Monday, March 09, 2015

GOATS - promoting the commercial goatmeat industry

Goats in Utes - A way to promote the commercial goat meat industry
 Goat meat represents lean meat and is the most eaten meat in the world.

For goat breeders whose focus is on the commercial (meat) side of the industry encouraging other breeder to enter the industry is not always easy. However, here’s an idea that promotes the goatmeat side of the industry and encourages other farmers to enter this branch of farming.

Goats in Utes (utility vehicles, trucks or trailers) was a unique event organised to promote commercial goatmeat production at a West Australian country show some years ago. It followed on from a competition – Dogs in Utes which attracted 700 farm vehicles – a world record for the greatest number of farm vehicles with a working dog on the back.

The idea of the competition was to encourage commercial goat farmers to display their produce (namely meat goats) and was arranged as part of a Boer Goat field day.
The main category for the competition was a group of three crossbred meat goats under 12 months of age.  The animals were judged on meat quality and the uniformity of the three in the group. 

“Presenting an even line is one of the most important factors when producing for the meat market,” said the judge who had been breeding goats for over 20 years. He was impressed with the quality and evenness of the groups but was concerned with the level of fat on a few. He advised the growers to make sure that their animals did not become fat. It is not desirable in meat animals.

“Goat meat is uniquely lean,” he said. "If the goats are fat they are not marketable. Customers wanting fat on animals will buy some other meat product."  
The second judge, a Senior Research Fellow agreed that the animals were in good condition and was impressed with the degree of muscling on the goats. "Being a practical competition there is plenty of opportunity for questions to be answered," the judge, an expert on animal nutrition said he saw the Goats in Utes competition as an innovative educational event for new and existing breeders. “No one has a mortgage on knowledge.”

He advised on balanced nutritional requirements for livestock and said some growers were promoting too much fattening in their animals. His concern was that stud breeders were over-conditioning their bucks, rendering them unsuitable for working conditions.
“You need a working buck, not one that is going to melt in the paddock. Commercial producers buy sires to improve the genetic qualities of their herd. But if a buck can’t deliver the sperm when required, then he is no good to the industry,” he said.
“This problem is particularly applicable where a 'buck-effect' mating was required. The 'buck-effect' is seen when a buck is introduced to a doe herd that has had no exposure to a male goat. The does all cycle between day 6 and day 11 following introduction of the buck and are served within that 5 day period.”
'The buck-effect'

The result is that all kids are born at the same time and will grow to export size at the time required.

The animals were assessed on uniformity, condition and fat score, and conformation. Comment was made about each group with direct feedback to the grower/producer.
The judges agreed that the competition provided a novel way of judging meat animals and promoted the commercial aspect of the goat industry.
“Competition in the show ring is OK,” he said, “but at the end of the day it’s the commercial growers who must benefit.”
Prizes were offered for various categories – first prize of $250 for a group of 5-month-old, feral/Boer cross goats.  The second prize of $100 for three angora/Boer crosses.

As part of the event, breeders were shown how to feel for the depth of muscle on the goats and made comment about a group of cashmere/Boer capretto kids.  Running his hand across the pliable back muscle, the judge said, “You can almost feel that the meat colour on these carcases will be correct (pale).”
He was impressed with a group of feral/Boer buck kids, which at five months old fitted into the male over 25 kg category and were “very saleable”.

While the event had not attracted as many goats as dogs, it gave encouragement to the commercial breeders who are the backbone of the goat meat industry but are often neglected.
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Current facts of interest from Meat and Livestock Australia: 
Currently China, India and Nigeria are the largest producers and consumers of goatmeat. By comparison, Australia is a relatively small producer of goatmeat, however, it is the world leader in goatmeat exports.
In 2012-13 Australia exported 31,876 tonnes of goatmeat mainly to the US and Taiwan. These exports were worth Au $145.8 million FOB.

Goat carcasses in the abbatior
Live goats were also exported from Australia mainly to Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. The dollar value of the Live Goat exports was $9.65 million in 2011-12.
Australian goat slaughter in 2012-13 was around 1.99 million head.
Boer goats and rangeland goats are predominately used for meat production.
Cashmere and Angora breeds are used in fibre production.
Ref : Meat and Livestock Australia.

Note: This article by Margaret Muir was originally posted in The Goat Farmer magazine – individual names have been removed (provided on request)
Note 2: This is the first a series articles which will be available as an e-book in due course.

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