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Teagasc National Goat Conference

Delegates at the Teagasc National Goat Conference, which took place yesterday, Wednesday, 20 April in Portlaoise heard how there has been a steady rise in interest in goat farming, driven by the increasing popularity of goat’s cheese and the public’s endless search for healthy food products.

Teagasc National Goat Conference
Pictured at the Teagasc National Goat Conference which was held on Wednesday 20 April, in Portlaoise from (L to R): Anne-Riet Boerenkamp, InstoGoat, The Netherlands; Gert Van Trierum, Denkavit, The Netherlands; John Matthews, Veterinary Goat Society, Uk and Cian Condon, Teagasc Advisor, Navan, Co. Meath

This was the first conference of its kind since 2007 and provided an opportunity to the 130 people attending to hear from an impressive array of speakers from Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands. The topics covered included; goat health and nutrition, kid rearing and the goat industry both in Ireland and abroad.

Cian Condon, Teagasc advisor said: “Goat farming is an important niche livestock enterprise in Ireland and the food products produced from the sector, help to enhance Ireland’s overall basket of food products. There is certainly scope for adding value to goat milk in the form of goat’s milk powder, infant formula and cheeses for export. This should be examined further by national bodies and co-ops as it is done in other countries such as New Zealand and Holland and would provide additional products in markets we have already developed.”

The conference heard how on-farm efficiencies need to be improved, particularly regarding genetics/breeding policy and nutrition. Herd health was addressed in the first session by John Matthews from the Goat Veterinary Society who spoke about goat health and diseases. Gert van Trierum from Denkamilk presented on kid rearing and health and Theo de Waal from University College Dublin outlined the results of a study of goat parasites. In the second session of the conference, goat nutrition and husbandry were addressed by Anne-Riet Boerenkamp from InsoGoat.

The final conference session involved industry participants, and the products that are on the market. Noel Farrell of Golden Goat Farm provided a farmers’ perspective, while Elizabeth Bradley from Carlow Farmhouse Cheese discussed Irish artisan cheese production. Larry Maguire from the Galway Goat Farm outlined his experience and the challenges faced when setting up a small cheese business. Roger Sutton from Delamere Dairies in the UK presented on the market for Goat’s milk products.

In conclusion, Cian Condon, Teagasc advisor said: “A greater cooperation between farmers, farming groups and governance is required to promote and develop the industry in Ireland to maximise incomes for existing farms, and provide a viable alternative for new entrants.”

The conference was kindly supported by Makeway Limited and Glenisk.