Trials carried out to compare various types of meat showed that goat meat had far less calories, fat and saturated fat than all other types of meat tested including chicken. It also had much higher protein and iron levels and was second only to chicken for caloric content.
The Capretto goat carcasses of the trial on average produce 61.1% muscle with less than 1.0mm of fat thickness (measured at the 12th rib). Chevon animals dress out slightly better (65.9% muscle) but had an increased fat thickness (2.6mm). Scrotal, kidney and pelvic fat also increased slightly with age.
Various cuts of meat are preferred throughout the world. Capretto (entirely milk fed and live weight less than 20kg) is favoured by most markets and thus brings in a premium price. However frozen carcasses of all types represent seventy-seven percent of all world trade. Such carcasses may be boned or bone-in cuts and are often packaged in 1.5 to 2kg lots. This size is ideal for markets such as India where goat meat is used in curries and casseroles. Chilled portions are also very popular, particularly young lean animals destined for the restaurant trade.
A sampling of goat meat, chevon, by nineteen leading Brisbane chefs produced very favourable comments. The chefs found that the meat to be versatile with a good texture, an aroma that was soft, and not strong as most chefs expected. This is not surprising when it is considered that more goat meat is eaten in the world than any other meat.
Australia is the leading exporter of goat meat in the world. In 1991-2 for example, Australia exported over eleven thousand (11,000) tonnes of goat meat values at over twenty million dollars ($20 million).
The major markets for Australian goat meat include Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, USA, the Caribbean and Europe. The reason for such a widely diverse market can be attributed to both traditional preferences and the fact that there are few, if any, religious or cultural taboos limiting the consumption of goat meat. A breakdown of Australian exports of goat meat can be found in Appendix G of this report.
The market for goat meat is varied with different cuts being preferred in the different countries and ethnic groups. Goat products exported by Australia include chilled and frozen carcasses (bone-in / bone-out), live goats, sacrificial goats, goat offal, skins and leather, and Halal slaughtered carcasses.
The Australian domestic market is severely under supplied with goat meat, particularly in the capital cities. Preferred by ethnic communities such as Italian, Greek, Lebanese, Indian, Chinese and other Asian groups, the domestic market is virtually untapped. Potential exists for both chilled and frozen bone-in and bone-off meat for personal consumptions as well as restaurants and smallgoods manufacturers. The major factors affection the growth of the meat goat industry include a lack of consistent supply, lack of market requirements, and a lack of adequate slaughtering facilities.
Goat meat is generally described by two age related term: Capretto young milk fed goat kids; and Chevon young goats. The Capretto is the most favoured cut, with the meat being a pale or pink colour and very tender. It comes exclusively from unweaned kids of less that 10kg dressed weight. Chevon on the other hand comes from older kids and young goats up to 20kg dressed weight.
Capretto and Chevon are both highly praised for their low calories and fat levels and high protein and iron values. In one trial where the amount of cholesterol per 100g of meat was measured it was shown that beef had 880% more cholesterol than goat meat. Lamb scored in a similar fashion with 1040% more cholesterol. On the fat count red meat (beef and lamb) was found to have five times the fat content of goat meat. This leanness in young goats is due to the fact that the muscle tissue contains approximately 75% water and thus care needs to be taken in its preparation.
A survey of Australian goat sales, both domestic and export, between 1996 and 2004 shows a seasonal variation around religious festivals, predominately Christmas, Easter and Ramadan. The trend over recent years (1995 to 2002) has shown a steady rise in live goat and carcass exports. While the price per kilogram for goat meat (excluding Capretto) has remained steady over the study period (2003 - 2004).
Other Goat Products
The most obvious by-product from the goat industry apart from meat is leather. Australia imports $9 million worth of goat leather every year and exports goats skins valued at about $2 million. Australia does not normally export fully tanned goat skins but prefers to export them semi-processed for finishing overseas. In 1991-92 exports of fresh, salted, dried, limed or pickled goat skins were valued at about $2 million.
Asia is the major producer of goatskins in the world, accounting for approximately seventy percent (70%) of total world production. As a general rule developing countries import raw hides and skins from developed countries to be processed and re-exported as value added products. In countries such as China, Pakistan and India the demand for raw skins from their domestic markets outstrips production and thus these countries are forced to import raw skins for processing.
Goat leather is a general purpose leather used in a wide variety of applications such as footwear, garments and luggage. It is in high demand due to its good physical properties of toughness and flexibility, its soft feel and visual appearance. Between 60 and 70 percent of goat skins are used for the upper leather of shoes. The remaining amounts are used for book binding, fancy goods, clothing and gloves. World trade in leather shoes has expanded strongly over the last two decades with an average growth rate of approximately seven percent (7%) annually.
Leather from Boer goats is thicker and stronger than other goat types and takes well to tanning making it an excellent commercial by-product. The higher value goat skins are those that have a fine grain appearance and usually come from smaller goat breeds as well as young kids. The grain appearance, and thus value, deteriorates with increases to live weight and skin surface area. Premium fine-grain skins usually come from goats with a live weight of less than twenty-five kilograms (25kg). Another sought after characteristic of goat leather is its ability to drape, which is only achievable from thinner skins, and is highly prised in the garment industry along with consistency and precision of colour.
The Australian goat skin market has suffered badly be the reliance on feral animal that produce an inferior skin due to course grain resulting from a larger hair follicle. This low quality means that only thirty percent (30%) of the skins produced are of commercial grade and even this is suitable for only the inexpensive lower end of the market such as work gloves. In a similar way angora goat skins are considered inferior to all other goat breeds.
In Australia goatskins are a by-product of the goat meat industry and as such are looked upon as of secondary value. This results in the goats not being sorted prior to slaughter on the basis of skin quality or breed type which is standard practice in other countries. As a result skins of different qualities and sizes are grouped together for sale. The need to sort these salted skins at the tannery increases the cost to the buyer and also makes it extremely difficult to meet client's requirements for particular quality or characteristics of skins. In Australia skins are only graded according to skin size which is unacceptable to most leather producing countries such as Italy and China.
Another peculiarity of the Australian goat industry is that Australia does not export the more lucrative kid skins. This is due mainly to the demand for skin-on carcasses exported into Asia. In fact over fifty percent (50%) of Australian processed goat carcasses are sold de-haired with the skin on.
One factor inhibiting the Australian goat leather industry is the relatively high cost of labour with respects to international competitors. Because of this and other factors the majority of skin exporters prefer to process to the salted and pickled stages rather than produce fully finished leather. Import duties of between twenty five and forty percent (25% - 40%) on skins at the wet-blue stage imposed by most importing countries further reduces profits and restricts Australian exports.
A Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) study of the potential of the Australian Goat Skin Industry can assist in determining the viability of one section goat farming.
Offal is another by-product of the goat meat industry. Generally frowned upon in Australia, offal is a normal part of the diet and rituals of other regions particularly Muslim countries.