Push on for goat rebuild in NSW

Sellers' market for goats more than a temporary gig as industry looks to rebuild


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It's easier to load goats than you think, with Phil Lynn from Ausgoat, Glen Innes, leading the way for these rangeland Billys headed for processing at Wodonga. Industry experts are now looking beyond this drought at a goat herd rebuild.

It's easier to load goats than you think, with Phil Lynn from Ausgoat, Glen Innes, leading the way for these rangeland Billys headed for processing at Wodonga. Industry experts are now looking beyond this drought at a goat herd rebuild.

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High goat prices are good for confidence and there is no reason why these won't continue but industry leaders are thinking now about a post-drought herd rebuild.

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Overseas markets have long clamoured for Australian goat - the US share doubling every decade from the 1980s - but growing domestic demand from a cosmopolitan population, combined with pockets of restocker interest in Queensland, continue to create a seller's market.

At $150 for a grown buck and $100 for a medium sized nanny, the cash flow is real and a herd will complement cattle, not compete with them, taking up just 0.8 Dry Sheep Equivalent.

Phil Lynn, Ausgoat at Glen Innes, has procured the feral bush variety for 25 years and can see only a bright future for the engaging species, previously discredited as an animal enterprise.

Goats run with cattle, won't compete for fodder, don't share parasites and their meat has fewer calories and less fat than chicken, beef, lamb or pork.

In the current season it has been easier to muster the nimble footed species, as they come to water points, and to date there has been little slow down in supply along the western slopes. However, industry experts are now looking beyond this drought to a sensible herd rebuild.

The Meat and Livestock Australia "goat roadshow" heads over the border from Victoria in mid November, possibly twinning with a mohair sale at Albury - Wodonga, with the aim of promoting the small livestock to a variety of producers.

"You would be flat-out being able to purchase young goats right now," says MLA's Goat Industry Project Manager, Julie Petty, whose parents in Western Queensland got into goat production during the 1990s.

Demand is strong as a result of restockers in better parts of Queensland competing with processors anxious to fill export orders - 75 per cent to the US and its Muslim and Hispanic consumers, with the balance going to Taiwan, Caribbean, South Korea, and Canada.

"With supply predicted to be well short of demand, the future surely looks bright for this previously discredited animal/enterprise," says Phil Lynn of Ausgoat..

"With supply predicted to be well short of demand, the future surely looks bright for this previously discredited animal/enterprise," says Phil Lynn of Ausgoat..

An influx of new Australian immigrants who use goat in their regular diet and even celebrate it during the Muslim new year festival in late August, ensure a steady domestic market but export has always been the main driver, helped lately by an Aussie dollar below US70 cents.

At the moment mature goats bring up to $120 on the hoof. At, say, an average weight live of 35kg bringing $112 a head, a farmer with bush country can make cash flow in the order of more than $2000 a week, if they learn how to manage the clever animals.

When the price comes back Mr Lynn says it has a long way to go before goats become unattractive.

"Even a drop of 30 per cent from the present $10/kg carcase weight to $7/kg would see goats remain as a commercial alternative to other grazing livestock," he said.

Lessons learned about predation will assist new goat herds going forward. MLA's Ms Petty says goats will thrive best behind exclusion fences, with cluster configurations - as shown in Western Queensland and on the New England Tablelands.

Goats are browsers not grazers and require a diversity of vegetation from trees and shrubs to grasses and herbs - exactly the sort that sequesters carbon and delivers omega three fats.

Of course their numbers need management to avoid land degradation. That's where mustering comes into play - be it with dogs, motorbikes or even helicopters.

"But without a fence there really is no option for production of small stock," says Mrs Petty.

Running goats in an enclosure also means they can be bred with Boer Billys while keeping rangeland males at bay. A shorter joining - say eight weeks - might also be managed.

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