Goat dairying set to take off in Manawatu

A new goat milking operation is being set up where 900 goats are housed indoors.

A new goat milking operation is being set up where 900 goats are housed indoors.

Manawatu could be creaming it in a new rural business - milking goats.

Six farms are being developed to milk a new, fast-growing "niche" industry.

One of those is owned by Darrell Shellard, who has 850 goats in covered sheds on his property near Ohakea.

He is building a 60-bale rotary shed to milk them.

Shellard said a further five farms were being developed for goat milking in Manawatu and Horowhenua.

Milk from all farms would go by tanker to a privately owned plant in Waikato, where it would be turned into milk powder for infant formula.

Shellard said the goats were kept inside big sheds in pens of about 250 and were fed grass and baleage in tracts alongside the pens. And they would get grain in the milking shed.

He said it was a big operation which involved the housing-shed, the milking platform and equipment to clean the sheds, harvest grass and feed the goats.

Shellard said it had probably cost about $1.5 million to develop his business.

"Cropping guys are not getting much return on their investment, so many are looking for alternatives."

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He said people who milked both cows and goats had discovered the goats were great to spend time with.

"They are real characters."

There were the tight-five, a group of young goats who constantly got out of their pens and roamed the property, chewing on clothing and equipment.

"I am happy the way things are going here. But there is a lot to learn about goat milking."

Craig Nash, of economic development agency Spearhead, said he didn't know yet whether a goat milk powder drier might be viable in Manawatu.

But he believed milk powder and goat cheese might be the niche market for the product.

 - Manawatu Standard

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