Boer Goat in America

The Boer goat's history can be traced to the Dutch farmers of South Africa in the early 1900s. Boer is a Dutch word meaning farmer. The Dutch farmers developed the Boer goat for the meat market. The Boer goat has a rapid growth rate, excellent carcass qualities and is highly adapted to different environments. Through the subsequent decades of selective breeding, the Boer goat gained its genetic superiority and nobility, laying the foundation for what is today's American Boer goat. The first full-blood Boers were brought into the United States in 1993 through Australia and New Zealand. Since that time a tremendous amount of interest in breeding Boer and Boer influence goats has significantly changed the American meat goat industry. Boers often were used to improve the native goats in the US to increase meat production.

The South African registry was established in 1959. Since 1970 the Boer goat has been incorporated into the National Mutton Sheep and Goat Performance Testing Scheme making it the first goat breed involved in meat production performance testing.

The Boer goat is commonly a goat with a white body and a red head. Docile, high fertility and a fast growth rate are some of the traits that set the Boer goat apart in the purebred and commercial segments of the American meat goat industry. Boer goats are the largest of the goat breeds. Mature Does can weigh between 190 - 230 lb and mature Boer bucks can weigh between 200 - 340 lb. They have been selected for growth rate and may gain in excess of 0.4 pounds per day under feedlot conditions. The ovulation rate for Boer goats ranges from 1 to 4 eggs/doe with an average of 1.7. A kidding rate of 200% is common for this breed. Puberty is reached early, usually about 6 months for the males and 10-12 months for the females. The Boer goat also has an extended breeding season making possible 3 kids every 2 years.

The demand for high quality, lean, healthy red meat is the one of the underlining forces behind the development of the American meat goat industry. With an eager base of ethnic consumers, the demand for goat meat continues to grow in the United States each year. With the characteristic red head, meat goat buyers are able to select for Boer influenced animals and these animals will often generate a premium over other colored goats of similar age and gender. The importation of goat meat into the United States is estimated over 30 million dollars annually. The total meat goat industry value is estimated between 150 million to 400 million dollars annually.

Fullblood Boer goats are required to originate from 100% fullblood parents either imported or American born from imported genetics.The American Purebred classification encompasses a wide range of percentages for does and bucks. The American Purebred genetics are used in many different applications and environments. Commercial producers use Boer bucks to improve the carcass and growth capacity of their native goat herds. Other producers use the American Purebred genetics as methods to infuse improved traits into their herds.

There is some evidence that the breed as a whole may be relatively more susceptible to internal parasites when used in the warmer, humid regions of the United States. This may be due to the boer goat being in high demand because they grow fast and produce desirable carcasses. Breeding animals have been very expensive due to the limited numbers originally imported, but recent numbers have increased sufficiently that prices have become more reasonable. Due to their scarcity and high demand, some animals that should have been culled because they were not hardy were kept for breeding purposes. Also, some of the animals were pampered because of high prices at the time, and as a consequence, some Boer goat individuals in the United States are not as hardy as Boer goats raised in South Africa.

The Boer goat is a popular breed for showing and is probably one of the most common goat breeds in the US today.

