Galloping goat prices continue to soar

Zach RelphCountryman
Bookara Goat Dairy owner Mark Weston is upbeat about the goatmeat industry.
Camera IconBookara Goat Dairy owner Mark Weston is upbeat about the goatmeat industry. Credit: Justine Rowe

Rising goatmeat prices are firming as a “game changer” for WA goat farmers capitalising on the niche protein’s increasing value.

Australia’s goat over-the-hook indicators have risen 44¢ to 680¢/kg carcase weight this month, a 47 per cent year-on-year increase, to reach levels not experienced since 2017.

It marks exciting times for Bookara Goat Dairy owner Mark Weston.

The Toowoomba-raised agriculture academic is among the State’s goat producers optimistic about the sector’s future on the back of improved returns.

Mr Weston, pictured, co-ordinates up to 400 milking goats, with another 100 to 200 wethers, with wife Catherine at their 50ha property about 50km south of Geraldton, with about 200 head sent to slaughter yearly.

They established the goat dairy in 2012, after moving from Queensland to the Mid West in a bid to fulfil their farming dream 11 years earlier.

They have since developed a goat milk, yoghurt and cheese producing enterprise, with an array of Perth restaurants using Bookara’s Persian fetta, curd, haloumi and ricotta.

Despite the Westons’ award-winning non-bovine products gaining popularity, Mr Weston said the encouraging goatmeat price could prompt the couple to consider an increase in slaughter rates.

“We’ve been reluctant to cull in the past because dairy goat genetics have not been easy for us to source in WA,” Mr Weston, a former teacher at WA School Of Agriculture — Mullewa, said.

“We got about $100 to $120 a head with some culls I sent away earlier this year.

“If it stays at about $8/kg for an animal that is really a game changer that’ll make us look at possibly culling anything that is not in full production.”

At this month’s prices, goat over-the-hook is trading above both levels experienced last year and the five-year average.

Beaufort River Meats currently processes Bookara’s goats.

The WA-based abattoir increased its goat prices 90¢ to 800¢/kg earlier this month in the wake of climbing value.

Mark Weston is confident about goatmeat’s climbing value.
Camera IconMark Weston is confident about goatmeat’s climbing value. Credit: Justine Rowe

This week, prices at Thomas Foods International in South Australia soared to 1000¢/kg for 6.1kg-plus carcase weight goats.

Meat and Livestock Australia senior market analyst Adam Cheetham linked the rising goat value to tightening supply levels across the nation and reduced slaughter rates.

Mr Weston said he hoped it provided a shot in the arm for goat producers who faced difficulties establishing and maintaining infrastructure.

Goats’ ability to climb over traditional sheep and cattle fencing makes appropriate infrastructure critical in maximising commercial goat businesses’ efficiency.

Producers are often forced to modify existing yards or add another rail to make the fencing higher to deter an adventurous goat.

Mr Weston said the strong goat value would allow goat producers to develop their operations to ramp-up dairy or meat output.

“I’m certainly going to be watching the market very keenly,” he said.

“If these prices hold, I can see more goat farmers investing more in fencing and other infrastructure which is really needed to drive production.

“To see the money flow back and be re-invested into the industry would be really good.”

AgriFutures Australia data shows there are about six million feral goats in the nation’s rangelands, while about 200,000 are on-farm.

Feral goat populations provide the majority of Australia’s goatmeat production, accounting for most of the two million goats slaughtered annually to produce about 31,000 tonnes of meat.

Asian countries’ salivating appetite for goatmeat reels in most of Australia‘s output, with about 95 per cent of goatmeat exported to markets including Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

According to Goat Industry Council of Australia, Australia’s goatmeat consumption was less than 3000 tonnes annually.

However, it is increasing on the back of the nation’s changing ethnic demographics.

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