Goat meat quality
Research indicates goat meat from younger animals has less off-flavors and improved tenderness.
Depending on the age and type (dairy vs. meat) of goat at the time of harvest, meat quality can vary. Cabrito is goat meat from very young, milk-fed goats weighing between 15-25 pounds live. Typically cabrito is from kids that are harvested at four to eight weeks of age and the meat is most often used for barbecue. Chevon is meat from young goats, approximately six to nine months in age, often fed a forage and/or grain diet and weigh around 50 – 60 pounds live. Cabrito is typically more tender than chevon. Meat from goats that are larger than chevon can be of value as well and is typically sold to ethinic groups. There are no USDA quality or yield grades for goats. Goat meat properly packaged and frozen typically has a three to four month shelf-life before the quality starts to decline. Goat meat frozen longer than three to four months may be safe to consume but may have more off-flavors or freezer-burn damage may be noticeable. Goat meat has less fat with a higher proportion of unsaturated fatty acids compared to other red meat. The lean attributes of goat meat are making it a more popular option for consumers.
A Kansas State University study indicate that feeding goats concentrate compared to goats on range land (fed no concentrate) resulted in increased live weight, hot carcass weight, dressing percentage, primal weights, ribeye area, backfat, body wall and carcass length, leg circumference, marbling score and internal fat. Additionally, there were less off-flavors and cooking loss in chops from goats that were fed concentrate diets compared to those chops from goats on the range diet.
Increased time on feed increased fat content of Boer and Kiko goats harvested after 0, 4, 8 or 12 weeks on a high-protein grain diet according to a Mississippi State University research trial. They also found that increased time on feed increased aroma intensity, goaty, bloody, musty and liver/organy aromas. Sensory panelists reported increased salty, bitter, umami, grassy, goaty, fat, liver/organy, metallic, earthy and chemical tastes of goat meat from goats that were on the high protein diets with increased time. Overall they indicated that younger and smaller goats have less fat and less intense aroma and flavor attributes.