Journal of the Department of Agriculture, Western Australia, Series 4


John Peirce


Goats, Weeds, Blackberries, Sarsaparilla, Western Australia

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Feral goats are common in the woodland and tall shrubland areas of arid Australia. They survive and reproduce despite regular shooting, capture and droughts. These goats are considered vermin in Western Australia because of their competition with sheep for forage and their reputation as destroyers of vegetation. Research elsewhere, however, has indicated that it is only the uncontrolled grazing by large numbers of goats that causes degradation, in the same way that uncontrolled grazing by sheep can cause erosion. To some people, however, feral goats are a valuable source of income. They have the potential for meat sales, and they form the basis of breeding programmes for mohair and cashmere. Another potential which is only now being properly studied is the use of goats to eliminate or at least reduce unwanted vegetation.