Boer Goat Nutrition
Feeding pregnant ewes
Four weeks prior
to lambing Voermol Maxiwol, a throughflow protein concentrate, can be fed.
The following benefits have been recorded:
udder development and increases milk production.
is stronger and heavier at birth.
is on her feet faster after lambing, thus allowing the lamb to drink earlier.
This can improve the lamb's survival rate by between 15% and 50%.
the chance of retained afterbirth.
led to increased weights in suckling lambs.
Signs that your
ewe may have a throughflow protein deficiency:
lambs with difficulty
ignores lamb after birth
is lighter than 3,5kg (ideal weight is 3,5kg - 5kg)
is yellowish in colour
mortalities after birth are high
produces thick, sticky colostrum
udder development with low milk production
Premix, Maxiwol Production pellets or Maxiblok are all ready to use concentrates
which provide good throughflow protein levels for Boer Goats. Maxiwol Concentrate
should be mixed with salt and crushed or broken maize and fed at a rate
of 350g to 500g per ewe per day.
Creepfeed ration for
ration can be mixed and fed ad lib from 2 weeks of age. It increases average
daily weight gain which allows you to wean a heavier lamb.
broken or crushed maize
Ensure that roughage
in the form of lucerne (alfalfa) or hay is freely available at all times.
Managing the Boer Goat
While some Boer
Goat producers prefer to have their rams (bucks) run with the ewes (does)
all year round, it is good management practice to have specific breeding
seasons. The reason is that a management cycle can be planned that significantly
reduces the year round work cycle. It is important, however, to consider
various factors when planning the breeding cycle:
flow and feed availability,
estrus cycle of the Boer Goat,
In terms of management
inputs, it significantly reduces the workload if all innoculations, vaccinations,
ear tagging and other practices can be carried out simultaneously rather
than having to handle lambs on an ongoing never-ending basis. A breeding
cycle also ensures that the producer can present large groups of Boer Goats
for sale rather than smaller lots of animals.
rate of Boer Goats is one of the most beneficial characteristics for the
meat producer. Twin births and lambing percentages of 180 - 200% are
common. There are various factors which affect the reproduction percentage
of the ewe:
The Boer Goat
ewe displays seasonal estrus with a peak in April/May (southern hemisphere
autumn) and a trough from October to January (southern hemisphere midsummer).
With high nutrition levels, ewes reach puberty at an age of six months.
However, pregnancies at this young age can disrupt growth and permanently
rein in future performance. A rule of thumb dictates that young ewes should
not be mated before reaching two thirds the flock's average adult body
mass. Good grazing and pasture condition go hand in hand with animal production
(lambing percentages and milk production). As with any ruminant, nutrition
levels have a noticeable impact on the reproduction levels of Boer Goats.
ewe has only a minimal impact on the reproduction index of a flock while
an infertile ram has a major impact. Generally, the following practices
have a direct or indirect impact on improved reproduction two to three months
with vitamins A, D and E,
zinc if zinc levels are too low in pastures,
against pulpy kidney,
for round worm and nose worm, Ensure that rams are in a good condition and
are free from any hoof problems,
should receive adequate exercise to ensure that they are fit and don't
become too fat and lazy.
Before mating occurs
Make sure ewes
are not too fat one month before mating, so that a growing condition can
be effected before mating. Generally, the following practices have a direct
or indirect impact on improved reproduction four to six weeks before mating:
zinc and manganese if a shortfall is present, it raises fertility,
against enzootic abortion and pulpy kidney,
for roundworm and noseworm,
that ewes are in a good condition and have no hoof problems,
all ewes with problem udders, teats that are either abnormally enlarged
and multiple teats.
or dose with, Vitamins A, D and E three weeks before the mating season.
This is extremely important, especially during dry periods.
stimulating feed in the form of spare camps, a good lick or a small amount
of maize daily.
teaser rams in place 2-3 weeks before mating time.
rams tested for fertility.
One ram per 35 - 40 ewes. It is very important to endeavor to mating
the young ewes separately from the mature ewes.
One ram per 50 ewes.
With regard to
the above, it is very important to keep rams in small shady camps during
hot periods with a small amount of growing supplement and rams should only
be let loose among ewes during the evening. This system works particularly
well in cases where goats are penned at night.
Try to do this in cool weather wherever possible. A ram can cover an ewe
every half hour.
Insert sponge on day 1. Remove sponge on day 14 and inject 1/4 cc PMS on
withdrawal during the active period of March - June or 1/2 cc PMS during
July - February (Southern Hemisphere). Inseminate at 48, 60, 72 hours.
Guard against synchronising too many ewes at a time. Ewes which are artificially
inseminated on the same day usually give birth within a period of 5-7
days relatively to one another. Keep ewes as calm as possible, providing
protection against excessive heat; after insemination, stimulate with teaser
rams or young rams on the other side of the fence. Keep ewes in approximately
the same nutritional conditions as before insemination.
