Jackie Freeman reckons there is ''more to goats than meets
Mrs Freeman and her husband Grant recently bought Mohair
Pacific, a Canterbury-based business that is a buyer and
broker of New Zealand mohair.
The couple, who were attending the recent inaugural NZGoats
conference in Queenstown, were excited about the industry's
The event brought together the three organisations
representing the New Zealand goat fibre and goat meat sectors
- Mohair New Zealand, Meat Goat New Zealand, and the New
Zealand Boer Goat Breeders Association.
It marked the first conference of NZGoats, an organisation
established by Mohair NZ and Meat Goat New Zealand and
operating under the Federated Farmers umbrella.
The objective was to add value by fostering the development
of a ''reinvigorated and unified goat sector'', NZGoats
chairwoman Dawn Sangster, from Ranfurly, said.
All three organisations were committed to working together
and saw great potential in the future, although they realised
it would take time, Mrs Sangster said.
Mohair New Zealand chairman John Woodward said the conference
was at a ''pivotal time'' for the industry, with goat meat
leading global red meat consumption and mohair becoming a
popular niche fibre, he said.
Goat farming was also well placed to capitalise on
environmental constraints likely to increasingly affect New
Zealand's wider pastoral system, he said.
Mr Woodward said the industry needed more growers growing
There used to be about 24 million kg produced globally and
now production was under three million kg.
In New Zealand, it had reached as much as 500,000kg, but now
it was down to just over 30,000kg. The price was ''right up
there'' and not predicted to come down. The main market was
There was a real shortage in the finer micron end (32 micron
and down to 23), he said.
Facilities in New Zealand could handle 10 times the amount of
fibre they were handling now, he said.
NZ Boer Goat Breeders Association chairman Geoff Muggeridge
said the opportunity for farmers to visit both Angora and
Boer goat farms on two field trips, together with the social
interaction that the conference fostered, was especially
Conference participants visited Bill and Irene Campbell's
Angora farm at Roxburgh, and Dave Aitken's Boer goat farm at
When Mr and Mrs Campbell ''semi-retired'' five years ago,
they halved their goat numbers.
They moved from a farm at Balfour to a 68ha property at
Roxburgh where they run 500 goats, mostly weighted towards
wethers as they had hill country on which to run them.
They kidded the does on the flat and then cut the grass for
hay for dairy farmers.
Mrs Campbell was captivated by the inquisitive nature of
goats and their ability to understand ''what you want them to
Mr Campbell said the mohair that was being grown in New
Zealand was ''a thousand times better'' than that grown
during the ''boom and bust'' era of goats in New Zealand.
He attributed that to the arrival of Texan and South African
genetics, which his wife, a qualified classer, said had taken
New Zealand to a ''world quality'' standard of fibre.
Chris Sundstrum was delighted to sell Mohair Pacific to a
Mr and Mrs Freeman have a lifestyle block at Swannanoa, near
Christchurch, and the purchase of the business was a ''good
fit'', Mr Freeman said.
Mrs Freeman started with three in-kid goats and now had about
20. She expected to get up to between 30 and 40 eventually.
Mrs Freeman classed all the fibre, having spent time under Mr
Sundstrum's supervision, and then got it baled up and tested
and sent to South Africa.
When she saw a good fleece, she encouraged breeders to enter
them in their local A&P show.
She enjoyed fashion and natural textiles and said there was
increasing demand for the fibre.
Consumers wanted natural fibres and a more sustainable
approach. Goats were also good for weed control and their
goats paid the rates for their property.
Goats were also easy for women to handle and she did most of
the work with them herself, she said.
AgResearch senior scientist Richard Shaw told breeders if
they wanted their industry to be competitive into the future
and ''not just disappear'', they needed to think about using
modern breeding technologies to take advantage of what they
could do, and to improve quality.
Dr Shaw developed the carbohydrate larval antigen saliva test
for the sheep industry, which became available to it as a
commercial test in 2010.
Now, they were looking at whether the test could be used in
other livestock, including Angora goats, as a means of
identifying or selecting animals that would better handle
It was still very early days in the trial but parasite
resistance was a lot worse in goats than other livestock.
Because goats had evolved as browsers, they could process
drenches much more quickly than sheep, so drench was less
efficient and parasites were able to evolve a lot quicker, he
Beef and Lamb New Zealand project manager and nutritionist
Fiona Carruthers said goat was neither nutritionally superior
nor ''beef and lamb's poor cousin''.
All red meat was healthy and nutritious and an important part
of a balanced diet, she said.
She also spoke of Beef and Lamb's promotion of red meat in
New Zealand, using the Olympic champion Iron Maidens, which
was targeting young women. The iron and nutrition in meat was
important for babies and toddlers, she said.
Lean Meats chief executive Richard Thorp stressed the
importance of having supply committed to the date and the
Lean Meats, which has a processing plant in Oamaru, killed
about 5500 goats a year, about 85% of the South Island goat
kill, and exported mainly to the Caribbean.
Most of the New Zealand goat kill came from the North Island,
and the South Island was a relatively small kill, he said.
Mr Thorp was impressed with the goat conference, saying there
seemed to be some very forward-thinking people there, with
scale around goats, and who were using them to their best
Lean Meats was also interested if goat farmers wanted to
collaborate and take a brand to the market.