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:
· Improves lambing.
· Improves udder development and increases milk production.
· Lamb is stronger and heavier at birth.
· Ewe 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%.
· Reduces the chance of retained afterbirth.
· Improves mothering.
· Has led to increased weights in suckling lambs.
Signs that your ewe may have a throughflow protein deficiency:
· Ewe lambs with difficulty
· Ewe ignores lamb after birth
· Lamb is lighter than 3,5kg (ideal weight is 3,5kg - 5kg)
· Lamb is yellowish in colour
· Lamb mortalities after birth are high
· Ewe produces thick, sticky colostrum
· Weak udder development with low milk production
Voermol Maxiwol 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 lambs
The following 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.
· 200kg Voermol SS200
· 150kg HPK36
· 80kg molasses meal
· 550kg 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 mating season
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:
· fodder flow and feed availability,
· natural estrus cycle of the Boer Goat,
· market cycle,
· marketing date, and
· personal management factors.
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.

The reproduction 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:
· season,
· age,
· body mass and
· nutrition.
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.
One infertile 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 before mating:
· dose with vitamins A, D and E,
· Supplement zinc if zinc levels are too low in pastures,
· Immunize against pulpy kidney,
· Dose for round worm and nose worm, Ensure that rams are in a good condition and are free from any hoof problems,
· Rams 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:
· Supplement zinc and manganese if a shortfall is present, it raises fertility,
· Immunize against enzootic abortion and pulpy kidney,
· Dose for roundworm and noseworm,
· Ensure that ewes are in a good condition and have no hoof problems,
· Reject all ewes with problem udders, teats that are either abnormally enlarged and multiple teats.
· Inject, or dose with, Vitamins A, D and E three weeks before the mating season. This is extremely important, especially during dry periods.
· Administer stimulating feed in the form of spare camps, a good lick or a small amount of maize daily.
· Put teaser rams in place 2-3 weeks before mating time.
· Have rams tested for fertility.
Mass mating One ram per 35 - 40 ewes. It is very important to endeavor to mating the young ewes separately from the mature ewes.
Single mating 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.
Controlled servicing Try to do this in cool weather wherever possible. A ram can cover an ewe every half hour.
Artificial insemination 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 marketing considerably.
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.
Small camps
The establishment 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:
· Use system number one for the first three weeks, namely small enclosures.
· Since 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 following systems:
o Giving 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 weeks.
o Raising the third kid by hand with a bottle, or
o making 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
1. Pulpy kidney
The Boer goat is not very susceptible to this disease, but it is preferable to inoculate.
2. Pasteurella
This disease presents a problem amongst goats and tends to occur under conditions where animals are under stress: drought conditions, sudden severe cold, etc.
3. Blue udder
Inoculate annually 2-4 weeks before kidding season.
4. Brucellosis
Use Brucella inoculation. Inoculate kids at 3-4 months. This treatment safeguards animals for their entire lifespan.
5. Gangrene of uterus
Inoculate with Clostridium Septicum 2-3 months before kidding season on an annual basis.
6. Enzootic abortion
Inoculate ewes annually 4-6 weeks before mating.

7. Coryne bactereosis
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 kids
1. Diarrhea
This is the result of drinking too much milk or Coccidioses.

2. Blue louse
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.
3. Tapeworm
Dose with a suitable broad-spectrum dewormer once a month.
4. Orf infection
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.
5. Brucellosis
Inoculate male kids at three months according to the Rev 1 formula.
6. Castration
At one month old.
1. Internal
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.
2. External
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
1. Rams
§ Commercial breeder - Castrate male kids at 2-4 weeks. Methods: rubber bands, Burdizzo or knife.
§ Stud 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.
2. Ewes
§ The 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 lambs
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.
· Male kids: 3-3 1/2 months of age
· Female kids and wethers: 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 months.

Marketing Boer Goats for slaughter
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 goats.
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.
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For further information please contact:

Tollie Jordaan
PO Box 377
Somerset East 5850

Tel : +27 42 2432157
Fax: +27 24 2431715
Cell: 082 499 6609 (no cell reception on the farm)