Especially in the thorn-bush country of the Eastern Cape goat farming flourished in the nineteenth century. In the Border areas of the Eastern Cape the black and white farmers met and here white farmers acquired shorthaired lop-eared goats. These goats were used to open thorn-bush country for Angora goats, woolled sheep and mutton sheep such as the Dorper and even for cattle farming.
Here farmers started improving their indigenous goats during the twentieth century. This improvement was further helped on by a specific big robust dapple-coloured male goat. From these goats the well-known ˜Buffelsfontein Boer Goat stud, was developed, which influenced the development of the Boer Goat not only in the Eastern Cape, but throughout Southern Africa.
By laying down breed standards, red-headed Boer Goat breeders have entrenched their position. The red-headed Boer Goat have replaced and swallowed up, the indigenous unimproved goats of various colours. Some eco-types of these natural indigenous goats almost disappeared with the purifying of the Boer Goat, as large quantities of indigenous goats were used in the upgrading process and was later culled after the heavier muscled red heads was selected. Valuable and irreplaceable genetic material was lost because of this process.
It is a point of a heated debate among goat breeders of different breeds. Some breeders prefer the long-legged straight nosed unimproved conformation of indigenous goats. Other breeders prefer the roman nosed compact, well-muscled, short-legged conformation of the improved Boer Goat.
However, the unimproved indigenous goats appear to be less susceptible to tick borne diseases such as heartwater, and they appear to be more drought and disease resistant than Boer Goats. Ramsay, Smit & Casey (1987) reviewed the potential of the unimproved goat as an alternative to the improved Boer goat in environments where problems such as protozoal diseases, conditions such as foot rot and parasites and toxic plants were limiting factors. The goats in this trial were all recorded and evaluated on the National Scheme and the data were used to show that the unimproved goat produced more meat per unit area than Boer goats.
Commercialization of goat meat production, by increasing the percentage slaughtered in the formal sector, has the potential to increase income generated from goats. To achieve this, more attention must be given to the promotion of goat meat, and market development to increase consumer demand, and to encourage stockowners to farm with goats, rather than to just keep them.
Goats currently offer the biggest scope for improvement and development in the animal agriculture industry. This includes the commercialization of the unimproved indigenous goat resources as well as the development of value-added traits and products.