Nortenhof Boer Goat Stud
During the 1800s, Paterson, like many other river towns in the Hunter Valley, was a valuable supply of cedar for the growing towns of Maitland, Newcastle and further afield, Sydney. As landholdings grew over time so too did the variety of crops that were farmed on the ever increasingly cleared valley floor. Tobacco, grapes, citrus fruit and cotton were all harvested and sent down the Paterson River on ships built in the town from local timber. Infamous bushranger Captain Thunderbolt worked on a property in the town of Paterson (and stole horses from another) in the1850s. His wife was tried in Paterson Courthouse for vagrancy around the same time. Slowly the river trade began to decline and by the time the rail arrived in 1911 the river trade was practically finished.
Today the town of Paterson in the Hunter Valley is a charming hamlet of well-maintained historical buildings and green parklands surrounded by low-lying mountains. The Paterson River splits the area in half with the railway station and township sitting on one side and farmland on the other.
Norma and Col Cairns operate Nortenhof on one such parcel of farmland, a prestigious Boer goat stud property and quarantine facility. The name Boer is Dutch for ‘farmer’ and the breed was developed in South Africa. They are known for their fast growth rate, making it one of the most popular breeds for meat.
Nowadays the farm stock is shipped around Australia and the world, not by steam ship down the river, but by plane. Col and Norma are experienced in the export of their goats, regularly sending their consignments as the seed stock for successful breeding programs to develop the local goat meat industry in other countries, such as Fiji and Malaysia. Boers thrive in a wide variety of climates, from tropical heat to very cold conditions, so adapt extremely well to the conditions of countries around the world. Interestingly, Australia is currently the largest exporter of goat in the world.
Often Norma and Col accompany the goats overseas to ensure they arrive safely. They also work with overseas farmers to provide advice on herd management and nutrition. Any goats not fit to travel are kept at the farm to live out their life with two resident llamas.
Speaking with Norma it’s obvious she’s very passionate about the humane treatment of her goats and talks openly about the recent live export ban on cattle to Indonesia. The interconnectedness of the live export industry is complex. When live exports are stopped at short notice, the flow on effect both here, in Australia, and the country of destination are widespread; being left with stock nobody will buy or at the other end being left with feed for animals that haven’t arrived are just two examples. While condemning the mistreatment of any animals Norma believes there is an excellent opportunity for Australia to share its expertise and best practice in facilities, handling and rearing.
It’s a conversation that only touches on some of the intricacies of a multi-billion dollar industry; and one little goat farm is setting the standard high for the care and management of their animals.Share this on: