Goats ‘do’ reasonably well on most types of country, but they will thrive best in a situation that offers them dry under-foot conditions, and preferably some steeper country, especially if it has some rocky outcrops and scrubby cover.
Those conditions are by no means essential for efficient goat farming, but since we have large areas of such country it is worth
noting that goats will thrive on it. Goats can stand cold — in fact low temperatures tend to stimulate fibre and down production — but because they have very little grease in their coats they do not do well under cold wet conditions or very cold winds.
If natural shelter is available they will make good use of it, however, and so survive even under adverse conditions.
Scrub, pig fern, gorse, blackberry, trees, all provide good sitelter, but in due course the goats will literally eat themselves out of house and home.
Aspect shelter is also important, and this whole question is covered in detail later in this chapter. The point to be noted at this stage is that for a number of reasons New Zealand hill country tends to offer more suitable conditions for goats, especially feral goats being reared for cashmere production, than well-developed lowland pasture.
may give the impression that modern goat farming involves running them on our best grassland. This is misleading, and derives simply from the fact that most of our main roads run through such country. It is also partly due to the fact that because prices have escalated so sharply, farmers have put goats onto their best land, where they can also keep a watchful eye on them, having them held by their best fences and close to yards and wool-shed.
The attributes which make the goat such a valuable potential contributor to farming profitability, are best utilised on our hill-country farms, where the varied diet preferred by goats is more likely to be available.
Where natural shelter is usually present in one form or another, and where drier country is normally present.
It is also apparent that the best goat fleeces will be produced in certain areas already recognised as having the right conditions for fine wool production.
There is one other farming situation which could benefit from goats, and that is on sheep and dairy farms where Californian thistle presents a serious problem.
Most thistles, and especially `Calis’, are a delicacy to goats, and by preventing seedhead formation they effectively control this weed and improve the quality of the pasture.