Sustained growth in demand for goat meat both in Australia and around the globe has sent prices to a record high.
Over the hook prices this week hit an all-time high at $7 per kilo carcase weight, with analysts forecasting prices will hold.
Meat and Livestock Australia’s Julie Petty said demand was far outstripping supply, which provided an exciting opportunity for graziers across the country.
“The exciting news from an industry perspective is the prices at the moment are not just being driven by a tightening of supply, they’re also being driven by growing demand internationally and domestically,” she said.
“That means even if we see a bump in supply numbers which is what we’d like to see over the next 12 months, that’s not going to necessarily mean that the prices are destabilised.
“So we are encouraging more and more producers to put aside whatever stigma or thoughts they might have about the goat and look at it as a business opportunity.”
Farming and harvesting opportunities
Ms Petty said the goat meat industry was continuing to attract attention from producers in New South Wales and Queensland as prices remained buoyant.
He said some producers were circumstances where they had a couple of rough paddocks at the back of the property that were unsuitable for sheep or cattle and therefore were perfect for the goats,
“They’ve had the flow-on benefit of woody weed control because they’re actually saving costs in terms of chemical application and they have sustainably increased their stocking rates.
“What we are trying to encourage is for more people to have a more sustainable supply of animals on their property and therefore a more sustainable slaughter population for us as an industry.”
Restrictions on goat management
South Australia also has an increasing number of feral goats but unlike in New South Wales where they are able to be grazed, in South Australia they need to be captured and sent to a processor or alternatively destroyed.
Ms Petty said despite strict laws surrounding the management of feral goats in South Australia, there were still opportunities for pastoralists to take advantage of high prices.
“If you’re not able to go out and put in some goat paddocks or you’re not interested in doing that, but you’ve still got a transitory rangeland goat population in your area, there’s certainly lots of other people in NSW or Queensland who are actively searching for animals for their start up herds,” she said.
“I believe at the Dubbo goat sale yards, young animals were selling for $34 a head, so that’s really good returns and from the perspective of someone who is tying to restock.
“It’s still a much cheaper option than perhaps some other species so it’s win-win for both sides of the equation.”
She said there was definitely an opportunity one way or the other for the goats that might be on a pastoralist’s property.
Last month there was a call by some industry representatives to loosen the restrictions around feral goat management to allow SA livestock producers to farm the increasing number of feral goats in a more profitable way.
Suitable fencing critical
Ms Petty said it was critical for producers to have suitable fencing in place before bringing new stock on to a property, to help manage herds and prevent land degradation or erosion.
“Make sure you’ve got some good fencing in place in your goat paddocks and you’ve got a really good understanding of what feed is available when you’re looking at stocking rates, so you’re not causing any land degradation or erosion,” she said.
To help producers address different aspects of the goat production system and infrastructure, MLA has produced a Going into Goats Guide which is available online.