The Boer goat is a South African meat goat breed becoming more and more popular in America. Sometimes the Boer is called the Afrikaans or South African common goat. The breed, no matter what its called, only arrived in American in 1993, but there are already 30,000 breeders, according to the American Boer Goat Association (AGBA.) AGBA estimates that 45,000 Boer goats are born every year just in America.
Goat meat is becoming more in demand as an alternate red meat source to beef. Goats can survive on less land and food than a cow. Boer goats also seem to be more tolerant of hot, dry weather than cattle. Does go into their first season when they are only five months old and can become pregnant three times a year, delivering multiple kids. Bucks can be bred as early as six months of age if they are not headed for the abattoir.
Boer is an Afrikaans word meaning “farmer”. It is unknown exactly what goat breeds went into the mix to create the Boer goat. It was most likely local goats from South African tribes crossed with any available European goat. But the results appeared about 1900 with a handsome, docile, highly fertile and rapidly maturing meat animal. The Boer is first recorded to have appeared in Easter Cape Province and rapidly spread throughout the country.
The goat breed was so popular that in 1959 South Africa began a registry for it in order to be sure the goat kept up the desired qualities of meat production, high fertility and disease resistance. By 1970, it was the only goat breed in South Africa to have standardized tests for breeding bucks to pass.
Even people completely unfamiliar with goats will find the Boer to be a very handsome goat. The body is white while the head and sometimes the neck is a red similar to the color seen in chestnut horses. The legs are short and are not as knock-kneed as many other goat breeds. The spine is level and the tail is short and held high.
The goat’s head is another outstanding feature. Predominately red, it can have a blaze, small dot or other white markings. The ears hand down in a shape similar to a Basset hound’s. Both bucks and does grow horns that sweep back. Due to the construction of the Boer’s muzzle, the goat appears to be softly smiling.
University of Oklahoma Breeds of Livestock. “Boer Goat.” http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/goats/boer/
American Boer Goat Association. “History of the American Boer Goat Association.” http://www.abga.org/page.php?pageid=2
Critter Ridge. “Boer Goat Breeding Program.” http://critterridge.net/breedingprogram.html