If you've got a desire to get involved in raising Boer goats for show, there's plenty of opportunity to make some money while having a lot of fun at the same time. You may want to consider breeding show goats and selling them to others who want to show them. Or you may also want to get involved in showing goats yourself. Either way, this guide to raising Boer goats for show can help you learn some of the basics you'll need to be familiar with to get off to a great start. You need to begin by understanding some of the factors that make meat goats so valuable. After that, we'll go deeper into the details of raising Boer goats for show and showing your goats. On a related note, if you're exploring the possibilities of getting involved with goats for the first time, and you'd also like to learn about dairy goats as well, you can read through our guide, "How to Raise Dairy Goats for Milk: The Ultimate Guide."
Goat meat has found more popularity in recent years. This is mainly because of the diversity of cultures in the U.S. Many ethnic restaurants serve goat meat and certain minorities buy it regularly. Goat meat is also finding an increased demand because of the health food craze. Goat meat is very low in fat as compared to other meats such as chicken and beef. Over 50 % of the U.S.'s goat meat is still imported, which is why there is a large opportunity for goat breeders here. And when it comes to meat goats, none have become as popular as the Boer goat breed.
Boer goats came from South Africa and have been used for meat since the 1900's. Their scientific name is Capra aegagrus hircus. Traditional Boer goats have a white body with a brown head. Some people refer to it as “red”. The brown coloring can extend to their neck as well. Fullblood Boer bucks can weigh 240lbs to over 300 lbs when fully grown. Fullblood females can reach upwards of 200 lbs. Commercial Boers do not generally get as heavy as fullbloods. The lifespan of a Boer goat can range from 8-13 years of age. If taken care of properly, the females are able to breed past 10 years of age. If you want to learn more about various other goat breeds, including the different meat goat breeds other than Boer goats, take a look at our guide,
Photo Credit: Pilgrim Ranch
Although you will typically focus on one goat when raising a Boer goat to show, selling Boer goats is most profitable when done in large numbers.
In order to raise Boer goats for show and for a profit, you need to buy good quality from the start. A good quality buck can cost you upwards of $2500 to get started. There is no point in starting with poor quality animals and trying to make them better. Good quality females range anywhere from $1200 up as doe kids. There are many ways that a farmer can make a profit raising Boer goats for show once they have babies on the ground from their stock. Some farmers choose to sell their kids private treaty off of their farms. You can usually get a good price out of the babies if you have proof that they come from good genetics with a winning record. Some people choose to enter their goats in breeders auctions. These are different from market auctions and buyers come looking for show quality animals. Until you get your name out there, you may not make as much money as you would hope, selling them this way. By the way, there are a number of ways to make money with goats, and meat goats is just one option. If you're just getting started and you're weighing your different options, it might be a good idea for you to take a moment and read through our guide, "Raising Goats for Profit: 7 Proven Ways to Make Money."
Boer goats are primarily used for meat around the world. When they were transported over to the United States and the American Boer Goat Association was formed, the association began sanctioning goat shows. As the popularity of goats in America grew, 4-H and FFA kids began to be able to exhibit purebred and commercial Boers as well. The popularity of showing 4-H and FFA goats didn't take off until the 2000's. Commercial Boers have since become some of the most exhibited goats in states like Oklahoma and Texas. This has created a large market for commercial breeders to produce quality livestock for exhibition at county and state fairs across the country.
Photo Credit: Bear Creek Boers
When choosing a Boer goat to show, select one with body characteristics that conform to the breed standards for Boer goats established by the American Boer Goat Association.
