Breed­ing Boer goats for op­ti­mal meat pro­duc­tion

Award-win­ning stud breeder Ger­ald Calitz runs a 200-strong Boer goat stud on his 70ha farm near Ven­ters­dorp in North West. He spoke to An­nelie Cole­man about his breed­ing tech­niques.

Farmer's Weekly (South Africa) - - Contents - FW

Ger­ald Calitz es­tab­lished the Sterk­stroom Boer Goat Stud in 2012 with just 15 goats, and it has since grown to 150 ewes, three stud rams and 100 kids and wean­ers.

Be­fore es­tab­lish­ing the stud, Calitz ran a com­mer­cial goat flock on his farm, which is sit­u­ated near Ven­ters­dorp in North West. Be­cause of the prop­erty’s small size (only 70ha), it was im­pos­si­ble for him to en­large his com­mer­cial flock.

He there­fore de­cided to build a stud to add value to his op­er­a­tion. “My love for goats was also a ma­jor driv­ing force. I started by buy­ing good-qual­ity breed­ing stock at stud auc­tions as well as from rep­utable stock breed­ers. How­ever, I was new in the breed­ing game, and need­less to say, I paid a lot of school fees. For ex­am­ple, I spent a great deal of money on rams that didn’t take the flock in the di­rec­tion I en­vis­aged,” Calitz says.

Breed­ing ob­jec­tives

His ob­jec­tive is to breed an­i­mals that con­form to, and even ex­ceed, the na­tional stan­dards as pre­scribed by the Boer Goat Breed­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa. Ac­cord­ing to him, this is cru­cial in an in­ten­sive breed­ing op­er­a­tion such as his. Ev­ery goat in the flock must add value and con­trib­ute to the ul­ti­mate sus­tain­abil­ity and prof­itabil­ity of the busi­ness. The stud, he stresses, can­not af­ford to cater for sub­stan­dard performers.

Calitz con­cen­trates strongly on fem­i­nine ewes, be­liev­ing they will pro­duce top-per­form­ing rams. Op­ti­mal meat pro­duc­tion

is the main­stay of com­mer­cial Boer goat pro­duc­tion and, given the eco­nomic re­al­i­ties of agri­cul­ture to­day, farm­ers can­not af­ford to keep sec­ond-rate an­i­mals, he says. Com­mer­cial goat pro­duc­ers are in the busi­ness to sell meat, and there­fore want fer­tile rams and ewes from which they can har­vest the max­i­mum kilo­grams of meat in the short­est space of time.

Calitz’s ram se­lec­tion is based on cor­rect­ing traits that his stud may be lack­ing at the time, and he has sourced rams from a va­ri­ety of breed­ers to achieve this. Over the years, he has ac­quired rams from, amongst oth­ers, Lukas Burger of Griek­wastad and Karsten Bo­erdery in Uping­ton.

Strict se­lec­tion is the secret to rapid ge­netic progress in the flock over a rel­a­tively short pe­riod, he says. Rams that do not make a pos­i­tive ge­netic im­pact are culled with­out ex­emp­tion. Calitz ex­plains that the Boer goats con­sti­tute his main in­come from the farm.

“Due to the small size of my land, I’m forced to farm in­ten­sively. Each and ev­ery kid is ex­tremely im­por­tant to me. The fu­ture of the busi­ness re­lies on them to en­sure the ge­netic in­tegrity of the flock,” he says.

cli­mate and veld

The av­er­age an­nual rain­fall in the area is 325mm. The farm is di­vided into four camps, each with its own wa­ter­ing point sup­plied from two bore­holes. Calitz plants 10ha to lucerne un­der flood ir­ri­ga­tion ev­ery year. This is baled in sum­mer, and in win­ter the goats graze on the lucerne land.

The nat­u­ral graz­ing is sweet­veld and in­cludes species such as red grass ( Themeda trian­dra).

Dur­ing sum­mer, the goats are kept on the veld. Calitz plants green feed such as rye­grass in au­tumn, as well as fod­der radish for the ewes that have kid­ded. He also plants 5ha to maize in sum­mer for win­ter feed.

Dur­ing win­ter, he pro­vides the goats with a sup­ple­men­tary lick to en­sure that they re­main in good con­di­tion. After kid­ding, ewes graze on fod­der radish to en­sure good milk pro­duc­tion and they also re­ceive sup­ple­men­tary feed in the evenings.

Only the fe­male goats are put on the veld dur­ing the day. The rams are kept in a sep­a­rate camp out­side the breed­ing sea­son. The ewes are kraaled at night.

Rams and ewes are specif­i­cally se­lected for each other and put to­gether for the night.

Calitz prefers to avoid kid­ding be­tween De­cem­ber and Fe­bru­ary due to the hot weather and the high par­a­site load.

“It’s bet­ter to let the fe­males kid dur­ing win­ter and au­tumn. The rams are sep­a­rated from the ewes from the end of June un­til the end of Septem­ber,” he says.

colostrum and creep feed

Ewes are moved to kid­ding pens and kept there for two weeks to en­sure that new­borns re­ceive am­ple colostrum. Be­sides nu­tri­ents, colostrum con­tains a wide va­ri­ety of com­po­nents es­sen­tial for the sur­vival of new­born kids. There­after, the ewes are moved to a larger camp.

