Boer Goat

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Other common names: Boerbok; Africander; Afrikaner; South African common goat

The basics:
The Boer Goat was developed in South Africa by the Cape Dutch farmers during the 1900s. The name is derived from the Cape Dutch (Afrikaans) word for 'farmer'. The main characteristics of the Boer goat are similar to the Nubian Goat which is found throughout East and south-eastern Africa. It is believed that the base stock came from the native goats of the Namaqua Bushmen and the Fooku tribes, though the bred was outbred with both Indian and European goats to improve the conformation and to yield a double-muscled animal.

This mix of genetics gives the Boer goat high resistance to disease. Boers are hardy and can survive extremes of both heat and cold. They also have huge rumen capacity and spend more of their time grazing than any other goat. Indeed, they were first bred to help clear scrubland that was to difficult for humans to clear. They also have a fast growth rate and the carcasses have very good meat coverage. These reasons and their high tolerance to heat (particularly in desert environments) makes the Boer Goat one of the world's most popular meat-producing goat breeds.

Though the breed was developed in South Africa it has been exported world-wide and there are British and American Boer Goat societies. Its meat-producing qualities have made it an important goat for improving other breeds and you will often find Boer goat crosses with other breeds. For meat production purebred Boer goat males are preferred, but it is most common to find does up to 7/8 pure in meat flocks.

Boers are noted for being docile and very prolific breeders. Three crops of up to four kids every two years is typical. The main type of Boer goat known outside South Africa is the 'Improved Boer goat' which has a good conformation and is the best for meat production, but there are five conformational types recognized in South Africa: Ordinary Boer Goat, Polled Boer Goat, Long Hair Boer Goat, Indigenous Boer Goat and Improved Boer Goat.

Boer Goats were first introduced into North America from New Zealand (actually from the Landcorp and Moodie flocks) and this explains the plethora of alternate names. It was only later that the breed was directly imported from its native South Africa.

Appearance / health:
Boer goats are a medium-sized, horned breed with white bodies and reddish brown heads. Many show a variety of brown and white color patterns. The ears are long and droopy.

The Boer is a very striking and muscular looking goat and the males have long beards. This makes purebreds excellent show animals.

The Boer goat has been selectively bread to be healthy and disease free. Like all caprines/ovines they should be wormed for intestinal parasites, but he main problems with the breed are typically developmental. Though rare, bucks may be victim to poor jaw alignment which will restrict grazing and growth. In damp areas hooves need to be clipped regularly to prevent footrot.

Behavior / temperament:
Like almost all goats descended from African stock, the Boer Goat is well known for its placidity and docile nature. They universally have mild temperaments and are affectionate when interacting with humans. Though primarily used as meat animals they can be selected and bread as show animals. They also make excellent pets, just be aware that this is a big goat. Like all herd animals they should never be kept singly but you can intermingle a few Boer goats with both sheep and cattle. They will help calm down a skittish flock of sheep.

Housing / diet:
Boer goats need no specialized housing and they are quite happy in habitats ranging from semi-arid to snowy. Being heavy animals they require no special fencing and if your land is sheep-proof it will also be suitable for Boer goats. Due to their preferred diet, they are suitable for raising in mixed herds with both cattle and sheep.

A hardy breed, the Boer Goat needs no special treatment. Indeed, they do best when allowed to roam freely on pastureland. They can survive quite happily on scrubland as well, as long as there are sufficient weeds and bushes to browse upon. Once feature of Boer goats is that, like some sheep breeds, they have a tendency to copper deficiency. As a result copper supplements are recommended both for pregnant does and kids. If you are supplementing your goats' diet with copper, do not mix them with sheep, as copper levels suitable for goats would be toxic to sheep.


great meat production, dry conditions, Boer Goat cross, high weight gain, Boer Goat genetics, easy keepers


internal parasites, hoof rot, wet conditions, worm loads, escape artists


little birthing issues, beautiful colours, live birth percentage, climateflexible meat producers

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