A Mangalore goat meat business is set to expand production with the help of a government grant.
Strathbogie Goat, owned by Linda McKenzie, received a Stream One grant under the Victorian Government's Small-Scale and Craft Program, which Mrs McKenzie used to purchase an automated feeder and prepare a proposal for setting up a commercial kitchen on-farm to develop recipes and value-add to the product.
“The focus of the application was to purchase an automated feeder that is made locally in Tatura from Feedtech Feeding Systems,” she said.
“This will reduce the amount of time and labour required to feed the animals.
“The automatic feeding will deliver an accurate amount of feed at predetermined intervals.
“It has been on-farm for just over a week (as of July 13) and it has transformed how I work.
“The commercial kitchen is progressing, albeit slowly, with COVID-19 impacting the planning preparation and process.”
Mrs McKenzie moved to Mangalore in 2014 and started the Boer goat stud.
Four years later, she decided to start Strathbogie Goat, which provides premium Boer goat meat to local restaurants and specialised outlets.
The Mangalore business supplies meat to businesses in an 80 km radius, with Shepparton's Fryers St Food Store and Teller Collective the furthest places north.
“If they want to taste my product, they have to come to the country where it's made and experience it here along with everything else regional Victoria has to offer,” Mrs McKenzie said.
The day before Victoria's statewide lockdown was announced in March, Mrs McKenzie had just had a kill done ready for the meat to be processed and sent to her customers.
“All my orders were cancelled and clients closed,” she said.
“I processed all the meat and put the commercial freezer I had invested in to good use.”
This misfortune led to Mrs McKenzie being encouraged by Meat & Livestock Australia to invest in social media marketing, something she wasn't too keen on at first.
“I was encouraged by the MLA to try and differentiate and better position the business, to do some social media marketing to build a profile, establish provenance and a presence in the marketplace,” she said.
“I was apprehensive given the investment required.
“I enlisted my butcher (Taurus Meats Butcher & Smokehouse) to assist with retail product development as part of this process.
“After speaking with Ange, at Ange Belot - Social Media Creator, a 10-week plan was pulled together.
“This plan involves co-marketing with my customers.
“Taurus Meats Butcher & Smokehouse (in Seymour) came on board by providing a dedicated area in their chilled display case.
“All the places that sell my product have come up with dishes and promotions so everyone wins.”
As part of the Small-Scale and Craft Program, Corop business Kennedy Farm Produce also received a Stream One grant, which owner Emma Kennedy will use to purchase infrastructure that will improve storage conditions and allow product diversification.
A further round of grants for larger projects worth up to $200,000 each (Stream Two) will be announced later this year.
To purchase Strathbogie Goat meat, visit: http://www.taurusfinemeats.com.au/ or in-store at 62 Station St, Seymour.
To look at the work done as part of the social media campaign, visit the company's Facebook and Instagram pages.
For a full list of recipients and to find out more about the Small-Scale and Craft Program, visit: https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/farm-management/artisanal-agriculture/small-scale-and-craft-program