to collect.

    And if finally they make it to the country, they will find the vast majority of "farms" have no chickens,goats or even milk cows. They have large crops planted on thousands of acres and herds of cows spread out of hundreds or thousands of acres. There may be a few cows and horses up close in paddocks, but depending on what happened to the people that lived there, the animals may already have died of thirst with no one to bring them water. Or the people may not have been able to bring them water with the electric pumps to bring it up from the well.

    If they do manage to get ahold of chicken, they aren't likely to have a clue as to how to butcher it. They won't know anything about gathering and preserving food for the winter (the concept is so foreign to today's society) so who was not killed by the journey from the city, who did not starve on their way through suburbia, will likely die at the hands of winter, a season which offers no forgiveness to the foolish or unprepared.

    Smaller towns may band together, to defend their recources. Some neighbors in rural areas may band together, sharing recources and helping to defend eachother.

    Do I think that there will be roveing escapees from the city that are a threat? Not really. Most of them don't even know that food actually has to be grown and transported to grocery store. They think it just appears there. Those that do know it, will be so weak by the time they make it to the countryside. Suburbanites will be more of a problem but even they will wait far too long to be rescued and most will be dead before they are threat.
  13. Oat Bucket Farm

    Oat Bucket Farm New Member

    Dec 13, 2009
  14. WarPony

    WarPony New Member

    Jan 31, 2010
    Exactly. If you can get through the first winter in a situation like this the danger from looters and other trouble makers should drop significantly.
  15. chad3006

    chad3006 New Member

    Apr 5, 2010
    Again, there are some great responses here.

    Hopefully the change would be so gradual, that the countryside would not be suddenly overrun with city dwellers and looting could be manageable most of the time. Who knows? :shrug: I think it is safe to say that people will have to learn to survive on smaller and smaller plots of land in the future.

    I’ve seen recent TV gardening shows highlighting inner city vegetable gardens. To create what used to be called “the commons” in the old days, a building is demolished, but rather than putting up another, the area is converted into a community garden where people grow vegetables for themselves or to sell. These places frequently hold a kind of farmer’s market. I wonder about the viability of small scale livestock production in a similar way. I think it would certainly work for chickens, but what about goats? Would such a site be viable as a small scale dairy, possibly? Could the goats survive on organic waste from the community to alleviate any over-grazing issues?


    Urbanites could learn the skills to feed themselves and possibly reduce the exodus of city dwellers to the countryside. Implemented on a larger scale it could possibly work … maybe? It would be great if communities actually undertook such projects, but sadly that is rarely the case. I do think people are inherently resourceful when they need to be. Those that aren't don't make it.

    Sorry, I just can't help myself sometimes. I'm a fixer and I preferr to think proactively most of the time.
  16. kannm

    kannm New Member

    Mar 18, 2009
    chad - you have some good points.

    Also, we should not forget that city folk are not our enemies. I would want to help people as much as possible. Also, I hope that before anything like this ever happens (hopefully it won't at all), people start to become more wise regarding food and other lifestyle choices.

    After the cold war took out the Soviet Union, Cuba was in jeopardy of having its people starve. The Soviets were providing chemical fertilizers and fuel in trade for sugar cane. When they fell, Cuba was faced with the crisis of not being able to feed its people. As a result, people began farming in urban areas to survive. These urban farm areas provide a great deal of food for city dwellers.

    In the country, farming methods had to change as well. With no fuel for tractors, Cuban farmers used oxen (but possibly goats as well, even if they didn't, they could) to plow their fields. They started using organic fertilizers because the chemicals were no longer available.

    The result was a population who ate healthier than before. People changed the way they lived their lives.

    I would hope that Americans could also make changes that would lead to a cultural revolution. Maybe we just need to look at things a different way.
  17. OhCee

    OhCee Yak Lady

    Feb 26, 2010
    Western MT
    That's no good! Do we not like guns?
    OP: My goats are worth more to me alive than dead. If that changes, well- it changes everything. So are my chickens. I think it's smart to have dual-purpose animals, especially if you are considering the 'what-if's. I don't believe that anyone will come take my animals because frankly, I'll shoot them. Not to sound crass, but if ANYONE is eating my animals- it's going to be me. Not a mob of crazy people. I may share, but only if they ask nicely (read: Nice does not lead to shooting. Only stealing/trespassing/badness).
  18. FunnyRiverFarm

    FunnyRiverFarm New Member

    Sep 13, 2008
    Hudson, MI
    Of course, we have guns...but 2 people with guns against hundreds or thousands of other people with guns...the odds would not be in our favor. Chances are pretty good that we would just take what we could carry and go into hiding in such a situation rather than face the raping and pillaging that would occur.
  19. cmjust0

    cmjust0 New Member

    Oct 8, 2009

    I kinda think you're going the wrong direction in saying that more people will lead to less dependence on manufactured food items. Indeed, I feel it will lead to *more* dependence on commercially processed foods, and far less independent food production.

