Boer Goat Profit Guide

A Quick Background on Boer Goats


1. Where do Boer goats come from?

Boer goats were developed in South Africa in the early 1900s for meat production, and their name is derived from the Dutch "Boer," meaning “farmer.”

 Boer goats were probably bred from the indigenous goats of the Namaqua Bushmen and the Fooku tribes, possibly with some crossing of Indian and European bloodlines.

2. When were Boer goats first exported to other countries?

Boer goats first moved from South Africa to New Zealand when embryos were smuggled out. With embryo transfers, New Zealand's producers increased herds. Then, Boers were quarantined in New Zealand and Australia because of scrapie.

After they came out of quarantine, ranchers started to export embryos to other parts of the world. South Africa didn’t want their germ plasma to get out, but it did.

Now the biggest countries for Boer goat production are the U.S., New Zealand, Australia and southeast China. Germany used to have a larger goat production (used mostly for research), and nations like Mexico and Argentina are beginning to farm Boer goats, but on a smaller scale.

3. What is the average lifespan of a Boer goat?

If you breed them once a year (and keeping in mind that well-bred does have twins), after 7 or 8 years they are about spent. At that point they tend to have disease problems, they don’t reproduce anymore and it’s time to get rid of them.

4. How much does a full-grown buck/doe weigh?


The weight of a full-grown buck or doe depends on how they’re fed. If you grow them on forage (or if you’re going to grow them with a lot of grain), they tend to weigh more. But on average, the smallest does can range from 90-100 pounds up to 130-140 pounds. Fullgrown bucks weigh more, ranging from 150-180 pounds to 190 pounds.

If your goats are really pushed to feed on grain, they can become very fat (not a good thing) and weigh even more.

Benefits of Raising Boer Goats

5. How easy is it to raise Boer goats?

Boer goats are survivors, because they evolved in the dry tropics. They’ve devised all kinds of ways to live in a difficult environment where there are not many foragers but plenty of browse and shrubs. They spend a lot of time browsing rather than grazing. And many of their browse plants contain noxious compounds so Boer goats have evolved by devising ways to dilute these noxious compounds.


If you compare a goat to a cow and put them in a grazing situation or give them a choice, cows are going to eat the same thing most of the day. Goats like a “buffet.” They like to move from one species of plant to another. This is a way for them to dilute some of the noxious compounds they pick up in plants.


It’s a common misconception that goats are a lot like sheep – but they are actually quite different. Their nutritional requirements are different. As smaller animals, goats need better foragers and higher quality feed than sheep.

6. Are Boer goats easier to raise than other breeds of goat?

Boers have mild temperaments, are affectionate, and require no milking, no special care and no shearing. Goats in general can survive under adverse foraging conditions, setting them apart from other livestock.


Boers, developed for meat and hardiness, are large-framed and resemble Nubian goats. They consistently produce more muscling in less time than other goat breeds.


Boers were developed to clear land that was too tough to be cleared by humans, and they spend a lot more time grazing than other goat types. They're out in the heat of the day when dairy goats stay in the shade, and they graze in blowing snow. Boers thrive on ground that won't support dairy goats without supplementation.


 Boer goats in their first 12 months can grow 200 g/day under good pastoral conditions. Faster-growing rates mean Boers reach marketing weights more quickly. (Carcass quality, however, is key to capturing maximum market returns.)


Boers reach breeding weights fast. They have an extended breeding season, and does can have 3 kiddings every two years. About 50% of does produce twins and another 10% to 15% produce triplets.


Boers are good milkers, allowing them to raise multiple offspring with excellent weight gains, with little pre-weaning mortality.


Boer female kids can reach puberty at 6 months of age and are considered early breeders. Male kids can be used for breeding at 5 to 6 months of age but reach puberty or a body weight of 32 kg as early as 3 to 4 months of age.


Boer breeders say that their kids are ready for market sooner, and their customers will pay a premium for meat goats if they add Boer blood to their herd.


Compared with other goat breeds, Boers put on more weight and generally look fuller and healthier. At the butcher, if a customer sees a Boer goat along side another breed, the Boer is often purchased before being butchered.


Continuous improvement in genetic selection, feeding methods and management systems suggest that growth rates in Boers, as well as their crosses, will only increase. Because of their desirable traits for meat production, Boer goats have raised the performance of indigenous breeds through cross breeding so that indigenous goats have seen improvements in birth weights, growth weights, weaning weights, breeding weights, mature weights, kidding rates and carcass quality.

