Monday, November 18, 2019

The future of Boer goats in South Africa

Some of the finest Boer goat rams, ewes and kids came under the hammer at the Bloem Showgrounds on 3 May after being selected as suitable for inclusion in the sale hosted at the end of the World Show.
Photo: Sabrina Dean

By Sabrina Dean

Boer goat stud breeders from across the country were in Bloemfontein at the start of May to participate in the annual Boerbok, Kalahari Red and Savanna World Show. Sabrina Dean spoke to Boer goat breeders Kobus Lötter, Andries Vollgraaff, Casper Byleveld and Lukas Burger about the current state of the Boer goat industry, and what the future holds for it.
The Boerbok, Kalahari Red and Savanna World Show was held in Bloemfontein from 28 April to 3 May. It was hosted by the South African Boer Goat Association.
Farmer’s Weekly spoke to four breeders at the event to gain insight into the Boer goat industry in South Africa.
Kobus Lötter (KL), who farms in Willowmore in the Eastern Cape, is the founder of group breeding scheme Doornpoort Genetics.
This comprises about 70 members from across the country, who together run about 5 000 stud ewes. The members focus on line breeding, paying particular attention to good dam lines.
Andries Vollgraaff (AV) operates his Tekoa Boer Goat Stud on leased land between Worcester and Wolseley in the Western Cape. He has been a Boer goat stud breeder for only three years, and runs a flock of 120 ewes.
Casper Byleveld (CB) of the Nico Botha Boer Goat Stud farms in Britstown in the Northern Cape with his wife, Loudine. Loudine’s father, Nico Botha, started the stud in 1972, making it one of the oldest in the country.
They run a flock of 600 stud ewes farmed under extensive conditions, but use intensive lambing practices.
Lukas Burger (LB) of the Lukas Burger Boer Goat Stud in Griekwastad in the Northern Cape runs a flock of about 450 stud ewes. The stud had both the top-priced ram and the top-priced ewe at this year’s sale.

Who are your main target markets?

KL: Our markets are commercial and stud farmers, with the emphasis on empowering younger or new breeders. The traditional/religious slaughter market, however, remains the cornerstone of our business.
LB: Mostly other stud breeders and goat breeders across the world. Over the long term, South Africa has been the best market, but we also have strong markets in Brazil, Australia, Botswana and Namibia.

What is your opinion on the current state of the Boer Goat industry in South Africa?

KL: It has been 60 years since this association started with the ‘ennoblement’ of the Boer goat. If you look at a Boer goat journal from 10 years ago, you’ll see there has been tremendous development over the past decade. What scares me is what the Boer goat could look like 10 years from now because it feels as if we’ve already reached the ultimate. The goat looks good enough; we now need to keep it functional and maintain balance.
CB: I think our industry is incredibly healthy. Demand entirely exceeds supply. This is why the prices are so high, which is naturally very good for us. There’ll never be enough goats. The goat industry is in a very good place and can only go forward.
LB: The industry is healthy and is still growing. Many business people also seem to be investing in Boer goats.

Have you experienced an increase in demand for live goats and breeding stock? And if so, what’s driving it?

CB: Yes, definitely. I’ve had to turn people away. Customers are looking for breeding ewes in particular. We’ve also been exporting live goats to Africa and the United Arabic Emirates as well as embryos to the UAE and countries such as Brazil and Argentina. In addition, we’re seeing a lot of interest from new or emerging black farmers.
LB: Most definitely. Demand is increasing. One of the reasons for this is growing awareness of the health qualities of the meat. The challenge to get goat meat onto the supermarket shelves at the moment is because the domestic market isn’t regulated; it’s very informal. Individual buyers therefore often offer better prices for goats than one would see in a regulated meat market, which makes it difficult to get sustainable supply onto the supermarket shelves.
Demand is being driven by the fact that the commodity is very popular both for its meat qualities and the manner in which it can be produced. Goats can be farmed intensively or extensively, and can be used to diversify a larger farming operation. Goats also slot in well with cattle or wildlife components.

What are the main inhibitors to profitable goat farming?

AV: This is another aspect that will be different for everyone. For example, I’m leasing land, which is an added expense. From time to time, the poor condition of the grazing, along with drought, has been a problem. Stock theft is also a challenge.
CB: Labour is my number one challenge, followed by predation. A goat is a highly adaptable animal, which helps to make it profitable. The labour requirement is actually not that high but employees must be reliable.
LB: Not being able to export due to the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak is holding us back the most. Predation can pose problems but we manage that by using methods such as electric fences to keep the predators out.

Is management of internal parasites in goats difficult?

