They’re smart, cute, charming and potentially profitable for Alabama’s farmers. That’s just a few of the discoveries Dr. Sandra Solaiman has made about goats since she first began working with them almost two decades ago. But it was just a few years ago that the Tuskegee University professor took a sabbatical that allowed her to see the humble goat with new eyes.It’s a perspective that Solaiman now shares in her book, “Simply Meat Goats,” a 117-page comprehensive, easy-to-read primer on everything you wanted to know about the meat goat industry, but hadn’t thought to ask. Published by Tuskegee University and released in January, the book strives to offer guidance for anyone currently — or considering — raising meat goats.”I hope this will be a good introduction to the industry and will help producers, either beginners or advanced, to make smart decisions as far as raising, health, feeding and marketing,” said Solaiman, who is professor of animal sciences at TU and director of its Small Ruminant Research Program. “(The book) goes through all aspects of the industry, trying to understand it, what breeds to choose, how to breed, how to feed, how to market, how to house, how to fence — everything from A to Z.”Mitt Walker, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Meat Goat and Sheep Division, said Solaiman was right on target with “Simply Meat Goats.””This is an excellent resource for new or experienced producers, or anyone who wants to learn more about one of the nation’s fastest-growing commodities,” Walker said. “Dr. Solaiman has made it so simple to follow that it’s certain to become a much-used guide for anyone interested in meat goats.”The work stems from a 2004-’05 sabbatical she took from Tuskegee in which she spent five months with the Small Farm Program at the University of California-Davis, analyzing factors that influence the industry’s development.”When you are faculty, you are very specialized and you don’t have a lot of freedom to write,” said Solaiman, who also serves as an advisor to the Federation’s Meat Goat and Sheep Committee. “So, to get a grasp of the lives of goats, you had to go somewhere to see the whole farm.”For Solaiman, that farm was UC-Davis’ Small Farm Center, where she immersed herself in the study of meat goats.Before long, Solaiman was armed with enough information that she wrote “Outlook for a Small Farm Meat Goat Industry in California,” followed by “Meat Goat Industry Outlook for Small Farms in Alabama and Surrounding States” and “Simply Meat Goats.” “Simply Meat Goats,” however, keeps it … well, simple … as Solaiman guides her readers through the principles, production, practices, problems, profits and potential of meat goats. Along the way, readers will see how cow vs. goat economics compare, how to formulate a business plan, and learn about the adaptability, reproductive efficiency, growth performance, carcass and productivity characteristics of various breeds.Through it all, her small ruminant friends fascinated Solaiman. “They are very sharp animals,” she said. “They are not like other species, like cattle or sheep. Goats are smart. They are very habitual. If you teach them something, they remember it even if they don’t do it for a while. They have personality. They’re cute and very personable, too.” “Simply Meat Goats” is available for $10, plus $5 shipping and handling, by emailing Solaiman at email@example.com or by writing: Sandra G. Solaiman, 105 Milbank Hall, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL 36088. Proceeds from the book go toward scholarships for Animal & Poultry Science students in the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at Tuskegee University. For more information, call (334) 727-8401.
Solaiman Serves Up Meat Goats ‘Simply’