Boer Goat


This breed, which comes from South Africa (Afrikaans Boer = farmer), is perfectly suited forany climate.
Its build is like no other goat: it is not as tall, and is much broader, stockier and more muscular– the ideal breed for meat production.

It is easy to keep and feed – it is the ideal landscape gardener and is quite happy to graze in areas which seem impenetrable to the human eye.

The Boer goat is not afraid of the heat or the cold and can still forage for food when the ground
is frozen.
It would seem that its South African ancestors have passed on genes giving information on
climatic and living conditions.

It thrives on our sparse soil.

It is thus predestined for meat production. It requires no concentrated feeds, which leads to
healthy, good quality meat which is a nutritional and valuable foodstuff.

Boer goat meat is particularly tasty and tender – free of the usual goat odour, which is very important to us.
It contains many essential vitamins:
- the essential VitaminB (good for the central nervous system),
- Omega 3 (which reduces blood lipids and is thus an anti-inflammatory) and
- fatty acids e.g. a high proportion of CLAs, (linoleic acids which inhibit cancer,reduce the build up of fat and strengthen the immune system).

The meat from goats reared in a manner appropriate to the species has a low fat content of 2.6g (16g for lamb and 3.5g for chicken).
It is thus low in calories and is the archetypal good meat.
The Boer goat must be neither shorn nor milked, and it is very docile.
 It grows more quickly than other breeds of goat, and can be kidding 3 times in 2 years.

We work only with breeders - domestic and overseas breeders who have adopted the same breeding principles and standards.

SA Boer Goat   The pre-history and background of the Boer goat     (Prof E Terblanche - Hierjy Boerbok!) Goats were already here when the Whites arrived in South Africa. Various researchers and authors, such as Schreiner (1898), Barrow (1801), Pepler (1886), Epstein (1972) and others, tried to describe and explain the origins of the Boer goat and how it got here. Europe, India, Egypt and Nubia were mentioned and the routes from North Africa to South Africa were probably along the west and east coasts.

The Whites first came across the goats at around 1661 in the vicinity of the present Clanwilliam and the Namaquas whose goats they were declared that they came from the Batlapin clan in Botswana. The import of milk goats from Switzerland and Germany at the beginning of the 20th century contributed to the establishment of a Boer goat over the years that, in fact, represented a variety of types.
Van Rensburg (1938) considered the goats found in South Africa and classified them as follows: 1.   Milk goats (pure imported breeds) 2.   Angoras or silky goats and 3.   Boer goats The Boer goats in turn are classified as: A) the common Boer goat, such as the
(I) dapple,
(II) brindle,
(III) underdeveloped ear, and
(IV) white Boer goat; B) The coat of long hair; and C) The polled and elongated eared A) The common Boer goat is a compact, fine quality, short-haired goat with a regular build, popular among butchers for its skin and meat. In good condition, the goat can be slaughtered at a young age. The goat ewes give ample milk and are generally popular. The following sub-types occur in this group:

(I) The dappled

(II) The brindle, with its definitive colouring on the head, namely yellow and brown patches around the eyes, on the cheeks and mouth.

(III) The underdeveloped ear. Similar to the karakul, Boer goats also present variations in the size of the ear, and the types with a small, underdeveloped ear, sometimes too small to mark, is known as the “underdeveloped ear” type.

(IV) The white Boer goat, sometimes with a brown neck and head. All colours occur.

B) The coat of long hair. It has a heavy head, heavy horns, heavy shoulders, coarse legs and hooves and coarse meat. The long-haired coat covers the hindquarters only or the entire body. It can be slaughtered only when it is fully grown and in good condition. It has a rough, heavy skin.

C) The long-haired and polled. This type was obtained through cross-breeding with imported milk types; sometimes the pure milk types are called by the same name. It has a light, fine head without horns, hooked nose, long ears and the build of the milk type; is usually short-haired and all colours occur. Most Boer goat flocks were a mixture of these types and so hybridised that it was difficult to classify them accurately according to type.

