Australian meat goat producers want to increase meat yield

26 April 2017

Goats on the Move readers may remember that in 2016, four surveys were sent to four industry sectors: Australian rangeland harvesters, commercial meat goat producers, seedstock Boer breeders and processors with the aim of using the results for the development of an Australian meat goat index.

The surveys were developed as a part of Michael Aldridge’s PhD project with the University of Adelaide.

The number of responses to the survey were five rangeland, 22 commercial and 12 seedstock with five of the seedstock responses coming from KIDPLAN members. Three processors responded and they were operators selling their own goats to restaurants.

There were five key messages that came from the survey:

  1. KIDPLAN needs more education and exposure
  2. Meat goat producers all have the same priorities for genetic improvement
  3. Increasing meat yield is the most important trait to focus on
  4. Internal parasites remain an issue
  5. There are improvements in reproduction to be made.

Quantitative genetics rely on data but there are inconsistencies between what breeders said they are recording and what is captured in KIDPLAN. Both commercial and seedstock producers record faecal egg counts yet only two producers in KIDPLAN are submitting this data, often flock-based. This is similar for reproductive, growth and carcase data.

Seedstock producers who are not members of KIDPLAN were asked why they weren’t using it. The reasons included  similar issues BREEDPLAN and LAMBPLAN have faced: they preferred to use visual assessment, there aren’t enough producers using it and it doesn’t add value to bucks sold. There needs to be more education and exposure on why and how to use KIDPLAN.

The encouraging result from the survey was that producers within and between the different systems conveyed similar priorities for improvement. Even when there was a statistical difference between groups, the majority still agreed. The benefit of this is that the need for multiple indexes for different systems or objectives is not necessary.

From the traits and issues asked, increasing meat yield was the most important and agreed upon desired gain. The sale method (sold per head, $/kg live or $/kg dressed) was not different between producers with $/kg dressed being the most common. The only issue was growth traits were often recorded but carcase traits were not. Any index needs to have a strong emphasis on increasing meat yield.

Internal parasites were an issue for both commercial and seedstock systems. Both systems monitor and control parasites, however, as already mentioned, this data is not being submitted to KIDPLAN. It makes it very difficult for parasite resistance to be included in a meat goat index without inferring from sheep.

There were a number of questions related to reproductive rate (number of does joined, scanning rates, birth types, weaning rate). The aim of these questions wasn’t in the values but whether producers were recording the information. Though many said they record complete reproductive data that statement was not supported in the results they gave for the other questions. There were many producers below previous industry reports for reproductive traits.

The index being developed is expected to be completed in shortly and will require further testing.

For more information please contact Michael Aldridge on

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