Goats and Sheep
Mississippi Small Ruminant Livestock
Small ruminant livestock include goats and sheep. An unofficial survey of livestock markets in Mississippi conducted in August 1995, indicated approximately 14,000 head of goats were sold from August 1994 to July 1995. There were no numbers available on sheep and lambs in Mississippi due to insignificant numbers. The 2002 Census of Agriculture reported that the value of Mississippi sales of goats, sheep and their products was $673,000 annually. This number has increased substantially. State goat inventory as of 2005 was 24,500 meat goats and 1,800 milk goats. Again, no numbers were available on sheep and lambs. However, this will change in the future as the popularity of hair sheep continues to increase in the state. In 2014, the number of meat goats was 19,000 with dairy (milk) goats at 2,000. Nationwide total sheep and lamb numbers in 2015 were up 1%. In Mississippi the majority of goats and sheep were sold by the head on a year round basis with the largest runs coming from the late spring to July.
In addition to commercial production of goats and sheep, many youth livestock projects in Mississippi focus on goat and sheep production. These producers are small in number compared to commercial producers, but an integral part of production none the less. There remains a limited number of traditional wool sheep producers and most of these flocks are involved in club lamb production. The club lamb and club goat markets command a much higher price than commercial markets as it targets the junior livestock program. The quality of club goat and club lamb producers continues to increase, thereby expanding these markets outside the state. Though these are niche markets, both are highly competitive and provide significant economic impact to the overall goat and lamb market. Various educational programs are in place to ensure good husbandry and continued progress for these producers as well.
In Mississippi, the addition of Boer breeding stock to the native mix of goats spurred new interest in the meat goat industry. Since the first survey in 1995, a large number of special sales bringing in outside goats, as well as locally raised goats came into existence. The opening of receiving stations or special goat auctions provided producers with yet another outlet for their goats. It is quite possible that sale numbers have again surpassed 20,000 head per year as this does not reflect on-farm or private treaty sales between individuals. Most recently interest in the Kiko breed has increased due to desirable traits such as parasite resistance.
The fastest growing segment of the small ruminant industry is hair sheep production. The addition of Dorper breeding stock and an upsurge in Katahdin and Katahdin cross sheep in the state has spurred an increase in sheep and lamb numbers. Native sheep have been crossed successfully to provide an economical meat sheep that has a high demand at market. Desirable traits such as economical production make the hair sheep a popular choice in our state. Though there is no data available to report, it is possible that sheep and lamb numbers in our state will match goat production numbers in the next few years.
Today, it appears that the commercial market for sheep and goats has leveled off at prices that indicate a viable industry has been created in the state. More numbers are being sold as commercial rather than registered breeding stock for the first time in the industry. Successful producers have created their own local market and are operating successfully at manageable levels. In Mississippi today, many goats and sheep are sold through various outlets such as auction barns, to specialty market buyers in adjoining states, or to other commercial breeders looking to upgrade their breeding stock.
Small ruminants such as goats and sheep are a popular choice for small farm and limited resource producers. Likewise other livestock producers see the opportunity to diversify by adding small ruminants to their operation. The future of the meat goat and hair sheep industry in Mississippi is bright.
Adjusted Weaning Weight Workbooks (Excel files)
Consult the user guide at the bottom of each Excel spreadsheet to begin.
Meat Goat Production Budget
Small Ruminant Livestock Educational Video Presentations
- Market Goat Evaluation and Selection Video and PowerPoint Presentation
- Market Goat Showmanship Video and PowerPoint Presentation
To order a copy of these goat videos, go to the following website:
Mississippi Disease and Disaster Preparedness Program
Do your part to protect the health of Mississippi's livestock herds. It is very important that Mississippi goat and sheep owners move forward as an industry to safeguard the health of our livestock. The danger of a contagious disease outbreak among goats or sheep, whether by natural occurrence or terrorist attack, makes it imperative that the location of goats and sheep be readily available to animal health officials. Small ruminant livestock owner cooperation is essential for rapid disease response in the instance of a contagious disease outbreak. In the event of an animal health emergency, basic livestock owner information will be used to rapidly respond to the emergency to protect individual animals and Mississippi's livestock industries through the Mississippi Board of Animal Health. Mississippi Animal Disease and Disaster Preparedness Program Brochure
Mississippi Hay and Commodity Feed Source Directories
A Mississippi Hay Directory is now online available to assist Mississippi horse owners in locating hay supplies. The list provided includes information from individuals and businesses who have submitted a Mississippi Hay Directory Listing Submission Form indicating that they have hay for sale. Listings expire after 60 days. A Mississippi Commodity Feed Source Directory is available online to assist Mississippi livestock producers in locating feed supplies. It is comprised of commodity feed manufacturer, broker, and dealer listings compiled by Mississippi State University Extension Service personnel.
eXtension Goats and Sheep Information
eXtension provides objective and research-based information and learning opportunities that help people improve their lives. It is an educational partnership of 74 universities in the United States.
RAYMOND -- Goats are growing in popularity among Mississippi livestock producers who have limited acreage or want to diversify their farming business.
“Since 2012, the overall number of meat goats in the southeastern region of the state has increased,” said Mitch Newman, Greene County agricultural agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “More small farmers want to raise livestock to supplement other income, and some landowners have fragmented property, which makes raising cattle unrealistic.”
JACKSON – Young Mississippians took about 3,000 animals to Jackson to show at the Dixie National Livestock Show, but only 44 animals were judged worthy of competing in the annual Sale of Junior Champions.
Mikayla Shelton is one of hundreds of Mississippi youth who groom their goats, lambs, steers and hogs all year long in hopes they make it to the sale, and after five years of competing, the Calhoun County 4-H’er finally earned the spot she had coveted for so long.
QUITMAN – When January rolls around, Clarke County 4-H’ers start lining up at Christy King’s door to participate in the livestock show for 4-H members with special needs.
“It’s so popular I have a waiting list,” said King, who is an agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service in Clarke County.
The event pairs members of the Clarke County 4-H Livestock Club with local youth who have special needs. The show began 16 years ago but ended in 2003 when the original participants became adults.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Goats remain a niche segment of the state’s livestock production, but they have a strong fan base.
“Meat goats make up most of the goat herd in Mississippi and in the nation,” said Kipp Brown, area 4-H livestock agent and meat goat specialist with Mississippi State University Extension Service.
Bill Ryals and his son raise meat and dairy goats at the Rocking R Dairy in Tylertown.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Take a look at 4-H livestock show rings anywhere in the state. There are nearly as many goats as hogs, sheep or steers.
“We’ve increased the numbers of goats shown by about 25 percent each year since the first year,” said Kipp Brown, area 4-H livestock agent and meat goat specialist with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service. “It’s helping the kids, the producers and the 4-H program.”