Van Rensburg (1938) states, “that although little attention was paid to the breeding of Boer goats in the past, there were those progressive farmers who started paying attention to the selection and breeding of Boer goats, particularly in the districts where intensive cultivation occurred. Thus classes for adjudication according to different ages were instituted at some shows; however, there was a lack of the required data and uniformity of adjudication.” In collaboration with some of the farmers, buyers’ and butchers’ data was collected, and in spite of limited literature on the subject, a scale of points for Boer goats was designed that later formed the basis when a scale of points was needed for the refined Boer                                                            

SA Boer Goat Breed Standard     Following are the standards as drawn up and accepted by the Boer Goat Breeders’ Association of South Africa. The aim of the breeding standards are to improve the breed and to increase the economic value.

Conformation Head: A strong head with large soft brown eyes and without an untamed or wild look. A strong slightly curved nose, wide nostrils, strong well-formed mouth with well-fitted jaws. Up to 6 teeth must show a perfect bite. Eight tooth olds and older may show 6mm protrusion. Permanent teeth must cut in the correct anatomical place. The forehead must be prominently curved linking up with the curve of nose and horns. Horns should be strong, of moderate length and placed moderately apart with a gradual backward curve. Horns have to be as round and solid as possible and in dark colour. Ears are to be broad, smooth and of medium length hanging downwards from the head. Ears that are too short are undesirable.

Characteristic cull defects: Concave forehead, horns too straight or too flat, pointed jaw, ears folded (lengthwise), stiff protruding ears, ears too short, over- or undershot jaw and blue eyes.

Neck and Forequarters: A Neck of moderate length in proportion to the length of the body, full and well-fleshed and well-joined to the forequarter, is essential. The breastbone should be broad with a deep, broad brisket. The shoulder should be fleshy, in proportion to the body and be well-fitted to the withers. The withers should be broad and as well-fitted as possible (not sharp). The front legs should be of medium length and in proportion to the depth of the body. The legs should be strong and well-placed, with strong pastern joints and well-formed hoofs which are as dark as possible.Characteristic cull defects: Too long, thin neck; too short neck, shoulders too loose.

Barrel: The ideal is a long, deep broad barrel. The ribs must be well sprung and fleshed, and the loins as well filled as possible. The goat should have a broad, fairly straight back and must not be pinched behind the shoulders. Characteristic cull defects: Back too concave, too slab-sided, too cylindrical or pinched behind the shoulder.  

Hindquarters: The Boer Goat should have a broad and long rump, not sloping too much, well fleshed buttocks which are not too flat, and have fully fleshed thighs. The tail must be straight where it grows out of the dock and then may swing to either side.
Characteristic cull defects: A rump that hangs too much or is too short. A long shank or flat buttocks.

Legs: Emphasis should be placed on the legs which should be strong (of good texture) and well-placed. Too fleshy legs are undesirable. Strong legs imply hardiness and a strong constitution, which are absolutely essential characteristics of the Boer Goat.
Characteristic cull defects: Knock knees, bandy legs, cow hocked or post legged or sickle hocked. Legs too thin or too fleshy. Weak pasterns and hoofs pointing outwards or inwards.

Skin and Covering: A loose supple skin with sufficient chest and neck skinfolds, especially in the case of rams, is essential. Eyelids and hairless parts must be pigmented. The hairless skin under the tail should have 75% pigmentation for stud purposes, with 100% pigmentation the ideal. Short, glossy hair is desirable. A limited amount of fur will be tolerated during winter months.
Characteristic cull defects: Covering too long and coarse or too furry.  

Sexual Organs: Ewes:
Well-formed udder firmly attached with teats as on page 10.
Rams:   Two reasonably large, well-formed, healthy and equal sized testes in one scrotum. A scrotum with a split no larger than 5cm is permissible. The scrotum must be at least 25cm in circumference.
Characteristic cull defects: Bunched, calabash or split teats. Testes too small, a scrotum with more than a 5 cm split, a twisted scrotum, or a scrotum of which the points are twisted.  

Quality: Is indicated by the following characteristics: This is achieved with short glossy hair and a fine lustre, and ennobled appearance, especially with a strong head, rounded horns bent backward, loose thick, supple, folds of skin (particularly with rams) and short smooth glossy hair. In addition to the above mentioned qualities, the goat must have a lively appearance.  

Size: The ideal is an average sized heavy goat for maximum meat production. A desirable ratio between length of leg and depth of body should be achieved at all ages. Lambs should tend to be longer in the leg. Characteristic cull defects: Goats too large or too small (pony).  

