Table of Contents


Also find the separate “Mohair (goats)” and “Dairy (sheep and goats)” chapters.


1. Overview

The latest annual Goat Market Value Chain Profile, compiled by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, provides an excellent overview of goats in South Africa. Find this document under the Directorate Marketing web pages at

The unimpressive goat is, in reality, one of nature's most useful animals. It can be used for meat, fibre, milk, skins and manure. Owing to its great adaptability it can survive almost anywhere in South Africa.

  • Goat milk is highly prized for its quality of being less prone to cause allergies in humans than cow’s milk.
  • Mohair is one of the rare noble fibres of the world.
  • The Boer goat’s meat contains less fat, fewer calories and higher levels of protein and iron than meat from beef, pork, lamb and chicken. It is often called “chevon”, and from young animals, “cabrito”.

This chapter looks at the meat aspect and the information that is common to all goat enterprises, whether they be meat, mohair or milk. See the separate chapters that are more specific to mohair and goat milk.

Photo used courtesy Fred Shikweni, Precedential Agri. Holdings


2. International business environment

South Africa is a relatively minor role player when it comes to goats, possessing approximately 3% of Africa’s goat population and less than 1% of the world’s. China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are the major goat producing countries. In Africa, Nigeria, Sudan and Kenya are where you will find most of the continent’s goats.

The developing world accounts for some 96% of the world’s goats. Developed countries are the dominant market for goat products though. Were production systems to be improved, this has the potential to become a major earner of foreign exchange for developing countries.

The Goat Market Value Chain Profile provides information on the international business environment. Find it on the Directorate Marketing, web pages at


3. Local business environment

The Goat Market Value Chain Profile provides information on the international business environment. Find it on the Directorate Marketing, web pages at

The Eastern Cape (38%), Limpopo (18%) and KwaZulu-Natal (14%) are the largest goat producers, with approximately 70% of the total production.

Commercial farming is done with Boer goats and Angora goats. Small-scale producers mainly work with indigenous goats in a communal farming system.

The Boer goat, Savanna and Kalahari Red are currently recognised as commercial goat breeds for the production of meat and skins and small quantities of cashmere. Mohair is produced from Angora goats. Saanen, Toggenburg and Alpine goats are mainly kept for milk production. Gorno Altai goats produce cashmere. The several indigenous breeds are very well adapted to South African conditions, and seldom get foot rot. Some types are also resistant to Heartwater.

Almost all goats are marketed live. The marketing channels for live goats in South Africa are

  • Live animal auctions
  • Carcass auctions
  • Out-of-hand sales (buyers buy directly from producers)
  • Transactions by means of Liaison Services (agents who connect people but do not handle money in the process)
  • speculators

Goat’s meat has traditionally been consumed mainly by the Muslim and rural African sectors of the population.

Slaughtering of goats at abattoirs is recorded with sheep, so figures are difficult to gauge. Most goats are slaughtered on an informal basis and/or for traditional purposes (weddings and funerals). The commercial sector is responsible for less than one percent of the goats slaughtered in the country. The informal market of goats thus drives the South African goat industry.

It has long been a hope that Boer goat farming and exporting will attract thousands of black emerging and small-scale farmers. Local herds and breeding material are still too small to meet overseas demands.

Exports of chevon go mostly to Namibia and Lesotho (DAFF, 2014).