Craig Bulloch feeds a kid at his farm, Willmond Park, near Braidwood. Photo: Rohan Thomson
When Craig Bulloch stepped between billy and the kids he ended up on his backside.
To see this gentle farmer bottle-feed kids you'd say he deserved better.
About a week ago one of his does near Braidwood delivered four kids, laying out and cleaning each one before dropping the next.
Mr Bulloch brought them inside near the fire. Now they're friendly as puppies at his feet.
A week later on a grassy slope drenched in spring sunlight, white and caramel nannies bleat for their floppy-eared kids that bounce around a big straw bale.
A keen smell of sheep manure and wool grease seeps from a corrugated-iron shearing shed that shelters the herd. Two alpacas, which guard against foxes, lift their long necks over the nursing nannies. The morning's tranquillity lulls Mr Bulloch into releasing two hefty bucks, while talking of his affection for boer goats. ''Ahhh, he's all right, just don't touch him because he stinks,'' he says, ignoring the billy's swinging nudges against his legs.
Suddenly the goat's horns lock around Mr Bulloch and, with one flick, sweep the farmer off his feet.
You would swear he was listening as Mr Bulloch revealed he operates an abattoir at Milton and will slaughter the kids when they weigh 25 kilos, for Sydney butcher shops and Braidwood restaurants.
As meat animals, goats have tough competition in Australia, even though they are the most widely consumed meat in the world.
In the Braidwood district their weed-eating ways have won a secure future in traditional sheep and cattle country.
District farmers Peter and Kate Marshall resorted to boer goats to swallow an intractable noxious scotch broom bush problem. A qualified forester, Mr Marshall said goats were a better long-term strategy than herbicides. Mrs Marshall said they were smart, sociable creatures. ''People who have the best outcomes keep them domesticated. don't let them get wild.''
Mr Bulloch arrived five years ago to a paddock at ''Willmond Park'' so thick with thistles he could barely see beyond his car's bonnet.
Remembering how boer goats destroyed fireweed at his mid-north coast property, he had no hesitation unleashing them on the thistles.
''They are a great animal. I love them,'' Mr Bulloch said. ''We breed them too; we have a little commercial stud.
''We do sell them, but my wife won't let me sell them. We are trying to build up the breeding herd. We kill all the males; the females we breed with new bloodstock.''
He said their lean meat was the same as lamb without the fat.
''The goat industry has come a long way in quality, the shape of the carcass.''
Boer Goat Breeders Association's Judith D'Aloisio said people made good returns simply from rounding up large herds of feral boer goats out west and exporting them.
The industry would get higher returns for meat if they developed a heavier carcass.
Industry data shows Australia is the world's largest goat meat exporter. Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei are our largest markets.