Colouring: The ideal is a white goat with a red head and ears, a white blaze and fully pigmented skin. Shadings between light and dark red are permissible. The minimum requirement for a stud animal is a patch of at least 10cm in diameter on both sides of the head, ears excluded. Both ears should have at least 75% red colouring and with 75% pigmentation.  

The Following is permissible for stud purposes: Head, neck and forequarters: Complete red colouring is permissible up to but not further than the shoulder blade. On the shoulder it must not go lower than level with the chest.  

Barrel, hindquarter and belly: Only one patch not exceeding 10cm in diameter is permissible.  

Legs: The term “legs” means that portion below an imaginary line formed by the chest and the under line. Patches of a maximum of 5cm in diameter are permissible.    

Tail: The tail may be red, but the red colour may not continue onto the body for more than 2,5cm.  

Red hair and covering: Very few red hairs are permissible at the 2 tooth stage.  

Pigmentation: Discriminate against too light pigmentation.

Flock goat: A flock goat is a Boer goat which does not comply with the stud standards, but has no cull defects. At least 50% of the colour must be white; the other 50% must be red. The red colour of the commercial goat must be 50% continuous without creating the impression of being motley. The rest of the body must be white. If the red colour is in the form of separate markings, it must never give the impression of being motley. Under the tail the flock goat must be at least 25% pigmented. Rams may not be more than 25% red.

Explanation of Breed Standards:
In applying these standards there are many aspects which cannot be completely defined. In such cases the inspector or judge must use his discretion. In spite of the breed standards being clear and to the point, it is never the less necessary to supply additional information in respect of certain descriptions. The major part of the body of the goat must be white to make it conspicuous and to facilitate the rounding up of goats in dense terrain. Apigmented skin on the hairless parts, e.g. under the tail, round the eyelids and mouth etc, is absolutely essential, because it offers resistance to sunburn which may result in cancer. A pigmented skin is also more resistant to skin disease. A loose, supple skin is essential for adaptability to climatic conditions. In South Africa, which is a warm and sunny country, an animal with loose skin and short hair is better adapted. In addition, skin of this kind provides additional resistance to external parasites.  

General Appearance and type: A goat with a fine head, round horns that are bent backwards, a loose, supple skin with folds (especially in rams) and with body parts well-fleshed and in perfect balance. The ewe must be feminine, wedging slightly to the front, which is a sign of fertility. The ram is heavier in the head, neck and forequarters. The SA Boer Goat is an animal with symmetry, with a strong, vigorous appearance and fine quality. The ewe must be feminine and the ram masculine.

Fertility: Regional, S.A. and World Shows:
When a regional show takes place within 6 months of a National or World Show, then the following is applicable.

1. In order to be able to compete, A Boer goat ewe, 4 tooth or older, must be clearly and visibly pregnant, or must have already kidded.

2. When the time period between the above-mentioned shows is greater than 6 months, then the Boer goat ewe, 4 tooth or older, must be without doubt visibly pregnant or have suckling kids, in order to compete.

Boer Goat Management

Kidding season Select time of year during which the most plentiful supply of food is available up to the period after weaning occurs; in other words, the period during which food will be available for 3½-4 months in order to breed kids as well and as cheaply as possibly. If possible, it is pre-ferable to plan in such a way that food will still be in plentiful supply for a further 2-4 months, since it is best to market Boer Goat kids at the age of 3-6 months. This enables the farmer to withhold only his replacement goats during the period of the year when food is scarcer, especially in those sections of the country where farming is carried out on an extremely extensive basis. Try to keep mating time as short as possible ideally, 36 days. In this way, each ewe will have two cycles of being with the ram. This also facilitates management and marketing considerably.    

Mating season Before mating occurs Make sure ewes are not too fat one month before mating, so that a growing condition can be effectuated before mating, by means of carrying out the following: • Inject, or dose with Vitamins ADE 3 weeks before mating season.This is extremely important, especially during dry periods.
• Administer stimulating feed in the form of (i) as spare camps, (ii) a good lick or (iii) a small amount of maize daily.
• Put teaser rams in place 2-3 weeks before mating time.

Mating season

A) Mass mating
• 1 ram per 35 - 40 ewes. It is very important to endeavor to mate the young ewes separately from the mature ewes.

