Out in the far reaches of Herald toward Rancho Seco is a ranch where about 2,000 goats are raised for people who enjoy eating them.
Gary Silva Jr. has about 500 acres and rents another 1,840 acres from prominent Sacramento developer Angelo Tsakopoulos to raise his goats. He also has 400 head of beef cattle that he raises with the goats, but he finds that goats are cheaper to raise than cows.
Goats have long been known for their milk, but they're gaining in popularity as something to eat.
"It's like a good, thin filet," said Silva, who has lived on his ranch on the south side of Twin Cities Road since 1962.
Silva sells 20 to 35 goats per week for $100 a head. He doesn't sell by the pound, so customers usually search out the biggest ones.
"We make $30 to $40 per goat," he said.
These goats don't have a long lifespan — only 8 to 10 months. When they get to be 75 pounds, customers tend to want them, Silva said. And when someone buys them, they go to the slaughterhouse.
Silva, with customers generally from Stockton to Roseville, said that goats are especially popular among Latinos, Asians and Muslims. One Muslim man has ordered 30 goats that he plans to pick up this week, Silva said.
However, it apparently doesn't have universal appeal among Muslims.
Abdul Lughmani, a Muslim from Lodi, said that while goats are lower in cholesterol, making them better to eat, his family eats beef and chicken.
"The goat is very expensive, and we can't afford it," Lughmani said. "Rich people eat goats."
While Silva raises goats, he isn't in the business to kill them.
"We don't slaughter anyone on the ranch. It's illegal," he said.
Customers take them live, and it's up to them to find a slaughterhouse. Some don't take them home to eat, Silva said. They resell them for $140 to $150 a head.
Silva raises goats that are about three-quarters boer and one-quarter Latino. The original boers came to the area from South Africa in 1989. What you see now are their descendants.
Some goats — about 60 males — are used for breeding so that Silva continues to have a supply of goats to sell.
Meat goats at a glanceGoats are popular for eating in the southeastern United States, France, Belgium, the Middle East, northern Africa, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia.
Goat meat is relatively low in fat. Three-and-a-half ounces of goat contain 143 calories, contain 27 grams of protein three grams of fat, 86 milligrams of sodium and 75 milligrams of cholesterol.
Source: U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture
Goats are cheaper to raise because you can have more of them per acre than cattle, and goats eat the weeds. Silva doesn't need weed-killer anymore.
Silva is the third generation to farm in Herald, and his daughter, Alexis, a senior at Galt High, may be the fourth. She raises goats as a Future Farmers of America member, and she showed two feeder goats and a market goat at the Sacramento County Fair and California State Fair this year.
She may take over the ranch when she and her father get older.
Gary Silva lives with his wife, Tracy, and Alexis. His son, Justin, is studying to grow winegrapes at California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo.