Alternative strategies for management of feral goats: implications for natural resource management policies in New South Wales rangelands

Alternative strategies for management of feral goats: implications for natural resource management policies in New South Wales rangelands Journal Article

The Rangeland Journal

  • Author(s): Khairo, S. A., Hacker, R. B., Atkinson, T. L., Turnbull, G. L.
  • Published: 2013
  • Volume: 35

Abstract: Feral goats (Capra hircus) are increasing in abundance and distribution in the semi-arid and arid rangelands of New South Wales, and elsewhere in the southern rangelands. They present a conundrum for natural resource managers and policy-makers as they can be both an agricultural and environmental pest and an economic resource for landholders. This paper presents an economic analysis of a range of alternative approaches to feral goat management and assesses their implications for natural resource management policies. ‘Opportunistic harvesting’ and ‘value-added’ strategies (the latter involving use of a paddock to increase the liveweight of feral goats before slaughter for meat) returned positive net benefits to landholders, whereas the strategy of ‘no management’ resulted in a negative net benefit if the overall stocking rate was held constant. The erection of goat-proof boundary fencing to enhance production from domestic livestock generated negative net benefits unless increases in stocking rates of domestic livestock could be achieved within the exclusion fencing through improved grazing management. The use of goat-proof fencing to establish an individual paddock for domestic livestock production returned positive net benefit for landholders but also required increases in domestic stocking rate to be competitive with the best feral goat harvesting strategy. The ‘opportunistic harvesting’ and ‘value added’ strategies are thus likely to be adopted by producers without financial incentive and could result in positive resource conservation outcomes if goat prices encourage harvesting. The ‘no management’ strategy will most likely promote resource degradation and should be discouraged. Strategies involving goat-proof fencing are likely to provide positive net benefits for landholders and achieve positive natural resource outcomes if associated with improved grazing management, and reduced density of feral goats outside the exclusion fencing. It is concluded that resource conservation benefits of feral goat control strategies may be positive, negative, or neutral depending on the management strategy adopted, the extent of goat-proof fencing, and the price of meat from feral goats. It is, therefore, difficult to rely on the commercial harvesting of feral goats to achieve resource conservation objectives. Public funds could be better used to support education and training in grazing management and provide incentives for achievement of measurable natural resource outcomes than to support infrastructure establishment for the harvesting of feral goats on private properties.

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Suggested Citation
Khairo, S. A., Hacker, R. B., Atkinson, T. L., Turnbull, G. L., 2013, Alternative strategies for management of feral goats: implications for natural resource management policies in New South Wales rangelands, Volume:35, Journal Article, viewed 13 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=2651.

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