Making money with Boer goats.
My wife and I bought 20 unimproved acres in west Texas six years ago. And we bought, at auction, a small two-bedroom one-bath house with a hole in the roof for $1,800. We patched the roof and fixed the water damage inside for about $2,500. After we fenced the acreage (hence the name of the farm) her aunt and uncle gave us a Nubian buck. We then had to buy six dairy/Spanish cross does for his company. We were in the meat goat business.
After our first kidding, we sold the wethers for about $40 each and kept the doe kids.
About that time, Boer goats hit the market for more money (per head) than we paid for our farm. These Boer goats were going to revolutionize the meat goat market. They were big, gained weight quickly, bred every eight months, but cost more than a new pickup truck. We waited and kept breeding our "common" goats. We barely broke even.
After several years as the safety director of a west Texas city, my boss called me into his office and told me I was burning out. I agreed, and quit! I'm retired military and my wife does not work outside the home. She would probably agree that working outside the home would be easier. We live on my military retirement income and what we make raising goats.
I cashed in my civilian retirement and bought our first fullblood Boer buck for $5,000. Study after study has proved that Boer cross kids are 15 to 20% heavier at weaning than common goats. We crossed this buck with all the does we had and we also made a few extra dollars in breeding fees. We charged $50 per doe for breeding and business was so good we bought another fullblood Boer buck for $1,000 (prices had come down by then) just to breed other people's does. The first person brought 12 does for breeding and we made $600--almost the purchase price of the second buck.
Then we started buying full blood Boer does. The price ranged from $500 to $1,200. But we sold the kids for $350 to $800 each. Each doe paid for herself in the first breeding. After that, the kids were clear profit.
For homesteaders just starting out with meat goats, we suggest a starting herd of one full blood Boer buck, six half-breed Boer does and six dairy cross does. Because the prices for Boer goats have gone down to affordable levels, a herd such as this can be bought for about $2,000.
1 full blood Boer buck, 1 year old $650 6 half-breed Boer does, 1 year old $750 S dairy cross does, 1 year old $600 $2,000
How long will it take to get a return on this investment?
Boer and some dairy goats can be bred every eight months. We usually pull the kids at 60 days and the doe is rebred in about three weeks. If you start with adult goats, you can expect kids in five to six months.
At six months from purchase, you should have 24 kids on the ground. Twelve will be 3/4 blood kids (half-breed bred to full blood buck) and 12 will be half-breed kids (dairy cross to full blood buck).
Here in west Texas, 1/2 and 3/4 blood Boer buck kids are sold at 5 months and weigh about 70 pounds. Prices this spring averaged about $1 a pound liveweight. The better 1/2 and 3/4 blood Boer does were sold as breeding does from $100 to $200.
At these prices, the twelve half-breed kids will average about $75 for a total of $900. The twelve 3/4 blood kids will average about $125 for a total of $1,500. You just made $2,400 the first kidding.
And these are west Texas prices. We've been told that east and west coast prices are two to three times higher. If you're in an area where Boer goat prices are still high, it will make money sense to come to west Texas to buy your starter herd.
And how much can you make in breeding fees from your full blood Boer buck? Let's add another $600 (12 does at $50 each). At month eight from buying your starter herd, you have earned $3,000 minus feed costs.
Our records show that it costs about $50 a year to feed a breeding age doe. You will have 12 does costing $50 a year to feed and that equals $600. Your breeding fees just paid the feed bill. At eight months, you have 125% of your investment cost. The second time they breed, it will be almost clear profit.
Here in west Texas, you can run about 1 to 1-1/2 goats per acre with supplemental feeding of protein pellets and hay. We run 30 full blood and cross Boer does on our 20 acres. We have spoken with some producers in the southeast U.S. who can run four goats per acre.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that the city of New York could consume 1,000,000 goats a year if the goats were available. They estimated that there are only 850,000 goats in the US right now. They said we need about 5,000,000 breeding goats just to supply the demand.
The object of the meat goat producer is to provide a heavy and lean goat weighing about 50 pounds in 60 days. The Spanish or dairy breeds cannot achieve that gain in 60 days. But with Boer influence, that objective can be reached, if not surpassed.
And finally, we are being paid by the pound at auction. That makes a huge difference in profits. If you sell your goats at auction and they still sell goats by the head, either demand they sell by the pound or seek another auction.
But selling individuals is still the best way to sell goats. Last spring, we sold over 30 kids (full blood and cross Boer) by making only four phone calls to previous customers. If you provide an excellent goat for a reasonable price and you keep your costs down, you'll only need to advertise the first year.
My wife and I firmly believe in the Boer goat but we do not believe that the goat is gold-plated. It is an excellent " meat goat" and should be priced accordingly. And when a full blood Boer buck is crossed with the many different goat breeds, the crosses can be outstanding meat goats. Maybe the perfect meat goat is 1/8 Boer, 1/8 Spanish, 1/8 dairy, 1/8 Angora, 1/8 Tennessee Stiff Leg, 1/8 Scare Goat, 1/8 faith and 1/8 luck?
Meat goats used to be a way to make Christmas money. Now they can provide a good first or second income. Goats are the perfect small acreage livestock for fun and profit.
RELATED ARTICLE: Words spell checkers don't catch
Farming and homesteading employ many words not in common use. If these words sound similar to more familiar ones, it's easy to use the wrong spelling. (One of our favorite examples: weiner pigs for weaner pigs.)
Here are some of the words various correspondents have used to describe castrated goats--along with the correct definitions.
weather: The state of the atmosphere
whether: A conjunction used to introduce alternatives
whither: To what place, result or condition
wither: Shrivel or dry up
wether: A castrated sheep or goat