Demand on the rise for goats

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

Geraldton Meat Exporters have put out the call to pastoralists to bring them more goats to feed their booming export business.

GME is one of only two abattoirs in WA geared solely to process goat meat.

Australia is the largest exporter of goat meat in the world, shipping about 32,000 tonnes last year, mainly to Asia and the Middle East.

Last year, Australia slaughtered about 1.9 million goats, primarily for the export market.

GME livestock manager Brad Rowe said there were an estimated 700,000 to one million wild goats in Rangelands pastoral areas and, like a decade ago, goats were once again considered an asset.

He said the popularity of goat meat was being driven by the meat's high protein-to-fat ratio, which had significant benefits for the health-conscious consumer.

"The fact that our goat meat is disease and pest free is also appealing to overseas markets," he said.

"The price for goat meat has been solid and our goat business has been increasing exponentially each year to supply the Asian market.

"The demand is so strong that we're now looking to process meat five days per week, but periodic harvesting of goats, because they're easier to muster at watering holes in the summer, has meant a year-round, consistent supply can be a problem for us."

Mr Rowe said he was keen to work with pastoralists and their agents to support mustering programs.

"Our carcases are three to four kilograms heavier with the skin on the product, and our customers are now asking for it in the Asian market.

"We're sending 12 to 20kg frozen, skinned premium product to that market at the moment.

Mr Rowe also said the wild dog problem in the Rangelands threatened the future viability of the goat exports.

"Wild dogs have caused a significant decline in the number of goats," he said.

"We need to have professional doggers working to reduce the numbers of wild dogs in the area.

"The Government is trying to address this problem, but more needs to be done."

GME chief executive Paula Tang said Rangeland goats presented a lucrative extra source of revenue for sheep and cattle producers in the area.

"They're a free, additional asset for the producers, and all they have to do is muster and trap them and then send them to us and we'll take care of the rest," she said.

Ms Tang said agents or their clients were welcome to take a tour of the abattoir.

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