Marketing Your Sheep and Goats Using the Ethnic Calendar

2/23/2013 7:00 AM
By Bernadette Logozar Franklin County Extension

A couple of years ago, I provided a listing of the ethnic holidays as a reference for small ruminant farmers interested in targeting these holidays as sales opportunities.

This year, the Northeast Sheep & Goat Marketing website has been updated. I would encourage you to visit the site if you haven’t seen it for a while. It is full of great information and resources. You can find a full listing of ethnic holidays on this site, as well as descriptions of the types of animals people are seeking.

The information in this article has been gathered both from the Sheep & Goat Marketing website, maintained by Cornell at www.sheepgoatmarketing.info, and the Maryland Small Ruminant Page, maintained by the University of Maryland at www.sheepandgoat.com.

For more information about ethic holidays or full explanations of these holidays, visit either website above or check out the interfaith calendar at www.interfaithcalendar.org/index.htm for a full listing of holidays that may help you with your marketing.

Here’s a look at the types of lamb or goats wanted for each of the ethnic holidays:

Eid ul Adha: The Festival of Sacrifice

Type of lamb wanted: 60 to 80 pounds. However, heavier old crop lambs are also in demand and will frequently command the same price as new crop lambs.

Type of goat wanted: Prefer yearlings (i.e. animals with one set of adult teeth) that are blemish free. Large kids of 60 to 100 pounds are also in demand.

Animals with broken horns, open wounds, torn ears or physical unsoundnesses generally do not meet the criteria. In some cases, castrated animals or lambs with docked tails are frowned upon.

Start of Ramadan (Can vary by a day depending on the actual sighting of the moon.)

Type of lamb wanted: Weaned market lamb of 60 to 80 pounds.

Type of goat wanted: male and female kids with all their milk teeth (i.e. not older than 12 months). Males can be whole or castrated. Overly fat kids are discriminated against. Optimum live weight is about 60 pounds, but weaned kids from 45 to 120 pounds are accepted by different buyers.

Eid ul Fitr: The Festival of the Breaking of the Ramadan Fast

Type of lamb wanted: same as for Ramadan.

Type of goat wanted: same as for Ramadan.

Passover

Type of lamb wanted: 30 to 55 pounds, milk-fed and fat.

Rosh Hashanah

Type of lamb wanted: Forequarters from weaned lambs of 60 to 110 pounds.

Western or Roman Easter

Type of lamb wanted: 30 to 45 pounds live weight, milk-fed and fat.

Type of goat wanted: Fleshy, milk-fed kids with relatively light-colored meat, 3 months old or younger.

Suckling kids weighing less than 20 pounds are generally disappointing to buyers due to low meat-to-bone ratios and high carcass-drying losses now that they must be marketed with the hide off. Kids gaining less than 10 pounds per month or one-third pound per day after accounting for birth weight are generally not fleshy enough to be considered prime.

Prime Easter kids are generally gaining at least a half-pound daily. There generally is a slight price (per pound of live weight) penalty for kids weighing over 40 pounds. Acceptable weights generally range from 20 to 50 pounds, with 30 pounds considered optimum by most buyers.

Easter or Greek Easter

Type of lamb wanted: 40 to 55 pounds live weight, milk-fed and fat.

Type of goat wanted: similar to Western Easter kids. A slightly larger milk-fed kid (i.e. around 35 pounds) is considered optimum.

Other holidays when goat meat is commonly consumed include Christmas, the July 4th weekend, and the numerous Caribbean holidays in August — Carnival, Carifest, Jamaican Independence Day, etc.

The Christmas market is for milk-fed kids and lambs. These young animals are rare, because they must be produced by out-of-season breeding in May for October births. Kids and lambs as light as 18 pounds may be readily accepted.

Goats for July 4th weekend are animals suitable for barbecue, generally cabrito kids for small parties and weaned market kids and yearling bucks, does or wethers for large celebrations.

Optimal goats for the Caribbean holidays are young, smelly 60- to 80-pound bucks. However, older animals of all sexes are often in demand and customers may prefer to buy them rather than pay the extra price for prime young bucks.

The Chinese market for goat, according to goat specialist Frank Pinkerton, is “limited to the six colder months. The preferred weight range is 60 to 80 pounds live, and goats in good health are required.”

The Hispanic market for goat is for 15- to 30-pound live weight suckling kids for cabrito, and large weaned market kids for seco de chivo (Ecuadorian goat stew) and barbecues. It is especially strong in some regions during Cinco de Mayo (May 5), Mexico’s Independence Day.

Cull does and bucks are also in demand for the curried goat market and for prison contracts.

Bernadette Logozar is a regional local foods specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County.


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