Goats, like many other introduced species, arrived in Australia with the First Fleet in 1788. Nineteen were brought out with the first settlers to provide milk and meat and by 1790 there were nearly 2000 of them in the colonies. In the ensuing decades many were set free primarily to ensure an emergency suppy of food. Unfortunately, as has been the case with so many domestic species that were 'set free' with good intentions at the time of release, they flourished in the wild and became a serious environmental and economic pest. They have also become a threat to some native species of fauna like the Yellow-footed and Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies because of the overlap in diet and habitat.
The modern Australian Feral goat is now a mixture of a number of breeds including Angora, Cashmere, Anglo-Nubian, British Alpine, Saanen and Toggenburg. Both sexes have distinctive curved or corkscrew shaped horns and their coats vary widely in colour, pattern and hair type depending on just what breeds the individual has in it. An adult typically weighs around 40 - 60 kilos with the males being heavier and larger than the females.
They are found right across mainland Australia and in Tasmania although they are not as common in the humid and tropical north of the country. They thrive better on arid and semi-arid rangelands where sheep and cattle farmers have provided an ideal environment for them. There are now so many of them that their commercial exploitation is now a $29 million dollar industry with many pastoralists earning a good part of their income from the capture and sale of their resident feral goat populations. Meat for export is the primary product of the industry with goat skins being an important by-product.
Written by Janet Forster
financial life saver
entire veggie patch, single overnight escapade
corkscrew shaped horns
A goat for a pet?
I was not very impressed when the children brought a baby goat back from their hiking expedition. It was obviously not weaned. Where was it's mother?
They told me that they came upon the herd suddenly and that they had all bolted and not returned.
"We found the little one the next day, at the spot where the herd had been." Was the plea.
What could I do.
The kids kept it on a leash like a dog and fed it baby formula because we didn't have any goat and lamb starter. Remarkably, not only did the little blighter survive, he has become part of the family; even the dog has come to accept him.
I had heard of pet goats but never owned one; we have a pen full of boer goats but they're not pets by any means.
The kids love this little guy like a puppy; he hangs around them bleating, climbing on things and generally being cute and is no trouble at all as far as pets go. Goat droppings are much easier to deal with than that of dogs and, now that he's weaned he feeds on grass which costs us nothing. Another advantage Gathia (that's his name)has over other pets is that he's a herbivore - we recently disposed of our cat (don't tell the kids) because of its preference for native fauna.
I'm not sure whether he will become troublesome when he gets older (if he gets into the veggie garden he's going in the pot) but I think he's got a good life ahead of him because a ferral / boer cross can make a good size goat and we have a pen full of nannies..
From Goodonyaskippy Aug 10 2015 5:53AM
Hide and Seek
Australian Feral Goats are often the bane of a pastoralists life. Voracious breeders and eaters, they can quickly ruin a paddock and destroy valuable land and water supplies. During periods of drought though feral goat herds are often a financial life saver for many properties as goat meat can fetch a good price, much more than drought affected sheep.
During such musters the odd orphaned kid will capture the heart of a bush girl and end up as a homestead pet. One such kid was a little black and white goat we called Lawnmower. He quickly settled in to the homestead and within days we weren't required to tether him. A highly intelligent young man, my parents were bemused to find him playing hide and seek with my brother and I. He would stand with his little face butted up against the wall while we counted and called "ready", at which time he would bolt around the homestead until he found us. When it was his turn to hide, he would stay in the hidey hole one of us put him in until he was found. Clever little fella.
Known to strip the entire veggie patch or orchard in a single overnight escapade, he wasn't always the most popular member of the household, to his eventual demise. Just before the grapevines ripened, he stripped the lot and we woke to find him passed away from bloat. Devastated we were, he received the unusual honor of having his own grave.
I found goats to be great pets. On the proviso that there was secure housing and early acquisition that is. We didn't have much success with goats who were a few months older than Lawnmower, we got him when he was two months old, and to this day he remains one of my favorite childhood memories..
From LisaWhite Feb 15 2015 5:44PM