    As the number of people increase, the amount of land suitable for growing and raising food will decrease, so efficiency becomes more and more important. "Production systems" are all about efficiency. It makes sense, then, that such systems would be utilized more -- not less.

    What I'd suspect will eventually happen is that *nobody* will farm independently. There will be farmers, of course, but they'll be employed or contracted by agribiz giants and the products they grow will be "vertically integrated" all the way from the dirt to the shelves of your local grocery store.

    It's already happened with poultry. More often than not, people who raise chickens for meat do so either as employees or under contract with a big poultry company like Tyson. That means they raise the type of chickens Tyson wants them to raise, and they do it exactly as Tyson instructs. When the chickens are ready for slaughter, packaging, and shipping, Tyson handles all that as well.

    Much the same can be said of hogs these days. There are still a handful of individual pork producers, but most pork that's sold these days was raised by employees of, or under contract with a vertically-integrated company like Smithfield.

    Tyson, Smithfield, and other big meat companies have made runs at trying to get beef on a vertically integrated system, but cattle producers...well, they tend to be a prickly bunch, and beef is still profitable enough that it can be produced independently without the hassle of the producer having to do as they're told.

    What I expect will eventually happen, though, is that there will be a health scare related to beef in the future that will be HUGELY blown out of proportion, and a lot of beef producers will go under. That's when the vertical integrators will step in and start offering contracts and a little bit of "safety" to beef producers. I think that was what the mad cow scare of a few years back was all about, but it didn't work. Something else will pop up, though.

    In any case, what it all comes down to is efficiency.. As efficiency becomes more and more important, we'll only become more and more dependent on manufactured and processed foods. My opinion, anyway..

    And I'm not saying I *like* it, either...I'm just saying that's what makes sense.

    ETA: As for goats, the little bit of economist in me says that goat and beef would be considered "substitute goods" in a period of economic turmoil. That is to say, they serve the same purpose and could mostly be used interchangeably.. Right now, beef is actually cheaper, more widely available, and consumers people are more familiar with it. Having said that, while I suspect goat meat will always have a niche market in the US, I'd frankly expect goat-eaters to switch to beef before I'd expect beef-eaters to switch to goat.

    But again, that's just what makes sense to me..
  20. Thanatos

    Thanatos New Member

    Mar 16, 2009
    Lake Ariel, Pa
    As has been said most urbanites would die by the end of the first winter. Those that did survive would still stay in the city hopeing to scavange left over prepackaged and canned goods from stores. Lots of them will be killed by others doing the same. Most would never even try to leave the city because they believe that there is no food or resourses in the "wild" (rural or forested areas). Lets face it even most hunters only do it for sport they don't see it as food just a trophy. And how many people have the patience to even try to fish now let alone if you are starving? I also agree that the suburbanites shouldn't cause or be much trouble as they can't(as a whole) even grow a decent flower garden with out the use of a landscaping company. Plus they will run TO the city not the country.

    Now all that said there will be survivors and to an extent it will degenerate to a Mad Maxish thing, with looting gangs trying to prey on the weak and helpless. Now most of them to will stay in the cities with nice roads for their cars and gas stations they can plunder for a while. Those that do head for the country will find groups in small co-ops or even very small village type things. They will find most of those are CLOSED to outsiders and if they aren't shot outright they will be run off. The country communities would most likely break down what jobs needed done and find the people who could do them. Additions to these communities would be on a "What can you bring to the table?" kind of thing. If you didn't have a funtional skill you might get in as a laborer if you didn't do enough you would be out period.

    I also see the apprentice system would see a resurgance. Gotta keep the skills alive. Also I do think there would be some skirmishes in the country, but that is just the way it would go. The better organized the community the higher the survival rate.

    But let me throw in 1 little addition that has, to this point been over looked....
    We do have a fair sized and VERY well equipped military. forgoing aircraft. Most military ground vehicals can run a LONG time With out major repairs. Whats to stop them from creating military states? Those J2 diesels will run on almost anything.

    This is just my take :chin: