Get ahead with goats

29 August 2018

David Kimmorley got into goats about 10 years ago when he saw global and domestic opportunities for goatmeat products. He could see rangeland harvesting posed a challenge for secure supply so decided to invest in rangeland and Boer goats to be run in a semi-managed operation.

Name: David Kimmorley
Location: Corrunga, Hannaford, Western Downs region, Queensland
Enterprise: Mixed grazing  
Property size: 1,618ha
Soils and grasses: Native pastures
Rainfall: 400mm
Target market: Live export and domestic and export markets
Additional farm enterprises: 250 Angus cows and 450 Dorper ewes  

Goats, according to David, provide a fantastic opportunity for producers to scale up their stock numbers post-drought while still generating some much needed cash flow.

“They reproduce faster than cattle and breeding stock are much cheaper to buy in. Managed right, you can get three kiddings every two years," he said.

“For this reason I’ve sold off more cattle and bought in more goats.

 “I see a big opportunity (for expansion of goat enterprises) with all the cluster fencing happening in western Queensland.

“Lots of producers are waiting until the season breaks and will then be looking to restock with sheep and goats."

David started with a few Boer bucks and 1,000 young rangeland does. He was looking to capitalise on the availability of the rangeland does and genetic potential of the bucks and has now transitioned to a majority purebred Boer herd. 

“I moved away from a rangeland doe enterprise as the kids didn’t grow out as well as I expected and I had an interest in the live export industry which, for the market I was targeting, needed purebred Boers so that’s what I’ve transitioned to," he said.

Here are his tips for managing goats in a mixed enterprise:

Husbandry

Since David's property has been in drought conditions, the goats are run alongside the sheep for ease of management.

“Having the right fencing and making sure your predation control is working are the two most important things for producers to get right," David said.

"Goats will do the right thing by you if you do the right thing by them. They're not a hard animal to run; they’re easy to muster and handle but producers need to be patient with them as they can test fencing and infrastructure."

Depending on the seasons, David can drench twice a year for internal parasites. David isn’t pregnancy scanning at the moment but would like to do so in the future to help decision making.

“I’ve previously kept some older does as they were good breeders, but now I’m facing an issue where the herd structure probably isn’t right and I have too many older does," he said.

“Now that it’s dry, the old does are really feeling it and they don’t bounce back as well as the younger animals. Once the season breaks I’ll be looking to cull does based on age and production characteristics like teeth, udders and teats."

David keeps his young does separate from the older females to avoid cycling too early, which leads to pregnancy issues due to their size. Bucks are run with the mature does permanently and, as a result, kidding changes depending on the season.

In terms of feed, the goats are used for regrowth timber control and controlling prickly pear. During the dry, supplementary lick blocks have been provided to the goats along with whole corn and a cottonseed ration of about 200g/head/day.

“The goats love the corn. I’ve had no issues with shy feeding," David said.

Controlling predators

Ten years ago David invested in donkeys for predation control and runs 20 head with his stock, with another 40 available for sale and breeding.

“All the neighbours have had issues recently with wild dogs except us," he said.

“I put that down to the donkeys. I had tried Maremmas (dogs) and found they needed more attention, whereas, I can just leave the donkeys on the paddock with the stock and not worry.”

David uses both Jennies and Jacks and has found they bond easily with the goats. 

“I put the young donkeys with the goats and feed together for a couple of weeks until they get used to it."

David has previously undertaken a pig control program with aerial shooting and feels he now has the pig population under control.

The main issues have been with losing kids to birds (mainly crows).

“The crows just hammer the young kids. I’m losing so many newborns to them," he said.

Markets

Before getting into goats, David undertook research with wholesalers, retailers and processors to understand what they needed and what the issues were.

“I knew I had to have a system in place where I could deliver goats regularly," he said.

“I send Boer does live export to Malaysia, and cull bucks and wethers go to domestic and export processors."

David has stopped marking his bucks as there is no market advantage in doing so.

David has been consistently getting dressing percentages between 46–47% despite the dry conditions. When the season is good, the yield is around 50%. David only gets kill sheets from the processors, so has no feedback on the carcase performance and potential fat covering.

Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP)

David is in the final stages of completing the ARLP, sponsored by MLA and the Goat Industry Council of Australia (GICA).

“The course was amazing and fascinating. The people were so diverse and I feel like I learnt so much from the experience. I’d recommend it to anyone," he said.

“It’s been a very challenging experience and the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of it. As groups we've been given projects to deliver in rural and regional Australia which are designed to have real impact. 

“I’m coming out of this course as a much better communicator and team player."

MLA and GICA are sponsoring another place for the program and applications are open now.

Find out more information on the course.

Information:

Email David Kimmorley

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