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

Case Study: Stephen Obst

Name of producer: Stephen Obst
Property name: Pualco Station
Property location: 65km south of Yunta, Burra and Truro, South Australia
Property size (in ha): 8,100ha, 2,500ha at Burra, 400ha depot at Truro
Avg. turn off annually: 4,000 goats (from station and surrounding national park)
Rangeland enterprise type: Pure wild harvest at Yunta, depot at Truro
Target market: T&R Pastoral; wholesale carcases directly to butchers (primarily Muslim market)
Other farm enterprises: 700 Merino ewes, prime lambs, goat depot

Effective trap yards

Stephen Obst traps rangeland goats on his station 'Pualco' near Yunta, South Australia, and from the surrounding national park. He drafts these and trucks goats that are too small for market to his fenced property at Burra, South Australia, which holds up to 2,000 goats. These are added to with small goats purchased from other producers. Stephen’s depot at Truro gives him another option for growing out smaller goats with the convenience of being located very close to T&R’s Lobethal abattoir.

Effective trap yard designs for goats

Stephen has developed a fail-safe system for trapping rangeland goats on Pualco and the surrounding national park which could be applied to most station country. The following are what Stephen considers to be key elements of effective trap yards for goats:

  • Fence all watering points so goats become trained in using traps and are not stressed when they are set.

  • Construct one or two spears in the fence on one side of the watering point. Spears are a funnel opening in the fence  pointing toward the water point. Goats need to push through the funnel to access the water.

  • Next to the spears, build an earth jump or ramp to offer goats, particularly bucks and shy goats, an alternative means of accessing water rather than walking through the spear.

  • On the opposite side to the water access point, build spear or trap gate exits. This helps further train the goats to walk through spears. When you need to trap goats, these exit spears or trap gates are closed and the trap is set. Once goats have drunk at the watering point at a set trap, they will tend to congregate around the closed exit, leaving the watering point clear for more goats to enter the trap via the entry spears or earth jump or ramp.

  • Round any corners using sheep yard mesh and steel posts so goats cannot run into these and pile up. This will minimise stress on the goats and pressure on the fence.

    This system of trapping goats tends to result in a clean “muster” as all goats are well trained and used to accessing the traps for water.

Alternative yard design

Flap gates, as opposed to spears, can work just as well if goats are trained to use them, though Stephen believes it is important to always offer goats the option of an earth jump into the water point. “If you give them the option, you’ll get all of them. This also eliminates animal welfare concerns of keeping stock off water,” he says.

Animal welfare issues and trap yards

Training the goats to access the traps for water and offering them the option of the earth jump eliminates potential animal welfare issues associated with keeping stock off water as all goats will enter via one method or the other.

Permanent or portable loading ramps servicing all trap yards enable Stephen to quickly and easily truck out the goats when traps are set. Trucking occurs on a daily basis, ensuring goats are not denied access to feed for long periods.

Permanent or portable drafting facilities at each trap enable Stephen to draft and truck goats according to size, further minimising stress on the animals.

Words of advice
  • Fence all watering points so goats are trained to access water and mustering becomes simply a matter of closing a gate.
  • Provide goats with the option of a spear or flap in AND an earth jump. This will ensure a clean muster.
  • Build exit points on the opposite side to the access points to eliminate blocking of access.
  • Eliminate corners where possible from trap yards to minimise stress on animals and fences when trucking out.
Key points
  • Trapping goats needs to be strategic and consider both terrain and alternative watering points to be most effective.
  • The welfare of both the goats to be trapped and other animals needs to be considered in a goat trapping enterprise.