Boer Goats: a great meat goat for your homestead
Boer Goats are one of the best meat goat breeds on the planet. They are raised extensively for their meat all around the world. They are also one of the healthiest, sturdiest and least demanding breeds out there, as well as very friendly and easy to raise. Also, they are very unique-looking, and absolute charmers at that. If you would like to supply your family with some home-grown meat (or maybe even sell some meat to the local market), you might want to look into Boer goats! Let’s find out more about them.
Boer goats origins
Just like Nigerian Dwarf goats, Boer goats have originated in South Africa. Some of the today’s Boer Goat predecessors were ancient local goat breeds cross bred with some of the “meatier” breeds from Asia and Europe. The goal was to create a sturdy, healthy, productive meat goat. Today, most Boer goats are bred and raised predominantly in South Africa, as well as USA, New Zealand and Australia, but you can find them all over the world.
Boer Goats appearance
As a meat breed, Boer goats are quite large and muscly goats. An adult male Boer goat can weigh anywhere from 200lb to 260lb. Females are slightly larger at 180lbs to 200lb. This is a very handsome goat, provided you enjoy more unique types of beauty. Purebred Boer goats coat colors are almost always white with brown. Heads and necks are always white. The coat is usually short and sleek, due to the goat’s Southern origins. Their heads are quite large, with characteristic curved nose, long drooping ears and medium-sized horns curling to the back.
Boer Goat’s body is large and wide, with powerful chest. The goats look quite stalky with their larger bodies on relatively short and thick legs with strong heavy hooves. Their tails are very short and Boers usually keep them up.
Boer Goats personality
Boer goats are known for their wonderful, friendly personalities. They are outgoing, get very attached to their owners and are generally very well-tempered (Of course, you should always be careful around bucks though, as with any breed of goat.)
Boer Goats climate requirements
Because Boer Goats have African roots, they are very well-adapted to hotter climates. They thrive in warm and dry weather and in locales where such weather is prevalent. They can still survive and thrive in colder climates, but you will need to make sure they have a warm, insulated shelter without any moisture or drafts.
Raising Boer Goats on your farm or homestead
Boer goats are not very demanding when it comes to their environment. They do best in the warm climate, but as long as you have a good shelter for colder months, they will be just fine.
Boers have quite the appetite! They tend to eat up anything green around them, including grass, bushes, shrubs, tree branches and your flowers. They really do need to be fenced in if you don’t want them to destroy very plant you have on your homestead.
If you have a large pasture, your goats will have plenty of food in the summer months. For the winter (or if you don’t have a pasture) your Boers will need hay. Alfalfa is usually a wonderful option for all goats, including Boers. You will also need to add concentrates – usually it can be grain (oats, wheat, basically any other grain, but be careful with how much you feed!), as well as fresh vegetables, such as cabbage leaves, carrots, apples, beets, and any vegetables left off from your own dinner.
Whenever you change the way you feed your goats, it’s important to do it slowly so that the goats’ digestive systems have time to adapt. Otherwise you may cause your goats indigestion and worsened general health.
Make sure your Boers have access to fresh, clean water at all times. The water needs to be changed at least once a day, twice would be even better. Boers are very picky when it comes to cleanliness of their water.
You will also need to supplement salt for your Boers to keep their minerals at good levels.
If you live in a colder climate, you need a well-insulated, heated shelter for your Boers. The temperature inside should never fall below 5 degrees Celsius. You will also need to make sure there are no drafts in the barn, and that it is always dry. The level of moisture in the air shouldn’t be higher than 80% and is best to keep it around 60%. This is particularly important if you have kidding does inside. Wet and cold environment can cause proliferation of pathogens and lead to the disease within your herd, especially in young goats.
You will need to provide good flooring for your goats, as legs and hooves are a weak spot for them. The floor and the hay bedding should be clean and dry at all times.
For your goats to thrive in winter, you will need to make sure your goats are in a lit area for at least 8 hours a day. It can be outside if the sun is shining, or you will need some good indoor lighting for your barn.
In the summer, your goats will need an outdoor area to walk around, graze and just hang out. It’s OK if it’s a small pasture (as long as you manually feed the goats). It’s just that goats love being outside and need some space to roam around in the grass.
