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Vale Colin Ramsay

03 January 2024

One of the Australian goatmeat industry’s leading advocates, Colin Ramsay, passed away in October, leaving a legacy that will continue to benefit the industry well into the future. 

One of the Australian goatmeat industry’s leading advocates, Colin Ramsay of Dudauman Park Boer Goats, Quandialla, passed away in October, leaving a legacy that will continue to benefit the industry well into the future.

Colin and his son and business partner, Rob, established Dudauman Park Boer Goats in 1998 to breed goats for commercial meat production and seed stock production.

Their goat operation was one of the first fully managed goatmeat production enterprises in Australia, and was run in conjunction with cattle, meat sheep and broadacre cropping enterprises.

Colin, who had a PhD in geology, turned his academic mind to research and development (R&D) into goats over the last 15 years of his life to address issues with production performance and move the industry beyond assessing goats based on visual and structural traits.

Colin and Rob started performance recording their herd and were instrumental in the introduction of KIDPLAN to the Australian goat industry.

KIDPLAN, the national genetic evaluation for goats provides simple, practical information on the value of an animal’s genes for production in the form of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) and specialised indexes.

Today, Dudauman goats and genetics are used by goat producers in Australia as well as overseas in countries throughout Asia, the Middle East and the United Kingdom.

Colin’s immense contribution to the industry, particularly through R&D to benefit and advance the industry, is ongoing.

Earlier this year Colin supplied Boer does to help establish a goat resource herd at the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) Condobolin Research Station as part of a new, five-year $3.7 million R&D project to help goatmeat producers achieve productivity gains.

Unwavering commitment

Gordon Refshauge, Trudie Atkinson and Tom Granleese from NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), all collaborated with Colin during his career. They provided this tribute.

“Before he commenced any research activities with goats, Gordon Refshauge had exchanged emails and phone calls with Colin over the issue of neonatal kid mortality. An article Dr Refshauge had published in The Land Magazine on lamb survival covered the key elements and patterns of neonatal mortality, which mirrored Colin’s experience, observations and data.

“Shortly after the article was published, Colin contacted Dr Refshauge who encouraged him to bring to Cowra two kids that had died for autopsy and to discuss his data. The experience sparked a relationship between the two that continued through the Reducing Kid Loss project and into device innovation research. It was Colin’s unwavering commitment to his goats, the industry and for new research that impressed Dr Refshauge so much.

“Colin was always supportive and wanting to know how goats could be involved in new projects. As best he could, Colin aimed to attend all local goat events – he was always keen to hear more about the latest thinking and the opportunities and was prepared to travel to hear it.

“Anyone who heard Colin speak about his journey of improving his herd with performance recording and selection was privileged. Colin wished to share and encourage others, carefully preparing and precisely delivering the messages he knew were necessary for industry development in a steady and poised manner. While he held a wealth of knowledge about goat management and breeding, he spoke to people who shared this common interest with a deep curiosity to learn and hear unique perspectives. His encouragement of students and young people working in the industry leaves a lasting impression.

“Colin was a staunch supporter of the NSW DPI goat genetics project, Measured Goats. His counsel and guidance helped shaped the objectives of the project. Furthermore, he was generous with his time, volunteering to sit on the Project Steering Committee. Colin's passion for objective measurement and KIDPLAN will leave a great legacy for future generations of goat breeders. Simply, we lost a friend and a significant advocate for the goat industry.”

A mentor and friend

NSW goat producers, Craig and Jo Stewart of ‘Buena Vista’, Collie, said in the years they knew Colin, he was one of the most passionate advocates for the development of the goat industry.

“Colin has worked tirelessly to see KIDPLAN up and running as a benchmarking tool. To have goats viewed in the same league as cattle and sheep, and to make management decisions around not just appearance but with EBVs as a base.

“He was always generous and willing with his time with us, ready to share his knowledge. We will miss him personally and are sure the industry will be poorer as a result.

“Even with his prolonged cancer battle, Colin continued working and contributing, coming to our field days, full of encouragement. Colin was deeply private, and it was a shock to know the end was in sight.

“We were privileged to attend Colin’s memorial and wish Lyn and his family the very best. You are already missed.”

Lasting legacy

Colin was part of the inaugural Goat Industry Research, Development and Adoption Committee (GIRDAC) established in 2019 by MLA to provide recommendations on R&D and extension and adoption (E&A) initiatives and investments for the Australian goatmeat and livestock industry.

He helped develop the MLA booklet, A guide to visual assessment of goats, for commercially focused producers with herd productivity-impacting traits, and also shared his knowledge with producers through MLA’s first series of Going into Goats videos.

Perhaps fittingly, Colin’s wisdom can be summed up in a quote from one of those videos.

“Of all the things that can kill a goat enterprise, buying in the wrong genetics at the beginning is the number one thing. You won’t discover it for 10 years and by that time you’ll be sick of it, and you’ll be gone. So, number one, make sure you get the right genetics.

“It’s very clear that the best-looking animal is not necessarily the most productive animal, so you have to look beyond the appearance of the animal, to what its actual production characteristics are,” Colin said.