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Overview of the History of the Boer Goat:

The origin of Boer Goats is vague and probably rooted in ancestors kept by Namaqua Hottentots and migrating tributes of “Southern Bantu” people (Barrow, 1801; Epstein, 1971; Mason, 1981; Campbell, 1984). Other influences probably from India (Pegler, 1886) and Europe (Schreiner, 1898) also added ancestors. The occurrence of polledness indicates some possible influence of European diary goats (Anonymous , 1960). Evidently the Boer goats contain genes from these pools, especially considering migratory and trade practices of early inhabitants of Southern Africa. No difference have been found in gene frequencies of blood polymorphisms between present goat populations and the Boer goat breed (Osterhoff et al, 1987).

Boer Goats Progression Over the Last 100 Years:

As goat farmers become more settled and began to breed for more distinct characteristics in the Eastern Cape region (1800 to 1820) the common Boer goat evolved as a compact, well proportioned and short haired animal (Van Rensburg, 1938). By the beginning of the 20th century, the emergence of a distinct breed was evident, since the number of farmers had succeeded in breeding improved types of goats with good overall conformation, high growth rate, high fertility, and short hair with red markings around the head and shoulders (Steyl, 1966). Breeding experiments indicate that one major gene may be responsible for the white coat colour and red head (Osterhoff et al, 1987) . In July 1959, breeding and selected became regulated with the founding of the Boer Goat Breeders Association (South Africa) and a truly improved Boer Goat emerged because of the formulation of breed standards as guidelines for selection. They described morphological characteristics, but the stage was set to include production characteristics as more breeders recognized and accepted the merits of performance testing.

The improved Boer Goat was not created from two or more pure bred goats as can be the case with other varieties of animals but its prototype (phenotype) was selected from all existing breeds in South Africa in order to achieve its functional characteristics and type.

The functional characteristics which the Boer Goat is bred for and should still be considered today are:

  • Its meat and hide quality
  • Its hardiness and adaptability
  • Its resistance to disease
  • Its fertility and kidding percentage
  • Its abundance of milk
  • Its longevity
  • Its excellent grazing habits.