Scattered across 90 acres of land, bleating baby goats play catch and chase through tall blades of grass, while the youngest goats on the farm wag their tails as they suck milk from an artificial teat.
But visitors must take note: there’s no escaping the realities of a working farm. Co-owner of the goat farm, Connie Northey, warns tourists about getting too attached to animals – when these kids are four to six months of age, they’ll fulfil their food chain destiny.
“If people see the goats first before they go to eat goat meat, they’ll usually say no to buying it because the animals are so cute,” Connie tells SBS.
“That’s also because Anglo-Australia has traditionally always only ever eaten meat that was chicken, pork, beef and lamb. They weren’t exposed a lot to goat meat in the past.
“But these days, more people are becoming more aware of goat as an alternative animal protein and they’re more willing to try it. And the fact is that customers from a multicultural background who have been raised to eat goat meat can’t get enough of it.”
According to a Department of Primary Industries 2016 report, the domestic demand for goat meat is increasing. Northey believes this could be because community and international interest in ethnic cuisine, featuring goat, is rising. Its status as a sustainable and healthier option – that doesn't have as many religious taboos associated with it as other meats – works in its favour, too.
“But these days, more people are becoming more aware of goat as an alternative animal protein and they’re more willing to try it ... Customers from a multicultural background who have been raised to eat goat meat can’t get enough of it.”
She says these days business is good. The goat meat produced at her farm is in high demand from butchers and high-end restaurants across Sydney and Melbourne. Perhaps that’s because the variety grown here is a rich and tender style of meat, an Italian variety called ‘capretto’ (which translates to kid goat).
“Capretto is a young goat aged anywhere from six to eight months and still on their mother. As they are milk-fed [at the time of slaughter], the meat is a lot lighter than that of an older goat.
A major benefit of goat meat, she says, is that it can be used as a leaner alternative to lamb, beef and even chicken.
“Goat is a red meat that is higher in protein and lower in cholesterol compared to lamb. On a Weight Watchers scale, they say you can have 100 grams of lamb compared to 300 grams of goat for a main meal.”
Some people argue that goat meat is a more sustainable animal protein than beef or lamb. This is because goats have a smaller impact on the land being browsers, not grazers. Northey says depending on the type of land you have, farmers who introduce goats into their cattle or sheep business may be able to produce more goat meat from the plot of land than they would with cattle.
“It depends if you’re running the goats on lush pasture or not,” David Northey, Connie’s husband and the farm's co-owner, tells SBS. “Goats eat the top of the long grass, while cattle decimates it – they eat a lot more because they are a larger mass. But goats can thrive in [drier] pastures while cattle struggle.”
So how do you cook with Capretto goat?
If you want to try goat, Connie says the easiest way to start with the familiar shape of sausages. The farm’s Capretto goat meat sausages are Merguez-style, created with a Middle Eastern spice mix.
“They are gluten and preservative-free,” Connie says. “We only use goat in them, so there is no pork through them at all. They give off a really beautiful hit of flavour and then a punch of heat at the end of the tasting.”
At home, Connie uses goat to make pasta dishes, kofta and savoury scones (topped with goat mince).
“You can cook with goat meat in the same way you would cook with lamb but if you cook it for a long time, you have to protect it a little bit more so that the goat doesn’t out too much [because it is so lean].”
A local restaurant in the valley, Casa Luna, also regularly features Myrrhee’s goat meat on the menu. It recently prepared the protein using a Roman recipe for abbacchio, replacing the lamb with chunks of goat shoulder.
“Baby goats tend to do a lot of running and jumping – so the shoulder tends to be a bit tougher, so a slow cook is best,” Connie explains.
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