We work to constantly improve our animals through selective breeding to give us the best chance of producing offspring that are good enough to keep as replacements to improve our herd. While many of our animals are competitive in sanctioned shows, our management is geared more toward production than the show ring.
Our primary goal is to produce functional animals who thrive in a low-input environment. Our does consistently breed and kid easily and raise at least two kids to weaning without assistance.
Because Boer goats are a meat producing animal, we have selected for fast growing goats who have high yields when slaughtered. Over the last decade, we have improved the dressing percentage of our goats significantly and frequently see hanging slaughter weights of at least at 58% of live weight, compared to the accepted average of 45-50%.
Our doe herd is always evolving. We expect all of our does to breed in the first 3 weeks of exposure to a buck (usually the first 7 days), kid at least once a year, average twins, and deliver and raise their kids without assistance. Using these guidelines, we have developed a prolific foundation doe herd consisting of individuals with excellent maternal ability and ample milk production.
When we select replacement does, we ask these questions:
Since a buck will contribute his genetics to an entire crop of kids, we feel buck selection is extremely important and are very critical of a potential breeding buck. When we choose breeding bucks to utilize in our herd, we try our best to select bucks who will improve the quality of our next generation of kids.
The most important traits we look for include fast growth rate, correct conformation and adherence to ABGA breed standards. When possible, we like to see udder conformation and capacity of the buck's dam and any sisters in production. Proven genetics, eye appeal and a non-aggressive demeanor complete the package.
While most of our breeding utilizes live cover mating, we also have an assortment of frozen semen from a range of bucks in our tank. These additional bucks allow us to maintain a diverse genetic pool within our herd without relying solely on outside bucks.
To prepare for breeding, we like to make sure all breeding animals are in good condition. This may mean trimming hooves, deworming, updating vaccines or increasing nutrition levels just prior to breeding. Ideally, we are already keeping up with these things and simply need to turn the buck out with the does.
We generally breed for winter kids. Since a doe's gestation period is approximately 150 days, breeding usually takes place in late summer/ early fall. Unlike many breeds of goats, Boer goats cycle nearly year round instead of "seasonally" from late fall through mid-winter.
We run a single buck with a group of does for at least the length of one heat cycle. Generally, we outfit the buck with a marking harness and crayon so we can record the breeding date. This allows us to be sure of the sire of each kid that is born, and gives us a very good estimate of each doe's due date.
Oak Hollow Livestock
Shelburne, Massachusetts, United States
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