Kid goat is one of the world’s most popular meat – with around 80% of the world’s population said to have goat in their diet, yet in the UK, it’s not as well known nor consumed at the dinner table.
Kid goat meat, also known as cabrito and chevon, is low in cholesterol, high in iron, and ounce for ounce has less fat than chicken and about the same calories. Kid goat meat tastes like a cross between lamb and beef, and is a healthy as well as a sustainable choice in meat.
The rise in availability of kid goat meat in the UK today is largely due to the increasing demand for goat’s milk, as an alternative to cow’s milk and suitable for those with lactose intolerance.
Up to 40,000 young male goats are killed at birth each year in the UK and the carcasses thrown away, because they play no part in the booming market for goat’s milk products.
Since rearing the animals is costly for farmers, this huge wastage – only 1 per cent of billy kids are kept for breeding – had seemed unavoidable. But a new push by breeders, campaigners and chefs, including Jamie Oliver, to raise awareness and supermarkets which could begin to stock the meat, is changing that.
There are now a number of suppliers who take the billies from the dairy industry and send them to responsible farms to be reared and ultimately sold for their meat.
Many kid goat meat suppliers use the Boer goat which is a South African breed used primarily for meat production.
Kid goat in the UK has always been available but has been stocked mainly by butchers in areas with a high population of ethnic groups. Goat is a popular dish in Jamaican curries, and North Africans use goat meat, sometimes mixed with lamb, to make merguez sausages.
There are a number of different billy goats breeds used for the dairy industry and there is only a handful of people who are rearing them for meat. According to Gourmet Goat, a husband and wife team who sell Mediterranean-style kid goat wraps and burgers at Borough Market in London: “at the moment it is quite difficult for the general consumer to get hold of the raw product that has been reared to high welfare standards.”
Just Kidding, based in the Cotswolds, produce free range kid goat that is pasture fed and reared in a sustainable environment with no compromise on quality. Farmer Lizzie Dyer sources the unwanted males from a major goat dairy, then rears them on her sustainable, higher-welfare meat farm in the Cotswolds.
The company say: “There is no blueprint in the UK for Kid Meat production. We are creating an entirely new enterprise and developing our own systems that best suit our Billies and our ethos and look forward to exciting times as our future unfolds.”
Another supplier, Cabrito, have been selling kid goat meat sourced from British dairy farms to London restaurants since March 2012. They now sell online to consumers via online supermarket, Ocado.
It’s also a similar story in the USA. Heritage Foods USA’s No Goat Left Behind program has given the goat meat industry a small but stable boost. The organisation connects dairy goat farmers that have extra kids to New York City restaurants who want to try out the meat. The culmination of this program takes place in October, or Goatober, a month-long menu event with the goal of providing financial stability to farmers and introducing goat meat to diners.
Unlike in the beef, pork or chicken markets, wholesale buyers rarely buy goats for meat. Instead, a quarter of all goat kids raised in the US are sold directly to consumers or to small markets. Finding these consumers and arranging slaughters takes time and energy – often time and energy that small farmers just don’t have.
Getting the US population to see the pull towards kid goat meat is a challenge, as Erin Fairbanks of Heritage Food USA notes. Speaking to the Modern Farmer Magazine, she said: “It’s hard to start the story with, ‘Hey you know all these babies are leading these horrible lives and it’s your job to save them.’ That’s not enough,’. It also has to be a delicious product that people want to eat.”
Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer specialising in sustainable life & style, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com