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Goat Fun Facts

Striving For the Best - Kiko Goats

by OFN Admin - February 6, 2017

Mark Bengtson and Jodey Fulcher bring their diversified livestock operation to the Ozarks

Producing the best animals possible is the goal of BF Farm, and owners Mark Bengtson and Jodey Fulcher. Mark and Jodey have incorporated three livestock species – Black Hereford cattle, Kiko goats and Kunekune (pronounced koo-knee, koo-knee) pigs – at their Huggins, Mo., farm in Texas County. They feel each species complements the other through natural pasture management, and brush and weed control, which helps reduce parasites. Mark and Jodey moved to the Ozarks in October after establishing the operation in 2013 in Georgia. They made the move due to their desire to expand their operation and the availability of property within their price range. The farm’s management philosophy is that cattle graze grass, goats eat weeds and woody plants, and the pigs eat wide leaf weeds and other plant material that goats and cattle will not. They feel the management system allows them to spend less on inputs, so they can buy higher-quality breeding animals. Mark and Jodey have structured their business plan to emphasize the Kikos, which were developed from a feral herd of goats in New Zealand. “It was kind of like survival of the fittest,” Jodey explained. “Kikos are a performance goat in the meat goat category and tend to have a higher resistance to parasites, which is what really attracted me to them. It doesn’t mean they don’t have parasite issues, they just don’t get them as easily as other breeds.” Prior to going to a Kiko operation, Jodey had a commercial goat herd, which was labor intensive. Since going to Kiko goats, BF Farm has not used a chemical wormer in more than two years. “He’s worked so hard to buy some of the best stock out there,” Mark said of Jodey’s stock selection. “We’ve heard of Boer goat breeders losing half of their herd because of parasites; we just don’t have that problem.” The goats, Jodey added, are very low maintenance, require every little hoof trimming and have few kidding issues. “They are great mothers,” he said. “With the Kikos, I have never had to bottle feed a kid. In my commercial herd, the last time they kidded, I had a houseful of babies.” Kikos typically produce twins, but Jodey said does are usually able to raise triplets with few problems. Kikos have been crossed with the meatier Boer goats and they also cross well into a dairy goat herd, but Jodey prefers to maintain his 100 percent New Zealand and purebred, registered animals. “It’s a tradeoff,” Mark said. “We might get a little less at market than a Boer goat, but the trade off is worth it due to the lower management costs. We are also marketing to other breeders, not so much the meat markets.” Like most other purebred livestock producers, Jodey carefully reviews all performance data. Because there are no official confirmation standards for the breed for showing, the data – such as material and paternal traits, growth rates, birth and weaning weights – are key marketing tools. The Kunekune pigs, a smaller-framed pig also from New Zealand, are Mark’s area of concentration. Some of the stock at BF Farm was purchased from producers in Pennsylvania and New York, who are some of the original importers. The breed is known as a pasture pig and the maximum weight of a mature animal is about 225 pounds. Unlike other breeds of swine, Kunekune pigs are slow growing and do not continue to grow throughout their lifetime. “We got into these pigs because we had just a heinous weed problem in Georgia and within two years, they had eradicated all of the broadleaf weeds,” Mark said. “They prefer the broadleaf weeds because the root systems are similar to a carrot or potato, and it tastes sweet; they will pull it out of the ground.” Because they are pasture raised, Mark said the meat from a Kunekune is very low in fat and can be compared to the fat content of chicken. “When you cut the meat, it is almost red like beef, so they are a healthy alternative,” he said. “These guys don’t eat slop or any kind of meat product. They get a little grain at night, but 90 percent of their diet is what they can find in the pasture, so that keeps the fat content pretty low.” Kunekune pigs are not known for excessive rooting because their snouts are very short and turned up, making their noses unsuited for digging. Gilts can be bred at as young as 6 months, but Mark and Jodey prefer to wait until the females are at least a year old before breeding. With the Kikos and Kunekunes, Mark and Jodey said they are seeing growing popularity for both, due in part to the homesteader and small farmer movement. With the goats and pigs doing most of the work, the Black Hereford cattle at BF Farm complete the process by reaping the benefits of improved grass production. Like the pigs and goats, the men are concentrating on quality over quantity. “With the Black Hereford, you get the best of both worlds because you get that black hide with the Angus that everyone wants, plus you get that larger, muscular animal that the Hereford brings,” Mark said. “I am seeing Angus breeders who want those Black Hereford bulls because they producer bigger, black baldie calves… People are willing to pay more for those bulls if they can get a 30 percent bigger calf. You have an animal with a low birth weight that grows quickly and we have some great EPDs with our herd. Plus, they are just really a good looking animal.” Mark said they plan on taking their cattle operation “really slow.” “I just don’t go out and buy cattle to buy cattle,” he said. “We have some of the best bloodlines that money can buy and we are going to just take it slow and see where it goes. Our goal isn’t to become millionaires; we just want to pay our bills. I just want to have a comfortable retirement and I just want to work on improving the breed.” Improving their chosen breed in all species is the goal of BF Farm, as well as the farm’s reputation for quality. “I want us to be known as the best breeders in the world for Kiko goats, Kunekune pigs and Black Hereford cattle,” Mark said.

