Congleton, Cheshire, United Kingdom
Posted Sep 17, 2012
The Boer Goat is an very stout and robust looking animal. They were originally developed in the 1900s by Afrikaans farmers as a cross developed between native goat breeds and imported Indian and European goats. They ended up with a very calm goat that is prolific, hardy and requires low maintenance but which also has a meaty carcass.
Indeed, the Boer Goat is one of the world's premier meat goat breeds and it is now being widely trialled in West Africa for improving local breeds. Boer goats are being crossed with both Sahelian goats and dwarf goats to improve met yields whilst retaining the native characteristics that allow for survival in both semi-arid (Sahelian) and to be trypanosome resistant (dwarf goats).
Having worked with a few bucks and does I can say that this is an incredibly docile, affectionate and curious breed. Its characteristics are typical of most African goat breeds that I have encountered. They also work very well in mixed flocks and can be reared in conjunction with cattle. In mixed flocks with sheep, then tend to act to calm the entire flock down.
These are great goats, but Nigerians call them 'soft' and I can see why. Anywhere else they would thrive, but West African conditions are particularly harsh, which is why a cross-breeding program is needed. Over here in the UK, these goats would thrive. But they did poorly in Northern Nigeria, and though they performed much better in the South of the country, because they are not resistant to trypanosome infection they would now work outside managed flocks (which are rare).
F1 crosses worked much better and though they had strong genetics from the Boer Goat sires, native characteristics were not sufficiently strong in these crosses for widespread use. The work is still ongoing and it is hoped that eventually the proper balance of native genetics for survival and Boer Goat genetics for improved meat conformation will survive.
Based on these studies, however, I would say that elsewhere in the world a Boer Goat cross with a local goat would, even in the first generation dramatically improve the meat characteristics of the first generation. You will also get a calm and inquisitive goat that is east to manage.