The goats at North Netherscales Farm are happy beasts – and that’s the most important factor affecting the flavour of their meat, says farmer Chris Dickinson.

Goat meat is a niche market that’s becoming more popular. It’s healthy, low in cholesterol, very tender and lean and can be cooked in the same way as lamb or venison.

Happy animals raised with minimum stress and lots of care make tasty meat, so welfare is the most important thing for Chris, 30.

The Tailored Goat Company may be the new kid in town but Chris did his homework before combining the very best genetics from around the world with traditional farming on the family farm at Hutton End.

Chris farms in partnership with his parents on a mixed farm which consists of beef, sheep, poultry and arable enterprises, producing quality products sold throughout the UK.

He spent five years with the National Farmers Union working with key farming stakeholders.

It was at this time that he noticed the UK’s growing demand for goat meat, which helped him make the life-changing decision to embark on building up his own goat meat business.

But goats weren’t a complete mystery to Chris.

“My mum has kept rare breed golden Guernsey goats, which I showed when I was young,” he said.

Kalvin the goat He chose a breed of goat originating in South Africa which is bred specifically to produce meat. “Meat from Boer goats is generally better in both texture and flavour than meat taken from a dairy goat animal,” he added.

He did the rounds of other goat farmers around the country before settling on a herd of 120 that was up for sale by a lady emigrating to South Africa.

“I bought them all off her because I was looking to establish a closed herd to minimise risk and disease. Goats are quite prone to different diseases and we have fantastic vets up here, but they don’t come into contact with goats on a daily basis.”

As luck would have it, Ben Dustan, honorary secretary of the Goat Veterinary Society, moved to Shap.

“He’s a really nice guy and has been extremely helpful when I rang him for advice,” said Chris.

Chris applied for a Henry Plumb Scholarship and was given £3,000 to set up his business.

His farming mentor was Kendal farmer and businessman John Geldard.

“The first year I telephoned and sent emails to different businesses to see if they would like to try the meat just to put my name out there,” said Chris.

Currently his goat meat is being sold at the Westmorland Services on the M6 in their high-end butchery service. Last year Chris supplied meat for Selfridges, and this year the Bon Vivant Group in Edinburgh.

One of the goats Local customers include the George and Dragon at Clifton, the Stoneybeck Inn at Catterlen, near Penrith and Greystone House Farm Shop. From this month, it will also be available in top Cumbrian butcher’s Cranston’s, a sign that goat meat is reaching the wider market.

Chris’s goats are so full of character and each one of them has a different personality. They’re very playful, boisterous and extremely nosy.

“That’s Beverley,” said Chris, pointing to a female, whose head popped up the minute we appeared in the barn where the herd was currently being housed.

Normally, the goats range on small paddocks around the farm. Their diet consists of grass, a traditional livestock course mix – and as many branches, hedges and trees they can eat.

Management of the herd has some similarities to sheep but they are browsers rather than grazers, which can make managing the grass a problem.

Chris had around 100 females to kid this year. They normally have up to two kids each, although triplets are not unknown – as the young farmer has been finding out.

Chris chose the name, The Tailored Goat Company, because in his words: “My business is tailored for the meat market.”

Goats’ meat is an obvious choice for health-conscious consumers.

Meat from the goats “The meat is succulent; it is not tough,” adds Chris. “These are prime animals, that are killed out between seven and 11 months with liveweight between 40 and 50 kilos. Kill out is 50 per cent –very similar to fat lambs. But it is a completely different product. The big thing is persuading people to eat it.

“Britain is one of the few places in the world that doesn’t eat goat meat on a regular basis.”

He added: “With goat farming, it’s a steep learning curve; you can’t treat them like sheep. It has different needs. They are prone to things like worms.

“They are very nosy and very interactive and good fun to work with, but that comes with challenges. When you try to dose them they just want to talk to you and it becomes hard work. They are big characters.”

Goats are clean, friendly, intelligent animals, which, once their needs are understood, are easily kept in good health and productivity.

Their reputation for smelliness is only true of male animals in the breeding season. This can be reduced if desired by cautery of the scent glands on the head during the first week of life.

Chris has also taken the step of producing his own lamb – he has a flock of 200 Herdwick ewes and has just started selling boxed lamb. “Herdwicks have a very strong brand and, with marketing expertise, I would like to grow this side of my business.”

Chris sells most of his lamb through Facebook.

As well as farming at home, Chris does consultancy work for the poultry equipment business Vencomatic and is involved in two Yorkshire businesses – The Yorkshire Wagyu Company and the pullet-rearing business Wot-a-Pullet.

For more information, visit or phone Chris on 07772525286.