Goat Market Gains
The Australian goat meat industry is currently enjoying a strong demand from export markets as the worldwide demand for protein increases.  With this demand for Australian goats growing stronger each year, supply is tightening and prices are being driven into record territory. In the months leading up to November 2016 alone, Australia exported 24,000 tonnes of goat meat, with 66 per cent headed to the United States.
In the past, meat and dairy goats have been exported to countries including Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and Argentina – countries which often asked for quantities much higher than Australia could provide. With goat meat enviably harbouring no religious restrictions or taboos, it is fast becoming a popular component of diets in parts of Asia, the Middle East, North Africa as well as Hispanic populations across the United States of America – with Australia the world’s largest goat meat exporter. Approximately 95% of production is exported every year.
Reliable forecasts and quality livestock handling equipment mean producers who are considering entering the goat meat industry, can lead with the confidence required to make commercial decisions and develop their operations. Though similar in size to sheep, goats pose a number of unique husbandry challenges that can be difficult to administer in traditional sheep yard and handling systems. Many goats are mustered wild and so, have had little to no contact with humans. The NSW NLIS scheme requires ear tagging of goats prior to leaving properties of birth. While marking, vaccinating and drenching can be difficult and dangerous given the feral temperament and likelihood of developed horns.
Safe and efficient handling are necessary for any livestock producer looking to maintain a profitable business. One Australian innovation is allowing goat producers to capitalise on market demand. The ProWay Goat Bulk Handler allows goats to be ushered into a 900mm wide race in groups of 20-30 at a time (depending on age/size). A suspended floor is then lifted hydraulically, with goats being brought to waist heights of the operator. The goats are held on their underside and can be treated in group lots, greatly reducing the stress associated with traditional working races and individual handlers. Goats can be ideally positioned and held for a majority of husbandry operations and are unable to ‘tunnel’ and bury their heads. Each animal is also more likely to receive the correct dose accurately, while minimising the risk of horn injury to the operator.
ProWay’s unique handler minimises operator fatigue and the need for physical strength, while the sheeted sides offer protection from chemical and animal contact. This aspect opens job prospects and handling opportunities to a wider employee reach including young and older staff who may have found goat handling too arduous to participate in. The handler can be used by one operator with stock easily accessible from either side. It can also be used effectively by two or more operators for multi-husbandry treatments at a time such as drenching, vaccinating, tagging, mouthing, marking and capsuling.
 As outlined by the Goat Industry Council of Australia in their Industry Strategic Plan for 2015 – 2020, in order to continue to grow and stabilise the supply base, increased numbers of producers are needed to include goats as an enterprise within their business, rather than as a pest or an opportunistic harvesting option. This evolution would assist in managing the issue of inconsistent supply which is currently virtually impossible to forecast and is seriously impeding the industry development and growth. There is opportunity to increase the numbers of managed herds and for further integration of goats into mixed grazing enterprises. It will just require a clear demonstration of ‘proof of profit’ and a shift in mindset for many producers and service providers.
Innovation and suitable handling equipment such as loading ramps, handlers and yard facilities will be the facilitator for continued industry growth. ProWay offer a range of goat specific products and services. For more information contact us.
 ABC News Rural, Meat and Livestock using aerial mapping to forecast Australian goat supply and market trends, Andrea Crothers, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-10/mla-uses-aerialmapping-to-forecast-australian-goat-supply/8343288, March 2017
 The Goat Industry Council of Australia, News Rural, Goat and Meat Livestock Industry Strategic Plan 2015-2020, www.gica.com.au/LiteratureRetrieve.aspx?ID=189697, updated – January 2017