The New Zealand (NZ) dairy goat industry is just a blip on the international market for the amount of milk produced. Asia produces over 217,000 tons times more milk than Oceania (Faostat 2013).
However, the NZ dairy goat industry has become more prominent on the international market in the last five years and is presently the most developed of the NZ goat industries compared to the meat and fiber goat industries. The present domestic market is small and mainly consists of cheeses, yogurt, UHT, whole milk, milk powder and ice cream sold at local farmers markets and supermarkets. There may be future growth in the domestic markets with the changing palate of New Zealanders.
Approximately 85 thousand dairy goats are supplying one major and three minor companies producing milk powder, cheese, and liquid milk. The most valued commodity being produced and largely exported is milk powder. The majority of commercial milking goats are farmed in the North Island, and at present, the largest population of those dairy goats are supplying the Dairy Goat Co-operative (N.Z.) Ltd (DGC) in Hamilton. The predominant breed milked is the Saanen (including the NZ Sable breed), followed by Toggenburgs, Cross-Breeds, British Alpines, and Nubians.
An average NZ commercial dairy goat produces 826 kg of milk with top farms producing 1,440 kg per goat at 11.5% to 13.5% solids (fat, protein, and lactose), over 280 to 305 days. The commercial herd sizes range from 200 to approximately 2,500 milkers. Smaller family farms herd sizes will range between 20 to 70 milkers on average.
NZ dairy goat farmers utilize different farming systems from 100% pasture grazing systems to 100% housed and fed on a total mixed ration (TMR). The type of system is dependent upon the number of goats per hectare, the type of environment (including weather, soil type, and topography), economics and personal preference. Goats managed in a housed environment are the most common commercial systems utilizing a “cut and carry” feeding system. Commercial goat milking is typically done through herringbone and rotary sheds. The 40 aside “rapid exit” herringbone and the 80 to 100 bale rotary sheds are the most popular for large herds. Through those sheds, they can milk 300 to 400 goats per hour. The main goat feeds are forages such as grasses, clover, lucerne, grass and cereal hay, grass and maize silages. Some of the concentrates fed include maize, canola, peas, barley, fava beans, hominy, wheat, and dried distiller’s grain. DGC’s policy is that farmers may only use supplementary feeds that sourced from New Zealand or Australia, GE free and no reject feeds from products manufactured for human consumption (e.g., bakery waste and potato waste).
New Zealand has a Code of Welfare for Goats which specifies what is considered to be optimal animal welfare and how this may be achieved for goats farmed under conditions specific to New Zealand. All DGC Suppliers receive a copy of this national code and a DGC code of practice and are required to manage their farms under the guidance of these two codes. They are audited twice annually by external auditors and at least once or twice by the DGC veterinarian.
The NZ dairy goat industry future looks very promising. There is a global increase in demand for dairy goat products, especially from “safe” countries. New Zealand currently has a “clean green” image, meaning that imports of dairy goat products from NZ are “safe.”
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