Before you ever go look at a goat, you need to do research and see which breeders have a good record for having winning show stock. Most breeders have websites and social media pages that can be viewed. On them, they feature their livestock that have won or placed highly at exhibitions. Another way to find a good breeder is to talk to an Ag teacher, or extension agent. More than likely they have a working relationship with an established breeder or know of someone who can help you find a goat within your budget. When selecting a Boer goat to show for the first time, it is always best to try and take along an Ag teacher or extension agent to a reputable breeder. These people have experience and the knowledge to pick out a goat that has the potential to do well in the ring. The very first trait you should use to select a good animal is their structural correctness or soundness. A goat should track correctly. This means that when they pick up their front foot and the back foot comes up, it should sit down in exactly the same spot as the front foot. Another attribute you want to look for is muscularity. You can get a good indication of how much muscle a goat will have by looking at its forearm. If it is bulging, then more than likely the goat will have a more muscular look as it grows. You also want to look to see if the goat has good capacity. This means that its rib cage and belly are not totally flat, but have some room in them. A larger rib cage means that the goat has more growth potential.
Credit: Stockshow Confidential
If you are just getting started with goats in general, you may want to pause here before continuing with this section, so you can jump over and read our "9-Step Essential Beginners Guide to Raising Goats."
Photo Credit: ForeveView Farms
Due to the extra muscularity of meat goats, it's important to have a tall, strong fence to control Boer goats, and to keep predators out.
One of the hardest things to do is to keep a Boer goat inside of a fence. If you are raising Boer goats for show, fencing is crucial when trying to keep your goats safe. Special sheep and goat square wire fencing is one of the most popular choices for show goats. For large pens it is a good choice because a roll of the wire can go a long way. For smaller pens designed specifically for show goats, most people choose to use sheep and goat panels. These are very different from cattle and hog panels, because the square holes are smaller and goats are far less likely to get their heads stuck in them. Another option is to put up a smooth wire electric fence. The current will deter even the most stubborn goats from going through. For a little more detailed explanation of goat fence alternatives and how to install them, you can take a look at our guide, "Goat Fencing: 3 Most Popular Types."
When raising Boer goats for show, your show goats need shelters that can keep them both cool during hot months and warm during colder weather. A metal or wooden barn should suffice to provide them with the proper shelter. The size of the barn needs to be large enough for the goats to have some room to walk and lay down. It can be a partially open barn to allow air flow, but needs to be insulated in order to help regulate temperature. If you're a beginner to goats, not everyone can afford a barn right off the bat. In that case, many new goat owners get started by building inexpensive or free shelters for their new goats at first. If you'd like to get a few tips on how to do that, go on over to our free guide, "25 Easy Goat Shelters and Sheds Using DIY Pallets."
Show goats tend to do better with hanging feeders. They do not waste as much feed as they would in a feed pan that goes on the ground. Feeding on the ground also creates a greater risk of parasites. Goats also drink better if they have clean water at all times. They tend to be picky, so you will need to make sure and bleach or rinse out water buckets on a regular basis.
Show goat feeding requirements are completely different than feeding a regular goat. The amount of protein that they need to be receiving in feeds will range from 15% to 18%. A complete show feed will have the adequate amount of Copper, Selenium, Magnesium, and other vital nutrients for a goat's health. It is also a good idea to set out a feeder for your goats with free-choice minerals, just in case they aren't getting what they need in their feed.
Photo Credit: University of Arkansas
Natural browse and pasture is always the healthiest food for goats, but you'll want to supplement with extra feed to encourage the growth needed to produce a winning meat goat.
When raising Boer goats for show, the process for feeding them is completely different than feeding pasture goats. The quality of feed needed to maintain optimal body condition is far superior than regular commercial goat feeds. There are many different brands of feed out there that cater to show goats. Some of these brands include Purple Vision, Show Rite, Purina Honor Show Chow, High Noon, Meiss Feeds and Jacoby feeds. The key is to pick a good feed and stick to it when raising Boer goats for show. Many of these feeds have different varieties and steps that you should follow. For example, a feed may be recommended to be fed from birth to 40 lbs of weight and then transitioned. From 40 lbs-70 lbs a different ration may be recommended and then a finisher feed may be made by the same brand of show goat feed.
Ideally you would want to break your goat feedings up into 3 feedings. These would be morning, noon, and evening. This helps to keep the goats' metabolism going all day long. But the reality is that most people cannot adhere to this schedule because of school or work. If you can't do three times per day, then feed twice per day as close to 12 hours apart as possible. For instance, if you feed at 7 A.M. you need to feed again at 7 P.M. Although feeding and raising Boer goats for show is different than feeding pasture goats, it's good to understand overall basics of goat feeding in general, so you will probably want to stop here for a moment and take a look at our guide, "What to Feed Goats: Ultimate Guide to Goat Nutrition."
