No kidding, there's money to be made in goats!

04 June 2015

Australia's goatmeat and livestock production is growing and evolving into an economically sustainable industry. That was one of the main messages in a segment on the goat industry on ABC TV's Landline, which aired last Sunday (31 May 2015) and featured MLA’s Goat Industry Development Manager, Julie Petty.

Goatmeat exports were valued at more than $240 million in 2014, with 2.13 million head processed setting a new record. International customers include the US, Taiwan and China.

Kyle McDonald of McDonald Holdings, a Charleville, Queensland, goat producer who  featured on Landline, has made goats an integral part of his family’s mixed farming business for more than 15 years.

Market opportunity

Between their two properties, the McDonalds run 4,000 Dorper ewes and 1,500 rangeland does alongside sorghum cropping, lucerne production and 400 hectares of irrigation.

“We decided to move from a harvesting only arrangement to breeding by establishing our own goat herd of up to 2,500 rangeland does when Western Meat Exporters was established in Charleville in the early 2000s,” Kyle said.

“We could see a strong market developing and saw the value in keeping a herd on hand rather than just relying on harvesting”.

“Goats were a natural fit for our business as they are low maintenance, hardy, have a high reproduction rate, and are better suited to some of our land then cattle and cropping. We opportunistically purchase young goats to grow out to marketable weight which is a low cost, low maintenance addition to the business”.

Fence defence

The McDonalds use electric fencing for the goat and Dorper paddocks and Kyle indicated they prefer using a bi-polar (electric) system due to its reliability.

“We’ve had few issues in keeping the goats and Dorpers in and the electric fence certainly helps keep the wild dogs out, meaning that we can maintain breeding flocks while many of our neighbours have gone out of small stock completely," he said

"The fence does need regular checking, however, it was a much cheaper option for us than some other alternatives and we’ve been very happy with the results”.

As goats can breed up quickly, Kyle said it's important to ensure good management of the total grazing pressure and stocking densities to match the season and feed availability.

Goat resources a mouse click away

MLA has produced tools and resources to assist producers to improve their current goat enterprise or make an informed decision about whether to introduce goats into their business.

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