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Where's Everyone Going?
by Keith Smith

11/27/2002 is called upon to answer dozens, sometimes hundreds, of questions every day.
The most common questions lately have been variations of "Why are so many long time breeders leaving the Boer goat industry"?
The short answer goes something like this...

Most of the retiring breeders are leaving for health reasons. Many of our human bodies are like Fords... Fix Or Repair Daily, and a lot of us are held together with baling wire and bunji cords. Every surgery means recovery time spent doing work other than goat husbandry. Those recoveries seem to take longer with each successive cutting and each increasing year of age.

A close second is somewhat related - a change in attitude that accompanies advancing chronological age. Many breeders have reached the age where their definition of the phrase "a good time" has changed. It used to be "I want to walk miles of fence in the blowing sleet to find the break". Now it's "I want to sit on the porch and watch the grass grow". It's hard to watch the grass grow when you're in the barn applying tattoos and trimming hooves or you're in some far off city parading your best show doe in front of a judge.

"But what about the younger breeders - some of them are abandoning ship too"?

Many started their goat odyssey under the influence of "the romance of getting back to the earth". That romance wears a little thin the second time they slip in the mud and get back to the earth face down in a puddle of barnyard leavings.

Some under estimated the amount of labor required to successfully operate an agriculture enterprise... they expected a harvest without tilling, weeding, planting and irrigating. Others simply found out that their children were allergic to goat hair.

Another piece of knowledge that came too late for some was "even the most highly regarded breeding lines don't always produce good offspring". Successful selection of breeding stock is part science, part luck. Three or four years of purchasing good goats from high powered lines but still missing the genetic lottery can make anyone loose faith.

Some novice buyers fell for the line "Don't worry, the breed standards will be changed to allow (insert your favorite cull factor here)". Heavy financial investment in niche market breeding stock that cannot be resold at a profit has left a bad taste in the mouths of some breeders. Breeding stock that does not meet the breed standards will probably not be profitable in the long run.

Uneducated buyers are still asking, "Are your goats South African"? Such buyers might just as well hang a sign around their neck proclaiming, "I don't know much about goats but I know some buzz words". Most sellers have learned the correct answer to this inane question is, "Yes". Sellers who take the moral high ground and try to educate the buyer by answering, "All Boers are SA", seldom close the sale. Buyers don't want to be educated on this point; they were already "educated" by some other seller with a niche market (SA) animal to sell.

Fears that the Boer goat breeding industry has peaked are premature. The market is very strong and new breeders are coming on board every hour.
Those of us leaving the industry do so with a heavy heart. We love our goats and the friends we've made over the years. KLS Boer Goats will soon be gone but Keith & Lucinda Smith will still be active in the industry through the on line Boer and Meat Goat Information Center named We'll still attend as many Boer goat events as possible.

As Lilly Tomlin as Edith Ann would say... "And that's the truth, Pbtbtbtbth".


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