In recent years, the Boer goat has received considerable attention in Sarawak where the Sarawak Agricultural Department has been actively promoting the Boer amongst local farmers. They have also been providing Boer’s, imported from Australia, on subsidized price’s to ‘qualified’ farmers some of which on a personal note i must say are at most times are neither skilled or knowledgeable most of which are new and are lured in by the supposedly good potential income. Sadly their motivation soon fizzles off when they discover there is a lot of personal capital and hard work involved. However whatever it is, it has become the main component in many goat improvement programs in state. This interest stems from the increase in the worldwide demand for goat meat and from the adaptability, productivity and carcass quality of the Boer Goat.
The Boer goat name is derived from the Dutch word “Boer” meaning farmer and was probably used to distinguish the farm goat from the Angora goat which was imported into South Africa in the 19th Century. The ancestry of the Boer goat is obscure at best. Several researchers agree that the predecessors of the Boer goat probably came from the southwest migrating Bantu tribes with a possible infusion of Indian and European goat bloodlines. The present-day, improved Boer Goat has adapted very well to a variety of ecosystems in its native South Africa, ranging from hot, dry semi-deserts to humid, tropical bush.
The Boer goat emerged in the early 20th Century when ranchers in the Eastern Cape of Africa started breeding for a meat-type goat with good conformation, high growth rate, fertility, short white hair, and red markings on the head and neck. The South African Boer Goat Breeders’ Association was founded in 1959 to establish standards for the emerging breed. Since 1970 the Boer goat has been incorporated into the National Mutton Sheep and Goat Performance testing scheme, which makes the Boer goat the only known goat breed involved in a performance test for meat production.
GROWTH, MEAT & CARCASS CHARACTERISTICS
The Boer goat is a large framed animal with mature weights between 260-380 lbs. for males and 210-265 lbs. for females. The potential for growth is outstanding. Under intensive performance tested conditions, males averaged 80 lbs. at 3 months of age; 160 Lbs. at 8 months; 222 Lbs. at 12 months; 257 Lbs. at 18 months; and 313 Lbs. at 25 months. Females averaged 63 Lbs. at 3 months; 139 Lbs. at 12 months; 165 Lbs. at 18 months; 220 Lbs. at 24 months.
The Boer goat is capable of attaining an average daily gain of over 400 gr. or 0.88 Lbs. daily in feed lot situations. The Boers average daily gain potential on pasture or rangeland is outstanding and offers great possibilities for selecting to improve growth rates. The Boer goats dressing weight percentage is over 50%. Compared to South African sheep, the Boer goat had the higher dressing percentage with carcasses having more total tissue in the fore arm, neck and ventral trunk, and less tissue in the hind limb.
South African scientists concluded that “Boer goats seem to yield a carcass superior to Angora, dairy and over meat goats” and that “fat content and muscling of Boer goat carcasses compared favorably with those of specialized mutton producing breeds”.
Thus, it is not surprising that with their excellent growth and carcass qualities many well known goat specialists listed the Boer goat as one breed that could make a major contribution to increasing productivity of meat goats worldwide.
A good meat goat should also be fecund and prolific. More kids born per doe will result in greater profit margins for the producer. The ovulation rate for Boer goats ranges from 1 to 4 eggs per doe with a mean of 1.7 (plus or minus .9). A normal kidding rate of 200% is common for the Boer goat. This is higher than most other goat breeds, thus the Boer goat can be considered a prolific breed. This conclusion was also reached in New Zealand and Australia, based on the number of super ovulated embryos (9) harvested from the Boer goat donor program.
The Boer goat reaches puberty early, usually about 6 months of age for males and 10-12 months for first-mating females. The Boer goat has an extended breeding season and it is possible to achieve 3 kiddings every 2 years.
Boer goats are good milkers, which enables them to successfully raise their multiple offspring with excellent weight gains and with little preweaning mortality. A South African study indicated that lactation length was 120-140 days for Boer goats and their yield was about half that of South African Saanen, which had a lactation length of 278 days. Boer goats had a higher butterfat (5.6%), total solids (15.7%), and lactose (61) than any other goat breeds in South Africa. It has been postulated that for the Boer goat to attain its high preweaning average daily gain, the doe must produce up to 5.5 Lbs./day. Actual milk production of Boer goat does under extensive management systems is actually less, ranging from 3.3 to 5.5 Lbs./day, depending on age of doe and lactation number. These milk yields are not impressive by dairy goat standards but for a goat that has not been selected for milk yield, it is considered excellent. This demonstrates the superior maternal capabilities and the ability to rear multiple young of the Boer goat doe.
Boer goats have been developed for over 40 years through intensive breeding and selection as a meat type animal and have also benefited from over 20 years of performance testing. This excellent breed of meat goat has the necessary characteristics lacking in other meat type goats. These characteristics are large size, uniform carcass, fast growth rate, fecund and prolific, long breeding season, good browser, good milker and excellent mothers for profitable meat goat production. Because of its large frame and faster growth rate, it needs more nutrients to maintain and support optimum growth rates. Therefore, while Boer goats may not be suitable for all ecosystems or affordable by all producers, there is a need to match type of goat with feed resources a farmer in Sarawak has available. So now there will be no need to wonder when there are local born mature ‘stunted’ Boers walking about on most Sarawakian farms.