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GOATBIZ MAGAZINE

The Best of Both Worlds
MAX Boer Goats proves champion show goats and profitable meat producers can come out of the same herd
By Sandra Kay Miller

If you read any of the popular books about raising meat-type goats, a common denominator among them is the notion that show goats and meat goats are two entirely different critters and that they cannot be raised in the same herd.

Now it just goes to reason that an expensive show buck isn’t going end up on the barbeque spit, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t produce profitable production stock.

Along that same line, many people out there believe a hard working production buck can’t make the cut in the show ring. Julie and Dave Maxwell, owners of MAX Boer Goats in Lykens, Pennsylvania are proving otherwise. This year, the Maxwells have produced two top bucks - one in the show ring and one in meat goat performance testing - out of their small, but select herd of approximately 80 Boer goats.

The Maxwells base their success on six full blood Boers bucks with some of the top genetics in the world, including two full Codi/PCI bucks, which are the core of the breeding program. To add color, Red Hot $ is a solid red sire who can now also add performance to his resume. He is Red Hot Ironman’s sire. Maximum Leroy and Centurian are also consistently producing winners in the show ring as well as fast gaining kids.

"We feel strongly that your buck makes or breaks your herd," said Julie Maxwell. By choosing average nannies with good conformation, bites and teat structure, breeding to a better than average buck can produce outstanding kids for production herds. The Maxwells agree there is more to breeding for show stock, though. "Breeding pretty to pretty doesn’t always make pretty," said Julie. In fact, some of their best show animals have come out of average does. Likewise, a beautiful show buck doesn’t necessarily constitute a consistent producer. "A buck must be able to pass on his best traits to his offspring and do so consistently--that is what makes a buck great," she explained.

The Maxwell’s first big win was with their six-month old Dancing Redneck who took the 2004 USBGA National Grand Champion Junior Buck in a class of animals up to one year old. Out of a solid red doe bred by War Dancer, Dancing Redneck is a double registered buck (ABGA and USBGA) with genetics from Cloud Dancing, Murzi and Red Demand. But not to be outdone in the show ring, the Maxwell’s Red Hot Ironman snapped up the top spots at Penn State’s 2004 Meat Goat Performance testing rating the Top Indexing and Top Gaining Buck out of 35 of the best breeders from across the Northeast United States had to offer. During the 63-day trial, Ironman’s average daily gain was .97 pounds and his loin measurement via ultrasound came in at a whopping 138 - the highest scoring buck Penn State had ever tested. Glen Eberly, Director of the Livestock Evaluation referred to Red Hot Ironman’s daily gain as "phenomenal." The closest competition at Penn State this year only scored .79 ADG and a loin rating of 114.

Driving home the idea of having the best in both show and performance testing, exactly one week after Red Hot Ironman was released from the PA Dept of Ag Test he was shown for the first time at The New Jersey State Fair taking Grand Champion Jr Buck and Best Boer Goat In Show.

At the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Ram and Goat, Red Hot Ironman set another record by bringing a price of $5,000 - the highest price ever paid at the sale for a buck. "What a thrill! We figured he’d do well, but never imagined he’d be exceptional," said Julie Maxwell, who is no stranger to raising quality livestock for both the show ring and production.

A veteran of the commercial hog industry for seven of years, Julie Maxwell believes that experience gave her an edge with a firm understanding of breeding for specific genetic traits and how to nutritionally manage a herd. She also credits having owned and shown Quarter Horses most of her life to a deep insight of conformation and movement. " I am almost certain that without this experience Max Boer Goats would not be as successful as we are," she said.

Having first heard about Boer goats in the early 90’s, Julie began researching the breed as well as the potential market. In 1998, the Maxwells began their Boer goat herd with a registered full blood buck and twelve average does, some purebred, some percentages and a few milk types. Their initial focus was for direct marketed meat goats and show wethers for 4H and FFA projects.

However, they soon realized their breeding program was consistently producing quality Boers that were more in demand for breeding stock instead of meat. With a shift in focus, the Maxwells knew this would mean showing and promoting their goats. Despite limiting their show schedule to only four or five shows a year, the Maxwells’ livestock have been in the top winners from the very beginning. "Our homegrown animals were competing with some of the best Boer goats in the country and winning. This assured us that we made the right choice," said Julie Maxwell.

Today, MAX Boer Goats maintains two separate herds - a full Codi/PCI herd with a focus on line breeding for the original genetics first imported from South Africa. Codi/PCI is a premium genetic pool in scarce supply due to out-crossing. This particular line came from South Africa's top breeders. Many people think Codi/PCI a sire's name and don't understand the concept.

The second herd consists of full blood and percentage nannies and five full blood bucks for producing traditional, solid red and painted Boers. Painted and solid Boer goats are fast becoming some of the most sought-after animals in the goat industry today. Additionally, from this herd the Maxwells can put together excellent starter packages with assorted genetics.

The Maxwells don’t take all the credit for their success. Over the years, many luminaries in the Boer goat arena have been instrumental in the development of the Maxwells’ herd. The Maxwells have met on several occasions with Don Smith, renowned breeder of numerous ennobled goats, to discuss genetics and crossbreeding. Ernie & Deb Schwartz of Schwartz Ranch have also been instrumental on the development of the MAX Boer Goat herd. Shawn Black of North Carolina got the Maxwells up to speed in the show arena with his advice and expertise. Another strong influence and the Maxwells’ best source of information regarding the goat industry in Texas has been Randy Eaton of G R Boer Goats.

For being a relatively small breeder, the Maxwells feel they have accomplished so much from a breeding standpoint. Starting with limited resources, they have built a herd any breeder would be proud to own.

Julie and Dave Maxwell live on their farm in Lykens, Pennsylvania about an hour north of the state capitol, Harrisburg. They have two daughters, Maddie and Amanda, who enjoy helping out on the farm. To combat their problems with predators, the Maxwells also breed and employee a pack of AKC Great Pyrenees Livestock Guardian Dogs.

About the author, Sandra Kay Miller...
Writing projects have included numerous magazine articles and professional journal articles, book projects, training manuals and quality assurance documentation, corporate communications, white papers and nonprofit materials. When Sandra isn’t writing, she enjoys raising livestock, poultry and produce. You can learn more about her farm at www.paintedhandfarm.com.

   
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