WITH goat returns jumping in recent years, the time is right to build a sustainable future for the sector, according to a newly-formed goat industry research, development and adoption committee.
The Meat & Livestock Australia-driven group say the potential is there to leverage all the goat's natural assets and set firm goals for future growth.
In recent years the emphasis on harvesting has decreased while the market has grown domestically and internationally.
These factors have all placed pressure on the Australian goat population with slaughter numbers in 2018 decreasing by 20 per cent to 1.65 million head.
To meet the changes in the industry, GIRDAC believes investment needs to be put in developing an industry engagement plan, best practice husbandry, improved herd structure, including genetics, and data collection.
Projects are already underway in population modelling, cost of production tools and nutrition.
Some of this nutrition research includes a University of Qld study into possible diet supplements to improve productivity.
In a recent study, 54 young entire male rangeland goats were fed low quality mitchell grass hay, alongside increasing amounts of other supplements.
During the first phase of the experiment, bucks fed the mitchell grass hay essentially maintained weight while bucks supplemented with the highest level of cotton seed meal gained an average 60 grams a day.
Bucks supplemented with lucerne chaff gained 40g/day.
Bucks fed whole cotton seed had low and variable intake of whole cotton seed and this was reflected in low and variable growth rates.
The maximum growth rate recorded for an individual buck was 91g/day across the 77-day experiment.
During Phase 2, bucks fed lucerne hay gained 146g/day (range 80-210g/day) compared to 200g/day (range 109-300g/day) for bucks fed the commercial pellet.
The live weight of bucks entering Phase 2 (15 to 25kg) had no influence on their subsequent growth rates when fed lucerne hay or commercial pellets.
These preliminary results demonstrate that potential exists to significantly increase growth rates of young entire male rangelands goats and significant variation in growth exists even within a small mob of goats that were of a similar live weight.