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Are Wide Chests good for the Boer Breed?

Have Breeders gone too far?

Many years ago a wise breeder told us that whatever is determined to be a good feature for an animal, show breeders will carry it too far. The pictures to the right are  good examples. This shows the extreme width that has been bred into bulldogs and a buck that is showing similar breeding. There is no value in the wide chest of the bulldog and, I believe, there is little value in breeding it into the Boer breed. You can find plenty of examples of the extreme width in the chests of Boers in the shows these days.

Are there any kidding issues associated with breeding for wider chests in kids?

90% of all bulldog pups are delivered by c-section because of the big head and wide chest. Many breeders believe the Boers need a big, wide head to indicate the body will be big and wide. More and more breeders are saying their does are having difficulties in kidding and need assistance in delivering them. The Tennessee State University study had results that Boer does weaned fewer kids than does from other meat goat breeds. Every kidding season, we get calls from new breeders that have does with difficulties in kidding on their own. We constantly hear about Boer breeders needing to have c-sections for some of their does but we never hear that from breeders raising other meat goat breeds.

Does the wider chest add more meat to the carcass & does the wider body affect the ratio of useable meat weight to live body weight?

Look at the picture to the top right. This shows when you get passed the ribs, there is no other source of meat inside the ribs. All of the meat in the rear, is in the back legs. There is a back bone that has the loin associated to it however the back bone width may not be associated with a wide chest. The ribs will possibly be spread wider because of the wider chest. However, that wider cavity of the carcass will be filled with internal organs. Will that cause more wasted weight when the carcass is evaluated for percentage of useful meat vs. bone, internal organs, etc. I Think it might but I can't show any facts about that at this time.

Look at the picture bottom right of the goats carcass and the cuts that come from it. Notice the cuts that come from the chest. I don't see anything either. This is a formal chart of a goat carcass to educate people about the type of meat that comes from a goat and it doesn't show anything for the chest. That is a good indication to me that there is little valuable meat that comes from the chest.

Does that wide tracking cause any issues?

Here is the big mystery that we can't get a good answer from anyone. If you breed Boers to have a wider chest and stance, why do they still leave a narrow path where they are walking? The picture to the right shows a narrow path on our farm where 70-130 animals travel many times a day. It seems that goats naturally want to walk in a more narrow path and when they are bred to be wider, they still want to walk with their feet more under the center of their weight. When you watch a very wide chested animal walk, it is not a smooth gait at all. It looks like a bulldog walking, or a waddle. That is not good. One of the main things we like to evaluate with our animals walking is how smoothly they glide along. The smoother the walk, the better balanced the body is and the more efficient it is working. The less efficient the walk, the more energy they are using and the more nutrition they require. I truly believe it will be much more difficult for wide chested animals to travel around large pastures.

Is there any potential issues in the shoulder blades when the legs are much farther a part?

There is a piece of an article to the right. The article was describing the reasons behind the Boer standards. Look at the concerns that are listed related to breeding too much width in the chest.

Breeding Better Boers – Reasons Behind Breed Standards

Dr. Fred C. Homeyer
Antelope Creek Ranch
Robert Lee, TX

"A wide chest floor and a long canon bone may be good predictors of growth capacity.  Care should be taken not to have too much width in the chest floor as scapula problems and front-end assembly problems can arise where the shoulders do not tie in correctly with the body creating a bulldog like appearance.  This is sometimes called extruded scapula.  Structural weakness eventually produces an animal that breaks down under pasture conditions."

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