HIGH PRICE: Lower goat number will mean goat meat prices remain high.
HIGH PRICE: Lower goat number will mean goat meat prices remain high. Submitted

High prices drive goat herd down

HIGH prices have meant rangeland goat numbers have plummeted, dropping from a record 5.7 million in 2016 to 3.4 million in 2017. But this lack of supply will likely help sustain strong goat prices.

The goat price rose consistently from the start of 2013 to a high of 750c/kg for some contracts in mid-2017. Since then, however, the price has headed south.

After peaking at 683c/kg in late July, the eastern states over-the-hook goat price finished the year at 492c/kg - its lowest point since December 2015.

Goat Industry Council of Australia president Rick Gates said the figures (from the 2017 Office of Environment and Heritage aerial survey of central and western NSW) reflected industry expectations.

"From my observations I expected numbers to be down by 20-30 per cent, so I wasn't surprised,” he said.

Mr Gates said an increase in supply in August had contributed to the price drop, but prices were still sitting at sustainable levels.

"Due to the high prices we are seeing a levelling of numbers in Australia, so with a lack of increase in supply we are predicting that price should sit at firm if not better,” he said.

He said with production doubling to 1.8 million goats in the past eight years, industry marketing, like that done by Meat and Livestock Australia, as well as processors, boosted exports.

"A lot is down to individual processors going out in those markets, and at time putting the GIC onto leads that we can follow up with our marketing levies.”

NSW DPI senior research scientist and author of the number survey report Steven McLeod said dry seasonal conditions could help explain the population decline.

"We had reports of poor reproduction in sheep and goat herds and the results may be influenced by goat paddock distribution, stocking rates and the timing of large, efficient goat harvesting operations in the survey zone,” he said.

According to Meat and Livestock Australia, the price hike was international demand for the protein outstripping local supply. And the drop has been attributed to the rising local dollar.

"Exports to the US, Australia's largest market for goat meat, increased by 20 per cent for the year-to-date, equating to 16,840 tonnes shipped weight,” MLA's latest goat market report said.

"Taiwan, Canada and South Korea also saw marked increases from last year, of 24 per cent, 97 per cent and 40 per cent respectively.”



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