Going into Goats: A practical guide to producing goats in the rangelands

Business and property planning

What to do

There are several environmental and legislative issues that should be considered in beginning the business and property planning process for a rangeland goat enterprise, addressing these issues will help determine whether or not it is feasible to run a sustainable rangeland goat enterprise in a particular area:

  • Is the location and land class, including topography, soil type and vegetation, suitable for rangeland goats?
  • Are there any legislative issues that limit how and where goats can be grazed?
  • Are there environmental or biodiversity issues that should be considered?

If, in answering these questions, no significant barriers to establishing a rangeland goat enterprise are encountered, more specific business and property planning factors for rangeland goat production should be considered including:

  • Setting business goals.
  • Selecting the appropriate enterprise or enterprise mix based on land class, region and animal.
  • Understanding the market you wish to sell to (it is a good idea to identify a back up market that can be supplied in case your preferred market is not available).

Module 1: Property planning of the GiG Guide provides further general information regarding business and property planning for goat production.

How to do it

Setting business goals

Business goals or objectives define the purpose of your business. These should be identified at the beginning of the planning phase, documented, limited to a couple of primary objectives and revisited on a regular basis to ensure you remain focussed. Module 1: Property planning of the GiG Guide provides further information regarding setting objectives.

Objectives should be "SMART":
  • Specific - detail what is to be achieved.
  • Measurable - so they can be compared with actual results.
  • Achievable - avoid overly optimistic goals.
  • Realistic - make sure objectives are reasonable and reachable.
  • Time bound - put a timeframe on achieving the objective.

Objectives for the rangeland goat enterprise should fit with any other enterprise mixes.

Enterprise selection

Having decided to produce goats in a rangeland environment, the next step is to determine which specific enterprise you wish to be involved with. This decision should consider factors such as the region, regulatory restrictions, land class, access to capital and the type of goat as well as personal lifestyle considerations.

A useful exercise in selecting the enterprise is to consider the pros (positive points) and cons (negative points) of each option. Table 1.1 provides an overview of various enterprises and some of the pros and cons identified by established rangeland goat producers. The list is not exhaustive and some enterprises can be combined or run with alternative production operations such as cattle and sheep.

Know your customer

Once you have settled on a particular enterprise that suits your land class and personal situation, it is important to develop an understanding of who your customers are.

Successful primary production enterprises operate by selling a product for a price that exceeds their cost of production – that is they sell a product, in this case a goat, for more than it costs them to produce the goat. To do this repeatedly, requires a good understanding of what the person buying the product is seeking.

It is important that you look beyond the individual who offers you a price to the actual person who consumes the goatmeat or takes ownership of the livestock. This is your true customer and the individual who drives demand. Don’t be afraid to ask your buyer where your product will go, how it will be used and what they want in a goat – that is, the market specifications. This information will assist you in producing a better or more specific product and can help you to make a greater return or identify a different, more lucrative market.

Markets are sometimes determined by enterprise type and Table 1.2 provides a general guide to the typical customer for various rangeland goat enterprises.