After mating season
Keep ewes in the
same growing condition for the first month in order to prevent abortion
of the fertilized ovum. Have ewes tested for pregnancy by sonar 40 days
after covering, or remove open ewes, with markers, and place with teaser
rams; or install cleanup rams 14 days after insemination.
Planning and managing
the Boer Goat kidding season
The lambing period
is the most important phase of any smallstock operation. Lamb mortalities
under extensive conditions is an important problem which can negatively
impact on production levels. Losses of up to 50% can occur as a result of
poor supervision and poor or overfeeding of ewes. Nutrition and care of
the ewe during late pregnancy is thus of great importance. Good feeding
and nutritional regimens during late pregnancy are important as the ewe
must gain 7 - 9kg during the last six weeks of pregnancy.
Select the time
of year during which the most plentiful supply of food is available up to
the period after weaning occurs; in other words, the period during which
food will be available for at least 31/2 - 4 months in order to breed
kids as well and as cheaply as possible. If possible, it is preferable to
plan in such a way that food will still be in plentiful supply for a further
2-4 months, since it is best to market Boer Goat kids at the age of
3-6 months. This enables the producer to withhold only his replacement
goats during the period of the year when food is scarcer, especially in
those areas where farming is on an extremely extensive basis.
Try to keep mating
time as short as possible - ideally, 36 days. In this way, each ewe
will have two cycles with the ram. This also facilitates management and
Prior to kidding
Ewes in the final
stages of pregnancy (last six weeks) must be dosed for internal parasites,
especially noseworms so that they don't lose their lambs. Scent plays
an extremely important part in lamb recognition and therefore it is important
that the ewe's nose is clear of any parasites and other obstructions.
The administration of Vitamin A will improve general health, raise immunity
levels generally and prevent afterbirth retention. Inoculate against gangrene
of the uterus 2-3 months before the kidding season. The symptoms of
this disease are: ewes die shortly after a period of up to three days after
birth as a result of severe inflammation of the uterus. Inoculate against
scabby mouth one month before kidding season in order to guard against udder
infection. Two thirds of the growth of the fetus takes place during the
last three weeks of pregnancy. For this reason, it is very important to
make extra nutritional provision during this period, in the form of the
same treatment as that administered before mating time.
Among Boer Goats,
the average percentage of kids is 180 % and many triple births occur. Extra
nutrition will make kids stronger and better able to maintain life at birth,
especially in the case of multiple births. This is why the sonar is of inestimable
value in determining the presence of triplets or quads, in order to ensure
that each of the kids is born strong and with a good capacity to maintain
life. During droughts it is essential to prevent abortions by giving supplementary
feed following two months of pregnancy.
During kidding season
This is the only
period during which Boer goat farming requires a great deal of care and
attention. This is why it is important to keep the kidding season as brief
as possible, so that full attention can be focused on it. It is extremely
important to carry out planning properly. Therefore, it is necessary to
plan this aspect thoroughly and consider using one of the following methods,
or a combination thereof, in accordance with your particular circumstances.
Enclosure of kids
in a large pen
In this instance,
all the kids remain behind in the pen when the ewes go to pasture. This
system is not recommended, since the kids are invariably thirsty when the
ewes return, with the result that any kid will tend to drink milk from any
ewe. It is surprising to note how often this method is till used in spite
of all its inherent disadvantages.
of small camps with sufficient food, shelter and shade, which are kept aside
for the kidding season, is showing signs of becoming the accepted method
for the future, especially in cases where farming with large numbers is
practiced. In terms of this system, 10-20 ewes are placed in a small
camp, where they are able to give birth in peace and remain with their kids
until the latter are strong enough (2-3 weeks), after which they may
be incorporated into larger flocks. Each ewe which has given birth (along
with her kids) receives the same paint serial number. Different colours
may be used for single kids, twins and triplets. All that the flock manager
has to do is to walk amongst the ewes three times per day and place kids
correctly with their siblings, and ensure that the ewe allows each kid to
drink. The manager may also sort the ewes into camps according to single
or dual births once they have given birth, so that it is easier to ascertain
whether a ewe should have one or two kids.
The birth of triplets
tends to present problems, and the following alternative solutions are suggested:
system number one for the first three weeks, namely small enclosures.
there is no place for three kids to drink simultaneously, triplets usually
present the problem that the weakest kid is always pushed aside. If three
kids are left with the ewe, she is able to raise them successfully if she
is very well fed or if the third kid can be removed by means of one of the
the kid to an ewe with a single kid by means of the use for system one,
using a small enclosure. What is important is that the ewes with only a
single kid should each receive a new kid as soon as possible after having
given birth to their own. Ewes usually accept a new kid within one or two
the third kid by hand with a bottle, or
use of a milch-goat. The latter method works exceptionally well, and
a good milch-goat can simultaneously raise four kids exceptionally
well if a system of separate enclosure is used.
