The past two evenings I helped with the tagging and weighing of 4-H market animals in Fayette County. We tagged in 240 or so market hogs, around 80 market goats and 100 market lambs. I will be doing the same thing in Washington County in a week. Those kids will be weighing and tagging as many or more animals, so in a week or so I will be seeing 500 plus hogs, 200 plus market goats and over 250 market lambs.
What's my point in telling you this? Well, someone had to raise and sell these animals to the kids and their families. When starting in the livestock business, people hopefully take the time to think about the existing markets in their area. It doesn't do you much good to raise a great product and realize you've got no one to sell it to or are limited to just one outlet for your product. However, don't forget to look at ALL of the existing markets in your area. Junior fair market project animals are an existing market many new producers overlook.
Many people just starting to raise livestock, or any agricultural product, get too focused on one goal or end product. They want to raise freezer beef, or they want to raise purebred cattle or they are focused on growing a pasture raised product. Why not pasture raised purebred freezer beef? You raise a pastured product but if it's good enough you sell it for breeding stock, then you sell the ones you don't keep as replacements or sell as breeding stock as freezer beef. In essence, one product for three different markets.
Management can also enable you to take advantage of multiple markets. The date you breed your sheep or goats will dictate, to a certain degree, what markets are available for your product. Will your animals be the appropriate size and age for the Easter market? How old must they be and what size should they be for Ramadan? There are marketing calendars available online that can help you with these management decisions. Again, don't limit your available markets with poorly planned management decisions.
Not to simplify things too much, but the most sustainable enterprise is one that makes at least a little money. I encourage all producers to embrace sustainability, however, remember that sustainability is a three legged stool: economic, environmental and social. No stool can remain standing without all three legs being strong. Sooner or later the weak leg will cause the collapse of the whole stool. Don't limit the strength of your business's economic leg by limiting your marketing options.
Since you are reading this article, I am encouraged to know that you are researching how to begin an agricultural operation. You have come to a great place to begin this research. I encourage you to go through each section thoroughly. Enjoy the search and good luck.