GOAT prices have surged to record levels in recent months spurred on by limited supplies and increasing domestic demand.
Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) goat industry project manager Julie Petty said while almost all rangelands goats were destined for the overseas market, the demand for farmed goat meat in Australia was increasing.
“The industry needs many more new entrants to maintain the supply into the next decade,” she said.
“The average price in December has been 600 cents a kilogram with the higher end of the range at 670c/kg.
“This is seriously good money and we need more people producing this great meat.”
MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) eastern states over the hooks export goat report quoted all categories ranging from 520c/kg to 670c/kg at the end of trading last year.
The report said the average price for 12kg to 16kg (carcase weight) goats averaged 556c/kg for the year – 261c/kg higher than the five-year average which was 295c/kg cwt.
Ms Petty said prices this year were expected to remain steady about the 600c/kg to 650c/kg.
“More females are being retained for breeding instead of being slaughtered,” she said.
“This means fewer numbers next year, but more in the following years.”
Helping keep prices high were the wetter conditions in the western parts of NSW which had reduced supply because trucks couldn’t get in or out to transport the goats to depots or abattoirs.
“However, the upside is there is more feed and water so higher kidding rates are likely,” she said.
Fiona Lander from Capricorn Pastoral Company at “Bindara”, Narromine, supplies 15,000 goats each year from her family’s property at Tilpa.
All are consolidated at “Bindara” before being either trucked to Sydney airport and air-freighted to Malaysia, or sold into the domestic market.
“All exporting is done within the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System with our goats going into the wet markets in Malaysia,” she said.
“Our agent buys only from us and our relationship has been slowly developed over many years and visits.
“We now retain females so we can consistently supply our markets well into the future.
“While harvesting goats is still the main activity, we are more deliberate in the selection of animals we keep which is why we are moving there permanently next year.”
P.T. Lord, Dakin and Associates goat specialist Joe Portelli, Dubbo, estimated the mix through the Dubbo saleyards was about 65 per cent rangeland goats and 35pc grass-fed Boer goats.
He said the consistent supplies of the Boer goats were mostly from the Mudgee region.
Mr Portelli agreed the average price in 2016 was about 600c/kg and he expected this to be sustained in 2017.
“The main buyers in at the Dubbo goat sales are from Adelaide, Ascot Meats in Cobram, TFI Foods and Cedar Meats,” he said.
But, Mr Portelli said many goats were also being bought by some local farmers as a biological control for weeds post harvest.
“Goats are used to eat down the weeds then they are sold in the autumn,” he said.
He expected new entrants into the goat sector may increase if the Australian dollar remained steady (keeping exports competitive) and plenty of cheap grain was available.
He said some lamb producers could switch to buying weaner goats and supplementary grain feeding them.
“It’s only a three-month turnaround until they can be re-sold into the finished market,” he said.
“Lamb prices are pretty good at present, but goat is even better which is why more people are making the change. Next year will be interesting.”
To sum up the past 12 month, MLA have reported the average weekly eastern states goat slaughter was 27,997 head – 15pc lower than the five-year average (32,449 head).
At the same time, Australian goatmeat production for January to October 2016 also eased 11pc year-on-year, to 23,623 tonnes according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.