Chiller box market exposed

Clare Adcock
By Clare Adcock
December 8 2021 - 11:00am
Hannah Bryant has more than $200,000 worth of fencing, cameras and sirens on grids, but even that couldn't prevent their goats from being stolen. Photo: Supplied

Authorities have uncovered an emerging market for dressed goat carcasses at chiller box facilities after a mob of goats were shot on a south west property last week.

Hannah and James Bryant had a mob of goats stolen from Preston, 70 kilometers south of Mungallala, last Wednesday evening.

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The animals were shot and killed in their 14,000 acre paddock, before being dragged into the neighbours paddock and gutted, with the remains discarded on the side of the road.

With the help of responders to Ms Bryant's Facebook post, police traced the stolen animals to a number of goat carcases logged at a kangaroo chiller box facility in Roma and later charged two local men.

The Bryants were unaware of the market for dressed goats at chiller boxes, and now fear the high value red meat may be an easy target for profits.

"We know it's happened to us before, we've seen evidence of exactly the same thing, we just didn't know that there was this market for it so we didn't really put it together," Ms Bryant said.

Due to the carcasses still being missing, the total number of animals stolen is unknown.

"We don't know exactly what's been taken without the carcasses being found, but they could well have been our Boer billies that have been shot," Ms Bryant said.

"It's just devastating, we're devastated that there's actually a market for it. Nobody knew about this market, not the police, not even the stock squad.

"So now it's all come to light and we just want to get it out there so that everybody else knows this is happening and we want it stopped."

The sale of carcased goats at chiller box facilities is not illegal, however there are a number of grey areas.

Goats sold for pet food are not required to be DPI tagged, and there are limited regulations around shooter's details when logging carcases into chiller box facilities.

Ms Bryant said that goats are also still classed as "feral animals," allowing chiller box sales without suspicion.

"There's a loophole because they're still classed as feral," she said.

"Especially with the price of goat meat at the moment, this is our main industry...and people can just come on and shoot them and take them to the box, claiming that they're ferals."

Detective Sergeant Scott Jackson said police were still uncovering details of the unfolding situation, and the larger issue of goat carcases being sold to kangaroo chiller box facilities.

He said there was a presumption that untagged or unbranded animals did not belong to anyone, and were therefore free to be taken.

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"We really need to change the mindset here where everyone believes an untagged goat is a feral goat, because I would struggle to tell you where you could find a feral goat these days with exclusion fencing and stock handling.

"Just because you're driving along a public road and you find an untagged goat, doesn't mean it's feral and able to be taken.

"The same applies for a lamb, calf or foal, just because it's not branded or tagged doesn't mean it's not owned."

Detective Sergeant Jackson was concerned about how the unregulated market would affect the goat industry and other red meats.

"The problem I see is that an unregulated or unsupervised acceptance of goat meat at kangaroo boxes would be opening a door to relaxing biosecurity measures, in relation to the movement of livestock," he said.

"If we start accepting it for goats, then we'll be looking at the same thing for sheep and cattle, and I just don't think that's a road we need to go down."

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Two Roma men were questioned and charged with stock theft and killing with the later intent to steal, and will appear in front of the Mitchell Magistrates Court early next year.

Goat Industry Council of Australia members declined to comment.

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Clare Adcock

Clare Adcock

Roma Journalist - Queensland Country Life

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