Production of Australian Goatmeat
While the Australian Goatmeat industry is considered relatively new, the first goats that arrived on Australian shores were introduced by European settlers in 1788. These early goats were an important part of the development of Australian agriculture, as they provided a wide variety of products through their milk, fiber and meat.
Known for their inquisitive nature, these early goat herds proved quite difficult to contain and many escaped into surrounding bushland. These patterns led to the emergence of Australia’s extensive population of “rangeland” goats. These animals are part of the natural ecosystem and graze on indigenous pastures with limited exposure to chemicals. Together with the domestic goat populations, rangeland goats have created a goatmeat product unique to Australia that is widely sought after around the globe.
As food security issues continue to grow in the global context and consumers increasingly become concerned about global food supply issues, there is good potential for strong demand for goatmeat from a range of markets, including Australia. The increasing global migration of the traditional ethnic consumers of goatmeat from Africa and the Indian Sub-Continent has led to greater demand for goatmeat in many developed economies.
Demand from traditional consumers may be the driver that establishes goatmeat supply chains in these markets. But it is expected that there will be greater consumption by non-traditional consumers due to goatmeat’s healthy image and the increasing focus on cuisines where goatmeat is regularly served, like India and North Africa.
The harvest of Australian rangeland goats for meat began in 1953 and continued sporadically until the 1990s, when it became an important and readily available product.
In 1994, the South African “Boer” breed of goats was introduced to Australian domestic herds. The robust and resilient nature of this meat goat breed allowed it to be farmed intensively. They have also been introduced to rangeland herds, creating an animal that could withstand the arid Australian conditions while maintaining a meatier carcass. In doing so, seasonality of supply became less pronounced as goats were able to reproduce, and be harvested, at most times of the year.
Prior to the introduction of the Boer goat, the farmed goats in Australia were primarily raised to produce fiber (Mohair and Cashmere) or dairy products. Meat was a by-product of these goat enterprises. The introduction of the Boer goat led to the establishment of goatmeat-focused farming enterprises.
Domestic goats (capra hercus) are farmed in most areas of western and eastern Australia.
Australian goats are derived from clean, low-risk chemical residue production systems and have limited exposure to chemicals. They have no added hormones. Australia has a National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) for the identification and tracing of animals for biosecurity, food safety, product integrity and market access.
Australia is internationally recognized as free of all major livestock diseases. The Australian meat and livestock industry has had a long-term commitment to food safety, product integrity and traceability, and its product quality complements Australia’s focus on responsibility in meeting the demands of its international customers.
National Livestock Identification System (NLIS)
The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) is Australia’s system for the identification and tracing of goats for biosecurity, food safety, product integrity and market access. It was developed by the Australian government and the red meat industry and became mandatory in 2006.
The Property Identification Code (PIC) is the core basis of Australia’s livestock traceability system. It underpins Australia’s NVD and the NLIS programs. The PIC system was introduced in the late 1060s and identifies each property with an eight-digit alphanumeric code. The code is issued by state governments and identifies the state, region and location of the property.
The NLIS for goats is based on the use of the PIC, the application of a visually readable ear tag, which records the PIC and the use of approved documentation. The system facilitates trace-back to the property of origin.
This information is transferred to a central database, allowing the tracing of goats from their origin to the point of slaughter to occur swiftly and efficiently. This is one attribute that distinguishes the NLIS from other traceability systems around the word and ensures that red meat from Australia is always safe and reliable.