Is the Boer Goat Breed too High Maintenance
and What Can Be Done About it?
This discussion will be covered in 7 Sections. Here is a summary of each section.
After 10 years of raising Boer goats, I have slowly come to the conclusion that there can be a very high maintenance price to pay for raising Boer goats. This can vary dramatically according to what part of the country you are in but regardless, I strongly believe they can be a very high maintenance breed in the U.S. and the U.S. breeders may have played a significant roll in the Boer breed being such a high maintenance breed.
First, what do I mean by being "high maintenance"? High maintenance can be anything that takes up your time or money in order to raise the Boer goat. Here is a list of examples:
Where has the "hardiness" gone in the Boer goat?
Much of the problems listed above comes from the Boer goat apparently not being as hardy in the U.S. as they were marketed to be. (see the value description of the Boer breed as defined by the South African breeders). According to the South African breeders,
Now if you listen to the Boer goat industry talking, you will hear quite a different story.
The industry can no longer claim that the Boer goat is a hardy animal to raise and, unless something changes, it will be difficult for commercial breeders to make a profit with Boer goats as the basis of their herd. If the commercial breeder can't rely on the Boer goat as being hardy and low maintenance, then there is no market for the Boer goat other than for showing. That will quickly dry up unless the Boer goat can be returned to the hardiness they were once known for and become low maintenance animals to raise.
Loss of Proper Focus
I believe there are several reasons why the Boer goats lost their hardiness and have become such high maintenance animals. In order to try and correct this problem, you must look closely at the specific areas that are causing the high maintenance, prioritize the specific issues identified and determine how to correct the issues that can be corrected. First, let me state I am certainly not an expert in goats or breeding animals. I just have a personal opinion that I believe in very strongly. My background prior to raising goats was focused on analyzing business issues and resolving problems or improving the business processes. The summary of my beliefs, as to why the Boer goats lost their hardiness and became high maintenance animals, is the U.S breeders have had a totally different focus in raising the Boers than the South African breeders did.
The South African breeders came from generations of breeders raising animals. There main long-term focus was on creating a breed that was hardy, very fertile animals with good kid raising abilities, long longevity that also looked good. The U.S. breeders have generally had a major focus on quickly producing as many animals as possible, get them winning in shows to allow premium prices and put on production sales across the country to get other people to start raising Boers. The Boer associations and the key breeders have always had a major focus on showing the animals to get ribbons and titles for marketing their animals. There is very little focus in the U.S. industry on raising hardy, low maintenance animals. The focus has been on doing the high maintenance work to make the animals look as good as possible for shows and production sales. The more special attention given to the Boers, the less hardy they became. The breeders were trying to do whatever they could to be able to sell every animal they raised regardless of their "hardiness level". Thus the genetics have changed from hardy to "high maintenance" because the U.S. focused on show looks rather than the hardiness of the animals.
Returning to a "hardiness breed" and low maintenance.
We are absolutely dedicated to changing our focus towards producing "low maintenance" hardy Boer goats in the future. We will document the specifics of where we think the problems are, who caused the problems, and what our approach will be to reach our focus on "low maintenance" hardy Boer goats.