Dairy goat breeds
• Anglo Nubian
The Anglo Nubian is an all-purpose goat, useful for meat, milk and hide production. Whilst they do not have the length of lactation or the quantity of milk produced by the Swiss breeds, the milk has a much higher butterfat content and the goat will breed out of season. This makes them a useful and desirable goat for many tropical countries wishing to upgrade local goat stock. They were introduced to Australia in 1954.
Saanen does are typically long lactating and high producing dairy goats with placid temperaments. An Australian Saanen held the world record for milk production for many years. These values contribute to the popularity and success of the breed in Australian commercial dairies.
Saanen is now the most common goat breed in Australia.
• British Alpine
The British Alpine is a tall, rangy, highly active breed suited to open grazing and noted as a good milk producer, with better than average butterfat and solids-not-fat. The breed displays good winter milking with an extended lactation period.
The Toggenburg goat originated in Obertoggenburg, Switzerland, where the purity of the breed was strictly regulated. It is credited with being the oldest known dairy breed of goat and was imported into Australia from Great Britain between 1947 and 1953.
The breed has become popular in Australia with both small farm operations and commercial dairies because of its excellent milk production.
• The Australian Brown
Australian Brown breed was developed in Australia over the 1990's and recognised as a breed as recently as 2006. These goats are of a consistent type, tall and rangy with good dairy conformation and are known for long lactation and ease of milking.
• The Australian Melaan
The Australian Melaan is a black goat breed developed in Australia and particulary well suited to the diverse and highly variable local production conditions. The breed, recognised in 2000, is considered hardy, disease resistant and highly productive with an intelligent and placid nature.
Fibre goats in Australia
Australian goats produce both mohair and cashmere.
Angora goats produce mohair; a very long (120- 150mm), lustrous and resilient luxury fibre which is blended with other natural or synthetic fibres to give texture and luster to the finished fabric. Angoras are shorn every six months.
The Angora goat was named after the region in Turkey from which it originated and was introduced into Australia from France in the early 1830s. Numbers of Angora’s have expanded since the 1970s, with the Australian feral goat being used as a base breeding source.
Australian breeders have invested heavily in purchasing the best Angora genetics available, mainly from South Africa and Texas, and crossing it with the Australian Angora. Through this method breeders have been able to select a new type of Angora that is admirably suited to the Australian environment.
The Australian mohair industry was in decline with production falling from 1 million kgs in the late 1980’s to 250 000kg in 2005. The industry is now recovering due to a period of improved fibre and meat prices.
Cashmere is produced by Cashmere goats and is recognized as one of the world’s premium fibres, being luxuriously soft, warm and light. It varies in colour from brown to light grey to white and its diameter ranges between 11 and 20 microns.
Goats carrying the downy cashmere undercoat arrived with the First Fleet but lost their identity over the years, with many becoming wild. Cashmere goats in Australia have been bred from these wild or feral goats to produce the Australian Cashmere goat.
Fleeces from these goats contain coarse guard hair, which has no commercial value, and a fine downy undercoat called cashmere. While the feral goat may only yield 50gms of cashmere per year, purebred Cashmere goats will yield up to 300gms per year.
The cashmere industry is small and very price sensitive with current levels of domestic production at around 10 – 12 tonne (including hair) per year. Global demand for cashmere exceeds supply which presents opportunities for the industry to develop.