LIKE many producers in the state's west, trapping wild goats was a bonus for the McKenzie family and complimented the rest of their livestock operation.
However, as drought conditions continued to set in, the McKenzie family noted that the goats were one of the few animals that not only adjusted to, but thrived in the harsh climate.
Their resilience and marketability then inspired the son of Cunnamulla graziers, Ben, to optimise his breeding program on his property Yaralla.
"We've had goats behind wire for nearly 20 years, but to begin with we were just mustering Rangeland goats and using them as weed control in regrowth country and it just evolved from there," Mr McKenzie said.
"It got a bit more intensive probably 10 or 12 years ago when we started buying Boer goats, but in the past five years or so, after my wife Andrea and I had taken over bought a place out of the partnership, we decided to really give it a go.
"We found goats to be the easiest way to stock country and the reason I wanted to get into, Boer goats was to try and value add to what we had and improve weight gain, as well as finishing ability."
Growing up working in his father Jim and mother Trish's Merino operation, Ben discovered some challenges in the early days of breeding goats.
"The biggest hurdle when we started out was that the industry was still developing with quite a lot of small stud operators and very few producers in our part of the world, as well as being no large-scale commercially minded stud breeders, which meant you couldn't go and buy 40 or 50 bucks from any one person, you had to buy a few here and there," he said.
"Conformation is something I've found really hard to get right because some of the smaller operators have difficulty culling, so they will put up with things like foot and teat faults, but that was a big thing for me to try and improve on for the larger scale operations."
However, a trip down south proved the turning point in the McKenzie's operation as it prompted a decision to begin an embryo transfer.
"A few years ago I bought some bucks from Baringa Tops stud and on the long drive back I was thinking and realised that while I didn't know much about embryo transfer, it was a good way to take some big steps forward quickly," Mr McKenzie said.
"From there, we went halves in a program with Baringa which proved to be quite successful and recently we finished a second round of that program, only this time we were able to use some of our own genetics.
"We're now putting our own bucks over does we've purchased, which is really satisfying because it's nice to have your own name on something.
"We've got our first sale of embryo transfer progeny in Nyngan on September 5 and we're pretty happy with the goats on offer, weighing an average of 35.5 kg at 115 days, while retaining our top buck, Cracker Jack, weighed in at 48 kg at 115 days."
Since first getting into Red Boers and Kalaharis Mr McKenzie has noted a major shift in the industry saying "the demand for red goats has sky rocketed, it's crazy at the moment."
"I think the availability of red goats at the moment is really helping to drive that demand," he said.
"Large numbers of standards have been around since the mid to late 90s and I think it would be fair to say it is much easier to breed a good standard goat than it is a good red goat, but the reds are what everyone wants.
"There are certainly benefits to both, I for one think the genetics of the standards are probably a bit further along than the reds, but the reds probably have the standards covered when it comes to mothering ability."
However, Mr McKenzie said that despite the spike in demand, his operation BAM Pastoral, which he runs alongside his wife and two children, is first and foremost a commercial operation, with no plans of going to a "full Boer goat" outside of the stud.
"We'll have the stud of course to breed goats for ourselves and sell to other like minded commercial operators, but the big thing for us is to focus on the benefits of the Rangeland goat in our commercial operation," he said.
"They've adapted well to this country, they wanted to live here in the drought while everything else was struggling, so we don't want to get too far away from them."
Mr McKenzie said the operation had a clear vision in mind for the path it wanted to follow in the future.
"Our focus is on getting hybrid vigour and to produce extra kilograms in a shorter time frame with maybe a first-cross nanny but no further than that.
"I've never had anything to do with a stud operation before and to me it has to be commercially orientated.
"If it doesn't work for me on a commercial level then there is no point trying to sell it on to someone else."
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