Here are some other reasons why Boers are a great breed to raise:

  • Efficiency of feed and space. With 10 acres, a producer can raise 60 goats or ten head of cattle.
  • Boers (or Boer crosses) can prosper on poor pasture and brush that would not support cattle. They eat berry bushes, Russian olive, elm or cottonwood trees, ragwort, gorse, dock and other weeds. Some ranchers run goats on the pasture after their cows--to clean up the weeds.
  • Returns for raising Boer goats are generally higher than for cattle. You don't need expensive squeeze chutes for goats, and it's easier to own a buck than a bull and to artificially inseminate a doe than a cow.
  • Many people raise milk goats because they like goats. But it takes less time to feed 100 goats than to milk ten. Raising Boer meat goats is an option to consider if you don't want the trouble of milking,
  • The stress-coping mechanisms of Boer goats are strong and equivalent to those of hardy Merino sheep. Boers are tame, gentle animals and the more you handle them, the gentler they become. Of course, a wide variation in personalities exists between animals in a herd, and while a few Boers may be flighty, others want to stand and be scratched.

7. Are Boer goats easier to breed than other goat breeds?

Breeding Boer goats is generally no easier or harder than other breeds, especially since the current herds have much stronger genetics than when the breed was first brought from South Africa.


Choosing an exceptional buck and pairing him with average females, and providing the pregnant does with high quality feed, is generally all that’s needed to produce strong offspring that will continue to improve the flock. (See the breeding tips in the last chapter of this guide.)

7. Are Boer goats easier to breed than other goat breeds?

Breeding Boer goats is generally no easier or harder than other breeds, especially since the current herds have much stronger genetics than when the breed was first brought from South Africa.


Choosing an exceptional buck and pairing him with average females, and providing the pregnant does with high quality feed, is generally all that’s needed to produce strong offspring that will continue to improve the flock. (See the breeding tips in the last chapter of this guide.)

8. Are there animals that Boer goats should not mingle with?


Given their calm natures, Boers can mingle with just about any animal. Goats get along fine with chicken and sheep, and are commonly put in the same fenced areas as cows.

Because they like different plants (goats prefer browsing weeds, while cattle graze grasses), you can put in 1 or 2 goats per head of beef cattle without reducing the production of your cattle. This is a good way to get a bit more money per acre.

You can even put them in with horses. Sometimes the horses will run the goats a little, but it’s okay with the goats!

Goats and sheep share many of the same intestinal parasites and some of the same diseases, too. But goats and cows have different parasites, and digesting the other’s parasites will kill the parasite and reduce parasites on the field.

You can even put them in with horses. Sometimes the horses will run the goats a little, but it’s okay with the goats!

Goats and sheep share many of the same intestinal parasites and some of the same diseases, too. But goats and cows have different parasites, and digesting the other’s parasites will kill the parasite and reduce parasites on the field.

How Many Acres Do I Need?

9. What is the best number of Boer goats to raise per acre of grass field?


Six to eight goats per acre (plus a few extra) is a good size, plus the land you use for other things.

In developing your feed budget, budget for 6-8 goats per acre (or in the spring, 4 does plus their kids). This assumes that during certain periods of the year, you will have to make hay. In the spring, you will have too much forage. And then, you will have to refeed it in the winter.

It’s a good idea to use control grazing, which is shifting fences ten feet every so often to gradually move the goats across the land once they’ve finished a field.


You could also plant different fields with forage and browsing plants that work well in different seasons, then do any planting you need once the goats have moved on to the other field. For example, warm season forages could be high quality summer annuals (ex. millet or crab grass) and then in the fall, do small cereal grains. If you can use plants that help fight parasites, that’s even better.


You may also want to keep extra land, so that you can store your hay, and so that if you hit a drought the goats have access to more land, since there is less food per acre in a drought. Extra fields should also be used if you want to do plant renovation to encourage growth of certain forages, so you can set that field off use for a season.


Alternately, if you have some woods, summer when the summer forage is over (but you don’t want to start on winter feed yet). This is a good time to browse your woods.


In the winter, give animals some shelter and keep it clean of manure, which can breed disease. The drier, the better.

It’s a good idea to use control grazing, which is shifting fences ten feet every so often to gradually move the goats across the land once they’ve finished a field.


