Livestock farmers under price pressure

While reports that South Africa is harvesting a bumper maize crop of around 13,5 million tons is good news for crop farmers, livestock farmers are under serious pressure as stock prices languish in the doldrums.

The impact of the longest strike in the South Africa’s mining history is significant on the economy as a whole. The recently booming town of Rustenburg – centre of the country’s platinum industry – has become a virtual ghost town overnight as an estimated ZAR6 billion worth of wages and salaries have been forfeited by striking miners.  Many of these miners support families back home. The lack of funds being remitted to rural families has dealt the buying power of South Africa a sensitive blow.

With many sub-contracting businesses shutting down or significantly reducing services to the mines, even more people are finding themselves between a rock and a hard place as they struggle to make ends meet with no income. Churches are providing food and other assistance to affected parties while excluding strikers from aid.

The knock-on affect of the strike and associated economic woes caused by an incompetent government, are pushing South Africa to the brink of a serious recession. The exchange rate has turned against the country and input costs for farmers are spiraling out of control. Lower producer prices, ever increasing input costs, a draconian tax burden imposed by a government under pressure to supply socialistic services to ever increasing masses by a diminishing tax payer base, crumbling infrastructure and waning services do not bode well for the economy as a whole.

Farmers, being price takers, are under serious threat as they battle to deal with threats to private ownership of their farms on top of their economic woes.

Boer Goat training to run alongside 1st Boer Goat Expo

Exciting news for Boer Goat farmers is that the Profitable Boer Goat Farming training course will be held on Wednesday 29 January near Potchefstroom to allow students the opportunity to visit the 1st SA National Boer Goat Expo to be held at the AfriDome in nearby Parys between 30 January and 2 February.

The Expo, being presented by the Central Interior and Highveld Boer Goat Clubs promises the Boer Goat farmer a lot of information and a packed program of events. A number of workshops will also be held.  Information on Boer Goat meat, meat processing, livestock nutrition, show preparation and other aspects will all be covered.

Bookings for the training course can be made online through this website or by contacting Boer Goats SA on 072 594 4626.  Information about the Expo can be obtained from Cobus Meyer on 083 512 0629 or Gerald Calitz on 083 502 0227

Internet traffic on the Boer Goats SA website growing

Internet traffic to the Boer Goats SA website has continued to grow and has exceeded expectations each month this year to date. October saw around 400 000 actual visitors (this excludes web crawlers and other automated internet traffic) browse the site to obtain relevant and up-to-date information on the South African Boer Goat.

Participation in the forum has been disappointing, despite the fact that there is a wealth of practical advice and information being shared there.  Ways to grow this participation and make the use of the forum a richer experience are being investigated. Direct email enquiries and requests for information and advice continue to grow and is placing an ever larger load on current resources. The plan is to move this email load to the forum where many repetitive questions will be available for a wider audience.

Exciting plans for the future include on-line learning materials and courses, direct downloads of information resources from the site and wider availability of the information through other internet points such as Facebook. The Facebook pilot page can be viewed at

The growth in traffic is a positive sign for the industry and points to continued interest in the South African Boer Goat, yardstick against which all other meat goats are measured.

Scam adverts on Boer Goats SA website deleted

It has come to the attention of Boer Goats SA that three advertisements placed under the “Classified Adverts” link on our website are scams and users are urged to avoid the person in question.  The adverts are those as shown in the attached image.  A criminal case has already been opened at the SAPS against the perpetrators and we hope and trust that they will speedily be brought to account.

The scammers seem to be operating from Durban and Upington under the name of Victoria Lindsay Pty (Ltd) with a “head office”at 84 Random Streets (sic), Upington. Contact numbers are 071 033 036 and 071 797 4595.  The person answering the phone claims to be Anthony.

scam adverts

We urge all users and visitors to always use their common sense and proceed with caution when dealing with any unknown parties.  As with many things in life,  it pays to know who you are dealing with and that the party has some form of reputable track record before any financial transaction is entered into.  We are always available for visitors to alert us to these scams at the earliest opportunity so that this curse can be combatted whenever it is encountered.

Boer Goats SA wishes to express its sympathy with the parties that have been affected and trust that justice will prevail.

Stall-fed goats vs functionally efficient animals

Commercial Boer Goat farmers are questioning the high prices being paid for stall-fed animals supposedly hardy and adaptable, only to see the “meat-carrying” capacity of the goats melt away once they are put onto natural veld grazing under extensive conditions. While some may argue that poor animal husbandry practices play a role – and this is indeed so in certain instances – there are too many cases being reported to make this an isolated instance. While producers understand the need to round-off sale animals, the feeling is that overfeeding at the expense of functional efficiency is unacceptable.

