“Someone’s got goats,” said a voice behind me in the check out line at the Tractor Supply store. I turned to see a pleasant older man in denim, his flatbed cart piled high with bags of the same brand of goat feed that I had in my cart. “What are you feeding these days?” he asked. “Kiko-boer cross does,” I replied. “How do you like those Kikos? I’ve heard good things about them, thinking about trying them myself.” he said, adding that he currently raised Boer goats.
This isn’t the first conversation I’ve had with local goat owners in which people raising Boer goats express interest in crossing with the Kiko breed. Some background for all of you who don’t raise goats – Boer goats are long, heavy-boned, large-framed goats with massive meaty muscling. They originally came from South Africa where they had been developed by Dutch stockmen. They are mostly white with dark red heads and necks and have long floppy ears. Boer goats are the most popular meat goat in American and are by far and large the most prevalent meat goat in our area, so much so that the local 4-H club won’t even let you show a meat goat that isn’t full-breed or predominately Boer.
Kiko goats are relative newcomers. They were developed in the early 1970s in New Zealand using feral goats and a process of elimination that kept only the goats that lived up to the qualifications of being the fastest-maturing, meatiest and most disease and parasite resistant. It really was survival of the fittest as the stockmen provided no supplementary feed, no shelter, vet care or assistance at kidding. These harsh conditions produced very hardy, low-maintenance goats that are gaining in popularity in America.
Boer goat owners have begun crossing their goats with the Kiko breed and the result has been goats that are some of the fastest-maturing, most efficient meat goats in the world. When I began researching livestock for our little homestead I was immediately drawn to the Kiko goat – there is a huge well-established market for goat meat in America (so much so that goat producers in the US cannot meet it and most of the goat meat sold here is imported from New Zealand) – and a hardy, low maintenance goat sounded like a good bet for the neophyte owner!
Following the advice to start small and learn while you go, we purchased three Kiko-Boer cross does earlier this fall. We didn’t buy a buck because most of what I read suggested it would be easier to lease one at the time you needed him. As it has turned out that is not true if the buck you need is a registered full-blood Kiko buck! If we want to breed our does to a Kiko buck we will need to buy one – there aren’t any locally for lease.
Since several of the Boer goat farmers have expressed interest in the Kikos and since we need a buck to service our does I’ve started looking into buying a Kiko buck. I’m hoping that this new addition will not only get our goat production going but might also bring in some cash if we lease him out locally. A full-blooded registered Kiko goat is a relatively expensive investment for us – quality bucks can range in price from $500 to over $2,000! Naturally we are going to be looking at the lower end of that range! We are starting to work on adding new pens to our barn and planning fencing for a 2nd field so that we can keep the does and buck separate at times.
Here are some of the goat producers I’m talking with:
Kiko Gal Ranch in Illinois and Arcadia Valley Kiko Goats in Missouri. There is also a ranch in Tennessee and one in Michigan that has Kiko bucks for sale. Looks like a road-trip in my future! And hopefully before too long I’ll be able to say to prospective customers “I’ve got your goat!”