19 May 2015

Goat's milk could be $1 billion opportunity

2:22 pm on 19 May 2015

A Hawke's Bay business group says producing goat's milk infant formula could be a billion dollar opportunity for the region.

The report shows goat dairy farming and infant formula production could generate $1.5 billion and create 178 jobs in Hawke's Bay.

The report shows goat dairy farming and infant formula production could generate $1.5 billion and create 178 jobs in Hawke's Bay. Photo: 123RF

An economic development agency, Business Hawke's Bay, commissioned a report which shows goat dairy farming and infant formula production - all within the region - could generate $1.5 billion and create 178 jobs.

Its food and beverage programme manager Catherine Rusby said there was growing interest from the farming community looking for options outside sheep and beef.

"Geographically and climatically it's a much better place to be raising goats than it is say in the Waikato.

"When I came on in the role, I'll start from the market end always and said 'that's very interesting, yes we can get all these farms set up but what are we going to do with the milk?' And then we were approached by two separate opportunities for infant formula - people considering the Hawke's Bay as some where to set up their business, so we've pursued that over the last six to eight months, and here we are about to go live."

Catherine Rusby said the industry would be looking to supply the global market.

A Hawke's Bay goat dairy farmer, Lydia Baty, has teamed up with her parents and husband to convert the family sheep and beef farm into goat dairying.

Lydia Baty said her husband was managing a deer farm in the Waikato region when the couple fell in love with dairy goat farming about 12 months ago.

"They're really, really neat animals, it's really rewarding. They've all got individual personalities, so the animal aspect for me was the attraction for goats and the main draw card is the fact that there's really good returns compared to sheep and beef.

"My husband and I really want to own a farm in our lifetime but we couldn't do that on sheep and beef farming."

Ms Baty said it was a lot more predictable when compared to sheep and beef farming.

"My dad's saying it's four times the return of sheep and beef farming, so whilst you're getting out of bed at five o'clock in the morning, by the time you come in for breakfast you've already earnt a lot of money for the day, where as sheep and beef farming you get out of bed and then you go and earn your money and you don't really know if you have until the end of the season.

"A lot of people have said to us 'You're so brave, you're taking a huge risk', we are taking a huge risk but we're just so grateful for mum and dad's support, we couldn't have done it without them, but it's also so exciting for them as well. Whilst mum calls them little white rats, because they've got into her garden one too many times, they're loving it and it's also pretty cool to have their grandson back home."

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