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

Case Study: Dwayne Evans, NSW

Name of producer: Dwayne Evans
Property name: Manages Weintergia, part leases Winbar East, share in goat paddock at Wave Hill.
Property location: Between Wilcannia and Menindee, between Tilpa and Louth, south of Wilcannia respectively. New South Wales.
Property size (in ha): Respectively: 33,500ha, 12,000ha, 10,000ha
Avg. turn off annually: 7,000 harvested goats
Rangeland enterprise type: Pure wild harvest, low input goat breeding at Wave Hill (introducing Boer genetics)
Target market: Some to depot, most direct to abattoir T&R Pastoral)
Other farm enterprises: 3,000 Merinos at Weintergia

Selecting and planning a wild harvest enterprise

Dwayne Evans’ main business is harvesting rangeland goats from the three properties he has interests in as well as five neighbouring properties.

Issues to be considered with goat harvesting

Dwayne explains that goat harvesters are in high demand around north-western New South Wales and that there are financial rewards to be realised. “What started as an experiment quickly became my main business enterprise,” he says.

Financial

In rangeland country, Dwayne finds his goat harvesting business much easier than running sheep, explaining “we don’t need to worry about finding shearers and its less time critical.”

He also explains that there is a constant need for goat harvesters in the district and therefore there is significant opportunity to grow the business. While a significant initial investment was required to set the business up, the rewards are now following, “You have to do it properly. If you want to be successful and get a good reputation you can’t cut corners or do it on the cheap – you need the right attitude and equipment,” he explains.

Physical and human resource issues

Dwayne does not deny that goat harvesting is physically challenging. “Physically, it’s hard yakka. It takes a toll on you and you have to always be careful on the equipment, be it bike, ute or gyro-copter, because it’s easy to come unstuck. If you’re aware of this and know your limits it is rewarding.”

Business alternatives on the rangeland country

Dwayne has explored other business enterprises and continues to do so to remain diversified noting that there are advantages in not having “all of your eggs in one basket.” This includes managing 3,000 Merinos on 'Weintergia'; however, the ongoing worry about finding shearers is a stressful aspect of the enterprise.

On the country he leases, Dwayne is introducing Boer genetics, explaining “they are easier to grow-out than pure rangeland goats. I can turn them off at eight months instead of 12 months.”

Of these options, Dwayne finds goat harvesting the most profitable given the constant need for such services in the rangeland areas.

Infrastructure required for goat harvesting

As Dwayne’s goat harvesting has grown, so has his need for resources. The business now operates one gyro-copter, six motorbikes and a small truck. In addition, they use seven well trained dogs and a portable set of yards and drafting race. “To do the job properly, you need decent equipment and good people,” he insists.

Words of advice

Dwayne is adamant that you should not take shortcuts in the goat industry, whether running your own goats or running a goat harvesting operation. “If you are running goats in a paddock, make sure it’s a decent sized, well fenced paddock stocked at the right rate; if you’re harvesting goats, get the right gear for the job. Do it properly the first time, it’s much easier than fixing up mistakes,” he says.

Key points
  • Don’t underestimate the difficulty that can be involved in operating in the rangelands as this will lead to problems. Respect the environment and the risks.
  • Rangeland goat harvesting can be less labour intensive and time critical than sheep production.
  • Good people and reliable equipment are critical in running a successful rangeland goat harvesting operation.