Boer goats making a run for meat-market revenue

Bucks for goats implies more than the males of the species.

Goats are the No. 1 meat animal consumed by humans in the world, and a growing number of people are cashing in on that in Marion County.

Some local farm families are improving their income raising goats for high-demand meat consumption by immigrant populations coupled with increasing demand from traditional Ameri?can families.

These farmers say they can begin goat production on less acreage than is required for other agriculture. They can also begin with less capital.

They point out that they can sell goats for meat at several different weights, still commanding higher prices rather than being docked for being too light or too heavy as with other meat animals.

With prices in the $2.30 to $3.60 range. depending on weight for Boer meat goats, and higher prices for quality show animals, it?s no wonder these Marion County producers make money with goat production.

Andie Dunagan, Hillsboro, said she can produce a 60-pound Boer goat in 60 days for the slaughter market.

Boer goats are a meat animal that can mature to more than 200 pounds for does, and more than 400 pounds for bucks, Dunagan said.

They are named for the Boer people of South Africa, who developed the breed.

Beth Riffel of Tampa said it?s not unusual to command prices of $300 to $500 for her breeding age females.

Myron Regier of Goessel said good producers find it isn?t worth it to buy the more common dairy breeds of goats, and cross with Boers to breed them up. But the investment in purebred Boers is worth it.

Riffel confirmed that for registration, an animal in this country qualifies as purebred if it is 7/8 Boer.

Regier said he has been raising Boers for 10 year using the animal?s ability for browsing to graze them primarily in tree rows, where they eat trees and broad-leafed plants?things that cattle don?t like.

Regier has some cattle, too, but not a lot of acreage, so goats fit his size of operation well.

Regier said he and wife Stephanie have had their children, Olivia, 20, and Matthew, 13, grow up in 4-H with goats as projects. He is a leader for the Goessel Goal Getters 4-H Club, and at fairs for the county.

Another advantage Boer goats can have over cattle, Regier said, is that they can produce offspring three times in two years because of their five-month gestation. Cattle can only produce two offspring because of their nine-month gestation.

Regier splits his production to have goat kids born for 4-H show stock in December and January. He has another crop of kids in October to sell meat animals for the Easter market, with people of Mexican culture being strong buyers.

With purebreds, Regier said, he can stay at the top of the market.

Dunagan has Boer bucks, but she also uses artificial insemination and embryo transfers to upgrade offspring from her 100 does. She and husband Brent pasture the goats in native grass to help keep the grass free of trees.

In her six years of goat production, Dunagan has found the goats to be complementary in grazing alongside cattle and horses.

Her daughter, Mesa Merrell, 12, show goats locally, but also in American Boer Goat Association contests in Kansas, Texas, Missouri and Colorado. Duna?gan also has sent goats for showing with Lucie Dean of Speery, Okla.

Dunagan also sells slaughter goats for the Mexican holiday, but also capitalizes on selling 20-pound kids for the Moslem holiday of Ramadan.

She finds a high interest in goat production, not only among young people but among retired people looking for a money-making project.

Dunagan recommended a regular worming program and vaccinations for goats under the direction of a veterinarian, in her case, Norman Galle of Hillsboro.

Dunagan said it?s wise to have predator control with the goats. She uses three dogs? crosses between Pyrenes, Anatolian and Irish Wolf Hound?to guard against coyotes. The dogs have been clocked running as fast as 40 mph, she said.

Dunagan said it?s good idea to start small with the goats to gain experience. She bought top stock starting out from the Double Eagle Ranch in Cleburne, Texas.

Beginners should also select beginning stock from herds with genetic traits for high growth rate, high rate of gain, and parasite and disease resistance, she said.

Riffel, meanwhile, said she grew up on a diversified farm with cattle and hogs, but never saw demand for any class of livestock sustained as it is for goats.

She and husband James drylot their 100 head of Boer does with hay, but also graze on grass and scrub grass.

Higher quality alfalfa can be saved for cattle with the goats still doing well on lower grade hay, she said.

Riffel said she finds raising goats, especially as 4-H projects, ?very enjoying.?

She sometimes has to caution her children, Karl, 15, Kyle, 13, and Kara, 8, that it ?can be hard as well? to see such endearing animals sold for meat.

She plans births of goats for December and January for the 4-H market, but also recognizes the worth of a number of commercial auction outlets, such as those at Yates Center, Hutchin?son, Clay Center or Sylvan Grove.

Riffel cautions persons getting into Boer goat production to start small to gain experience, and to spend time while small determining what markets to aim for.

?Have a plan,? she said. ?Find somebody doing what you would want to do, and be mentored by them. It?s not a one-size-fits-all system.

Riffel has been raising Boer goats for 12 years now, and finds it?s important to develop a business she can enjoy.

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