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The Himmon Herd Of Dorset Boer Goats

The Himmon herd is currently made up of three fantastic, purebred, BBGS registered bucks—Terraweena-UK Dickens (an Australian embryo transfer), Topknot Quattro, and Jersey Red Apache (an Australian embryo transfer with rare genetics in the UK)—and our 40 boer does. Our current herd is almost entirely home-bred, with our original foundation stock sourced primarily from the Devese and Woodside herds. We were also proud to own the wonderful Beech Hay Jaguar, until his passing in January 2020.

We have some part-bred does (retained in the herd for their ability to produce astounding quality milk and kids that grow rapidly thanks to the effects of hybrid vigour), but the majority of our herd are 100% boers. Our does are selected carefully for correct conformation and meatiness; mothering ability and fertility; and hardiness. With the inclusion of champion sire Beech Hay Jaguar, as well as the solidly built Topknot Quattro and the exceptionally long and muscular Terraweena-UK Dickens, into our breeding programme, we are producing some stunning kids with impressive growth rates and conformation. Jersey Red Apache will provide fabulous width and red genetics to our herd. We operate on a policy of bettering the herd with each passing generation, thereby ensuring that our kids are continually improving and exceeding expectations.

How We Manage Our Herd Of Boer Goats Dorset

Our does are carefully managed to allow them to breed three times in a two year period. They are fed a forage (hay or grass) based diet for the majority of their pregnancy, with hard feed only included at flushing (the month prior to going in with the male), the final few weeks before kidding, and whilst they are lactating.

In order to facilitate this breeding schedule, we operate an early weaning system, with the kids weaned from their mother's milk between the ages of five and eight weeks of age. They are weaned slowly, over a two week period, to allow them plenty of time to adjust to a hard food diet and to develop their immature rumens before they are fully taken away from milk. This makes the weaning process much less stressful for both the mothers and the kids and results in a significantly smaller growth check at weaning time. Furthermore, the gradual weaning encourages the does' milk supplies to begin to dry up, helping to reduce the risk of conditions such as mastitis which could impact on their productivity and viability as commercial stock in later kidding.

 

Every one of our animals is known by name, and each is given plenty of attention throughout their lives. Our kids are well handled and friendly, making them much easier to manage once they grow into adults. Our goats are never dehorned, since their nature is such that they do not use them aggressively towards people. Plus, we think they look better with their horns, anyway!

Making The Most Of Limited Space For Our Boer Goat Herd

For the most efficient use of our barn space, we have three kidding seasons each year, with kids usually born in April, August and December. This means that we can make the most out of the limited space of our facilities without impacting on the welfare and happiness of our animals. Some people might try to cram more animals into a small pen; we prefer to approach the issue of a lack of space by ensuring that every doe in our herd is prolific and efficient, which allows her to have more space to herself and her kids.

Our does give birth in individual pens, where they will remain with their kids for one to two days to allow for bonding and until the kids are strong (and smart!) enough to go out into the group pens. We monitor them all during the day and overnight until the last doe has kidded to ensure the safety of both the kids and their mothers. All the kids have their navals dipped with iodine to prevent any infections and we then keep a close eye to ensure every kid has had a good drink of colostrum within the first 30 minutes of life. This provides them with high quantities of fats, protein and antibodies to give them the best start possible and ensure that they grow into strong and healthy young goats, and productive breeding goats—be it for show or commercial herds—later on in life. Throughout their lives, we operate with the same goal in mind; to ensure that our kids are given the right start so that they may prosper and fulfil their full potential.

Breeding Better Boers: How We Ensure That Our Boer Goats Remain Fit And Healthy

We do not use routine antibiotics or vaccines for our goats, nor do we routinely foot trim. Instead we manage their pens to ensure that the surroundings in which they are kept are clean and hygienic. We provide our goats with high quality feed and minerals which allows them to build their own immunity. We only ever intervene with medicines when it is absolutely necessary, as we believe in 'toughening up' our goats so that they will have strong immune systems and a happy, healthy life. This approach means that our goats are typically strong, resilient and hardy animals that require less input and can withstand harsher conditions—such as strong wind and rain—than other goats which may have been excessively pampered. The aim of breeding better boers requires that animals need to be cost effective and productive, and it is this goal that we strive to meet with our boers; our aim is to bridge the gap between show animals and commercial animals, and the result is a boer goat that is simultaneously impressive to look at and affordable to keep.

 

                                                                           

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Our first buck, Devese Apollo, at 2 years of age, doing what he loved most; playing with his human friends!

Devese Willow in 2014, one of our foundation does, enjoying the autumn sun.

Beech Hay Jaguar at the Royal Three Counties agricultural show, aged 8 months, and at pasture aged 22 months.

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