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Mountain Vittles, Inc. Creates Market for
Value-Added Goat Meat Products

By Melissa Reese

June 2003

The Cumberland Plateau has a rich history of hard working folk etching out a living against a beautiful, yet hard environment; farming their land while nourishing and strengthening their bodies with the fruits of their labor. Good food or vittles was an important part of their daily lives. Mountain Vittles, Inc. is being established with these same principles in mind.

Over a decade ago, Ruble C. Conatser, Jr., began raising goats on 86 acres in Jamestown, Tenn., under the herd name, Mountain Goat Ranch. He said his focus to produce a herd of goats with production genetics has been very successful. The Mountain Goat Ranch herd consists primarily of Kiko goats that are able to kid and put meat on the hoof with very little inputs from the rancher. He has sold breeding stock across the United States and Canada.

"I became interested in goats initially for brush and land clearing while raising cattle. As time went along, I realized more clear profit from the goats than the cattle," Conatser said. "Having studied and raised different domesticated ruminants, it is my belief that no other animal has given more to mankind than the goat. Mankind's relationship with the goat dates back to prehistoric times."

Beginning his operation at a time when raising goats wasn't popular, Conatser said he has aggressively promoted the goat meat industry, serving as the Secretary and then the President of the American Kiko Goat Association and on the Board of the Tennessee Goat Producer's Association Inc. Mountain Vittles

"With goat meat production the most rapidly growing segment of agriculture, one area that wasn't being addressed was the promotion of goat meat products to the American consumer," he said. "Goat meat has been 'the old world meat' and has sustained mankind for centuries, with the largest consumers of goat meat in the United States being the ethnic population. This 'old world meat' is the new red meat for health conscious consumers of the new millennium."

With foresight and a vision, Conatser began to formulate a plan that would provide the increasing number of goat producers with an outlet for their product and introduce goat meat to the average American Consumer in a widely accepted form.

Mountain Vittles, Inc. is the next evolutionary phase for Mountain Goat Ranch, according to Conatser. Mountain Vittles, Inc. began leading the industry in the introduction of goat meat, in July 2002, introducing three styles that are preferred by the American consumer; ground goat meat, ground goat patties and goat steaks.

While researching funding options to complete a USDA facility for the production of goat meat value-added products, Conatser said he learned of the National Livestock Producers Association (NLPA) Sheep & Goat Fund. Melissa Reese, Administrative Support for Mountain Vittles, Inc. created a business plan that requested NLPA to consider Mountain Vittles, Inc. as a potential candidate for funding. NLPA approved a loan to Mountain Vittles, Inc. in December 2002 for the construction of a facility to produce value-added goat meat products. Construction of the facility is scheduled for completion summer of 2003.

Mountain Vittles Building"Mountain Vittles, Inc. is proud to be chosen by NLPA as we continue to promote the growing goat meat industry and advance the public's knowledge to the health benefits of goat meat," Conatser said. "Mountain Vittles, Inc. was established to meet the growing demand for goat meat through the wholesale and retail sale of goat meat and value added goat meat products."

"Once operational, Mountain Vittles, Inc. will initially focus on producing our HORNY GOAT JERKY ™, the latest product in our quest to introduce the American Consumer to the health benefits of goat meat," Conatser said. "HORNY GOAT JERKY ™ is a unique blend of herbs and spices designed to appeal to the young and young at heart. HORNY GOAT JERKY ™ will initially be marketed to convenience stores, health food stores and available online through our web site http://www.mountainmeatgoats.com."

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For more information about the National Livestock Producers Association's Sheep & Goat Fund, please call 1-800-237-7193, ext. 10 or visit the NLPA website at www.nlpa.org.



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