The Boer Goat
The South Africans spent over 100 years making goats that stand out from all other breeds of goats. The traditional Boer goat cannot be confused with any other goat. They're productive, and if allowed to be goats they are good mothers and produce meat goats that yield more meat than any other breed of goats, and they can do it fast.
The development of the Boer goat in the early 1900’s can be traced to the Dutch farmers of South Africa. Boer is a Dutch word meaning farmer. With meat production setting the selection criteria, the Dutch farmers developed the Boer goat as a unique breed of livestock. The Boer goat has a rapid growth rate, excellent carcass qualities and is highly adapted to different environments. Through the subsequent decades of selective breeding, the Boer goat gained its genetic superiority and nobility, laying the foundation for the improved Boer Goat and the basis for today’s American Boer goat.
The first full-blood Boers were brought into the United States in 1993. Since that time a tremendous amount of interest in breeding Boer and Boer influence goats has exploded in the United States. The South Africans carefully selected and bred goats to produce the traditional Boer goat which a goat with a white body and a red head. There are also grade Boer goats that may be solid reds or white, or paints or dapples. While most of these can be registered with the Boer breed associations in the USA, in South Africa only the traditionals can be registered. Docile, high fertility and a fast growth rate are some of the traits that set the Boer goat apart in the purebred and commercial segments of the American meat goat industry. Mature Does can weigh between 190- 230 lb and mature Boer bucks can weigh between 200 – 340 lb.
The Spanish Goat
When the Spanish explorers came to North America, they brought goats as a meat source. Many of these goats either escaped or were released when alternate meat sources were discovered. These feral goats became known as “Spanish” or “brush goats.” Although not of a specific breed ancestry, they have developed through natural selection.
These goats never received much documented attention, so the history is hard to verify, but Spanish goats in this country show their DNA to be of Iberian origin. The term has also been used to describe any goat of unknown ancestry. Most are wild or at least semi-wild. Size varies greatly due to climate, terrain and available breeding stock. Body shape, ear shape, horns, hair and color are non consistent.
For the next couple of centuries the goats were used for milk, meat, hair, and hides. They survived well with minimal management, and those that became feral survived with no human management at all. They also adapted well to their regions, and natural selection was the norm, producing a breed of goat that was an exceptionally well-adapted survivor.
Goats were some of the last animals to captivate the interest of large-scale livestock breeders and commercial markets. Cows and sheep had all of the attention, and next to that were pigs and chickens. The Spanish goats thus escaped the intensive and industrialized livestock management practices that became so popular in the 19th and 20th century. In this country, in the 1840’s, a goat was still just a goat.
We strive to raise goats that are productive, consistent, competitive, and pretty with good Boer breed character, and meet the Boer goat breed standards. With the exception of really old does and first timers, our does must kid on their own and raise their kids without a lot of assistance. Every once in a while there may be a problem, but in our opinion having to spend time assisting births is a sign of selection problems. We've found our Boers to be wonderful animals who have individual personalities and who can be very bossy with other goats, and us.
When we went looking for our first bucks we decided to go with what we believed were "tried and true" bloodlines. Well, as "tried and true" as we could find in an industry in its infant stages in the U.S. So we purchased bucks that had already been used at least 1 season by someone else whose program we respected. Over the years we made some great choices, and as is usually the case, there were a couple of our choices that could have been better.
We sell the Boers on a couple of sales each year and also generally have a few available for private sales. For the Boer wether sales we open the barns in April and allow viewing by appointment. We sell our Spanish stock direct off the farm as well as at the Spanish Goat Gathering, each September in Tennessee. If you want to talk to us or perhaps visit the farm, please feel free to give us a jingle.
Thanks to the buyers of the 6 young does we sold on the Fall 2021 Tri-State Traditions sale, on Saturday, September 18.