No kidding: Growing interest in goats at Agribition

Demand for goat meat is on the rise, and there's lots of evidence of that this week at Agribition.

Demand for goat meat has doubled since the '90s

From left, Kasen Zeller, Lorraine Weber, Sherry Weber Powell and Emily Zeller. The family raises goats in the Southey area. (Anna-May Zeviar/CBC)

Demand for goat meat is on the rise, and there's lots of evidence of that this week at Agribition.

Goats are big business at the annual farm show in Regina, with a large barn, pens to hold hundreds of the animals, a show area and more farmers attending every year.

According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, there were approximately 225,000 goats on 9,000 farms in Canada in 2011. The number of goats in Canada has almost doubled since 1996.

Goats at Agribition . (Anna-May Zeviar/CBC)

Producers say the demand for goat meat is skyrocketing, partly because many new Canadians want to eat it.

In fact, Canada imports more goat meat than it can produce. 

"If you're in a Superstore you'll find that meat actually comes from a different country, just because we're not able to supply as much," said Todd Zeller, who runs a mixed farm and raises goats north of Southey.

While goat meat is a new addition to the dinner table for some, for others it's a staple.

"It's increasing because [of] the immigrants that are coming," said Lori Marchuk, a spokeswoman for the Saskatchewan Goat Breeders Association.

"That's what they eat, they eat goat meat. And, you know, that's good. We need more producers to produce the meat."

Marchuk lives near Melfort, Sask., where she says a Halal butcher has recently opened up in the area.

A Halal butcher kills livestock according to Islamic rules.

For the family farm, goats can be a welcome addition, she notes. They're easy for children to manage and they help weed the pasture.