JUST over a century ago the Brits and the Boers were at each other’s throats in South Africa but at the Royal Three Counties Show in Malvern there was absolute harmony as the British Boer Goat Show made its bow thanks largely to the efforts of a Worcestershire farming family.
The Clay Farm Partnership, run by Rob and Vicky Grinnall, together with Rob’s mother Ella at Clows Top, nr Kidderminster, has been instrumental, along with other breeders, in persuading the Three Counties Agricultural Society to host the first ever British Boer Goat Show and their efforts were rewarded with 62 entries from 11 exhibitors.
Mr Grinnall, a third generation farmer and part-time vet, says they decided to move into the Boer market with their herd of Beech Hay Boer Goats four years ago because it is the first meat-producing breed of goat in the world.
“The market for good meat is picking up and the Boer is a healthy option as its meat is low in cholesterol and fat,” he said.
“The goat meat market is rapidly increasing, exploding in the UK in the last few years with demand outstripping supply. Breeders have waiting lists for kids which makes them a tremendous farming business as well as great hobby enterprise.”
The Boer, which originates from South Africa, is completely different in appearance from the established dairy goat as it is a stocky animal with short legs, broad chest and thick rump - having been developed especially for meat.
The animal also has quite distinguishable colours of chestnut head and white body.
Mr Grinnall said: “Embryos from South Africa were first exported to Germany in 1983 and since then the Boer has found its way to the UK and other European countries. Several herds were established in Britain in 1988 when the British Boer Goat Society was formed. It’s still a fairly rare breed but numbers are growing and we are pleased to see more than 60 entries from breeders around the country from areas such as Yorkshire, Surrey and Cornwall.”
He says the breed is easy to keep and browses rather than grazes on their 160 acre farm which is mainly stock and grassland with Dexter cattle, Pygmy goats, as well as Zwartbles and Blue Texel sheep.
He added that their efforts and belief in the British Boer were rewarded this year when they were approached about exporting a group of goats to St Lucia where a breeder and his partner plan to improve the meat qualities of the native goats.
“This is a fantastic honour and opportunity for us. It is a vindication of the effort we have put in to selecting our animals and we hope that they will do justice to the reputation of this goat.”