NEW research hopes to boost goat kid production and survival, as slaughter figures flag nationally despite strong international demand for Australian goat meat.
Meat & Livestock Australia’s latest goat meat data shows that for the week ending 23 November, eastern states goat slaughter was 13,937 head, down 45 percent from year-ago levels and remaining below the five-year average.
Year-to-date goat slaughter across the eastern states is 1.13 million head – down 23pc, or almost 335,000 head, from the same period in 2017.
Victoria has seen the steepest decline in slaughter, down 41pc from this time last year, followed by a 23pc drop in South Australia and a 7pc fall in the Queensland/NSW region. This has meant that year-to-October goat meat exports fell 26pc to 18,639 tonnes, a reduction of more than 6000 tonnes year-on-year.
On-farm productivity opportunities to be explored
A new national goat industry research project led by NSW Department of Primary Industries aims to meet international demand for goat meat by growing kid numbers.
Funded by MLA, NSW DPI, with Charles Sturt University through the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, will explore on-farm productivity improvements to boost goat reproductive efficiency and increase supply.
NSW DPI livestock research officer, Gordon Refshauge, said the project will investigate factors influencing kid survival and causes of kid loss in local goat meat production systems.
“Addressing this knowledge gap has the potential to substantially improve kid survival rates.
“Based on beef and sheep meat production results, an improvement in kid survival numbers is likely to be a key profit driver for the goat meat industry,” Dr Refshauge said.
“Managed and semi-managed rangeland systems, commercial enterprises in mixed farming and higher rainfall zones and goat studs breeding animals for meat production will be targeted to help quantify the scale and cost the impact of reproductive loss.
“We expect to uncover variation within those production systems given the diverse geographical spread of the Australian goat industry,” he said.
Producer collaborators to be sought next year
Input from producers is critical to ensuring results can be applied on-farm to improve the national goat meat supply and researchers will seek their assistance when the project begins next year, NSW DPI said.
Expressions of interest from goat producers who wish to contribute to the project will be sought in early 2019. NSW DPI said producers will have the opportunity to work with leading researchers and specialists in animal reproduction, nutrition, maternal efficiency, herd health and veterinary epidemiology.
Acting Graham Centre director and CSU associate professor, Marta Hernandez-Jover, said CSU students will contribute to research efforts which contribute to building capacity within the goat industry.
“Collection of on-farm data and the production of producer case studies will generate valuable information, supported by a survey of animal health laboratories and literature review to reveal the main drivers of kid loss,” Dr Hernandez-Jover said.
The Graham Centre is a research alliance between the NSW DPI and CSU.
Source: NSW DPI.
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