Is the Boer Goat Breed too High Maintenance and What Can Be Done About it?
This discussion will be covered in 7 Sections. Here is a summary of each section.
Current Page - Describe what is meant by High Maintenance and why we think the
hardiness of the Boer breed changed from South Africa to the US.
SA Stud Book - The text comes from the South African Stud Book for Boer Goats
and describes the "Value" of the Boer Goat breed. This will be use to compare to
the Boers in the U.S. currently. (2007)
Breeders Impact - When the Boers came to the U.S. their were $$$$ in the eyes of
the breeders. The focus was to reproduce them as fast as possible and sell them for
top dollar. Because the Boers were high priced initially, everyone was treating
them with kid gloves and doctoring every runny nose.
Maintenance Characteristics - It is important for a breeder to know what type of
an animal they want to breed for and what would be the characteristics that would
make up that ideal animal.
Health Issues - Health problems with our Boer goats seem to change year to year.
Now that we have moved to a new farm, its seems different environments can cause
health issues to be more intense or less intense.
Worm Resistance - We started a program in 2007 to try and develop our herd into
a more worm resistant breed. We are very excited about the progress we have seen
as we enter 2009.
After 10 years of raising Boer goats, I have slowly come to the conclusion that there
can be a very high maintenance price to pay for raising Boer goats. This can vary
dramatically according to what part of the country you are in but regardless, I strongly
believe they can be a very high maintenance breed in the U.S. and the U.S. breeders
may have played a significant roll in the Boer breed being such a high maintenance
First, what do I mean by being "high maintenance"? High maintenance can be anything
that takes up your time or money in order to raise the Boer goat. Here is a list
Animals dying of un-natural causes - loss of purchase price or their potential future
Preventative medication treatment requirements - cost of medication plus loss of
Treating sick animals - cost of medication plus loss of your time
Assisting in delivery - loss of your time
Bottle Feeding - cost of milk supplement plus loss of your time
Boer goat is undoubtedly one of the hardiest small stock breeds on earth, with a
great capacity for adoption
RESISTANCE TO DISEASES
Now if you listen to the Boer goat industry talking, you will hear quite a different
Chat rooms are overflowing with breeders having health problems with their Boers
and looking for help.
Breeders will be heard saying their non-boer goats or percentages never have as much
problems as the fullbloods. It is always their "best animals" that get sick or die.
Article in recent Boer Association magazine describing how the writer spent $900
to raise an animal that ended up selling for around $90.
Another article in Goat Rancher magazine where the writer was suggesting the U.S.
breeders were breeding the hardiness out of the Kiko breed. (this is the same suggestion
I will be making about Boer goat breeders.)
At a recent seminar, a professor specializing in meat goats, indicated the parasite
problems were so bad in the Boers goats in certain parts of the country that the
breeders were having to worm with multiple type of wormers every 21 days and they
were losing ground. The professor indicated that there were no new super wormers
We get bombarded weekly with emails and phone calls from breeders with health problems
in their Boer goats and looking for help.
Everywhere we look, breeders are having significant problems with their Boer goats.
The industry can no longer claim that the Boer goat is a hardy animal to raise and,
unless something changes, it will be difficult for commercial breeders to make a
profit with Boer goats as the basis of their herd. If the commercial breeder can't
rely on the Boer goat as being hardy and low maintenance, then there is no market
for the Boer goat other than for showing. That will quickly dry up unless the Boer
goat can be returned to the hardiness they were once known for and become low maintenance
animals to raise.
Loss of Proper Focus
I believe there are several reasons why the Boer goats lost their hardiness and have
become such high maintenance animals. In order to try and correct this problem,
you must look closely at the specific areas that are causing the high maintenance,
prioritize the specific issues identified and determine how to correct the issues
that can be corrected. First, let me state I am certainly not an expert in goats
or breeding animals. I just have a personal opinion that I believe in very strongly.
My background prior to raising goats was focused on analyzing business issues and
resolving problems or improving the business processes. The summary of my beliefs,
as to why the Boer goats lost their hardiness and became high maintenance animals,
is the U.S breeders have had a totally different focus in raising the Boers than
the South African breeders did.
The South African breeders came from generations of breeders raising animals. There
main long-term focus was on creating a breed that was hardy, very fertile animals
with good kid raising abilities, long longevity that also looked good. The U.S. breeders
have generally had a major focus on quickly producing as many animals as possible,
get them winning in shows to allow premium prices and put on production sales across
the country to get other people to start raising Boers. The Boer associations and
the key breeders have always had a major focus on showing the animals to get ribbons
and titles for marketing their animals. There is very little focus in the U.S. industry
on raising hardy, low maintenance animals. The focus has been on doing the high maintenance
work to make the animals look as good as possible for shows and production sales.
The more special attention given to the Boers, the less hardy they became. The breeders
were trying to do whatever they could to be able to sell every animal they raised
regardless of their "hardiness level". Thus the genetics have changed from hardy
to "high maintenance" because the U.S. focused on show looks rather than the hardiness
of the animals.
Returning to a "hardiness breed" and low maintenance.
We are absolutely dedicated to changing our focus towards producing "low maintenance"
hardy Boer goats in the future. We will document the specifics of where we think
the problems are, who caused the problems, and what our approach will be to reach
our focus on "low maintenance" hardy Boer goats.