Boer bucks boost production in trial

Boer goats can survive and successfully boost goatmeat production on western division pastoral properties, according to results from an on-farm trial.

Greg Church said the trial he ran on his property, Bushley Station, has provided valuable information on management options to maximise the effectiveness of Boer bucks in the western division.

“Trial results identified management options to further improve production that I now use to overcome issues I had with Boer buck survival and performance,” Mr Church said.

The two-year trial investigated the optimal age to introduce bucks into pastoral areas, acclimatisation and the effect of implementing a managed joining program.

According to Mr Church, simple practices used to introduce and acclimatise bucks during the trial are now part of his normal management.

NSW DPI regional animal health manager Greg Curran said that overall the Boer goats adapted and performed remarkably well.

“One surprise was how readily bucks from the ‘inside’ country took to the chenopod and other shrubs and grasses in pastoral country,” Dr Curran said.

“The bucks did well for the first three months, but in May 2005 we detected some weight loss.

“Blood samples revealed the first recorded cobalt deficiency in western NSW goats, which reduces vitamin B12 levels, and phosphorus deficiencies.

“A low-level cool season worm burden was present and goats were drenched and treated with B12 and phosphorus supplements.

“Mortalities arose later in the season, caused by a complex interaction of the mineral deficiencies, teeth abnormalities, worm burdens and exposure to cold, wet conditions.

“The lack of any significant mortality in rangeland goats under the same conditions suggested that Boer bucks may be more susceptible to nutritional deficiencies, teeth and mouth problems, and worms.

“These risks can be managed and young bucks should be monitored closely when they are cutting their second and fourth teeth.

“Bucks with higher levels of resistance to worms are clearly more desirable.”

Management practices and improved pasture saw the surviving bucks perform well to achieve an average weight gain of 23.3 kilograms from August to November 2006.

Weight and age of the bucks when they were introduced had an effect on survival with heavier and older goats generally being more at risk.

In two joining treatments, trial results showed that a managed treatment delivered approximately 88 per cent Boer-sired progeny in comparison with the unmanaged group at about 36.5pc.

Marking percentages of about 140pc were achieved by both treatments.

“I think we have to bring young bucks into pastoral country and let them grow out here,” Mr Church said.

The trial highlighted the importance of sound conformation in the bucks, sound mouths, legs, hooves and shoulders, which is crucial to their performance in pastoral areas.

The trial began in February 2005 with 154 Boer bucks donated from 12 different studs across eastern Australia, supported by Boer Goat Breeders’ Association of Australia and funded by Meat and Livestock Australia.