American Meat Goat Registry Boer Breed Standards


  • The Boer Goat should be long in the loins, deep in depth of body and wider over the top line. Does should have a wedge shape that is deeper at the rear flank than the heart girth, indicating the body capacity to carry multiple kids while also maintaining adequate rumen function. The heart girth should provide ample respiratory capacity and should not appear pinched when viewed from the side or top. Ribs should be well-sprung. The loin should be well muscled, wide and long. The top line should be level throughout with an abundance of muscle from the shoulder through the hip.
  • Faults: Swayback; a break or excessive dip in the topline behind the shoulders; inadequate muscle through the back and loin; pinched heart girth; poor body condition; chest too narrow, too shallow or too wide such that it causes the point of the elbow to be separated from the body.
  • A Boer goat should have a prominent strong head with brown eyes that gives a soft gentle look to the face. The brown eyes should not have an untamed or wild look. The head should have a roman nose with a gentle curve, wide nostrils, and well-formed mouth with well-opposed jaws.
    1. A Doe should have a feminine appearance and a buck should possess a strong masculine head. The forehead should be prominent and form an even curve linking the nose and horns.
    2. Horns should be dark, round, strong, of moderate length, positioned well apart and have gradual backward curve before turning outward symmetrically. The horns should be well spaced from the back of the neck to allow full range of head motion without rubbing the neck.
    3. Ears should be smooth and pendulous with no folds or pinches at the base of the ear canal, and with enough length to lay smoothly against the head without interfering with the eye.
    4. The teeth should The front of the upper dental pad must touch all incisors until the goat is 24 months of age. After 24 months, incisor teeth may not protrude more than ¼ of an inch beyond the upper dental pad. A bite and jaw that fits correctly is preferred. Teeth must erupt in the proper sequential position. Deciduous (baby) teeth that have been shed prior to the eruption of permanent teeth, or those that have not yet been shed before the corresponding permanent tooth is fully in place are not discriminated against. No more than 8 incisors, unless there is a deciduous baby) tooth in place from not shedding and the bite is correct. First two incisors should be erupted by no later than 24 months of age.
  • Faults: Dished or concave forehead/face; bulging or wild eyes: flat; straight or wild type horns; horns positioned too close together; horns that grow too close to the head or neck; jaw too pointed; shallow lower jaw; twisted, crocked, or parrot mouth.
  • The neck should be of moderate length and in proportion to body length. Does should exhibit a feminine neck that should blend smoothly into the shoulders and withers. Bucks should have a heavily muscled neck displaying masculinity. Bucks should display heavier muscling through the neck and forequarters than does. Shoulders should be fleshly, proportional to the body and smoothly blend and fit into the withers without excessive looseness or protrusion of the shoulder blades above the withers. Withers should be broad, well rounded, and not sharp. The forequarters should be well muscled and smoothly blended into the knee.
  • Faults: Neck too short, long or too thin; excessive movement of looseness in the shoulder blades resulting in shoulders that are weakly attached.
  • Does rump should be broad and long with a gentle slope to the hip and clearly defining adequate width for kidding. Bucks should be broad and long with a gentle slope to the hip and clearly defining adequate width. The base of the tail must be centered and straight. The remainder of the tail may curve upward or to one side. Both inner and outer thighs should be deep, wide and muscular, with ample muscling extending beyond the stifle towards the hock.
  • Faults: Rump too steep; short through the hip; short through the rump; rump too level, lack of muscling.
  • The legs should be strong, well placed and in proportion with the depth of the body. The legs should be well jointed and smoothly blended, allowing for ease of movement and soundness over a long productive life.
    1. The front legs should be straight, with the point of the shoulder, knee, pastern, and hoof forming a straight imaginary line from the point of the shoulder to the toe of the foot while viewing from the front of the animal.
    2. The rear leg should form an imaginary line from the hipbone down to the hock, dropping down to the dewclaw when viewed from the side or rear.
    3. Pasterns should be strong and medium length with at least a 45-degree angulation from the top of the rear hoof line to the declaw, when viewed from the side, walking or standing.
    4. Hooves should be well-formed, as dark as possible, and point directly forward when viewed.
  • Faults: Any deformities in structure to the legs or feet, hoof deformities or abnormalities; including: knock knees; buck knees; calf knees; pastern too short/too long. Too straight or too weak; hooves pointing outward or inward; pasterns so weak as to cause the dewclaws to drop below a 45-degree angulation from the top of the rear hoof line to dewclaws while on the move or standing.
  • The skin should be loose and supple, with short glossy hair preferred. Mature bucks should have a pleated appearance to the skin on the front of the neck. 100% pigmentation is preferred, however, not required.
  • BUCKS Bucks must have two large, well-formed, functional testicles of equal size in a single scrotum with a distinct epididymis. The scrotum should be well attached not overly pendulous, and the apex of the scrotum should hang straight from the attached area of the body without having any twisting from one or both testicles.
    1. Faults: Excessively pendulous scrotum that allows for potential damage, undescended or missing testicle(s); underdevelopment testicles(s); abnormal or diseased testicle(s); twisted scrotum twisting of one or both testicles originating where the scrotum meets the body.
  • DOES Does should have a well-formed udder with good fore and rear attachment, such that the udder is well supported throughout the productive life of the doe, with the floor of the udder at or above the level of the hocks. It is most important that the udder is constructed so that the offspring can nurse unassisted. IDEAL teat structures consisting of either one or two, well separated, functional teat(s) on each half of the udder. ACCEPTABLE teat structures have no more than two functional teats per side and may include: one or more non-functional teats with no more than one additional non-functional teat or protrusion attached to the main teat, as long as it does not interfere with or prevent nursing; a split teat with two distinctly separate teats and orifices, when at least 50% of the body of the teat is separated counts as two functional teats per side allowed.
    1. Faults: udder and teat abnormalities or defects; poorly attached or pendulous udder, any udder or teat structure that prevents a newborn kid from nursing unassisted; more than two functional teats on one half of the udder; split teat when less than 50% of the body of the teat is separated; additional, functional teat(s) attached to the main teat; bulbous teats.
  • The typical Boer goat is white bodied with a red head, but no preference is given to any hair color.

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