What are Boer Goats?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Boer goats are native to South Africa that were bred beginning in the early 20th century. Their name comes from the Dutch word for farmer, boer. While some goats are raised to produce milk, boer goats are raised primarily for slaughter, while a few are raised for show.

First bred in South Africa, boer goats have become quite popular for the production of goat meat.
First bred in South Africa, boer goats have become quite popular for the production of goat meat.

It is believed that these goats were originally bred from goats that were indigenous to South Africa and surrounding regions. The goats that were originally used in this breeding were probably goats that were raised by tribes from the area. One of the tribes that originally raised these goats was the Fooku tribe. They were probably also raised by the Namaqua Bushmen. Before the breed was finally formed and identified, the goats may have been cross bred with goats that had European bloodlines and possible Indian bloodlines.

Since first being bred in South Africa, boer goats have become quite popular for the production of goat meat. They grow quickly and have a strong resistance to diseases that effect other animals and other breeds of goats. They also have high fertility rates, which means that it is easy to replenish the herd on a regular the basis.

They are no longer specific to South Africa. In fact, boer goats are raised in Texas in the United States, specifically in San Angela and the surrounding areas. Boer goats have also been raised in New Zealand. Because boer goats were originally bred in South Africa, they are accustomed to hot, dry regions. This is one of the reasons that they are raised on farms in Texas, which has similar land qualities and temperatures as the areas in South Africa from which the goats originate.

There are a few distinctive features that identify boer goats. They typically have white bodies and brown heads. Sometimes their brown coloring extends down onto the neck and part of the chest. They my have a patch of white atop their heads.

Boer goats have long ears that hand down alongside their cheeks. An adult male boer goat weighs between 240 and 300 pounds (about 110 to 135 kilograms). An adult female boer goat is slightly smaller and can weigh anywhere between 200 and 220 pounds (about 90 to 100 kilograms.) There are a few other breeds of goats with which boer goats are sometimes bred. It is most common for boers to be crossbred with Spanish goats, Kiko goats, Nubian goats, and Angora goats.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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