You could also plant different fields with forage and browsing plants that work well in different seasons, then do any planting you need once the goats have moved on to the other field. For example, warm season forages could be high quality summer annuals (ex. millet or crab grass) and then in the fall, do small cereal grains. If you can use plants that help fight parasites, that’s even better.


You may also want to keep extra land, so that you can store your hay, and so that if you hit a drought the goats have access to more land, since there is less food per acre in a drought. Extra fields should also be used if you want to do plant renovation to encourage growth of certain forages, so you can set that field off use for a season.


Alternately, if you have some woods, summer when the summer forage is over (but you don’t want to start on winter feed yet). This is a good time to browse your woods.


In the winter, give animals some shelter and keep it clean of manure, which can breed disease. The drier, the better.

10. Is it possible to keep Boer goats in a small area (e.g. feedlot) while still being productive?


Goats are not going to grow on feed in the same way as beef cattle, sheep, or lamb. Therefore, a feedlot is not an ideal environment for goats. They are happier and more suited to open browsing, and they don’t put on enough weight to be worth the money spent on the feed itself.

Climate and Soil – What You Need to Know

11.What are the best climatic conditions for Boer goats?


Boer goats evolved in South Africa and therefore prefer drier climates--as opposed to humid and wet conditions.


Boers usually don’t mind the cold, and during winter in both southern and northern climates, like Canada, they can be seen outside their shelters, lying down--sometimes with frost on their back.


But Boers don’t like rain with a wind-and-cold combination because they don’t have that much of a fat layer and get pneumonia fairly easily. It’s important for them to have access to a shelter when conditions are windy and cold. But snow and cold without wind doesn’t seem to affect them that much, and they can withstand heat much better than cattle or sheep, because of their origins--a dry, hot environment.

12. What are the best vegetation and soil-type conditions for Boer goats?

Soil conditions don't matter very much. If you let Boers do what they are naturally inclined to do, they'll spend 60% of their time browsing on shrubbery and the rest of the day they'll graze.


The best thing to do for grazing is to use the principles of “control grazing." This means you give the goats enough for two or three days, then you move the fence - one fence in front of them, one fence in the back of them. That way, they do a good job at grazing your pastures. Otherwise, if you give them too much, they’ll run all over and soil the pasture, and cry for more.


This concept is similar to crop rotation, only it’s for forage.

Profit Potential of Boer Goat Farming

13. How much profit potential is there in Boer goats?

The value of Boer goats is based mainly on their ability to produce meat with superior carcass quality. While a genetically-superior buck can command a market premium, expected income from meat and carcass sales is usually what makes Boer operations profitable.


Demand for goat meat in North America is strong because of changing ethnic demographics. Producers can't keep up, and much of the goat meat sold is imported from New Zealand or Australia!


North American demand for goat meat comes from consumers of Middle Eastern, Asian, African, Latin American and Caribbean heritage. These 12 customers purchase goat meat when they can find it and are often willing to pay more for higher-quality meat.


Goat digests more easily than most other meats and is considered a low-fat, good-tasting alternative to chicken or fish. The Boer influence changes the taste of goat meat to a mild, more veal-like flavor, so Boers often sell at a premium to other goat meat.


Here are some of the niches you can look at when planning your Boer goat operation:

  • The “direct market”, in which a buyer comes to your ranch
  • Supplying goat meat to local restaurants serving ethnic clients.
  • Raising Boers for breeding stock. Commercial breeders will often pay double for breeding stock, versus what a producer expected to receive for the same animal per pound.
  • Many ranchers are grouped in cooperatives or associations to supply meat markets on the East and West Coasts of the U.S. Those markets require large numbers of animals of consistent quality on a regular basis.
  • Supplying Boers for 4-H and Future Farmers of America clubs that raise goats.