Our Story

We moved our operation to Texas county Missouri in November of 2016 from NW Georgia. We are premium breeders of Kiko Goats, KuneKune Pigs and Black Hereford Cattle.  What makes our farm unique is that we are one of only a handful of farms to utilize 3 species or more in there multi grazing program. This enables us to fully utilize all available forage in the most efficient way.

At BF Farm in Huggins, owners Mark Bengtson and Jodey Fulcher are breeders of Black Hereford cattle, Kiko goats and Kunekune pigs. They use a grazing regimen involving all three species taking turns working over the same space.

The technique is particularly effective because of what the three species like to eat. The Kunekune (pronounced “cooney cooney”) is a small breed of pig native to New Zealand renowned for being an effective method of maintaining, managing or eradicating unwanted pasture weeds. Meanwhile, goats are well known for voluntarily munching on larger undesirable plants (like multiflora rose, knapweed, ironweed and more), while cattle, of course, prefer eating grass.

“The goats prefer a woody forage and the pigs prefer a weedy forage,” Bengtson said, “and the cattle, of course, like grass. Each one of these species has different needs and wants in the fields, so they compliment each other well.”

The result is a more uniform pasture, because more plants are involved in the grazing. And with “undesirable” plants being regularly eaten, there’s no need to spray pastures with herbicide.

“I hate the use of chemicals, and this provides an alternative to people who think that’s the only answer,” Bengtson said.

Kiko goats are also native to New Zealand. The presence of goats in a given field not only promotes undesirable plant control, Bengtson said, but helps control what grows in “difficult” areas, like steep hills or banks..

“Goats are amazing,” he said. “They’re very resilient in terms of finding food, and they can utilize protein in wood. That’s why people sometimes see their goats eating bark.”

Bengtson and Fulcher will sometimes even place a species in a field based on what is growing at a given time of year.

“We try to keep an eye on that,” Bengtson said. “Like right now, clover is coming up like crazy, so the cattle are in an area where there’s a lot of it. It’s about an 8-acre space, so in they’ll go through that in about three days.

“But we’re not going to let that go to waste.”

The cattle-goat-pig rotation also promotes parasite control. Once the eggs of most harmful parasites get into the ground, a host must be found within a week.

“That’s the key,” Bengtson said. “If you constantly move the animals, the parasites are never going to be able to reinvest.”

Another bonus to having the three species share land is that parasites are “species specific.”

“A goat parasite will not affect a pig and vice versa,” Bengtson said. “Same with the cattle. Basically, once the goats are done in a field and we bring in the pigs, any parasites left behind by the goats won’t affect the pigs.”

A low level of parasites means the animals’ own immune systems can work properly. It also means not having to use parasite medicines or supplements.

“We refuse to use chemicals in our animals,” Bengtson said. “It’s like you’re poisoning them to keep them alive, which is just a silly thing to do. You’re never going to have a totally parasite-free goat, for example, but all you need to do is keep them at a level that’s naturally manageable.”