The Boer Goat has been bred to perform under extensive conditions with minimal inputs. Boer Goats are marketed as hardy, adaptable animals delivering high kidding percentages. Clearly this is no longer the case with many of the animals being sold to commercial breeders for top prices.  The tendency among stud breeders to stall-feed animals in pursuit of non-sustainable sale prices and auction status, is a dangerous path to follow.  The end result will be a proliferation of sub-standard Boer Goat genetics, to the detriment of the core value and health of the Boer Goat industry in South Africa.  This will be a sad day for the breed indeed.

The following email was recently received from an unhappy Boer Goat farmer in Botswana:

“These are the plastic goats I discussed with a South African Boer Goat breeder on a visit to Botswana recently. I am closely following related discussions on the website as our commercial farmers are battling the same problem. This buck was bought for R15000 (exl vat & vet charges) from a well-known breeder in June 2013. A mere three months down the line the buck has changed to the version in the photo at right.  The buyer is desperately trying to feed it without any improvement. This is disturbing and I am afraid desperate farmers in Botswana and other less advanced farming areas are still to be ripped off with these price-inflated and overfed animals. This is not right.”


01.June.2013      29.09.2013

Managing livestock during droughts

The drought conditions being experienced in much of Southern Africa requires special management of livestock to successfully survive.  The Eastern Cape has experienced minimal winter precipitation and, despite the prospect of summer rains within the next 3 – 4 weeks, current grazing availability is critically low.  Many farmers are feeding their livestock and have significantly reduced flocks to minimize grazing requirements.

The article below was published by  Dr. Johan A van Rooyen, State Veterinarian:  Research and Training, Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute and distributed to Farmer’s Associations.  The article discusses sheep but the recommendations made are equally applicable to Boer Goats.

Boer Goats SA thanks him for this important and useful information.  Livestock farmers would be well advised to make use of the information contained therein.




Modern small stock breeds have been bred for high levels of production.  This has changed the priorities of the metabolic processes.  As the nutrient resources become more limiting the available energy, protein and other nutrients are reserved for the survival functions of the body.  This varies between breeds.   Merino sheep will reduce the supply of resources to the wool growth and muscles whilst maintaining a pregnancy.  Dorper sheep will more readily abort the fetus but maintain muscle mass.

The immune system is very often neglected in high producing animals that suffer from malnutrition. One of the most common problems during droughts is the failure of transmission of colostrum to the lamb or kid.  This results in lambs with very poor immunity, especially against clostridial diseases.  The  feed intake is also abnormal, less palatable feeds are consumed, even toxic or irritating plants that will not normally be part of the diet, are consumed.  Supplementation will also lead to the intake of higher than normal levels of for example grains and urea.

The result of this is an abnormal and often unstable rumen and gut flora and enterotoxamia will occur at a much earlier stage than what is usually found.  Lambs start dying from Pulpy Kidney disease at 3 to 4 weeks of age.  It is therefore recommended, in a drought situation to do the following:

1. Vaccinate lambs from the age of 4 weeks with single antigen Pulpy Kidney vaccine, alum based. (Pulpy kidney OBP or Pulpyvax MSD).

2. Repeat the vaccination every six weeks up to the normal weaning age.

3. Boost the lamb’s immunity with vitamin A and trace elements 10 days after the first vaccination. (Embamin TE + Embavit Merial).

4. Do not drench with anthelmintics until at least 10 days after the first Enterotoxamia vaccination.

5. Early weaning of lambs will be of benefit for both the ewe and the lamb.  Starting early with creep feeding will make it possible to wean lambs at 50 days (this is applicable to sheep only – editor)


We have had numerous cases of lambs dying form enterotoxaemia (Bloednier) at 3 to 6 weeks old over the past weeks.  Lamb dysentery (Bloedpens) usually occurs in lambs under 3 weeks old.

Adult sheep will also need additional care:

1. Severe nutritional stress, especially resulting  low levels of protein may lead to reduced immunity.  Recovering animals should receive a booster against the common diseases, especially enterotoxaemia.

2. Animals with reduced immunity are more prone to bankrupt worm species and kraal problems such as Trichuris and Strongyloides.  Immunity can be boosted with vitamin and trace elements.

3. Treatment for helminth parasites may be required even though the normal response is that it is not required during a drought.  Monitoring fecal egg counts is very important when non-blood sucking parasites are a problem.  Wireworm is seldom present during droughts, however  animals are more susceptible.

4. Peer group management should be applied during drought feeding.  Flocks should be divided into groups according to age, sex, size, condition score, pregnancy status and breeds as required to reduce competition during feeding.

5. Feeding every second day is less stressful than daily feeding if there is no natural grazing available

6. Feed close to water, close to home and near shade to reduce energy wastage and to increase levels of observation

7. The use of urea should be carefully monitored.  If, for example 1% urea is included in a full feed, 1 kg of feed will include 10g of urea which can be fatal.  Dominant animals may eat more than this even if the average intake is for example 900g (the recommended DM intake of a 50 kg sheep for maintenance).  Also bear in mind that the rumen flora may not be very active resulting in reduced conversion of urea into protein.

