by Dr. Fred C. Homeye
LIVING THE DREAM WITH BOER GOATS
I have been in the business of raising South African Boer Goats for almost 20 years. My first goats were a small herd of Spanish goats that my best friend, Burt Terrill, gave me when I purchased a small ranch near Robert Lee, Texas in January, 1992. The small herd consisted of a little billy and four nannies that were four months old. I kept them in a fenced area around the mobile home at my ranch. When I opened the gate one day to let them out they ran off and I did not see them for two months. Little did I know at that time that my passion for raising goats would still be growing 20 years later.
My first encounter with Boer goats was at an auction in Lampasas , Texas in 1993 where I saw 6 Boer bucks sell for a total of $277,000 and 5 Boer does sell for a total of $170,000. All of these goats were about three months old except for a two year old buck that had broken his leg in quarantine. I thought to myself, “How can a poor boy from Robert Lee, Texas play in this game with no money?” This was the time when the ostrich and emu business was at its prime and the demand was high and the supply was very low.
One of the first groups to import Boer goats was the West Texas Boer Syndicate that included Norman and Kathy Kohls, Ernie and Deborah Schwartz, Mike and Denise Botla, Donna Eggemeyer, Helen and Hugh Schafer and a few other folks. This group imported a group of Boer goats from New Zealand and my first Boer goats came from members of this group. I contacted Donna Eggemeyer and we worked out a deal where I would pick up five bucks at a time and take them to my ranch to advertise and sell them. I could sell them for as much as I could and we would split the difference between the floor price and the sales price. For example, if I sold a buck for $1500 and the floor price was $500 we split $1000 with $500 going to me and $1000 going to Donna. I continued this for some time and accumulated a significant balance which I spent on the best goats I could buy from the Eggemeyer ranch. This was the start of my Boer goat herd.
A little later I went to another Boer goat auction in Lampasas , Texas to watch a group of Boer goats sell from a partnership of Rocky Comfort Ranch in Missouri and Australian Breeding Management of Queensland, Australia owned by Geoff Burnett Smith. George Alschwede from near San Angelo, Texas took the Australian Breeding Management herd that was left after the auction to his ranch where his job was to disperse the herd.
I contacted George and worked out a deal similar to the one I had with Donna Eggemeyer. I would take five bucks home to advertise and sell them. As I accumulated commissions I would spend the sales commissions on the best ABM goats that were left at George’s ranch. Over time I purchased several of the 1992 and 1993 born ABM bucks. I bought the last 34 doelings and the last 55 bucks from the ABM group using a bank loan from Robert Lee State Bank. This was my first dealing with Robert Lee State Bank and the beginning of an excellent business relationship. I only needed the money from the loan for four days as I had tentatively sold half of these goats before I got the loan. After I sold half of the goats for a little more than the bank loan I owned the other half free and clear and I was “off to the races”.
When I went to load the goats George was walking from his office and he said to me, “I have just gotten off the phone with Geoff Burnett Smith and Geoff said to thank you for helping him disperse this herd. He also asked me to ask you if you would like to buy what he and I think is one of the best Boer bucks in the United States today?” George told me the buck’s tag number was 3048. I bought #3048 and named him “Texas Twister”. Texas Twister was my first “famous” herd sire. I advertised and promoted him and his offspring throughout the U.S. using Ranch Magazine, Meat Goat Monthly News, Goat Rancher and Boer Goat Magazine. Over the course of a few years I sold over 240 “Twister Kids” and created a marketing program that used the back cover of magazines to list the kids as I sold them under a heading “Thanks for Buying Twister’s Kids”. Each kid that was sold had a square in the ad that included the name of the kid and the buyer’s name and address. The first version of the ad listed six kids. The last time the ad ran there were 234 kids listed. I had discovered a potent advertising idea and campaign. Texas Twister was a huge buck that put Antelope Creek Ranch on the map. Many of his kids placed high in the show ring and his genetics is still producing winning wether goats in the Midwest .
The next big event in my career with Boer goats was the acquisition of what turned out to be one of the most famous Boer goats in the world today. This buck’s name was Tarzan T66. Tarzan T66 has progeny all over the world including Australia , New Zealand , Brazil , Canada and Mexico . When I bought Tarzan T66 in 2002 he had just won the title of Australian Reserve National Champion buck. Soon after arriving at his new home Tarzan T66 was named the USBGA Western National Champion Buck. He was the first buck to have National Champion titles on two continents. When Tarzan T66 first came to the U.S. he was owned by a partnership made up of myself, Chris Glynos in Connecticut and a man in Australia . Within a short time I owned Tarzan T66 100%. When I judged the Queensland Royal Show in Brisbane in 2006 I discovered that over 65% of the goats in the show had Tarzan T66 genetics. When I attended the 2007 Australian National Show held in Sydney , Australia over 40% of the goats in the show had Tarzan T66 genetics. As I later learned through my travels around the world Tarzan T66 was known all over the world. One of the most widely sought after wether sires today is named “900”. “900” is out of a goat named “Out of Bounds” who is out of “Cuda” who is a son of Tarzan T66. So “900” is a Tarzan T66 great grandson. I have been very blessed with progeny from Tarzan T66 and his genetics. I am a big believer in the power of prayer and I can say without a doubt that Tarzan T66 coming into my life was an answer to prayer that continues to keep on giving.