Bengtson and Fulcher moved to Texas County from Northwest Georgia about two years ago. They sell mostly breeding stock, preferring to raise animals based on “quality, not quantity.” BF Farm covers about 200 acres, with about 50 acres cordoned off into 12 pasture spaces ranging from two to 10 acres. The sections are where the three-species rotation occurs and are separated by about 14,000 feet of goat fencing and feature 23 gates that make moving from section to section easier. The rest of the acreage is dedicated solely to cattle.

By DOUG DAVISON • ddavison@houstonherald.com

About Kiko Goats

Kikos hail from New Zealand where their name means "meat." Kiko development began in the early 1970s when a group of ranchers united to form The Goatex Group LLC. They collected and bred thousands of feral goats, reserving only the fastest maturing, meatiest, and most disease- and parasite-resistant goats from each generation to use as breeding stock, sending the balance to slaughter. They provided their herds with no supplementary feed, no shelter, no hoof trimming or vet care, and no assistance at kidding. Only the toughest survived.

Conformation: Kikos have straight profiles; medium-length ears; and magnificent, up- and out-sweeping, spiraling horns; wide, strong frames with moderate bone size; and compact, muscular bodies. Most American Kikos are white, but Kikos come in a wide variety of colors. They have supple skin and short- to medium-length coats.

Special Consideration/Notes on Kiko Goats: Does are prolific, protective mothers, and require little or no assistance when kidding. Kiko kids are small at birth, but grow qui ckly; they are alert and active within minutes of being born. Some of the fastest maturing, most efficient meat goats in the world are created by crossing Kiko and Boer goats.

Why Kikos?

  • Quite resistant against parasites or at least a higher tolerance.
  • Fast growth rate.
  • Favorable for crossbreeding with other type of goats.
  • Easily adapt and survive to almost any type of climate even to cold ones.
  • Aside from their meat, their milk tastes particularly good.

About KuneKune Pigs

The Kunekune Pig (pronounced: cooney cooney) is a breed known as the "Maori Pig" having been developed by the first people of New Zealand. Being near extinction in their homeland during the 1970's, two animal preservationists, Michael Willis and John Simister, are credited with their conservation. Since that time, the breed has gained recognition on both the North and South islands of New Zealand, in Great Britain, Europe, the United States, and most recently in Canada. The Kunekune Pig in America is finding a serious niche market for small farms, in sustainable farming systems, for permaculture, and with chefs, charcutiers, caterers, and in home butchery.

  • Ideal for small hobby farms
  • Friendly, docile demeanor
  • Easy to handle for first time owners
  • Low maintenance
  • Do not get aggressive
  • Do not tend to root like other breeds
  • Do not test fencing like other breeds
  • Have a short upturned snout for grazing
  • Can fatten on grazing alone
  • Excellent ratio of meat to fat
  • Their natural habitat is woodlands and pasture
  • Extremely easy to train due to great intelligence

About Black Herefords

Like red Herefords, Black Herefords are becoming known for their feed efficiency and docile temperament. If a registered Black Hereford is crossed with a registered red Hereford and the resulting progeny is black, then it may be registered with the Black Hereford Association. The Black Hereford breed was formed to create cattle that would pass on the desirable traits of the red Hereford, but with black and white colouring. Like red Herefords, Black Herefords are often crossed with black Aberdeen Angus cattle to produce heterosis ("hybrid vigor") in the progeny, producing a type commonly known as the Black Baldy. The Black Herefords are usually the breeds Angus and Hereford combined.

Many cattle breeders desire the traits of the red Hereford cattle, but want black cattle, as black cattle tend to bring more money at market. Angus (black) are known for higher quality carcasses. Breeders like to cross Herefords, also known for good marbling, with Angus, even better quality

Rotational Grazing at BF Farm
A Holistic Approach to Parasite Management Reduces a Need for Chemical Dewormers

Mark Bengtson and Jodey Fulcher were not raised as farmers or ranchers. Mark describes himself as a former city person raised in the New England area. While Jodey was raised in Georgia, working family farms during the summer, he also didn’t know that much about animal husbandry before he and Mark partnered together to create BF Farm. They began as a small, 35-acre operation in Georgia but have since moved to Missouri. They now operate a 200-acre farm with three breeds of animals. Through trial and error, they have implemented a rotational grazing system that has allowed them to eventually stop using chemical deworming agents on their livestock.

