Silvies Valley Ranch made development of an “American Range Goat” one of the highest priorities on the ranch in 2012. Rangeland and forest throughout the United States needs an animal that can economically harvest the brushy forage that proliferates without wildfire until it chokes out the grasses and other trees, and degrades the watershed. This brushy forage creates an environment where catastrophic fires can do irreparable harm to the ecosystem.
Smaller and more efficient cattle clearly help. But, there is a real need for an animal that can convert both weeds and woody shrubs (that cattle can’t eat) into human food. Biologically, goats have evolved to be able to eat thorny plants like thistles and even other plants that are toxic to other herbivores. Goats have been proven to be able to eat very bitter and pungent plants that dis-flavor the meat of cattle and sheep, but with no effect on the flavor of goat meat (called “Chevon”).
Unfortunately, in the United States most goats are not raised to provide high quality carcasses for the general consumer market. What is needed to do that is a goat developed for high quality meat production, as exists in many other parts of the world – but specially bred for our climate, plants, and consumers. A facility in the southwest corner of the ranch is ground zero for Silvies Valley Ranch’s development of the “American Range Goat” to make use of the currently unused forage that otherwise becomes fire fodder. Our goal is to develop a meat goat (like an Angus “beef” cow instead of a Holstein “milk” cow) that is hardy and fertile, using the best genes from American Goats, South African Boer Goats and Kalahari Red Goats.
The American Range Goats will be in addition to the special strain of cattle already on the ranch, not a replacement of them. With this new breed of goats, ranches will be able to get two agricultural crops off the same land – and improve the land and watershed at the same time.