The kids re­ceive creep feed, usu­ally grain, from two weeks. Creep feed­ing is es­pe­cially ben­e­fi­cial for kids man­aged in an in­ten­sive pro­duc­tion system and en­ables fast growth and early wean­ing.

The ex­tra nu­tri­tion is also ad­van­ta­geous for flocks in which many mul­ti­ple births oc­cur. Kids have ad lib ac­cess to feed un­til they are weaned.

Ram kids are weaned as soon as they be­come a nui­sance in the flock, usu­ally at the age of two to three months.

Fe­male kids stay with their moth­ers longer and are weaned at ap­prox­i­mately three months. The wean­ers are in­spected and those that do not make it as stud goats are taken to auc­tion.

Calitz con­stantly strives to im­prove kid­ding and wean­ing per­cent­ages.

“How­ever, weather con­di­tions can spoil things com­pletely,” he says. “In sea­sons of drought cou­pled with ex­treme heat, the ewes are less likely to come on heat, which ob­vi­ously has a di­rect im­pact on kid­ding per­cent­ages,” he says.

The cur­rent kid­ding rate on Sterk­stroom is 146%, with a wean­ing per­cent­age of 123%.

Ex­celling at shows

The young an­i­mals are mar­keted at stud auc­tions, but de­mand for qual­ity breed­ing

stock far ex­ceeds supply, and Calitz sells a con­sid­er­able per­cent­age of goats out of hand. There is a par­tic­u­larly healthy de­mand for young breed­ing stock from Botswana.

He re­gards shows as es­sen­tial for the stud breeder. “It af­fords us the chance to com­pare the stan­dard of our goats with that of other stud an­i­mals, and to com­pete against more es­tab­lished and suc­cess­ful breed­ers.”

The Sterk­stroom an­i­mals have al­ready made their mark in the show ring.

par­a­sites and DIS­EASE

Calitz fol­lows a strict vac­ci­na­tion pro­gramme. Kids are in­oc­u­lated di­rectly after birth with a broad-spec­trum vac­cine against Pas­teurella and other dis­eases.

Sterk­stroom is sit­u­ated close to the Schoonspruit River, and the par­a­site load is con­se­quently very high in sum­mer. Wire­worm is con­trolled by dos­ing the goats reg­u­larly with Pro­dose and First Drench. Pulpy kid­ney caused deaths in the past but the dis­ease has been con­tained since Calitz started in­oc­u­lat­ing the flock with Mul­ti­vax P Plus. Calitz is the chair­per­son of the Cen­tral In­land Boer Goat Club and also an in­spec­tor for the Boer Goat Breed­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa. The club is ac­tively in­volved in the pro­mo­tion of Boer goat pro­duc­tion and or­gan­ises a num­ber of shows and stud auc­tions ev­ery year.

“This helps our mem­bers to mar­ket them­selves to the public. “The club also presents ju­nior and se­nior Boer goat cour­ses for mem­bers of the public to learn more about goat pro­duc­tion,” he says.

pass­ing on knowl­edge and ex­per­tise

a strict vac­ci­na­tion pro­gramme is fol­lowed to con­trol dis­ease

Calitz acts as a men­tor to for­mer minework­ers who are farm­ing goats as part of a Minework­ers’ De­vel­op­ment Agency project.

In this ca­pac­ity, he has been in­volved with farm­ers in the Losasa­neng area in North West for two years, and is pleased with the con­sid­er­able in­crease in qual­ity of these goats.

“I’ve started men­tor­ing a sec­ond group in Taka­neng, also in North West, and fore­see them fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of the Losasa­neng farm­ers in the near fu­ture,” he says.

• Phone Ger­ald Calitz on

083 502 0227, or email him at [email protected]­

PHO­TOS: An­nelie Cole­man

ABOVE:Ger­ald Calitz main­tains av­er­age kid­ding and wean­ing rates of 146% and 123% re­spec­tively on Sterk­stroom.

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT: • Ger­ald Calitz.• The ideal Sterk­stroom ewe is a well-adapted, highly fer­tile and hardy animal that can suc­cess­fully wean mul­ti­ple kids. She is fem­i­nine and slightly wedge-shaped.• Fast-grow­ing kids are es­sen­tial to the prof­itabil­ity of the Sterk­stroom Boer Goat Stud.• Calitz says that ev­ery goat has to con­trib­ute to the prof­itabil­ity of his busi­ness. Poor performers are not tol­er­ated.

ABOVE:Due to the Boer goat’s fer­til­ity, har­di­ness and adapt­abil­ity, it can be farmed in a va­ri­ety of con­di­tions, from huge flocks on ex­ten­sive farms in the North­ern Cape to a small farm such as Ger­ald Calitz’s 70ha in North West.

TOP LEFT:Ger­ald Calitz’s love for Boer goats mo­ti­vated him to ven­ture into stud breed­ing.

TOP:Be­cause of the in­ten­sive na­ture of the Sterk­stroom con­cern, the ewes kid in pens.

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