Review of Research on different meat goat breeds in the commercial environment
The initial research and information I reviewed came from DVDs of the "Profitable Meat Goats Conference" that took place in Indianapolis, IN on March 27-28, 2010. You can see the agenda of the conference at Profitable Meat Goats Conference. There was some eye opening information for us presented at the conference. Some of the presenters were Meat Scientist teaching at universities, Drs. doing university research in meat goats, owners of processing plants, vets and others. Thus they were basically objective related to specific goat breeds.
One of the most important presentations for me was given by Dr. Browning of Tennessee State university. He has done a project called "Breed Evaluation for Doe Herd Production Traits". The presentation covers the results of 5 years of a study but the research is still ongoing. These results came from 2004 - 2008 kidding seasons. Dr. Browning brought in three different types of meat goat breeds; Boer, Kiko and Spanish. Each group has approx. the same number of animals. All of the animals are raised in the same pastures with identical environments to live and raise their kids. The research has 9 different types of breedings that occur. A Boer buck will breed boer does, a Kiko buck will breed Kiko does, and a Spanish buck will breed Spanish does. That is the first level. Then each breed type is cross bred to a different breed such as a Boer buck breeding a Kiko doe. This ends up in valuable information of 9 different type of kids.
Their main theory is "Profit/loss in commercial operations is determined by doe herd productivity". The only product the Commercial herd breeder has is what the doe produces (kids that are alive at weaning time), how hardy she is, how long she can be productive. He evaluated meat goat doe breeds for reproductive performance under semi-intensive southeastern pasture conditions. He states that different results may occur in different environments. The does must kid on their own in the pasture and raise the kids. This is a minimum hands-on project just like a commercial herd breeder would have to do.
Does and kids were weighed at birth and weaning age of 12 weeks.
Data was analyze by dam breed, sire breed, sex, litter size, etc.
Does are put in groups with bucks for 30-45 days to breed naturally.
Summary of how Boer goats rated. (these numbers are estimates from charts shown on slides.)
Doe reproductive success (did they get bred and did the kids survive to weaning age?)
% of Does that had live kids
Boers - 75% (boers don't have as many does get pregnant)
Kikos - 93%
Spanish - 93%
Weaning rate of Does (kids that lived to weaning age)
Boers - 60% (boers don't have as many have kids at weaning age)
Kikos - 85%
Spanish - 85%
How many kids did she have and how many survived till weaning age?
Litter size by Dam breed
Boers - 1.9
Kikos - 1.9
Spanish - 1.98
Weaning size by Dam breed
Boers - 1.5 (boers don't have as many kids live to weaning age)
Kikos - 1.6
Spanish - 1.7
Compare weight of litter at birth vs weight at weaning?
Litter weight by Dam breed
Boers - 14
Kikos - 14
Spanish - 14
Litter weight at weaning by Dam Breed
Boers - 53 (boers don't have as many pounds of kids per doe at weaning age)
Kikos - 62
Spanish - 61
What was the ratio of the weight of weaned kids to weight of dam?
Proportion of Dam weight weaned
Boers - 50% (boers don't have as many pounds of kids in percentage when compared to the weight of the dam - therefore a breeder has to feed Boers more feed to get less pounds of kids)
Kikos - 60%
Spanish - 65%
What were the parasite load in the animals?
Internal parasite load
Boers - 630 fecal egg count (boers had more worm problems)
Kikos - 430 fecal egg count
Spanish - 360 fecal egg count
What percent of the animals were able to stay in the 5 year project?
5 year retention rate
Boers - 16% (boers had fewer of the original animals in the study at the end of 5 year period)
Kikos - 58%
Spanish - 43%
How often did they come up lame or have foot problems?
Boers - 2.02 (boers had significantly more problems with legs and hooves)
Kikos - .58
Spanish - .79
All of these animals came from multiple different breeders so there could be different results with different animals from different breeders in a different environment. However these are not good results for Boers no matter what. I believe I can show many different examples of what is going on in the Boer industry that can help explain why they are doing so poorly. I did not have to see this report to know that there are major issues with the Boer breed in the US. We constantly get calls from breeders having health problems and we hear time after time that they are not or did not have those problems with the other type of meat goats they have had experience. This should be a major wake up call for the Boer industry to re-think what is more important, Ennoblements and ribbons or animals that can produce more healthy kids with less management requirements.