CB: We live in a dry region, with an annual rainfall average of only about 220mm. We have very few internal parasites and even fewer external parasites. The Boer goat prefers a dry climate, and likes walking. I dose every eight months for internal parasites and also inject against pulpy kidney, but that’s it.
LB: We do get resistance problems, but goats are generally less susceptible to internal parasites than other livestock because they feed at a higher level. They prefer a diet of up to 70% leaves, which means they browse a bit higher. This is also why they fit in so well with cattle and wildlife components: they target different vegetation.

Where do you see the industry five years from now? 

KL: There’ll definitely be further growth over the next five years. I believe that if we can improve South Africa’s animal health status and get export protocols in place with other countries, there’ll be a severe shortage of good breeding material locally [because it will all have been exported]. The biggest frustration in the Boer goat industry is that we’re sitting with a product that the whole world wants, but our doors are closed. Foot-and-mouth disease has had a major impact.
AV: Compared with how we began 60 years ago, we’re racing ahead at full steam. The first rams were sold for R135 (about R12 600 today). The most expensive ram on auction was recently sold for R330 000. So, the future looks bright to me, if we can get export access.
CB: I believe we’ll see plenty of growth. Many young breeders are entering the industry because of the profitability. The new young breeders are also injecting a lot of energy into the industry. I think that the number of Boer goat breeders will increase by at least a third over the next five years.
The industry has also obtained a roller mark for meat but the challenge is that we can’t supply enough product. So many of the goats end up being bought for religious sacrifices that there just aren’t enough to supply the consumer meat market. I do believe, though, that within the next few years, goat meat will start becoming available in stores.
LB: If our borders are opened, the industry will go from strength to strength. At the moment, we’re already struggling to produce enough for the market. There is a larger demand than what we can breed, which means there’s still a lot of room for growth in the industry.
Despite the tough circumstances, such as drought and economic pressures, the Boer goat industry is still growing.
Email Kobus Lötter at; Andries Vollgraaff at; Casper Byleveld at; or Lukas Burger at

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Gastrointestinal parasites topic of Va. conference

The All Worms, All Day Delmarva Small Ruminant Conference will be held Saturday, Dec. 7, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial University CVM Teaching Center, 203 Debusk Farm Drive, Ewing VA 24248.
The all-day conference will focus exclusively on gastrointestinal parasites, which are problematic on most small ruminant farms. The program will seek to educate stakeholders on the most up-to-date methods and recommendations for controlling parasites. It will include general sessions and a separate program for older youth. All youth registrants MUST be accompanied by a registered adult.
            All speakers in the adult program are members of the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (ACSRPC). They include Dr. Dahlia O’Brien, Virginia State University; Dr. Kwame Matthews, Delaware State University; Dr. Nelson Escobar, University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Susan Schoenian, University of Maryland; and Dr. Niki Whitley, Fort Valley State University. Youth instructor will be Chantel Wilson (4H-STEAM Specialist).
The program is a collaborative effort among Virginia, Maryland and Delaware Cooperative Extension. Collaborators also include Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine Faculty members (Drs. Gilbert Patterson, Gerry Roberson and Philippa Gibbons). The 2019 Conference organizers include Dahlia O’Brien and Amy Fannon with VCE.
The cost is $50 per adult and $30 for youth ages 14-18. For more information, contact Mark Klingman at (804) 524-5493 or If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Mark Klingman (804) 524-5493 /TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.



8 AM-9 AM: Registration and Continental Breakfast
9 AM-9:15 AM: Welcome and Overview of LMU’s Veterinary Medicine Program
9:15 AM-10:00 AM: Biology, species, life cycles, symptoms (Dahlia)
10 AM-10:45 AM: Pasture management (Whitley)
10:45 AM-11 AM: AM Break
11 AM-noon: Treatments -- drugs, natural, TST (Susan)
Noon-1 PM: LUNCH (lamb and goat)
1 PM-1:45 PM: Genetics (Kwame)
1:45 PM-2:30 PM: Integrated parasite management (Nelson)
2:30 PM-2:45 PM: PM Break
2:45 PM-3:30 PM: Ask the experts (panel of speakers and LMU veterinarians)


8 AM-9 AM: Registration and Continental Breakfast
9 AM-9:15 AM: Welcome and Overview of LMU’s Veterinary Medicine Program
9:15 AM-10:45 AM: Worms/parasites: vocabulary ice breaker; Grass, goats and uninvited guests (Wilson, agents and LMU vet students)
10:45 AM-11 AM: AM Break
11 AM-noon: Grass, goats and uninvited guests (Wilson, agents and LMU vet students)
Noon-1 PM: LUNCH (lamb and goat)
1 PM-2:30 PM: Got guts? Anatomy of the ruminant stomach (LMU faculty and students); Worm JEOPARDY
2:30 PM-2:45 PM: PM Break
2:45 PM-3:30 PM: Ask the experts (panel of speakers and LMU veterinarians)



