The Lifespan of Boer Goats: What to Expect

Have you ever wondered about the lifespan of Boer goats and what to expect? It’s not always clear what the lifespan of Boer goats is, how long they’ll potentially live for, and when they’ll likely be ready for meat if you’re planning on breeding Boer goats. With this thought in mind, today, we’ll be taking a look at the lifespan of Boer goats and what you should expect in this regard, as well as giving some tips and ideas on how to ensure your goat has the best chance of living a long life. 

However, it’s important to remember that there’s no set way to ensure your goat’s lifespan; for example, when we started out, one of our very first goats was a welfare case, and she went on to live until around eleven! However, some other goats might not make it past a few years, perhaps due to a random accident. As such, there’s always an element of genetics and luck involved, no matter how good your husbandry and care are.

How Long Does a Boer Goat Live?

When it comes to discussing the age of a production goat such as a Boer goat, there are so many different factors that can come into play here. With this thought in mind, it’s not easy to say how long a Boer goat usually lives. However, in most cases, a Boer goat will usually live up to a maximum of fifteen years of age. Reaching that age is not necessarily the norm, though, and most Boer goats will likely die earlier than this.

What is the Normal Lifespan of a Breeding Boer Goat? 

The normal lifespan of a breeding Boer goat depends on many factors. However, if you kid your Boer goat once a year or use them for breeding once per year, a normal lifespan of between six and ten years is usually about right. 

However, it is important to consider that this depends on so many different factors. For example, our oldest breeding doe died at eleven years (the gal I mentioned earlier, bless her). However, this is almost certainly going to be trumped by our first ever goat, Rose, who is still going strong at just shy of eleven – so she’ll likely get to twelve or thirteen easily unless something unexpected takes her out first! We also have several eight- and nine-year-olds who are still doing wonderfully, albeit looking a little saggy around the mouth in their old age – their droopy lips are really endearing! 

When are Boer Goat Kids Ready for Meat? 

If you’re looking to determine the likely Boer meat kid’s lifespan before they’re slaughtered, this again depends on many factors. Usually, a meat kid will finish at between four months and a year of age. However, there’s no right age to finish a meat kid as this depends on personal preference.

Kids that are fed high quantities of concentrate feed (hard feed, sometimes called “cake”) will normally finish and be ready for slaughter at the lower end of that spectrum. Kids that are finished on a more forage-based diet with lower-quality, more fibrous feeds may finish slower at the higher end of the spectrum. 

Our own herd veers toward the latter; we rear ours on a forage-based diet as much as possible, and we usually aim to slaughter meat kids at between seven and ten months. However, in the past we tried high levels of concentrate feed, and ours would reach slaughter size at around four to five months; however, we couldn’t personally justify the cost involved with this system. 

However, this depends massively on genetics, too. For example, it’s not impossible for two kids, born at the same weight and fed the exact same diet, to reach slightly different weights by four months or so. As such, the genetics of your Boer herd for growth rate will strongly influence the likely lifespan of most meat kids, in many cases.

What Factors Influence A Boer Goat’s Lifespan? 

We’ve now clarified the factors influencing when a Boer meat kid is ready for slaughter – but what about the factors influencing a breeding Boer goat’s lifespan? Well, there are many things to consider here. Some of the most influential factors regarding your Boer goat’s lifespan include the following:

  • Body condition: If your goat is overweight or underweight, there is a good chance that it may not live as long as a goat that’s been a healthy weight for most of its life. Of course, slight variations in weight are natural, but if your goat rapidly fluctuates between body condition scores or otherwise lives most of its life chronically underweight or obese, this could impact its final lifespan. Notably, these issues may also increase risks such as anemia (underweight) or heart failure (obesity).
  • Genetics: A Boer goat that is bred by a herd that strives for a longer lifespan and hardiness may live longer than peers not bred with this goal in mind. Genetics can strongly influence a goat’s ability to thrive as it ages.
  • Health: A sickly Boer goat is much more likely to have a shorter lifespan than a healthy one. Even if the goat is well when it dies, constantly fighting infections may shorten your goat’s lifespan somewhat.
  • Exertion: It’s perhaps not quite the right word, but how hard your goat has worked may often influence its lifespan. A goat who has quadruplets every single year is likely to have a shorter lifespan than a goat who only gives singles or twins.
  • Interventions: If your goat has had surgery or invasive medical intervention (a cesarean is an obvious option here), it may not live as long. However, this depends on the individual animal, of course.

Final Thoughts

It’s not always easy to predict how long a Boer goat will live, so it’s important to make the most of every day with them. With that being said, there are steps you can take to hopefully give your goats the best quality of life possible and maximize their lifespan. As such, be sure to keep today’s top tips in mind to give your goat the best chances of a long and healthy life. However, if you notice that your goat is ill or struggling, it’s important to consider with your vet the next steps to ensure that they don’t suffer.

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