Paul and Ami Davis of Goat Ireland, run a Goat Farming enterprise in Dunmore, Co. Galway, with their children, aged seven, three years and nine months.
Paul initially comes from an Agricultural background, comprising of a sheep and stud farm in Longford, with Ami coming from the urban surroundings of Dublin.
The pair leased the farm two years ago, with the initial intention of expanding and building a high performance sheep flock and concentrating more on the stock-dog training business, which they operate under the name ‘Working Kelpie Ireland’.
A new venture:
For Paul and Ami, goat farming has been the most recent venture, in an effort to diversify and increase farm turnover in the current difficult climate.
‘Goat Ireland’ was established three months after the duo purchased what used to be a dairy farm, consisting of several farm buildings and sheds, making it a suitable location for an intensive farming system.
The Davis’ have put a unique innovative twist on their goat enterprise, focusing on meat production.
‘Our main objectives include to make goat meat a staple part of the Irish dinner plate, as we have identified the numerous nutritional benefits associated with it. It is very low in fat, high in iron and high in protein, which is an essential requirement for a diet. These qualities make goat meat highly desirable for health conscious people, while its diversity as a meat, makes it every chef’s dream. Since it is such a lean meat, it is recommended to freeze early to keep it fresh and stop it drying out. It should also be cooked slowly at a low-heat, to preserve tenderness and moisture.’ Paul explained.
Goats are renowned for their splendid meat, with several restaurants and hotels within the island of Ireland, displaying goat dishes on their menus in recent years.
‘Chevon’ or ‘Cabrito’ is widely consumed in a number of European countries, by ethnic populations across Europe and is a staple meat in Africa, Asia and parts of the American continent. It can be produced on a grass based system similar to that of lamb.
According to Teagasc changes in the ethnic makeup of our population and a more adventurous consumer palate, as well as an emphasis on healthy food options, have led to a demand for goats’ meat. There may also be potential in the export trade.
According to Livestrong, the nutritional value of goat meat depends primarily on the way in which it is prepared and how big the serving size is. A 4 oz. cooked serving of goat meat has 124 calories and contains 2.6 grams of fat, 0.8 grams of saturated fat, 25 grams of protein and 64 mg of cholesterol in this serving. A 3-ounces portion of goat meat has 122 calories, which is considerably less than beef's 179 and chicken's 162. In terms of fat, goat is much leaner than other, more readily available meats. Goat meat's 2.6 grams of total fat per 3-ounce serving is about one-third of beef's 7.9 grams and roughly half of chicken's 6.3 grams. A serving of goat meat represents 4% of your daily value of total fat, based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Alongside meat production, goats’ milk is manufactured into many cheeses and the milk itself has proven to be rather nutritious, with certain health benefits associated with it, particularly in the case of treating asthma and eczema. Also, due to its chemical and physical properties, it is also more readily digestible by the human body that cows’ milk, with less allergies occurring.
‘Goat meat is believed to be the most consumed meat in the world and is estimated that 63 to 75 percent of the world’s population eat goat meat regularly. Certain ethnic and cultural backgrounds eat goat more regularly, but given it’s health benefits shouldn’t it be more available to all? It’s given that at the current time it may seem a niche market but give it time and goat cutlets, stew pieces and mince will be on sale next to lamb and beef on the shelves of our local butchers and supermarkets.’ Paul explained.
‘We will have a supply of meat all year round and it is sustainably sourced. We have contracts in place with established goat farms, such as ‘St Tola’s Goats Cheese’ to rear meat X dairy goats, whilst starting our own Boer goat herd, as these are known for their weight gain and carcass conformation , deeming them more suited to meat production.’
Catherina asked Paul and Ami why consumers should consider Goat meat.
‘Goat meat is the fastest growing meat market in the US and Australia, so we thought why not Ireland?
There is a firmly established halal market and we are now in negotiations with numerous high-end restaurants and hotels that are looking for regular and reliable goat meat supplier. That is where we feel we strongly come in.
Hopefully it won’t be long until you see our product in butcher shops and on supermarket shelves. At the moment you can order through Facebook page and receive delivery by courier of frozen goat meat as carcass or cuts. Price will vary on weight and butchering style.
‘For us it is still early doors but seems to be moving along faster than we can grow them. We will be rearing up to 500 goats per year, ready for slaughter, with a supply available throughout the year.’
He continued ‘Carcass weights range from 8kg to 40kg depending on the age of the goat. All males are castrated at six weeks of age to avoid tainted meat. They are slaughtered in Co. Galway and butchered in Co. Mayo. We are working alongside Noel Duffy Butchers in Kilkelly at the moment. We are so close to the borders, so this is ideal. It’s all about supporting other local small businesses where possible.
Our farm is Bord Bia approved for our Sheep enterprise, however there are no accreditations for Goat farms in place as of yet.’ Paul added.
How is Goat meat cooked?
‘Goat meat is so versatile and cooks similar to lamb. It is suitable for the absolute beginner or celebrity chef.
Pan fry some tender culets, have a Sunday roast or whip up Friday nights curry, Goat meat does it all. Ami is even experimenting with salted ribs.’
‘We are going to run a pre-order Christmas box starting from the 1st of October. The box can comprise of all goat or half goat and half mutton or lamb, which can be paid for through PayPal.’
Looking forward, Paul and Ami, intend to heavily invest in the genetic quality of their goat meats, which they believe will improve the flavour and quality of meat. For them, this will result in a better food conversion rate to muscle and the finish to carcass will be quicker with higher weigh yields.
‘Also we are setting up the farm as part of the wild Atlantic way with the help of our woofers building road ways and pathways sorting out shed. This will give people the opportunity to visit and see how we work, have a cup of tea and a taste of goat meat and mutton!’ Paul added.
‘It never ceases to amaze us the power of the internet, as several contracts have come our way for a rolling supply of Irish Goat meat!’