8. Grain overload and rumen acidosis is a common problem even with alkali treated maize if the intake of grain is more than 300 g to 500 g per day.

After adequate rain the natural pastures have very low nutritional levels initially.  Malnutrition may still be very serious.  We advise that supplementation should only be decreased once the alternative grazing is mature enough to supply animal’s needs.

We also stress the fact that animals that have suffered severely during a drought may need to be vaccinated as soon as they pick up condition to restore their immunity.

Successful training course held in Botswana

A successful Profitable Boer Goat Farming course was held at the Fairgrounds in Gaborone, Botswana on 17 August.  The National Development Bank (NDB) seconded six students to attend the course as part of equipping them with knowledge in their assistance to goat farmers in the bank’s goat programs.

A great deal of material like the economics of Boer Goat farming, animal health, genetics, production cycles and marketing was covered in the day-long course. Students also highlighted some of the challenges being faced in their sector.  Viability of small-scale farming operations accounted for much of the informal discussion sessions while supply chain ownership was another element posing significant challenges to the farmers.  As is being heard more frequently in other countries around the world, students decried the often inordinate profits generated by middlemen – frequently retailers – at the expense of both the farmer and the consumer. Solutions offered ranged from the establishment of own retail outlets to the forming of co-operative farming ventures.

Judging from feedback received after the course it would appear that concrete plans are to be made to further the aims of the group of students.

Post Office strike causes delivery delays

The strike at the South African Post Office and the backlog in parcel and other postal item deliveries is causing delays in the delivery of items ordered from Boer Goats SA.

Reports of delays of up to six weeks in the delivery of books, DVDs and other items ordered have been received.  Boer Goats SA apologises for this delay but it is unfortunately out of our control.  We are more than happy to courier items to customers if they prefer.  This would incur an additional cost that will be quoted on request.  This would be an interim measure until normal postal services are restored.

Customers can track their parcel by visiting the official SA Post Office website ( or by visiting this website: Enter the tracking number emailed to you by Boer Goats SA and the location and status of your parcel will be displayed.

Livestock prices drop as supply increases

Livestock prices on local markets are dropping sharply as volumes of slaughter animals climb in the face of the drought afflicting the central and western parts of South Africa.  Neighbouring southern African countries are also facing a bleak winter as rainfall has been significantly below average.

With quality and quantity of pasture very low as the sub-continent goes into winter, producers have been forced to sell off excess stock before their condition drops and prices drop even further. Feedlots are reporting slow sales into the retail markets as a slowing economy squeezes consumers and volumes drop. Crop losses in the major cropping areas of the country have also forced maize prices higher, catching especially intensive producers in a pincer.

Farmers are advised to sell off older and lower producing animals while their condition is still good to maximise the return on forced sales. A core of prime productive animals should be retained to ensure rapid flock growth when the rain returns in the new season. Licks specifically formulated for drought conditions should be made available to animals in good time to reduce weight and condition losses on animals. Many farmers are preparing for their breeding season for spring kidding now and especially these animals should be receiving the best quality feed available on the farm.  This will ensure strong healthy kids and maximise the kidding yield.

New Boer Goats SA website now online

The Boer Goats SA website has undergone a total redesign and upgrade and was taken online on 12 March. The new site has some significant improvements that will enrich the visitor experience. The improvements are aimed at making information access on the website easier and more intuitive, while also expanding the Boer Goat information available.

One of the major drivers behind the complete redesign of the site is to allow 2-way communication, especially when it comes to visitors obtaining advice and information related to Boer Goats in general and to management in particular. In this regard, the Forum should prove invaluable to visitors as information will be readily available with a few keystrokes. The old e-mail based system did not provide the turn-around times visitors want and the administrative load had become too great due to the significant growth in visitor numbers.

Ordering of products and services as well as registrations for training courses can now all be done on-line with a streamlined EFT payment process. A number of the products will also be available for on-line download.

Another exciting development that will be implemented later in the year is an on-line training course that can be downloaded in modules. This development has been driven by demand from countries outside of Southern Africa where the cost for students to attend live training courses is often high due to air travel expenses.

The changes include:

  • A News page will allow readers to comment on articles placed.
  • The Forum will greatly expand the information available and allow user interaction with much shorter turn around times.
  • Products and services will be more easily available via the E-commerce page that will also allow EFT payments.
    The products available will be expanded and certain products will be available for on-line downloads once payment has been received.
  • Adverts can be placed directly on the Classifieds page by users after registering.
  • Registration for Training Courses is now even easier with an on-line booking system.