Boer goat open day to be held at Enfield

Enfield farmer Owen Booth is so keen to foster the Boer goat industry he is holding an open day on his property. Supplied photo
Enfield farmer Owen Booth is so keen to foster the Boer goat industry he is holding an open day on his property. Supplied photo

Anybody thinking about running Boer goats on their land is advised to go to Owen Booth's open day at his Enfield farm on Saturday, April 12.

Mr Booth is a long-term beef and sheep farmer and a staunch advocate of these South African goats, bred carefully over the past 50 or so years to produce some of the best goat meat available.

He runs around 100 of them on his 21ha property, formerly a dairy farm runoff, and says they integrate well with his other stock, grazing paddocks from the top down and helping keep weeds in control and reduce the worm burden.

And contrary to the bad press about being escape artists, keeping them in is no problem either.

''It's important not to let them roam right from the start when they are kids so they don't get into the habit - and if your fences aren't good enough, a knee-high outrigger hot wire does the trick. They're intelligent animals and learn really quickly,'' he said.

Mr Booth is an executive member of Meat Goat New Zealand and of the Boer Breeds Association and believes the industry has a great future.

Currently, breeders supply the New Zealand market and are being helped in making their industry viable by Oamaru company Lean Meats, which conducts a regular goat kill, but until numbers increase, overseas markets are out of reach.

''There are only about 120,000 goats killed in New Zealand a year. We need far more than that before we can think about exporting. At the moment, domestic markets give the best returns,'' he said.

Until recently, there has been little encouragement for farmers to consider goats as anything more than weed controllers or dog tucker, but Mr Booth believes that this will change as the industry becomes more efficient and can produce hard facts about financial returns to people thinking about entering the industry.

Goat meat already has a wide appeal for many the cultures who appreciate the fact it is lean, low in fat and cholesterol and high in protein.

Other goat products also have their growing niche markets of fibre and milk and Mr Booth believes all goat breeders need to work together through existing organisations such as the Federated Farmers-backed Goat New Zealand to promote their products.

Holding the open day is his part in helping to promote the industry. Phone Mr Booth on (03) 432-4028 or (027) 439-5516 or email him on boothao @xtra.co.nz to find out more or on the day turn up to his property at 428 Burnside Rd, Enfield at 1pm to register.

The day will include a farm walk, an industry discussion on meat, milk and fibre and the chance to form a discussion group.

- Dena Henderson