Queensland farmers looking to goats to turn a profit in tough times
By Maddelin McCosker, Thu 26 Mar 2020
Once considered a pest, goats are an animal some outback Queensland farmers are turning to for a profit in tough times.
Twenty years ago, Neil Cadzow was getting 50 cents a kilogram for a goat carcase.
Now he runs thousands of goats as stock and gets more than $1 a kilogram for an animal that was for years considered a pest.
With the past 8 years of serious drought, Mr Cadzow and many other graziers in western Queensland have realised the potential the animals hold for profit and land management.
Now, rather than restocking their properties with cattle, some are choosing to drastically change their business and stock goats instead.
"It costs you a lot more to run cows," Mr Cadzow said.
"The percentage of expenses is a lot higher.
"With goats, there's virtually no input apart from fencing.
"That's what took us over to goats."
Mr Cadzow said the construction of the goat abattoir in Charleville, Western Meat Exporters, helped foster the understanding that goats were worth something.
"We were making money out of it in those days," he said.
"They were a pest you know, just shoot them and get rid of them.
"We started putting them in the paddock so we could kill out of it and then the meatworks started in Charleville, so that boosted things along really quick."
Demand outweighing supply?
One western Queensland grazier seeing the goat boom from two angles is David Jones.
He runs a produce business in Charleville and grazes goats on his property.
He is confident that in the next 10 years, goats will be the dominant industry for western Queensland.
"The goat market at the moment is on a very big high, but I don't think it is ever going to come down either," he said.
"They make a lot more money for a lot less work, so I think the goat industry has a huge future out here."
Despite the success of the industry, Mr Jones says supply of goats for graziers needs to improve significantly.
"The supply is nowhere near where it is required to be, and we need more people going into this industry, which they are doing, but they can't get enough goats to do it quick enough," he said.
Mr Jones also credits the local abattoir for the rising success of the local goat industry, saying it will need to continue to expand to keep up with the industry in the coming years.
"That abattoir out there came here in 1995. I was in the business then, and I saw the change in the town from the day it moved into town," he said.
"It is the backbone of this town and it is the future of this town."
Goats pushing meatworks expansion
Western Meat Exporters is Australia's largest goat abattoir, processing about 3,000 head per day.
Managing Director Campbell McPhee said the meatworks was well aware of the potential in the local goat market.
He said there were plans to expand in order to keep up with the rising demands.
"I would like to see, when the situation allows, us to be producing 4,000 to 4,500 small stock per day," Mr McPhee said.
"I don't see that as a big ask for us.
"It's the freezing capacity and the boning room that are the two areas we are going to tackle."
Mr McPhee said restocking numbers in Queensland had helped to revitalise the mentality not only in the meatworks, but for graziers as well.
"There's definitely a positive conversation about how we are going to go forward."
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