2021 Eastern Australia Storms and Floods – updates from the Australian Government

Can goats help farmers through drought?

The Mudford family grow crops and merinos on 18,000 acres at Dubbo and 82,000 acres at Bourke, NSW. In recent years, they’ve been farming through the drought with goats

Robert Mudford explains, “We wanted to use less chemicals on our land, and our thinking was to use goats as a tool to control weeds. We wanted something we could adopt into our business without changing anything – use the same infrastructure, same yards and fencing on the same amount of land. But at the same time also diversify our business so we could better handle tough times.”

Robert eventually settled on angora goats as their mohair was fetching up to triple his wool prices, aiming to establish an initial flock of about 1000 animals.

“There’s been a lot of work in the last 10 years to breed the angoras polled – not only are the goats not damaging each other with their horns, it’s also easier on us in the yards and makes them easier to shear.”

Robert explains their weed eating abilities came to the fore in 2016 when the amount of rain that fell made it impossible to weed spray their wheat and barley crops.

“The fresh green crop was too good for them so they went around the fence lines and up the rows eating the weeds – they did as good a job on the weeds as the sprays. After 2016, we probably had three of the worst years of drought in history. The goats still did well, eating the briar bushes and sorts of things that not a lot of other animals wouldn’t eat – they thrived during that dry weather.”

Robert says there have been a few challenges with the goats but believes they can be adapted to any farming business in Australia, whether its cropping or sheep and cattle.

Check out video below