When Mark and Jodey started out, they mostly had commercial cattle and goats without being very breed-specific. In the beginning, with their limited knowledge and small land area, parasites became prolific in their herd. They say they probably lost half of their goats in that first year. They almost gave up, but fortunately, they did some extensive research before giving in. Through their research, they learned about Kiko goats from New Zealand. These goats are descended from the various breeds that managed to escape their pens many years ago and flee into the mountains. Because New Zealand’s climate and landscape are very different from that to which goats are typically best adapted, these goats had to become tough to survive. Only those who tolerated the increased moisture, harsher winters, and could resist the greater number of parasites in the humid environment were able to reproduce. This shaped a very hardy, parasite-resistant breed. This is the breed of goats that Mark and Jodey chose to continue their farm operation. They made similar choices in other animals, choosing kunekune pigs and Black Hereford cattle to round out the farm and help their rotational grazing plan to work. 

While the Kiko goat’s increased resistance to parasites is a contributing factor, the rotational grazing system is what keeps BF Farm from needing chemical dewormers. On BF Farm, 50 acres are portioned into 12 fenced pastures. These pastures vary in size ranging from two to 12 acres. The herds are divided by species and then by gender (although lactating mothers keep their young with them regardless of the gender of the offspring). Usually, the males and females are kept more than a single pasture apart to prevent overeager bucks from climbing the fences to get to the does. Herds are moved to a new pasture each week and will not return to pasture until at least six weeks have passed. By this point, all eggs and larvae left in the droppings will have died. Typically as goats are led to a new pasture, the pigs will occupy the pasture the goats just left. Cattle will then be moved to the pasture that the pigs have vacated. Because these three species have different preferences for natural feed, this does not cause overgrazing. The parasites that tend to plague these species also do not cross between these three, so even though there are still animals grazing in the pasture, it can still count toward the needed time before the first herd can return. Even the number of flies that pester a cattle operation has decreased since implementing rotational grazing because the cow pies are allowed to fully dry and break down without building up. Of the 150 acres that are not portioned into the rotating pastures, most of the land is allowed to grow freely without much grass cutting. This builds a natural stockpile that can be used for the winter. Since parasites go dormant in below-freezing conditions, even just overnight frosts, rotational grazing is not as important during wintertime. 

All animals, goats included, have parasites. Having some parasites is simply part of living and grazing. An animal becomes ill when the parasites found in their body become overpopulated. This can kill these animals very quickly. As the parasites that live in the intestinal tract of an animal lay eggs, those eggs are deposited in the animal’s feces. The eggs hatch and larvae emerge. The larvae have fat on their backs which sustains them until they can find a host. However, the parasites will be out of their reserves by six weeks’ time if they do not find a host, effectively disrupting the life cycle without further infection or reproduction. When animals graze, especially close to the ground as the feed is used up in a pasture, the animal ends up ingesting these eggs and larvae that then repopulate the intestinal tract. This is what causes the parasite overpopulation. Many farmers and ranchers spend a lot of money deworming their livestock. Every dollar you spend on deworming agents equals less revenue in your business, yet dead animals negate revenue even more. Yet another concern with chemical dewormers is the emergence of worms that are resistant, or able to survive, the deworming agent. When the parasites that survive deworming are resistant, they may be allowed to spread that resistance through an entire herd, making deworming both expensive and useless. By using rotational grazing and only bringing in deworming agents when necessary, you can reduce deworming resistance as well as increase your own revenue. 

Most backyard homesteaders do not have 200 acres at their disposal for this large scale rotational grazing project. However, the practices and methods can still be implemented on a much smaller scale. As long as you have at least four pastures, you can rotate your herd and help break the life cycle of the parasites. Ideally, you would want to let a pasture rest for six weeks before grazing it again, but even four weeks will allow a large number of the parasites to die off before they can reinfect your herd. If you have more than one species of animal, keeping them separate in the rotation can help the droppings to break down better and helps the plant life to rejuvenate by allowing the different varieties to grow back at different times. This way, a pasture is never fully stripped. One caution in having different species is to research the habits and temperament of a species before bringing them into your setup. Many breeds of pigs can be very rough and tear up a pasture, making it harder for the plants to proliferate. The kunekune pigs at BF Farm were partially selected because they are less rough on their surroundings. A few more factors in the success of your rotational grazing include not overpopulating your acreage and buying from reputable breeders. How much livestock your land can support is determined in part by the quality of the feed in your pastures. It can also be influenced by zoning laws and access to water. Buying from reputable breeders helps you obtain healthy animals with good, traceable pedigrees. You want to start your operation with the best stock available, and that is worth a little extra time and money.

