DES MOINES, Iowa -- Members of the state's rising ethnic population are creating a new market for goat meat, and farmers are stepping in to meet it.
Hispanic residents are creating the biggest demand, according to officials with the newly formed Iowa Meat Goat Association, but immigrants from other parts of Latin America, Sudan and other African countries, Bosnia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East are also helping create the market.
The association, formed six months ago, already has a membership of 65 producers, said Eric Finch, the association's secretary.
Finch inadvertently got into the goat meat business when he and his wife got a nanny goat to nurse some orphaned lambs. Some Hispanic workers at a local hog operation bought the young goats for meat.
"It just mushroomed from there," Finch said.
Finch said 90 percent of the 350 Boer goats he sold last year were bought by Hispanic customers from Marshalltown. But he also sells goats to people from Des Moines, Perry and Tama.
The Hispanic customers buy the goats live at 40 to 60 pounds, Finch said, one to 10 head at a time. Most butcher the goats themselves for high school graduation parties, wedding receptions, holidays or for a cookout during nice weather.