Boer Goat Diseases
The Boer goat is not very susceptible to this disease, but it is preferable
This disease presents a problem amongst goats and tends to occur under conditions
where animals are under stress: drought conditions, sudden severe cold,
Inoculate annually 2-4 weeks before kidding season.
Use Brucella inoculation. Inoculate kids at 3-4 months. This treatment
safeguards animals for their entire lifespan.
Inoculate with Clostridium Septicum 2-3 months before kidding season
on an annual basis.
Inoculate ewes annually 4-6 weeks before mating.
There is an inoculation agent for this condition, but it is reportedly not
very effective. The best solution is to ensure that as soon as the abscess
is ripe, it is cut open and thoroughly pressed out into a receptor, which
should then be burnt. The wound should be disinfected thoroughly.
Diseases among suckling
This is the result of drinking too much milk or Coccidioses.
The kids begin to bite and scratch. Catch hold of a kid and inspect its
flanks; the lice will be clearly visible. Treatment: Dip or make use of
an agent which is poured on. Lice are particularly prevalent in enclosures.
Dose with a suitable broad-spectrum dewormer once a month.
Inoculate kids from one week of age by scratching the skin surface in an
armpit so that the skin surface is broken. The innoculant can then be applied
to this lesion. This opportunity may also be utilised in order to remove
supplementary tears and to inoculate kids in appropriate places.
Inoculate male kids at three months according to the Rev 1 formula.
At one month old.
The Boer goat is not highly susceptible to roundworm, since it prefers to
graze at a level above the ground under extensive conditions. However, over
a broad spectrum, it is a good idea to dose three weeks after the first
spring rains and then again three weeks after the first frost. In the case
of cultivated pastures, dosing should take place on a regular basis using
a broad spectrum dewormer. If goats are grazed near rivers, springs, on
irrigated pastures or anywhere that is permanently damp or wet, care should
be taken to prevent liver fluke infestation. Tapeworms present problems
among suckling kids - the latter should therefore be dosed every month.
Blue lice disease is problematic especially during dry months - dip,
or use an agent which is poured over the animal. Ticks are greatly problematic
since goats are extremely sensitive to them. Make use of patch treatment
or, under severe conditions, use an agent which is poured over the animal.
Selecting the best Boer
Goats for your flock
breeder - Castrate male kids at 2-4 weeks. Methods: rubber bands,
Burdizzo or knife.
breeders - First selection at 2-4 weeks: castrate all kids with
cull defects, as well as those which are promising. Second selection should
take place at 2-3 months: castrate all kids which do not have potential.
After three months, young cull rams may merely be Burdizzoed or marketed
as they are slaughter animals.
A golden rule for every stud breeder is to market all rams which are eliminated
as slaughter animals, since keeping them will only have an adverse effect
on your good name; and if you keep them, they will also have a detrimental
effect on the healthy raising of other animals.
first selection takes place at the first selling stage, up to the period
before the ewes kid for the first time. Hereafter, they should be screened
only on the basis of their offspring and their reproduction capacity. It
is in fact necessary to select large ewe phenotypes. Try not to place lactating
ewes with dry ewes in the same group, as the ewes in lactation which have
worked hard will create a poor impression, while dry ewes which are not
productive at a given time will make a good impression.
Weaning your Boer Goat
It is essential
that lambs are weaned from their dams in order that the ewe may regain lost
condition during pregnancy and lactation and be ready to rebreed within
a certain timeframe. The Boer Goat producer must be aware that weaning produces
weaning shock in the lamb and that production or daily weight gain will
be reduced for a period of about 1 week. Preparing the lamb for weaning
through the gradual introduction of a suitable creepfeed ration can significantly
reduce this weaning shock. Should grazing conditions (drought, lack of grazing,
late rains etc) demand it, lambs can be weaned earlier than indicated below
but a suitable creepfeed ration should then be fed to compensate.
kids: 3-3 1/2 months of age
kids and wethers: 3 1/2 - 4 1/2
Marketing Boer Goats for
Market your lambs
and kapaters between the age of six months and two years in order to obtain
the best prices for quality animals. At marketing time animals should weigh
at least 30kg. A well groomed and fed animal is more pleasing to the eye
and it is likely that as a seller you would obtain a better price for your
Develop your breeding
calendar to take advantage of increases in the price of slaughter animals
due to seasonal fluctuations such as religious festivals, holiday periods
and seasons of the year. Certain times of the year see increases in the
price of animals due to a shortage of slaughter animals. This is generally
a good time to market your animals.
Try to negotiate
a contract with a buyer so that you can be assured of a market for your
sale animals at a price and at a time that suits both parties. Feeding slaughter
animals for a period past their prime selling time eats into profits as
there is usually no premium per kg for heavier animals.