B) Single mating
• 1 ram per 50 ewes.
• NB With regard to 1 and 2 above, it is very important to keep rams in small shady camps during very hot periods with ha little growing supplement; and rams should only be let loose among ewes during the evening. This system works particularly well in cases where goats are penned at night. C) Control servicing • Try to carry this out in cool weather wherever possible. A ram can cover a ewe ± every 1⁄2 hour. roximately the same nutritional conditions as before A.I.

After mating season Keep ewes in the same growing condition for the first month in order to prevent abortion of the fertilised egg cell. Have ewes tested for pregnancy by sonar 42 days after covering, or remove open ewes, with markers, and place with teaser rams or install catch-up rams 14 days after A.I.

Kidding season Prior to kidding • Inoculate against gangrene of uterus 2-3 months before kidding season. The symptoms of the disease are: Ewes die shortly after or up to 3 days after birth as a result of severe inflammation of the uterus.
• Inoculate against scabby mouth 1 month before kidding season in order to guard against udder infection.
• Two thirds of the growth of the foetus takes place during the last three weeks of pregnancy. For this reason, it is very important to make extra nutritional provision during this period, in the form of the same treatment as that administered before mating time, i.e. ADE and stimulating feed.
• Among Boer Goats, the average percentage of kids is 180% and many triple births occur.
• Extra nutrition will make kids stronger and better able to maintain life at birth, especially in the case of multiple births. This is why the sonar is of inestimable value in determining the presence of triplets or quads, in order to ensure that each of the kids is born strong and with a good capacity to maintain life.
• During droughts it is essential to prevent abortions by giving supplementing feed after two months of pregnancy.

During kidding season This is the only period during which Boer goat farming requires a great deal of care and attention. This is why it is important to keep the kidding season as brief as possible, so that full attention can by focussed on it for it is extremely important to carry out planning properly. Remember, nothing can by achieve without work but one should make one’s work enjoyable and successful. Therefore, it is necessary to plan this aspect thoroughly and consider using one of the following methods, or a combination thereof, in accordance with your particular circumstances. • Enclosure of kids in large pen
Here, all the kids remain behind in the pen when the ewes go to pasture. This system is not recommended, since the kids are invariably thirsty when the ewes return, with the result that any kid will tend to drink milk from any ewe. It is surprising to note how often this method is still used, in spite of all its inherent disadvantages. • Small camps
The creation of small camps with sufficient food, shelter and shade, which are specially kept aside for the kidding season, is showing signs of becoming the accepted method for the future, especially in cases where farming with large numbers is practiced. In terms of this system, 10-20 ewes are placed in a small camp, where they are able to give birth in peace and remain with their kids until the latter are strong enough (± 2-3 weeks), after which they may be incorporated into larger flocks. Each ewe which has given birth (along with her kids) receives the same paint serial number. Different colours may be used for single kids, twins and triplets. All that the labourer has to do is to walk amongst the ewes three times per day and place kids correctly with their siblings, and ensure that the ewe allows each kid to drink. The worker may also sort the ewes into camps according to single or dual births once they have given birth, so that it is easier for the labourer to ascertain whether a ewe should have one or two kids.
The birth of triplets needs special attention and feeding. The following solutions are suggested: A) Use system number one for the first three weeks, namely, small enclosures. B) Since there is no place for three kids to drink simultaneously, triplets usually present the problem that the weakest kid is always pushed to one side. If three kids are left with the ewe, she is able to raise them successfully if she is very well fed or if the third kid can be removed by means of one of the following systems: • Giving the kid to a ewe with a single kid by means of the use of system one, using s small enclosure. What is important is that the ewes with only a single kid a piece should each receive a new kid as soon as possible after having given birth to their own. Ewes usually accept a new kid after 1 or 2 weeks. • Raising the third kid by hand with a bottle, or making use of a milk goat. The latter method works exceptionally well, and a good milk goat can simultaneously raise four kids exceptionally well if a system of separate enclosure is used

Diseases among suckling kids • Diarrhoea
This is the result of drinking too much milk or Kocksidioses. Consult the district Veterinarian.
• Blue louse
The kids begin to bite and scratch. Catch hold of a kid and inspect its flanks; the lice will be clearly visible. Treatment: Dip or make use of an agent which is poured on. Lice are particularly prevalent in enclosures.
• Tapeworm
Dose once a month.
• Inoculate kids after weaning against Pasteurella.
• Orf infection
Inoculate kids from 1 week of age.
• Brucellosis
Inoculate male kids at ± 3 months according to the Rev 1 formula
• Where necessary inoculate against Black Quarter.
• Castration
At ± 1 month old.