One of the ways that folks promoted their Boer goats in the beginning in the U.S. was to enter competitive shows. The first show that I entered was the 1997 ABGA National Show held in Kerrville , Texas . I was very successful at this show winning the National Champion and Reserve National Champion Percentage Boer Bucks and the ABGA Premier Breeder Award for Percentage Boer Goats. I thought, “There’s nothing to this show business – all you have to do is give your goats a bath and clean them up, parade them around the ring and they shower you with purple banners and silver champagne buckets.” It was five shows before I had less than at least a Reserve Champion Boer goat and reality set in. As you may know Percentage Boer Bucks were taken out of the ABGA registry in 1998 so there will be no more Premier Breeder Awards for Percentage Boer Bucks. In 2002 I entered the ABGA National Show held at Kerrville, Texas and garnered the points to win the ABGA Premier Breeder Award for Percentage Boer Goats again winning the Reserve National Champion Percentage Boer Doe and several other high placing Percentage Boer does at the show. So it turns out that Antelope Creek Ranch is the only ranch to win the Premier Breeder Award for Percentage Boer Goats with Percentage Boer Bucks in 1997 and with Percentage Boer Does in 2002. Since percentage Boer bucks are no longer in the registry it is impossible to win the Premier Breeder Award for Percentage Boer Goats using percentage bucks anymore. (That’s what you call making lemonade from lemons.)
My interest turned to doing research on Boer goats reading everything I could find and doing a lot of empirical observation of Boer goats in the show ring. I obtained Boer goat judging certifications from all three Boer goat associations in the United States . I began developing seminars about Boer goats and writing articles about my experiences and research on goats and goat raising. The first international show that I judged was in the Dominican Republic . I judged this show with Annette Maze (USBGA founder and Boer Goat Judge and ADGA Dairy Goat Judge). We judged 7 breeds of sheep and 5 breeds of goats including Boer goats at this show. Lou Rocha, owner of American Genetics International, a company that ships animals all over the world, was instrumental in getting Annette and I to judge this show. That was the first international show that I judged. Next week ( November 18, 2013 ) I will be judging the Mexico National Show in Culiacan , Mexico . This is the fourth show I have judged in Mexico . This will be the sixteenth National Show that I have judged in a foreign country and one of 30 international shows judged. When judging a show in another country I study the Boer Goat Breed Standards they are using and use that Standard to judge their show. I try to give reasons for placing in the show ring in the language of the country. I have memorized five pages of goat anatomy in several foreign languages along with the adjectives longer, thicker, deeper, wider, better, etc. I have found that people in other countries really appreciate your effort to communicate in their language. So far I can give reasons in English, Spanish, Portuguese and German.
My Boer goats have sent me around the world several times in the past 10 years. The countries where I have judged include: Mexico , Canada , Brazil , Dominican Republic , Phillipines , Barbados , Jamaica , Bermuda , Australia , New Zealand , Holland , Germany , and Austria . This article is number 431 and one of the first published in Boer Goat Magazine. A goal of mine is to judge Boer goats or give seminars in all 50 States in the U.S. So far I have traveled to 32 states to participate in goat related activities. Most recently I gave a seminar for the 4H kids at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, Alaska in August. I gave talks and judged goats at the 4S Goat Expo in North Platte , Nebraska in October and returned from Red Bluff, California last weekend where I gave two talks at their 2013 Goat Education Day.
I am very interested at the moment in reading research on other breeds of animals and extrapolating this information into Boer goats where I can. Most recently I have been studying the hair goats on Boer goats as a manifestation of proper glandular function. Professor Jan Bonsma, the famous South African Animal Scientist, has had a significant impact on me and my appreciation for livestock as I have read all of his writings that I can get on hands on. Dr. Bonsma wrote a book entitled, “Livestock Production – A Global Approach – Man Must Measure”. He measured over 50,000 animals in his lifetime for 16 measurements. His insight and conclusions have had an influence on livestock production all over the world. Using his powers of inspection and perception and armed with his vast experience of beef cattle, Bonsma could walk into a herd of cattle and tell you how many calves each cow had had and whether she was an early milker and a long milker. Professor Bonsma developed the Bonsmara breed of cattle which was realized by crossing Africaaner cows from South Africa with bulls from British beef breeds. It took 17 generations of breeding over 20 years to create the new breed. I continue to use Bonsma’s vast knowledge in applications for learning more about Boer goats . (If you would like to learn more about Dr. Bonsma you can purchase a book entitled, “Bonsma Lectures” from the website www.bovineengineering.com. This book is a compilation of the lectures that he gave during his tenure as a guest lecturer at Texas A & M in 1965 and presents the main results of his extensive research.)
I continue to receive bountiful blessings as a result of being associated with Boer goats and the Boer goat industry. If everyone were one third as blessed as me they would be truly blessed indeed. None of this would have been possible without the strong support from my wife of 50 years, Linda. It would seem that a lot of the knowledge I have gained has rubbed off on her as she could probably give many of the talks that I give today. I know that she has developed a keen eye for Boer goats and is quite a good goat raiser in her own right.
Made available by the American Goat Federation with the permission of Dr. Fred Homeyer.
Prepared by Dr. Fred C. Homeyer – Box 47 / Robert Lee, TX 76945 www.antelopecreek.com / Phone: 325-944-2056