Most red meat producers are accustomed to using the scrotal circumferences of bulls as a breeding value and palpating rams’ testicles to check for disease, but the importance of checking bucks’ teats is not something many goat farmers are aware.
The lack of understanding of how the number of teats, their structure and their distance from each other affects the udders of female offspring and ultimately their ability to raise kids has shocked industry consultant Graham Reimers.
Mr Reimers, one of Australia’s first Boer goat breeders, says the lack of knowledge will set back the burgeoning industry if not addressed immediately.
He was speaking at workshops in south-west Queensland organized by Sydney-based commodity trading firm Antap International Pty Ltd to gauge producers’ interest in supplying the high-end domestic market of the goat meat.
To succeed, the business would require a steady supply of quality produce, where Mr. Reimer’s breeding expertise could come in handy.
He said he increasingly found a huge void of information structured specifically for commercial goat producers, blaming both the Boer Goat Association for not disseminating knowledge and Meat & Livestock Australia for not responding to the growing interest in breeding. goats.
“This problem with teats – fishtail teats, teats too close together, too many teats – means children can’t feed themselves,” he said.
“That hasn’t been a problem in the savages because they’ve had 150 to 200 years of natural selection and a dairy goat background, which itself has emphasized teats for hundreds of years. years.
“But in two years the whole industry will see the impact of the number of bucks with teat defects currently being sold.”
Mr Reimer said the only solution was to cut off the heads of goats with teat defects, whatever the price paid for them, and to do the same for all their offspring, otherwise the deficiency would recur in future generations. .
It was one of many pieces of advice given to the 85 attendees at three workshops held in St George, Dirranbandi and Roma, which resulted in “great feedback” according to Antap managing director John Wallace.
This was confirmed by Anne McNamara of Teelba who said that as they were new to the industry any information was welcome.
“We went into the fringe goats to use part of our country,” she said. “Now we think we might have to manage them more – there was a lot of experience there today.”
Another tip from Mr Reimers was to look the distance from the corner of a potential bull’s eye to the tip of its nose, saying looking at a Boer goat’s head was like looking into its soul.
“If it’s long, it’s going to be long in the neck, body and rump,” he said. “That’s the realm of money – you can’t put extra pounds on a short rump.”
Owner of one of Australia’s seven oldest Boer goat stud farms, Farmworld in Amberley, Mr Reimers also threw the curve of dairy goat genetics to workshop attendees.
He uses Toggenburg and Australian Melaan genetics, saying they played a very important role, not just because they were long in head, body and rump, but because of their udders and milk production. .
Their pigmentation also worked in tropical environments where there were concerns about skin cancer.
“If you cross them with wild ones, you get great hybrid vigor and milk production,” he said, adding that Anglo Nubians weren’t on his breeding list, again because teat problems.
“We won’t touch the poll goats – they will raise either hermaphrodites or sterile offspring on the trail,” he said.
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