Weaning • Male kids 3 3½ months of age.
• Female kids and gelding 3½ - 4½ months.

Marketing • From 3 months onwards according to market demands.

Diseases • Pulpy kidney
The Boer Goat is not very susceptible to this disease, but it is preferable to inoculate. • Pasteurella
This disease presents a big problem amongst goats and tends to occur under conditions where animals are under stress: drought conditions, sudden severe cold, etc. There are effective innoculations available. • Blue udder
Inoculate annually 2-4 weeks before kidding season. 
• Brucellosis
Use Brucella inoculation agent Rev 1. Innoculate male kids at 3-4 months. This treatment safeguards animals for their entire lifespan. 
• Gangrene of uterus
Inoculate with Clostridium Septicum 2-3 months before kidding season on an annual basis.
• Enzootic abortion
Innoculate ewes annually 4-6 weeks before mating.
• Coryne bacterium
It is abscesses which occur both internal and external. A) Take a specimen for analysis and make sure exactly which bacterium causes your infection. B) Inoculate with the vaccine that causes your infection.
• Inoculate once
• After 3 weeks a second innoculation (Booster)
• Thereafter every two months. C) As soon as the abscess is ripe, it is cut open with a vertical cut and pressed out in a receptor and burnt. The wound must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with a disinfectant lotion i.e. latogin. Isolate the animal until the wound is healed. • Although it is necessary to innoculate under certain circumstances, the following aspects need urgent attention: A) The health conscious public are focussing on organic food at the moment. Therefore it will be a good thing to avoid inoculations & dipping fluid as far as possible. B) Because the Boer Goat has been in Africa for more than 2000 years, it can be done. Select animals resistant against these diseases as well as internal and external parasites, and then breed with these animals. Eventually it will be worthwhile because we will fetch a premium price for our organic meat.

Parasites A) Internal
• The Boer Goat is not highly susceptible to roundworm since it prefers to graze at a level above the ground under extensive conditions. However, over a broad spectrum it is a good idea to dose three weeks after the first spring rains and then again three weeks after the first frost. In the case of cultivated pastures, dosing should take place on a regular basis. Tapeworms present great problems among suckling kids, the latter should therefore be dosed every month. B) External
 • Blue lice disease is problematic especially during dry months. Dip or dose a pour-on agent.
 • Ticks are greatly problematic since goats are extremely sensitive to them. Make use of patch treatment or, under severe conditions, use a pour-on agent.

Classing • Weigh all kids at 100 days and send their weights to the ARC. The result of these tests will enable you to evaluate the kids but mainly the ewes.
 • With above indexes in mind you can class the kids by means of the eye, hand method. Those with obvious faults can be eliminated.
 • At 270 days weigh for the second time and send the weights to the ARC. Your results are very important because that will show the performance of the kid from weaning up to 9 months. 
• The second time around classing is done according to type while keeping the ARC test results in mind. Selection will have to be very strict and the breed standards must be interpreted in full. Because these animals will be your stud for the future you must eliminate all unwanted animals and only keep those that are above average.
• The next classing will take place after a sonar test or just before kidding where all the ewes that does not lamb will be eliminated. This time we select therefore for reproduction or fertility.
• Finally all animals that are too old must be culled. Fences Because Boer Goats are highly intelligent animals and also have the means to be self-sufficient, it is necessary to implement an effective fencing system to make farming with Boer Goats an immense pleasure. • Boer Goats are intelligent and fencing must be very tight and spaced correctly. 
• Standards should be 2m from each other with supports in between where necessary.
 • Camps and handling facilities must not encourage kids to climb through fences. 
• Make sure there is no gap between the gate and gatepost.
• A Boer Goat kid that did not learn to climb through fences will not do it when fully grown.        

Published with the friendly permission and thanks to the SA Boer Goat Society 11/07/2011 (Text and Photos) This right is exclusively for „“ homepage and not licensed to be copied by a third party. Parts omitted (insemination) are under different legal restriction in Europe. All Text and Photos are property and © belongs to the SA Boer goat society

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