LARGE numbers of goats are expected to come out of Western Queensland and New South Wales this year, despite the price dropping to less than half in the space of six months.
According to Meat & Livestock Australia’s Over The Hooks report, goat prices peaked in June last year at 920c/kg carcase weight – with this month’s price sitting at 325c.
Several factors have been blamed for the drop in prices, including the US drought increasing the supply of meat and numbers of goats building up quickly in Australia after three consecutive La Nina weather patterns.
Thomas Food International national smallstock manager Paul Leonard last year told Beef Central customers had been looking for the price to drop for a long time. According to Campbell McPhee, who is managing director of Western Meat Exporters in Charleville, the price drop has brought more buyers into the market.
“We had some customers left behind in the whirlwind of high prices. So the lower prices have opened up some new doors for us,” he said.
“We have grown our domestic market two-fold in the past two years and that is still increasing.”
Mr McPhee said the goat market was in an interesting phase and making forecasts was hard.
“The goat market has been in the stratosphere for quite a long-time and eventually it needs to find an equilibrium,” he said.
“We are still waiting to see where that balance is , there will be improvements with the pricing going forward and there will be fluctuations. But the demand for the protein will continue to grow with the help of lower prices available for the end customers.”
Plenty of investment has been made into goats in recent years, including two large cattle companies making goats part of their business.
To meet the increased production, processing capacity has increased. TFI reopened a mothballed plant in Bourke with the ability of processing 3,000 head per day and WME has recently completed an expansion to add an extra 7,000 per week.
Mr McPhee said the company had a busy start to the year – with labour constrains limiting it from operating at full capacity.
“We have been able to take on some more employment to get more jobs done and put on some extra shifts, including a bit of Saturday work,” Mr McPhee said.
“Labour is still a very difficult situation, we are turning over every leaf we can to bring more people onboard and I think we are slowly getting there. It looks to be improving throughout the year.”
Producers lightening off
St George-based GDL agent Anthony Hyland said numbers had built up in his part of western Qld, with the fast-breeding nature of goats and plenty of excitement over the booming market in recent years.
“When we were coming out of the drought in 2019, we were looking for another option to graze stock on country with pimelea or regrowth – so a lot of people bought goats,” Mr Hyland said.
“But there were a lot of people who only bought a limited number of goats or had them in a couple of paddocks who decided to build their numbers up on the back of the good prices in 2020-21-22. There are also people whose entire operation is goats.
Mr Hyland said while large numbers of goats had been turned off Western Qld in recent years, there could have been more.
“I think a lot of people have been drafting on weight in the last couple of years and selling goats with 24-25kg carcase,” he said.
“Whereas now a lot of them will be selling them with 18-20kg carcase, just to try and lighten off.”
While the goat prices have dropped considerably in the past six months, Mr Hyland said they were still a good investment for people in the area.
“Although goats at the moment are worth less than a couple of year ago, they have probably added $30-$40 per acre with regrowth control,” he said.
“I think the value out of goats has been pretty good for a lot of people, if you go over it from when they started to now.”
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