With planning, you can increase the health of your livestock by decreasing the number of parasites they carry. While the best operations have at least six pastures in their rotation, even a few pastures can decrease the parasite population.

Goat Recipes

by Garrick Batten © 2008

There are several versions in the USA of the origin and development of Kiko goats in New Zealand. Even the direct quotes in USA literature of the original paper presented at the 3rd International Goat Conference in Brazil in 1987 has errors. Plus the information has been interpreted for marketing reasons in ways best suited to marketing objectives. In addition there has been the Chinese whispers effect that has turned facts into something else.


From observation and studies of feral goats it was clear that there was a size range in the estimated 300,000 feral goats in New Zealand in the 1970’s. Export goat meat prices were directly related to size. Bigger equalled more money for meat and skin. Bigger goats were also likely to be more effective in controlling brushweeds. Feral goat breeding and scope offered opportunities to develop meat goats not available in existing dairy goat populations that were largely farmed in very small hobby herds.

Caprinex decided that there was a need for a New Zealand meat goat to capitalize on goat meat market opportunities and the brush weed control on hill country. The focus was to be on a maternal breed to produce lots of quick growing progeny. The then market, as it is today, has no specifications for meat quality other then weight so carcase and meat quality was of less importance. This also meant that there were less selection factors to have to work on.

As it has turned out, Boer goats that became available in the 1990s can provide a terminal sire for better carcase confirmation if that is required. Developing a dual purpose animal was not part of our objectives. Animal production parameters emphasizes growth rate and weaning percentage as significant meat production factors. Animal management emphasizes factors such as feet/hoof shape and lack of disease, udder shape, attachment support and teat placement, teeth and jaws, and temperament. We set a breeding objective of maximum meat production per kg of breeding doe farmed to be produced before the first winter. Under New Zealand pastoral conditions goat weight plateaus from 8-12 months of age and slaughter animals are desirably off the farm by that stage.

Initially we screened about 10,000 feral goats collected from various districts over 1978-79. That number is not guaranteed but there were over 5,000 on one farm. From them we selected about 1,000 for close inspection. We chose larger does that had kidded and this is quite important because in the feral state does will get pregnant as soon as they are able and lifetime size will be stunted. Selected animals had to be structurally sound in mouth, feet and udder. We deliberately did not choose does that showed difficult behavioural tendencies in the yards. One notable characteristic was that grey roan animals that we call “blue” were wilder than others. We chose blocky body shape as best able, and good udder attachments, and udder size as the only visual reflection of milk production. And we selected goats that I liked. Being happy with the animals that you work with is a very important aspect of livestock farming. Clearly none of these physical and subjective selection factors are particularly effective but that was the best that could be used in the circumstances.

The 20 selected does plus 6 that were already on hand had an average liveweight of 32kg at first mating compared with the average feral goat liveweight of 25-27kg. We knew that feral goat milk production was not high with an average of 1.5 litres for a 3-5 month lactation. Yet milk supply is directly related to kid growth rate, and early growth rate was critical to meet our breeding objective.

As Secretary of a cooperative group of 17 dairy goat farmers and a dairy goat judge, I had the opportunity for several years to identify dairy does of various breeds (British Toggenberg, Saanan, Anglo Nubian, and British Alpine) and select buck kids from them. While the emphasis was on large, meaty type high milk producing dairy does with sound confirmation, the problem was avoiding faults associated with dairy farming that would not fit free ranging, tough, go anywhere, eat anything meat goat animal objectives. Intensive dairy goat farming does not automatically generate this sort of animal. In addition the Anglo Nubian and British Alpine breeds have a very narrow genetic base in New Zealand, so limiting the available genetic potential. My daughter raised 10 or so of these buck kids each year, we evaluated them and used 2 or 3 new ones each year for mating with the doe flock. The dairy crossbred feral progeny formed the basis for the Kiko breed.

