Contents
Industry Background
Management
Nutrition
Animal Health
Breeding
Fibre Production
Fibre Marketing
Meat Production and Marketing
Pasture and Weed Control
Economic Analysis
Tanning Skins

A6

Condobolin Goats

  • Sue Eaton

HISTORY

Goats are not native to Australia.

Animals exhibiting a cashmere downy undercoat came to Australia with the First Fleet, Saanen type dairy goats accompanied the early settlers and Angoras arrived during the 1830's. Many breed types entered Australia over the intervening years and while some managed to escape captivity others were deliberately let loose into the scrub forming a wild population. These wild goats adapted so well to the harsh Australian environment that all resemblance to their breed of origin was lost. Over 200 years of natural, not man made, selection has produced a very hardy and unique Australian bush goat - often unflatteringly referred to as "ferals".

Condobolin Does © Debra Roberts

During the 1970's a serious attempt was made by the NSW Department of Agriculture to upgrade the meat potential of this important national asset. Australia was at that time (and still is) the world's largest exporter of goat meat and the harvesting of the bush goat was the industry's major source. Even though demand outstripped supply (and still does) the irregularity of shape, size, weight and finish of the bush goat carcase was far from ideal. The Condobolin Meat Goat Project was developed in order to supply the growing Australian goat meat export market with a more consistent product. By capitalising on the natural hardiness, keen survival instincts, good mothering abilities and structural soundness associated with the wild Australian bush goat, the project's aim was to produce as much weight of saleable lean meat per doe per year.

Foundation stock for a series of selected mating was selected from mobs of bush goats in the Cobar and Wanaaring districts. Does were initially selected on their overall physical conformation and yearling bucks for their robust, superior growth rate for age. Two Anglo Nubian bucks, chosen for their physical soundness and minimal inbreeding, were added to the mix to increase stature and milk production. The first of a succession of selected mating began in 1974 with the selection criteria based on kid growth rate, fertility and kid survival rate - preference being given to twin born and twin reared kids.

By 1980, the average liveweight of 5 month old twin born and reared bucklings, grown entirely on semi-arid rangeland, was 30 kilograms. In 1981 the first selected Condobolin Meat bucks were offered for sale to the public. The project ceased in 1987.