Exercise is generally used on commercial show wethers. Fat can be turned to muscle by exercise. Because of this, when you're raising Boer goats for show you do not want to exercise a goat until it has an adequate amount of fat and cover on its body. If you do too much running with a goat before it is fat, more than likely you will never see them fill out properly. Once you have them in good body condition, you will want to run them every other day. It is important to know that the goal is for any 4-H and FFA wethers to resemble sprinters, not body builders. In order to achieve this, you do not want to run them for more than 10 minutes per exercise day in an open pen or field. If you have access to a goat or sheep treadmill, you can tie the animal up to the treadmill and have it run on there instead.
Both bucks and wethers are susceptible to urinary calculi. Urinary Calculi occur when a goat gets small stones inside of the ureter. It can cause them to have a hard time urinating and is extremely painful. When raising Boer goats for show, feeding ammonium chloride or a feed that contains the proper amounts of it, helps to lessen the chance of the goat getting it.
Sore mouth is an extremely contagious virus that both goats and sheep carry. It causes scabs to appear around the inside of the mouth, outside of the mouth and nose of the goat. Sore mouth can transfer to a mother goat's teats if a baby that is nursing has it. Sore mouth has to run its course, but screw worm spray or an ointment may help goats heal faster.
While raising Boer goats for show, it's important to keep a goats hooves trimmed. It can especially affect the soundness of show goats. When they walk, you want their feet to be flat on the ground. An overgrowth of the hoof wall or heel can cause a goat to walk incorrectly, which could affect their success in the show ring. To remedy this, you need to buy a good pair or hoof trimmers or a grinding disc. Their feet will need to be trimmed every 3-4 weeks, especially if they are on a show feed ration.
Credit: OldeSouth Farm
To raise a successful Boer goat for show, be sure to do regular hoof trimming. This avoids diseases like foot rot, and helps your Boer goat walk properly.
If you plan on showing a wether goat, they need to be disbudded at around a week to two weeks of age. It is best to have a vet do it or to have someone show you how to properly work a disbudding iron. The iron is extremely hot and must be applied to the kids skull and horn buds for several seconds. The buds must then be knocked off and the wounds re-seared with the burner. Does do not need to be disbudded and most meat goat shows do not allow does to be without their horns. You will want to tip the horns or round them off however. You can do this a few different ways. A dremel tool can be used to wear the tips of the horns down. You can also use your hoof trimmers to snip the ends of the horn off and go over it with sand paper to smooth the horn up. There's a lot more you will want to learn about goat health care in general if you're new to goats, which is way beyond the scope of this one article. If you'd like to study more detail, go on over to our free guide, "Goat Health Care: Diseases, Symptoms and Treatment."
Raising Boer goats for show requires a good understanding of the breeding process. The normal Boer goat buck breeding age is 5-6 months. However, there are some bucks that are ready to mate at 3 months of age. Even though they can show signs of heat at six months of age, the normal Boer goat doe breeding age is 10-12 months of age. Once a Boer doe is of breeding age there are two options when it comes to breeding her. Some Boer breeders have collected frozen semen from top show sires. You can take your doe to a licensed veterinarian who can then artificially inseminate her. Artificial insemination is not as reliable as natural breeding and can be costly. You can also breed your doe to the buck that you bought or take her to another breeder's buck to get new genetics. Once a doe has been bred, the average time before kidding is 5 months or 150 days. A doe may kid before this time, or up to a week after. When raising show goats, it is not unusual to have larger-than-normal babies. This is because of the feed they are fed and the genetics that are geared towards larger animals. It is important that you closely watch your does and assist them if they need help. Those are just a few tips that relate to Boer goat breeding. There's a lot more about goat breeding in general over at our free guide, "Goat Breeding 101: Beginner's Guide to Goat Breeding Season."
