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KEEPING BOER AND MEAT GOATS - BLOG

Disclaimer

All information available through the Himmon Boer Goats blog is intended for general reference only, and is not guaranteed to offer a profitable return, a successful treatment, or positive results for your own goat management. It does not replace the necessity of professional advice or interventions. Any decisions based on information in this blog must always be made with professional farm veterinarian, advisory, geneticist, and/or nutritionist guidance where applicable; Himmon Boer Goats and the author hold no responsibility for any losses incurred due to unsuccessful breeding/rearing/goat-keeping decisions based on any information available on this website.

Welcome To Our New Blog: Things We Wish We'd Known When We Started With Boer Goats

Keeping Boer goats and meat goats is highly rewarding, if you ask us (call us biased if you will!) However, we recognise that there are numerous different ways to keep goats, and it can often seem like something of a minefield to work out how to keep your goats happy, healthy, and productive.


There's a lot of conflicting advice out there, and we're not here to tell you which is the best - that depends on your exact system. After all, if you've got a small acreage on very wet ground (like us!) your ideal management system will probably be different from someone who has hundreds of hectares to play with on free-draining, sandy soils. Still, we'll do our best in this blog to offer information and ideas that you could use as part of your decision for how to keep your goats.


With this in mind, before getting started with the main bulk of the blog, it seemed fitting to start with some key points regarding the main things we had wished we had known when we started out with keeping goats. We'll cover these in a little more detail in future blogs, so keep an eye out (and please don't hesitate to contact us if you have a specific topic you'd like us to cover, too!)


Woodside Rose, one of our very first two foundation does. At 10 years old, she is still going strong and has just been put back to the buck - a homebred lad, Himmon Dolph (Himmon Eclipse X Terraweena-UK Dickens).


Key Things We Wish We Had Known When We Started with Keeping Boers

When we started with keeping Boers, we faced our challenges (as everyone does, of course). What's more, we weren't from a farming background when we started - we knew equine, but livestock were a completely different animal. As such, it took us a long time and a lot of research to really optimise our system for our land and work out what worked for us.


With this in mind, perhaps some of the biggest things we wished we had known when we first started out would have included the following points:


- How to feed goats at different stages. As equestrians initially, we didn't have very much to go on here, and we mainly just assumed in the early days that a flat rate of one small handful of feed per day, year round, for every animal - whether it was in lactation, late pregnancy, or early growth - would be suitable. In reality, this wasn't really optimised to any particular system, and it took months of research and a whole lot of trial-and-error to work out the feeding system that worked for us.

- Rain won't melt them! When we started, we perhaps took the fact that goats are not waterproof (due to having no lanolin in their coats) to the extreme, and panicked at the first sight of rain. In reality, while goats aren't waterproof, they don't necessarily melt in the rain so long as they have access to suitable shelter (no matter what they might tell you!)

- Handling worm and cocci burdens. In the early days, worms were something that were quite a new concept to us. As such, our early approach to worming was largely based on guesswork and vet advice, but certainly not optimised. We've done a lot of research into parasite control over the years with strict culling to try and make the most of our worm control systems, which now ensures worms aren't a major worry

- Mineral levels are hugely important! When we first started, we thought minerals were easy - the assumption was, "a handful of feed will meet their mineral requirements, right?" In reality, as with any livestock animal, mineral control is far more involved than this assumption alone. Many feeds are not that high in minerals; meanwhile, some minerals can be antagonistic to others. With this in mind, through research, trial and error, and veterinary advice, we have worked out the most suitable approach to mineral supplementation for our herd, allowing us to cut feed bills and have generally healthier, more productive goats overall.

- Goats are more than just funny looking sheep or miniature cattle! There's often an assumption that goat handling should be the same as sheep or cattle. However, while we have (and still do) take inspiration for our herd management from cattle and sheep breeding systems, with a focus on the Aberdeen Angus breed of cattle for our "target conformation goal" for our herd, we now understand that goats are entirely unique from cattle and sheep, and have their own optimal management systems as a result.




Final Thoughts

These are all factors we really wish we had known when we first started out, and for the most part, we had little option but to tackle these questions with a trial-and-error approach to find what works for us. Still, the feedback from other herds at the time - especially the Devese herd - was also invaluable support, and we hope that through our blog we can also give other breeders some ideas for potential options to optimise their own keep.


And, while we can't say that any single system or approach is right for everyone - there's no perfect system for every herd or farm facilities! - we'll do our best to cover different systems to hopefully optimise breeding opportunities for other keepers overall.

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3 Comments


Church Hillbilly
Church Hillbilly
Mar 10, 2022

Great opener! Looking forward to reading more, and contribute our own ‘thoughts’ of course 🤔

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Church Hillbilly
Church Hillbilly
Mar 13, 2022
Replying to

We’ve just reached the end of a two year (or was it three - time flies!) funded study into parasitology in goats. I intend getting round to a personsl learnings from this at sometime. Will be happy to share it as and when i do

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Who We Are

Himmon Boer Goats was established in 2012 by Sharon and Chris Riggs, following the retirement of their three Friesian horses from a commercial weddings and funeral business. In roughly 2016/2017, following an injury, management of the herd was taken over by daughter, Charlotte Riggs, who has loitered around ever since and is still managing the herd to this day.

The Himmon herd started with approximately 20 foundation does, and has focused on breeding commercially viable pedigree Boer Goats for the national market and quality Boer Goat meat, supplied to the long-established Paul Keating Butchers in Wimborne. To learn more about our herd or who we are, visit our About Us and About the Herd pages.

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