Holiday Inn
Sleep Inn and Suites

Friday, November 8, 2019

Flights Above the Mississippi Alluvial Plain to Continue Aquifer Mapping

New Phase of USGS Low-level Surveys Begins

A low-flying airplane will soon be visible to residents in the multi-state area comprising the Mississippi Alluvial Plain (MAP), marking the beginning of the next stage of the U.S. Geological Survey’s high-resolution airborne survey project to map aquifers.
Coordinated by USGS scientists to map the properties of aquifers throughout parts of the MAP, the low-level flights are intended to provide critical data needed by state and local decisionmakers to evaluate and manage groundwater resources in the region.
Beginning in early November and lasting for 2-3 months, an airplane contracted by the USGS and operated by CGG Airborne of Ontario, Canada, will make low-level flights over more than 20 million acres and seven states within the MAP. Experienced pilots specially trained and approved for low-level flying will operate the aircraft. All flights are coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure accordance with U.S. law. The flights will be based out of Greenwood-Leflore Airport in Mississippi for the first three weeks. Follow the planned flight lines here.
CGG Airplane Contracted by USGS
Airplane that will conduct low-level flights. Beneath the plane, a "bird" receiver sits and will be towed behind the aircraft during the survey. Operated by CGG under contract to the USGS. Photo courtesy CGG.
(Public domain.)
The first segment of regional survey flights completed in early 2019 have provided unique and previously impossible views of the MAP’s shallow aquifer system. In this second phase, the survey will acquire data from the subsurface up to 1,000 feet below ground, or 2-3 times deeper than previous flights.
Instruments on the airplane will collect information about the geology in shallow aquifers of the region. When the data analysis is complete, resulting state-of-the-art maps will help USGS researchers understand the aquifer system that supports groundwater resources at depths up to about 1,000 feet underground.
This survey will be flown mainly east-west at an altitude of 400 feet along lines spaced approximately 4 miles apart. The airplane will have an attached electromagnetic instrument housed in a small receiver that is towed 300 feet behind and about 150 feet beneath the aircraft. All survey flights will occur during daylight hours.
Residents and visitors should not be alarmed to witness a low-flying aircraft with a small towed sensor behind it. The airplane will also carry scientific instruments including a magnetometer and a gamma-ray spectrometer. None of the instruments pose a health risk to people or animals, and flights will not occur directly over populated areas.
The survey is being conducted by the USGS Water Availability and Use Program as part of the MAP Regional Water Availability Study. More information about the MAP project can be found online.
Map of Planned Flight Lines
Overview map of planned flight lines for upcoming Mississippi Alluvial Plain aerial survey. Map is also available online
(Public domain.)
Additional resources:

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Grazing program, buck sale on tap Oct. 17 in Ky.

Sustainable Agriculture Workshop
"Third Thursday Thing"

October 17, 2019

Harold R. Benson Research and Demonstration Farm
1525 Mills Lane — Frankfort, Kentucky — (502) 597-6325

Dr. Marion Simon, State Specialist
Small Farm and Part-time Farmers
e-mail address:

College of Agriculture, Communities and the Environment
Harold R. Benson Research and Demonstration Farm, Center for the Sustainability of Farms and Families

1525 Mills Lane, Frankfort, KY (4 miles south of I-64, off US 127)

Directions:  From I-64 Exit 53, take US127 South toward Lawrenceburg to the 4th stoplight, turn left onto Mills Lane, the KSU Farm is 1.5 miles on the right.

10:00 - 10:15 am
Welcome and Announcements – Dr. Marion Simon, Kentucky State University
10:15 – 10:50 am
“Goats in an Integrated Whole Farm Management System”
Shawn Lucas, KSU
11:00 – 10:50 am
“Evaluation of Different Grazing Intensity for Goat Production”
Ken Andries and Emily Clement, KSU
12:00 – 1:00 pm
Farm Crew
1:00 – 1:50 pm
“Isoflavones in Forage Legumes to Promote Weight Gain and Alleviate Fescue Toxicosis”
Michael Flythe, ARS Forage Lab, Lexington, KY
2:00 – 2:50 pm
“Practical Evaluation of Pastures for Improved Grazing”
Krista Lea, UK Forage Extension
3:00 – 3:50 pm
“Tour of Grazing Research Area and Discussion of Implications”
(weather permitting)
There will also be the sale of a few KSU Buck Kids depending on Performance