Typical Costs of Running a Boer Goat Operation

In developing a plan for your business, you need to figure out what kinds of costs you’re going to incur. Here’s a list of the typical costs of a Boer goat operation:

  • Animal costs: how much it’s going to cost you to buy your first does and bucks, and how much it’s going to cost you to breed them (especially if you choose artificial insemination)
  • Feed costs:
  • Hay
  • Grain
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins
  • Land and shelters:
  • Leases and other shelter costs
  • Fertilizing and treatments to pasture
  • Fencing
  • Guard dogs and their feed
  • Health costs:
  • Veterinarian visits
  • Vaccines
  • Medicines, such as worming, antibiotics, iodine
  • Health certificates
  • Medical supplies (first aid kits)
  • Labor costs for the producer and hired workers
  • Transportation:
  • Travel to sales, shows, feed stores, and other farms. Include motels, meals and costs per mile.
  • Cost of trailers and goat haulers spread over years
  • Miscellaneous costs spread out over time for feed buckets, hay racks, tattoo equipment and show supplies.
  • Administrative expenses:
  • Administrative expenses:
  • Business software
  • Phone and internet bills
  • Association and registration fees
  • Publication subscriptions (magazines)
  • Stamps, paper and office supplies
  • Selling costs:
  • Auction fees
  • Advertisements, signs and business cards

Here are some other questions to ask yourself in planning your Boer operation:

  • Who will buy your goats and what costs will you incur to sell each kid?
  • Will you have to haul them a long distance or will buyers come to you?
  • How much advertising will you need?
  • Do you have a truck and trailer?
  • How far will you drive and what's the cost in terms of mileage and your time?
  • Is a meat operation the best choice for your land and situation, or could you do better selling replacement breeding stock and meat goats?
  • Can you sell live kids to ethnic markets?
  • What do those markets want - young or older kids and when?
  • What is the carrying capacity of your land?
  • How rich is your soil?
  • How much rain do you get?
  • Do you have access to cheap labor or will you pay a premium to get help?
  • Do you and your spouse enjoy working with animals?

14. What are the best marketplaces for Boer goat meat?

Market demand is higher in some areas than others and generally spikes around certain religious holidays (including Ramadan, Easter and Christmas).


Because of their ability to put on weight, Boer goats or Boers cross-bred with other decent-quality breeds are more desirable than other breeds at market. Goats sell at lower prices if sold at auction, and will get higher prices when sold directly to other farmers or as meat.

15. What weight of goat will get the best price at market?

Generally speaking, the market wants an animal that is 80 pounds live weight, rarely more than 100.


At 80 pounds, the meat is still tender and the animal is young, so there is very little internal fat yet. Over-feeding adds weight, but not meat quality, as it will generally increase fat around the internal organs, rather than adding muscle. So 80 pounds is usually the best quality.

16. At what age are Boer goats best for market?

Weight is a better market indicator than age as goats grow at different rates depending on their genetics and food supply. They gain the most weight when they are suckling.


A kid will be born at 5-6 kilograms and gain, on average, 200-230 grams of weight per day for the first several months. Between 3-6 months, they add 130-200 grams per day. The best price is achieved at 80 pounds live weight, which is usually around 6-7 months.

17. What are the marketable by-products of Boer goats?

There are many by-products of Boers that you can incorporate you’re your operation. Here are some to consider:

  • Milk, powdered milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream
  • Leather for footwear, gloves, clothing, luggage and book binding
  • Milk for soap, lotions, lip balms, foot creams
  • Hair for brushes

Unlike cow's milk, goat milk doesn't need to be homogenized. And for individuals who can't drink cow's milk, goat milk can sometimes be used as an alternative. Goat milk is also an excellent moisturizer.

Leather from Boer goats is thicker and stronger than that from other goats and takes well to tanning. Higher-value goat skins are those with a fine grain appearance and usually come from smaller goats, as well as young kids.


A characteristic of goat leather is its ability to drape - though only with thinner skins, which along with their consistency and good color, are prized by the garment industry.

As a general rule, developing countries import raw goat hides and skins from developed nations to be processed and re-exported as value-added products.


In China, Pakistan and India, domestic demand for raw goat skins outstrips production and thus these countries import skins. Australia imports about $9 million worth of goat leather yearly and exports goat skins valued at around $2 million.


Goat leather is in high demand because of its toughness and flexibility, its soft feel and good appearance. Up to 70% of goat skins are used for the 17 upper leather of shoes, with the rest used for book binding, fancy goods, clothing and gloves. World trade in leather shoes has expanded swiftly in recent decades.


Offal - including livers, skin, brains and bone marrow- is another by-product of the goat meat industry. Offal is included in the diets and rituals of certain Muslim countries.

Goat hair is used in brushes - produced mainly in China - for shaving, cosmetics, hair care, art, writing and dish washing. Goat hair has a naturally blunt tip but retains a large volume of fluid. It can be used in hair blends and fillers for brushes.

Lastly, pet farms are another way to make money from your Boers.


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