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DEATH BECAUSE OF 41 POUNDS

By: Annette Maze
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The South African Boer Goat is a masterful animal. It can exhibit impressive weight gains. It can produce kids of 10 to 12 pounds of birth weights. Bucks can be 100 pounds at 100 days. Breeders will brag to all who will listen of the attributes of the “greatest” meat goat in the world.

That all sounds good. But, we may have taken this incredible goat to the wrong side of darkness. I was very impressed at the recent 2003 USBGA National Show. It was made clear to the exhibitors and audience in the barn that “OVER CONDITIONED GOATS” would be placed according to the score card and then moved BACK one place. A hush did come over the audience as the National Judges did that very thing. As it was announced over the microphone I could see many folks in the audience grabbing for their cell phones. Good for the USBGA Judges Committee. Good for Boer Goats!

The direction change about fat has renewed clarity. The announcement has been made to all USBGA Judges of the new policy rules. Over conditioning may be identified by a hand full of fat at the point of elbow. (That is the area right behind the front leg.) The fat cover on the last rib may identify it. Fat may also be found on the tail of the goat. Fat goats in the USBGA shows will not be rewarded. This unhealthy practice of raising goats that can barely walk has to stop!

Hundreds of Boer Does die each year from pregnancy toxemia. They just cannot feed babies inside and deal with being over conditioned too. The USBGA office hears about the tragedies as members ask for the dead does to be taken off of their records.

I have an embryo station at my farm. Folks bring me goats to be submitted for harvesting embryos, thru surgical techniques. Recently, a customer brought me two older Boer does for consideration. I put them both on diets and after 6 weeks I put them into the embryo program. Even after their diets they were still very fat and neither one of them produced viable embryos. Unfortunately, one of them died in the recovery room shortly after the surgery. The veterinarian cut her open from her chest right down to her udder. At this point, even with my 31 years of raising goats, I was shocked as tears came to my eyes. A giant ball of fat rolled out of her stomach on to the floor. The vet cut the ball loose and picked it up. As the sun came in to light the gruesome site, the ball turned into a shimmering round crocheted style tablecloth. There were hundreds and hundreds of woven cords that any spider would be challenged to reproduce. I will be forever burdened by the knowledge that we as breeders can do that to an animal. Forty-One pounds of fat killed her. That was a 206-pound goat packing around 41 pounds of fat in her belly.

If you never pay attention to anything else that is written about Boer Goats please pay attention to this. Do not intentionally shorten your Boer Goats life. When you see your Boer Goats getting “pone” behind that front leg re-evaluate your feeding program. When you can feel more than a fourth of an inch beside that tail STOP what you are doing!

Save your goats…….save your money….…save our industry.

About the author: Annette Maze is the Executive Director of the USBGA, and runs Hill Country Farm

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