“Fitting” typically refers to the process of getting your goat's appearance ready just before a show. Fitting show goats can be a complicated endeavor. This is because commercial wethers and does are not fitted or clipped alike. Neither are registered does and bucks. It just depends on what you are showing. In any case, you will need certain products in order to fit your animal properly. Some of these items are the following:
There are many guides online that you can find to help you learn to clip hair when raising Boer goats for show. The best way is to watch your agriculture instructor or to find a good goat camp in your area. It is not a skill that is easily picked-up. If you need help, there are many people who hire out to clip and fit goats at shows as well.
Photo Credit: Weaver Leather Livestock
Washing your Boer goat before a show is just the first step in pre-show grooming, which is followed by brushing your goat's hair, blowing it dry and adding a coat of show sheen.
When raising Boer goats for show, keeping a goat clean is extremely important for hair growth and skin health. Clean hair grows faster and thicker. This is very important if you are showing a hair doe or a buck. Despite this fact, you shouldn't use soap on a goat every single day. Soap can dry out the skin causing dandruff or skin irritation. Instead, a good regimen to follow is to only wash your goat once or twice per week using a mild livestock soap. Three days per week you should simply rinse your goat with water, brush the hair with a rice root brush, and blow dry the goat until it is mostly dry. When your goat is still a bit damp, you should brush in a single light coat of show sheen. Blow the sheen into the hair and fluff it. After this is completed, take your comb and comb the hair out one last time before removing the goat from the stand.
If you show a hair doe or a buck, brushing is an essential part of hair stimulation as well. You should use a clean rice root brush each time after you wash a goat. A rice root brush will also help you break and train the hair of the goat. When brushing a goat you should start at the neck and shoulders of the animal and brush backwards toward the rump. When you get to the rump, wrap the hair around towards the tail and buttocks. If you want to, you can go over the brush marks with a metal comb. When brushing the legs, pull the leg hair up using the rice root brush and the comb intermittently. The goal is to get the leg hair to stand up naturally for fitting. If you are showing a wether that will be sheared down, you will not need to worry about brushing except for the legs.
When you start raising Boer goats for show, you will discover that not all goat shows are the same. There are ABGA or American Boer Goat Association shows, which cater to registered full-blood and percentage goats. These goats must have papers in order to be shown and any age of exhibitor can show. There are also open jackpot shows that are geared for commercial goat exhibitors in 4-H and FFA. Usually jackpot shows have big payouts and awards such as buckles. Then, there are county fairs and state fair shows, that are also geared toward the commercial side of Boer goats. 4-H and FFA exhibitors that place high enough are able to take their animals through a premium sale, where bidders buy their animal and donate money for the exhibitor to buy a new project goat.
Credit: Johnson County 4-H Goat Club
Spending extra time on pre-show preparation of your Boer goat, such as clipping your Boer goat's hair to look extra smooth, can pay off at judging time.
Before an exhibitor ever sets foot in a ring, they will need to prepare the goat and themselves for showing. When a new goat is purchased, the first thing that needs to be done is halter breaking the animal. First, you should get a rope halter and tie the goat to a fence post giving them minimal slack. This will teach the animal that if it pulls back, pressure is applied to the nose. If it does not resist, it will see that the halter relaxes and is more comfortable. This sets the stage for you to untie the goat and begin getting it to lead. You will slowly pull on the goat and release pressure when it walks forward. This will take several days, but eventually the goat will learn to walk with you. Once this has been accomplished you will switch the goat to a chain or show halter. When raising Boer goats for show, another important aspect of getting a show goat ready is hair prep. Hair of does and bucks needs different treatment than for a wether or wether dam. You will wash the goat no more than twice per week with a mild soap. After washing, use a rice root brush to stimulate hair growth by brushing the hair towards the rump. Blow dry the goat partially. When they are partially dry, comb in a show sheen and finish drying them. The other days of the week, simply rinse the goat. After you rinse them, brush them, dry them, and apply sheen. The more you perform this routine, the hair will learn to lay the way it is supposed to. This will make clipping the goat easier and help their eye appeal in the ring.
