Incorporating goats into your enterprise can be a profitable decision but there's a lot you need to think about before making the move.
That's according to Bush AgriBusiness associate Karissa de Belle, who said more people were looking into goats as an additional revenue stream.
Ms de Belle said the main things you needed to think about when considering a new enterprise were your relative income, the impact to your current enterprise, the labour requirements and capital requirements.
"You need to ask yourselves the question, what will the income of a goat enterprise be? And what is the cost factor associated; think about not just the dollar figure that will come in but how much you are spending to get there," she said.
"Think about what the potential income of the new enterprise will be, and ask whether there may be a better option available where you could be making more money."
She said you needed to assess the relationship between what you were currently running and a potential new goat enterprise.
"Will they both benefit each other or are they going to be complementary where they work together but don't benefit each other?" she said.
"Or are they going to be antagonistic, where they have a negative relationship?
"If it's going to be antagonistic, how are these conflicts going to be managed?"
She said you needed to sit back and work out how much time the new enterprise would take up.
"When it comes to adding a new enterprise, you have to think about the labour that's going to be taken away from what's already being done," she said.
"We put a dollar figure of $70,000 on a full time equivalent, so work out how much of your time is going towards your new enterprise and apply that dollar figure to it to see if it stacks up."
You should also work out whether there were additional infrastructure or capital requirements.
"Can you share gear between what you currently run and goats, and what's the wear and tear factor going to be?" she said.
"Do you need to buy in goats and what's that cost going to be?"
Ms de Belle said while goats' diets consisted mostly of browse, they also grazed on grass.
"You've got to work out how you're going to manage your grazing load; is there going to be damage to your pasture?" she said.
"Browsing can improve your land but it's important not to let them overgraze it."
Finding the 'happy medium' at Bollon
For 10-15 years, Bob Brown had taken advantage of the feral goats on his Bollon, Qld, property but in the last few years has ramped things up, building exclusion fencing and buying in additional goats.
Three years into the venture and Mr Brown believes he has figured out his ideal stocking rate - running 6000 goats on 12,000 hectares which they are free to roam on, as well as 800-1600 hectares of smaller paddocks inside exclusion fencing.
He said as a whole, goats had been extremely useful during dry times, of which they had seen a lot of.
"They seem to do well in dry times; they've lived off the browse that we have a lot of here," he said.
But he said there was a fine line between having too many and not enough.
"We've just got to be careful if it gets too dry as it is still an evolving market; we know there's AuctionsPlus and all of that but you've got to be careful not to put yourself in a corner," he said.
"There are just limited options in terms of agistment or feeding at the moment for goats.
"You don't want to get caught with having too many of them in a dry."
He believed his 6000-head stocking rate was a "happy medium" but he said it was something individual producers needed to work out for themselves.
"For us we think they can pull through any period of dry weather here at the 6000 mark and still be productive and when the seasons are good or the margins aren't in trading goats, we will run cattle or sheep as well," he said.
Mr Brown described goats as a "basic enterprise to run", but said he had learned big lessons along the way.
"They're very territorial, so if you go and change their paddocks all the time, you'll find they hang on at the fence for a month or so trying to get back to where they came from," he said.
"Don't muster them into another paddock and then muster them into the yards two weeks, you'll find they lose weight."
He said any new goats coming onto the property were put into holding paddocks to get them used to things like what a water trough was.
"They won't know what it is to begin with, so spend some time settling them in," he said.
And when trucking them out of your property, he recommended not keeping them in holding paddocks for too long of a period.
"We also try to have them in the yards the lunchtime the day before we truck, so we have an 18-hour curfew," he said.
"We have found they hold water longer than sheep and it avoids the bottom decks of the truck getting wet and cold.
"The sooner they're trucked after mustering, the better, as they can get very stressed.
"We also make sure they're not jammed up in the yards and they've got access to plenty of feed and water in the days before transport."
He said vetch was the best hay for his goats, "it's like ice cream to them".
He said if you could make it happen, males and females performed better if they were apart.
"Billies will do a lot better and be a lot more settled on their own," he said.
"If they're run with nannies, they can get a bit wirey."
Mr Brown said he bought in goats at about 19 kilograms and aimed to sell them off at about 35-37kg.
"We are basically backgrounding goats and are always looking for young or store condition goats to buy," he said.
"Once they start to get above that 35-37kg range, I suspect their weight gains might start to plateau.
"They would have had a big growth spurt from when they're young to there."
He wasn't into the breeding side of things, and instead focused on figures and weight gain.
"Any goats we buy in, we don't care so much about what breed they are, we're just purely focused on weight gain and numbers," he said.
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