Boer Goats health
Boers are known for their strong health and resistance to a lot of common goat diseases. They also have good resistance to parasites, although preventative measures and regular worming is still necessary.
Because they are such a strong and healthy breed as well as excellent meat producers, Boer goats are often cross bred with other goat breeds (such as Saanen goats, Angora goats and others) to improve the latter.
Boer goats are excellent meat producers. It’s a large goat offering 50-55% of the live weight in meat. Their meat is also known for excellent taste and tenderness. In its taste, Boer goat meat is very similar to veal! Boer meat tends not to have the goaty taste or smell, especially if the slaughtered bucks get castrated early, before they fully mature.
Boer Goat meat productivity
|Daily weight gain in young goats||500 g||200-300g|
|Milk productivity (per lactation period)||–||240-300lb|
Boer goats breeding
Boer goats can boast excellent fertility. A Boer female will achieve maturity at 6 months of age, although it’s not recommended to breed them until at least 12 months of age. One doe can have 1-2 litters a year and birth 2-3 baby goats in each litter (although it’s usually just one during her first kidding).
The healthiest and most sturdy kids are born at the beginning of spring. This is why it’s best to breed your does in the fall, around October-November. This way the young goats will grow up with access to fresh greenery (and the does get some of that fresh grass too!) so they get all the necessary nutrients both from their mothers’ milk and later by grazing.
Pregnancy lasts around 150 days. The female can usually cope with kidding on her own quite successfully. Sometimes, they might still need your help if the kids are too large. In any case, watch your pregnant does closely and call the vet immediately if you notice any unusual symptoms or issues. Boers are usually great mothers, feeding their kids for at least 3 months, after which the young goats are usually weaned.
If you decide to breed your Boer goats, you will need a couple bucks in your herd. Because keeping bucks on a constant basis is not always convenient and can be expensive, some farmers use sperm from a breeding male instead of keeping the actual buck. Of course in this case you will need to learn how to impregnate the doe, or use the help of an experienced vet. But it’s good to know your options.
Boer Goats milk productivity
Boer Goats are wonderful in so many ways. But one downside to them is that, despite their high fertility, they do not produce that much milk. They have never really been used as dairy goats. If you are looking for a good dairy producing goat, you might want to look into Saanen Goats or Nubian Goats. Both of these breeds are excellent milk producers, and can be used for meat as well.
As with other breeds, you will need to pay attention to your goats’ hooves health. Hooves are somewhat of a weak spot for many breeds, and definitely so for Boers. Boers’ hooves need to be trimmed regularly, at least twice yearly, in the fall and in the spring.
Pros and cons
Boer Goat pros
So should you be looking into Boer goats for your farm? Let’s recap and do a brief list of Boer goats pros and cons.
- Boer Goats are a happy, calm, outgoing Goat breed. They make excellent farm animals. They tend to stick to their pastures and don’t try to run away to explore as much as many other breeds do. Boers are also friendly with horses, cows, sheep and other farm animals.
- They are very well adapted to hot climates, but can also thrive in colder climates provided they have good shelter.
- Boer Goats are a sturdy and healthy breed resistant to many common goat pathogens and diseases.
- Boer Goats are not very picky when it comes to food
- Boers reach maturity and can be bred quite early in their life
- Boer goat meat is highly valued
- Boer goats themselves are growing in popularity. If you breed Boers, you may find a great market to sell your young goats to
- Boers are excellent meat producers! If you want to supply your own family with meat or produce some for sale, Boer Goats should be your choice.
- Boer females are very fertile, bringing 2-3 kids in each litter with 1-2 litters per year.
Boer goat cons
- Boer’s have very big appetites. They are awesome at reducing any shrubs and greenery around them pretty much to zero. Because of this, Boers need to be fenced into their own area, or they will destroy any plants that may be growing on your farm/homestead.
- Another disadvantage of Boer goats is that they aren’t great milk producers.
- Like many other goats, Boers don’t thrive in wet and cold environments and don’t like drafts.
- Boer goats will literally destroy any grass or other plants growing on your farm if you let them. If you don’t want your homestead to turn into desert, keep your goats fenced in. If you need a lawn mower, a small herd of Boer goats would be an excellent option!