When we're getting ready for a goat show, the week leading up to the show is usually pretty crazy. We're running around picking which goats we want to enter in the show, clipping hair, trimming hooves and getting our supplies and equipment together. With all of the stress just before a show, it's easy to forget something important. There's nothing worse than getting to a show, especially if it's out in the country away from any stores, and then realizing you forgot to bring the show collars, or the blood stop powder or maybe an extension cord or electric fan. That's why we put together a basic goat show checklist. It's been a real lifesaver. No matter how stressful and crazy things get, we know we won't forget something important if we simply run down our checklist and make sure we have everything before we pull our and head to the show. If you'd like to get your own checklist going, we've got a free copy of our personal goat show checklist you can use to get started. Of course, you'll probably want to add your own stuff to it later to make it your own.
When raising Boer goats for show, a show book is a very convenient item to keep inside of your show box or vehicle. Inside of it you will need to keep any health certificates which are mandatory at all state and major shows. Health papers are only good for 30 days, so make sure that you know what dates you will be at the shows. If you are showing in any registered shows such as the ABGA, papers will need to be viewed by officials at check-in. It is also a good idea if you entered a show online to print off any entry form copies as proof of entry.
Credit: Wilton Boer Goat Ranch
Following the dress code at a goat show won't earn you extra points, but failure to do so can hurt your Boer goat's chances if a judge is deciding a close tie and looks at the quality of your whole presentation in making a final decision.
Part of raising Boer goats for show is to understand what you need to wear when participating in a show. Depending on what type of show you are participating in, the dress wear can slightly differ. It is always best to consult the rule book or contact whoever is running the show to be certain of what the dress code is. If you are showing in an open show, jackpot, or ABGA show, you need to wear a nice long or short sleeved shirt, clean jeans, a belt, and boots or close toed loafers. Kids and teens who participate in the 4-H an FFA shows usually have a much stricter dress code. Although it can vary from state to state, 4-H students are supposed to wear an official 4-H jacket or vest with a green or white collared shirt or a green and white polo shirt with an official 4-H emblem. Students who are in FFA may wear their official jackets or an FFA long-sleeved shirt with the correct emblem. These tops should be paired with a nice pair of jeans, a belt, and boots. There should be no headgear on, although some shows do allow cowboy hats.
Once you step into the show ring with your Boer goat, it's critical to follow all instructions from the judge, and to follow proper show ring etiquette.
When you enter the show ring with a goat, there is an etiquette that should be followed in order to be a good showman. The very first rule is to constantly keep your eye on the judge and know where he or she is at all times. Yes, this means as soon as you step foot in the ring you should be staring at them. The only time that you should take your eyes off of them is to make sure your goat is set up correctly, or to move their feet. You will need to listen to the ring help or follow the goats in front of you to know where to set up. Do not talk to the other showmen when inside of the ring. Once you are told where to place your goat, you need to have them set up before the judge gets to you. All four feet need to be square with the goat's body, The goat's head and neck should be up, and you need to have a good grip on the chain or halter that you are leading the goat with. You should also make sure that your goat is always between the judge and yourself, switching to different sides of the goat if necessary. If you have done your work at home, the goat should lead, almost walking a bit out in front of the showman. However, all goats can act up from time to time. It is crucial that no matter what happens, you remain calm. Whether your goat is jumping up or trying to get away, you need to keep a cool head. Remember that every show that you attend is supposed to be fun and has a lesson that can be learned. Each time you set foot in the ring, you should learn at least one thing that you can use to make you better at showing. It takes more than just dragging a good goat in the ring to win. Win or lose, always have a good attitude, and shake the judge's hand before you exit the ring.
Video Credit: AgSmartTV
We hope this guide has given you a good overview of some of the things to expect if you are getting into raising Boer goats for show. It takes some effort and practice to get started, but once you get a couple of shows under your belt, you'll be hooked. Not only will you have a great time and meet a lot of new friends, but you will also be part of a potential new business opportunity for yourself. With the ever-increasing demand for goat meat, and the rising value of meat goats (especially Boer goats), raising Boer goats for show will continue to be an exciting and profitable venture.