Raising Boer show goats can be both a rewarding hobby and a profitable business. Whether you are looking to them to an existing herd or are just getting started keeping goats, you may be wondering how to raise Boer show goats. Don’t worry!
We’ll explain everything you need to know about raising show goats — from selecting the best Boer show goat to training for the ring.
We’ve even got some pro tips on how to motivate your goat during training. Keep reading to learn more!
Choosing Your Boer Show Goat
Boer goats originated in South Africa and are commonly kept as meat animals. Boers are an attractive, if large, goat breed. Their bodies are white, while their long floppy ears and head are red. Choosing the proper Boer goat to show is the most essential part of the entire process.
While some people have a natural eye for choosing goats, like everything else in life, it is generally a learning process. For your first time purchasing a show goat, it can benefit you to consult with someone with experience, like an Extension agent, a 4H instructor, or an experienced community member. Since it can cost several hundred dollars for a top quality goat, an expert can help ensure you spend your money wisely.
You will want to deal with a breeder rather than get your goat from a commercial farm if you plan on showing your goat. Commercial farms tend to deal with cross-breeds rather than purebreds because cross-breeds can grow larger and are heartier than purebred goats. However, for showing purposes, you will want a purebred Boer. But breed alone isn’t enough to be a good show goat (1).
“Consider the following when selecting a goat: structural correctness, muscle, volume and capacity, style and balance, and growth potential.”
But those aren’t the only conditions you need. Shows often require your goats still have their milk teeth. So you will want to check the age of the goat to make sure it will meet your show’s requirement.
There is one final thing you should consider when selecting your show goat. Goats are herd animals and do not like to be alone. If you don’t already have a herd for your goat to join, you should consider getting your goat a companion. Solitary goats can become depressed, and this can affect their health and their show potential.
Before Your Boer Show Goat Arrives
Once you have selected your show goat (or goats), you want to make sure you have everything ready before it arrives. So let’s talk about what your Boer goat will need.
First, you will want to make sure your goat has shelter. Goat shelters can range from basic to palatial depending on how much time and money you want to invest in them. At a bare minimum, it should have a roof and three walls to protect your animals from wind and rain. There are many cheap and easy DIY goat shelter plans available for inspiration.
In order to stay healthy and in tip-top physical shape, your goats need access to adequate pasture and forage. Allowing your goats to forage will help ensure they are able to meet their nutritional needs.
Goats prefer to eat a varied diet, and allowing them space to roam free provides that. It also provides room for them to exercise, which they will need in order to show successfully.
Good fencing is essential if your goats are going to be foraging. You will want to consider how high a goat can jump when deciding on the height of your fence. While Boers don’t jump as high as some of the smaller breeds, you will still want your fence to be at least four feet tall, but five or six feet is better.
And make sure you install strong fence posts. While Boers may not jump as high as other goats, they have plenty of weight to throw around. Your fence posts need to be strong enough to withstand a full grown male Boer that decides the post will make a good back scratcher.
Equipment and Supplies
There is certain equipment you must obtain in order to feed and care for your show goat properly. It’s best to have most if not all the materials on hand before your goats arrive, though certain items can be purchased when you need them.
Proper feeding equipment is essential from day one. You will want to have above ground feeders to help prevent parasites that goats can ingest from food lying on the ground. These feeders can be either something you purchase or DIY with materials that you have on hand. You will also need troughs for clean water and the materials to keep them clean.
In addition to feed supplies, you will also need to invest in grooming equipment. This includes hoof trimmers, brushes, and electric clippers. Your goats will also need halters and blankets. You will also want to have a scale on hand to keep track of your goat’s weight.
Feeding and Caring For Your Show Goat
We mentioned before that your goats should have access to pastures where they can forage for their feed. But depending on the time of year or the forage available, you may want to supplement your feed with the best hay for goats.
You can choose to give your goats free access to hay or distribute it at a specific time — it’s up to you. You should keep your hay and feed off the ground to help prevent parasites (which is just one of the common health problems goats can suffer from). You also want to make sure your goats can get into the feeders. Otherwise, they will climb inside, sleep there, and then pee and poop on their food. (Yes, goats are cute but gross!)
You also want to ensure your goats always have access to clean water. You should scrub your water troughs daily to make certain algae and bacteria don’t develop.
In addition to making sure your goats have balanced nutrition, you will want to spend time grooming your goats as well. This involves trimming their hoofs and brushing and shearing their coats. To make sure your goats stay healthy, keep up to date with vaccinations and watch out for other common health problems like parasites, coccidiosis, urinary calculi, and enterotoxemia.
Training Your Show Goat
You will want to spend time preparing both yourself and your goat for the show. While all goats can be trained, some goats are easier to train than others. You will want to begin by training your goats to wear a collar or a harness. Once your goat is comfortable wearing a harness, you can begin teaching it to walk with a lead.
I can’t tell you exactly how long it will take for each stage of training. That will depend on the experience of the trainer and the temperament of the goat. You should work with your goat for a short time each day. Fifteen minutes to half an hour should be plenty of training time.
Once your goat is lead trained, then you can move on to teaching your goat to set up properly. You should teach this step with a collar or a chain rather than a halter, as halters aren’t permitted in shows. Keep the legs squarely under the goat’s body while its neck and head are held up high.
Pro Tip: You can use treats like bananas and grapes as a reward during training to help motivate your goats.
What To Expect at the Show
There are many different types of shows you may choose to participate in. Each show will have its own unique regulations and rule of etiquette that you must follow. You always want to review the guidelines for the specific show you are participating in.
However, there are some things that are common for all shows. So let’s talk about them.
When it comes to the show, you are on display as much as your goat. Remember, you are a team. Make sure you are dressed neatly and appropriately. Some types of shows may require you wear specific clothes. Check what’s required before you arrive.
It is always a good idea to be as prepared as possible. Familiarize yourself with the space and the ring. Practice walking with your goat before your number is called — that way, both you and your goat are relaxed.
When you enter the ring, practice good showmanship. Look at the judges while you are showing. Walk calmly and set up your goat. This is what you have been practicing at home — be confident! Not only do you want to watch the judges, but you also want to make sure you listen to them and follow their directions.
While in the ring, you should always keep your eye on the judge and the goat between your body and the judge.
Now hopeful, everything goes exactly how you practiced at home. But even the most experienced showman can have a bad day. If, for some reason, your goat were to get stubborn or start leaping around remember to remain calm in the ring. No matter what happens with your goat, you are in control.
Showing Boer goats can be both rewarding and profitable. But it is not without an investment in both time and money. You will want to carefully select your show goat, as this animal is the key to your endeavor. You may even want to solicit expert help your first time.
But beyond purchasing the goats (I say goats because you should never keep just a single goat), you will need to have appropriate food, shelter, and space for your goats to forage. Oh, and good fencing, really good fencing because goats are strong animals that are master escape artists.
Feeding, caring for, and training your goats are daily chores. But they are also incredibly rewarding tasks. Goats are smart, funny animals that are quick to learn and show affection. During the training process, you and your goat should bond into a team. That will help you be successful when you show in the ring.
But remember, win or lose, you should enjoy showing your Boer goat!
Finally, you can watch this video with a recording of the goat exhibition process:
- 4-H Meat Goat Guide. Retrieved from: https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/library/4-h-youth-development/4-h-meat-goat-guide/
Rachael and her husband arrived on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua in 2011. There they founded El Jardin de la Vida, a tropical micro food forest, focusing on Sustainable Living Education. She teaches others to build with natural materials, live off-grid, and appreciate slow food.