GOAT prices are returning to record high prices but industry insiders predict it could get even higher on the back of a reduced rangeland population.
Stephen Obst, Pealco Pastoral, owns a goat depot at St Kitts and said prices in SA had reached $7.40 a kilogram in the past week, just shy of the 2016 high of $7.50/kg.
"That's up $1/kg from two months ago," he said.
"We're pretty much (back) near the highest point we've ever seen."
He said recent months had been very busy, with the dry making it easier to capture goats at watering holes.
"We've had our biggest summer ever, for the past six months numbers have been up 50 per cent on the year before," he said.
"Everything is saleable at these prices.
"It has been so dry, our numbers have been through the roof, but I think, going forward, we will see the toll.
"I do think it has dented the population."
Mr Obst said with the drought, many of the rangeland nannies did not cycle, meaning there would be fewer newborns on the ground, limiting the population.
"Numbers are going to be scarce in the next couple of years, or at a lot lower levels than in the past," he said.
He said the situation could be even worse when the season break arrived.
"As soon as we get rain, we won't see any goats," he said.
He said summer mustering was nearly finished for the year - unlike in 2017 when there was very little break.
Mr Obst said with big demand for goats in the export market, and low numbers available, it was feasible that goatmeat prices could climb even higher.
"Who knows where they're going to from here?" he said.
He said some goat processors were "screaming out" for more goats as they tried to fill export orders.
"It's not good for the Australian market - if we're unable to supply the export market, we could be in trouble in the future," he said.
Australian goatmeat exports have already taken a hit.
Meat & Livestock Australia's goatmeat global snapshot, released last month, shows the national slaughter fell by 20 per cent in 2018, compared with 2017, to 1.65 million head.
Of that, SA slaughtered 226,089 head.
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The snapshot showed reduced supply had already had an impact with goatmeat exports totalling 21,026 tonnes, down 26 per cent from 2017 and 32pc on the five-year average.
About 10pc of goatmeat is sold domestically.
Goat Industry Council of Australia president John Falkenberg said the numbers in NSW had dropped 60 per cent in recent years, based on aerial surveying.
It has been so dry, our numbers have been through the roof, but I think, going forward, we will see the toll.
"I would guess SA could be the same," he said.
The SA government does not monitor rangeland goat populations.
Mr Falkenberg said there was some good news, with Qld producers in the process of restocking their goat populations in managed systems.
But for the whole, he said there were concerns about supply in the future.
"Any shortage in supply in any industry is a concern," he said
"I would like to see more people hold onto their breeding stock."
He said while SA pastoralists could not farm goats in the same way as their counterparts in Qld and NSW, there were still opportunities for those on inside country.
"There is longstanding money in the industry and it will be into the future - goatmeat is in high demand," he said. "The more people running a managed system, the better it is for the industry."