Goats versatile for milk, meat, fibre

ORGANISERS of this year’s GoatFest event were thrilled when a large crowd turned out for the event again this year. Held at the Longford showgrounds, the event attracts a mixed crowd and this year was no exception.

GoatFest publicity coordinator Anna Shepheard said she was pleased with the attendance this year. “We’re fortunate to have such strong ongoing support from the public, which goes a long way towards making this event what it is,” she said.

“The GoatFest committee plans to continue building on what we have to ensure each event is better than the last. While educating the public about goats remains our main focus, we’re also pleased to be able to offer a unique networking opportunity to goat keepers and the industry in Tasmania as a whole.”

Steve Baldock from Highveld Saanen’s was one of the exhibitors in the dairy goat section. “The Dairy Goat section of this year’s GoatFest was well patronised throughout the day,” he said.

“Out of the 10 breeds registered with the Dairy Goat Society, eight were on display, represented by six studs.”

Mr Baldock said a lot of information was on offer both in hard copy and many of the state’s top breeders were also on hand to answer the many questions from the public.

“The information session on dairy goats was well attended and gave people plenty of food for thought on raising and keeping productive dairy goats,” he said.

“The Dairy Goat Society of Australia Tasmanian Branch has been an integral part of GoatFest since its inception and will be a major part of the 2024 event.”

Callan Morse from Sherwood Boer Goats at Latrobe is also a big supporter of the event and was there again this year. He said there was a significant amount of interest in Boer goats from a wide variety of patrons.

“The level of interest in the breed, in particular by people wanting to upgrade their herd by investing in quality Fullblood Boer bucks is being driven by a strong demand for capretto and chevon (goat meat) within Tasmania, which is seemingly at an all-time high,” he said.

“Based on this demand, farmers are realising the profitability of diversifying their operation by running meat goats on their property.”

Mr Morse said agricultural landowners are also becoming increasingly aware of the environmental benefits of goats, in relation to weed and invasive species management which Boers do exceptionally well, especially when put in cross-grazing situations.”

For first time exhibitors Don and Gaye Ackland from Henrietta Mohair, the event was also a success.

“This was our first-time exhibiting goats at GoatFest,” Mr Ackland said.

“The public loved them, but we had some weird questions regarding milking them and eating them. Of course you can, but that is not what Angora goats are bred for.”

The couple have around 95 Angora goats at the moment including the kids from September last year.

“The kids’ fleece at a decent length is about $68 a kilogram with adult fleeces currently returning upwards of $30 a kilogram,” Mr Ackland said. “In their first shearing at around six months the kids cut 0.9 to 1.2 kilograms and adults upwards of two kilograms, so as they get older the fleece is worth less, but they cut more each shearing.”