Selection parameters then and always were growth rate and farmability. Growth rate is relatively easy to measure after allowing for birth dates and multiple births under New Zealand conditions. Farmability is a mixture of survivability under reasonably stressful management and nutritional conditions such as the ability to handle 25% browse content in the diet, walk hills daily in search of feed, resist parasites and foot problems, adjust to husbandry and management regimes and produce as much profit as possible each year. The labour constraints of New Zealand hill country farming were constantly in mind. Profit is a very important concept and reflects both costs of husbandry and management, but also meat income. That in turn is influenced by growth rate, number of kids, losses of does and their progeny and doe lifetime performance.

There were some deliberate policies to test and evaluate farmability. For example, each winter goats spent time on a heavy, wet clay soil property to challenge their feet. Goats that went lame were either culled directly or their subsequent production levels fell below the required standard. Lame goats have more difficulty walking far enough each day to get enough to eat for their production potential so they do not perform.

The dairy breed crossing programme continued from 1979 to 1986. We were retaining the best 20% of buck kids born each year for evaluation and from 1984 using the top ones when we started interbreeding the crossbreeds.

During this time we also added outside does that met the selection criteria, and selected from the retained doe kids that were in the top 50% for growth rate of those born, using criteria such as having to produce twins at first kidding and growth rate. These were added if they were superior to the does already in the herd. By 1986 the herd had grown to 150 does.

As a staff member of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries I had access to MAF geneticists and their advice which was to “keep it simple”. So the breeding philosophy was to use population genetics to focus on as few selection parameters as possible, measure and keep good records, and mate best to best. We were also able to capitalize on the independence of MAF staff to verify records.

The concept of population genetics is quite different to pedigree or family based genetics. Keep in mind that it is the basis of this breed. It is a technical topic and not necessarily easy to grasp and needs to be dealt with separately. Population genetics is based on numbers and 150 does were not enough. In 1986 Caprinex became involved with five other people and formed GOATEX Group Ltd. A veterinarian and an animal exporter, both of whom were also farmers, and three large scale hill country ranchers, one of whom later became a livestock agent for the largest farm servicing company in New Zealand, became shareholders. We were all committed to the same Caprinex objectives and methods of achieving them. Immediately the flock increased to 600 does over 4 farms, increasing to 1,000 in 1987. From this base an elite central flock of 100 does were selected and run on one farm, and it was reevaluated each year to be the best 100 does available. From this came the bucks used for breeding in all herds including the central flock. So a USA literature statement that after three generations the crossbreds were interbred to fix a composite breed is a questionable interpretation.

Introducing the breed to the 3rd International Goat Conference increased offshore interest and GOATEX continued to export genetic material and goats. This also enabled us to evaluate Kiko goats in a range of climatic and management conditions ranging from tropical to Nepalese mountains. The first American imports were the four bucks that Dr. An Peischel imported to Hawaii in 1991. They ranked number 2-5 of the male kids of that years birth.Three major events occurred in the intervening years from 1986 to 1994 that should be kept in mind. Firstly there were two distinct lines of goats that were being developed of a polled, blocky type animal, and a more angular horned animal. There is some research evidence that polled animals are 7% + more productive than horned animals. Secondly there was a huge influx of new genes in the late 1980’s, and thirdly independent culling levels had moved on from feet as a major culling factor to include parasite tolerance.

In the early 1990’s circumstances changed on some of the shareholders’ farms and the project was reduced to only the 100 doe central flock that by 1994 had been reduced to about half. The GOATEX Group company’s shares were sold in 1994 including all the assets of this doe flock plus some yearling does and bucks. These were the basis of the animals imported into the United States in the mid 1990’s. The GOATEX Group shareholders who imported the animals into United States had no involvement in events prior to that point. Caprinex has limited knowledge and takes no responsibility for subsequent breeding and marketing activities.

History of the Kiko breed as presented in the USA seems to have taken the story presented by GOATEX Group LLC (the importers and original sellers) in 1994 and patched it onto the paper presented at the 3rd International Goat Conference in Brazil of the 1984 situation. It ignored what had happened in the intervening 10 years.


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