& history

Boer goats

Boer goats during winter

Boer goat

Does looking pensive

Boer goats are stocky animals and commonly have white bodies and distinctive brown heads and long pendulous ears. They are heavier framed than other goat breeds, have a strong head, slight curved nose and round horns bent backward.

Boer goats grow quickly but only reach their full adult weight after three years. Variations to the standard Boer goat described above are Kalahari Reds that are wholly red/bown in colour and South African Savanna. The latter are white in colour and not present in New Zealand.

The Boer or Boerbok is a South African breed of meat goat. It was selectively bred in the Eastern Cape from about 1920’s for meat qualities and for the ability to survive by grazing on the thorn veldt of that region. The Boer goat was originally bred from southern African goats and crossed with Indian and European bloodlines and selectively bred for meat rather than milk production. It is one of the most popular breeds of meat goat in the world and has been exported to many countries and used to improve the meat qualities of other breeds.

Due to their versatility on different terrains, Boer goats are also used for land maintenance, especially to prevent bush encroachment on rangeland. As typical browsers, the goats are able to suppress re-growth after bush thinning and to browse from plants up to 1.8 meters high by standings on their hind legs.

In 1959, breeders in what is now Eastern Cape province founded the South African Boer Goat Breeders’ Association. This society has established the Breed Standard followed by breeders around the world.

The Boer Goat - Extracts from History

The Boer Goat is purely indigenous to Africa and more so to South Africa. With the development and enobling of the Boer Goat , no cross-breeding or foreign species were used. In fact only by means of brilliant selection and breeding from indigenous animals this enobled race was developed.

This extraordinary achievement was the work of a handful of farmers from the Eastern Cape in South Africa. One of the pinnacles in the history of the Boer Goat was the establishment of the South African Boer Goat Breeders Association in Somerset East on the 4th July 1959.

What followed was a continued improvement of an already existing breed by a broad spectrum of highly qualified and valued breeders throughout South Africa following a healthy breeding policy. In this relatively short period of 48 years, the Boer Goat has developed into the most favoured meat goat in the world, producing a low calorie, heart friendly meat.

Arrival of the Boer Goat in New Zealand

Landcorp imported the Boer goat into New Zealand in embryo form. These were purchased from breeders in Zimbabwe and brought to New Zealand for implantation in 1987 and 1988. The goats born from these embryos created the base of the New Zealand Boer goat herd farmed by Landcorp at Keri Downs Quarantine Station in Northland. In 1989 Landcorp created a second herd of Boer goats at Eyrewell Quarantine Station in Canterbury. Goats created from breeding programs at these Quarantine Stations were released to the farming public in 1993.

African Goat Flock:
A second company also imported embryos from Zimbabwe in 1987 and started a breeding programme in a Quarantine Station at Flock House. Animals from this Quarantine Station were also released in 1993.

Outstanding Characteristics of the Boer Goat

The Boer Goat has much to offer the New Zealand Goat Meat Industry.It is suitable for a wide range of pastoral conditions. Boers under good management will reach carcass weights of 14-18kg at eight months of age.With it's high fertility, rapid growth rate and quality carcass conformation combined with the Boers ability to maintain economic production for six years or longer make the Boer Goat a valuable commodity.

The Boer is suited for use in cross breeding programs to improve meat characteristics in feral or weed control goats. Even on the first cross the carcass size is considerably increased. The Boer is also suitable as a terminal sire in dairy or fibre goats. In an increasingly health conscious world, demand in New Zealand and overseas for low fat, low calorie Boer Goat Meat is strong and growing with increasing returns for the farmer.

The Boer or Boer cross goat is an effective alternative aid in the fight against weeds. Goats are browsers and are excellent at controlling blackberry, gorse, broom, thistles, ragwort, etc and with the removal of these weeds, pasture quality is improved for other livestock use. Recent trials have shown that Boer goats can utilise land that is not suitable for other livestock so therefore in an extensive farming operation, total stock units can be increased thus giving a better financial return for the farm.