Kiko goats are rapidly becoming a popular meat goat breed in the U.S. due to its hardiness and growth rate. This article will cover the Kiko breed in more detail, including breed characteristics, use and history.
Table of contents
- History of the Kiko Goat
- Kiko breed standards and purpose
- Other Kiko goat characteristics
- Kiko goat advantages
- Kiko goat disadvantages
- Kiko Boer goat cross goats
- Where to buy Kiko goats
History of the Kiko Goat
The Kiko goat breed originated in New Zealand in the early 1980s by Garrick and Anne Batten by breeding feral goats were to Anglo Nubian, Sannen, and Toggenberg dairy breed bucks. Kiko is a Maori word for flesh, as in meat.
The feral goats came from European settlers 100+ years ago, many escapees or let loose. Over time these goats naturally became hearty due to their natural need to survive without domestication and native wild, feed sources.
In the process of establishing the new breed, feral does were selected based on the following traits: liveweight, good body confirmation, and a blocky body.
The cross breeding with dairy breeds was intentional, as a way to incorporate more milk production for mothering abilities into the new breed. After 1986 the breed was established and no outside bucks were used for breeding. Breeding selection was simplified by make decisions only on heartiness and rate of gain.
The Kiko breed came to the U.S. in the 1990s as a meat breed.
Source: Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New Zealand.
Kiko breed standards and purpose
The American Kiko Goat Association (2017) defines the Kiko goat as, “The Kiko meat goat is a hardy and fast growing goat with good body condition, is structurally sound goat and is capable of producing twin kids suitable for slaughter or replacement stock.”
Kiko goats are most commonly used for meat production.
Unlike other meat goat breeds that are popular in the show arena, such as the Boer goat, Kikos don’t have a “typical” breed standard. However, there is a common set of characteristics the Kiko breed should maintain. These expectations include: fast rate of gain, heartiness, low maintenance, and productive breeding stock (both does and bucks) (American Kiko Goat Association).
Here’s more on those Kiko breed characteristics:
Fast rate of gain and body conformation
While there isn’t a standard body conformation, high performing Kikos should have correct, functional body structure, along with a thick, muscled body and high feed efficiency on a low input system. Body Condition Scores should be about 3.
Kiko goats should have a higher weaning weight as compared to other goats their age and management style, including little to no supplemental grain outside of forage.
Research has demonstrated that Kiko kids at weaning compared to Boer kids, are 10 lbs. heavier on average (Browning).
Heartiness and parasite resistance
Kiko goats are known for their hardiness and parasite resistance. They typically will birth and care for their kids with minimal assistance. The breed tends to require minimal veterinary care and have few foot or hoof issues.
Kikos genetically have stronger resistance to parasites. Continued management for parasite resistance and proper rotational grazing practices helps maintain this resistance.
Research as shown Kiko does to have a lower parasite load after kidding over Boer goats (Browning).
Kiko goats are also known for being a low maintenance breed. They require minimal inputs (added feed, such as grain), intervention for medical or kidding issues, and few parasite issues.
This low maintenance trait helps extend the longevity of life for the Kiko breed over other meat goat breeds. In fact, research as show a longer lifespan for Kiko does over Boer and Spanish does over a 5-year period, with nearly 60% of Kiko goats being retained, while the Spanish goat was 45% and Boer goat at 15% (Browning).
Productive breeding stock
Kiko does and bucks as breeding stock are known for their productivity. Does often produce twins regularly, produce sufficient milk for nursing, possess good kidding and mothering abilities, and fast body conditioning recover after weaning
Other Kiko goat characteristics
While the Kiko breed will vary on overall appearance, since the breed has been focused on performance, there are some common characteristics among many Kikos. But, keep in mind this doesn’t mean these characteristics will hold true across all Kiko goats.
Kikos tend to have erect ears that point up or out, rather than hang down like the Boer or Savanna breeds.
Kiko goat size and weight
In general Kiko goats are considered to be a larger sized meat goat breed. But due to breed variabilities, genetic lines and cross breeding the size of the goat will vary.
In general a female Kiko goats (does) may weigh 100-150 lbs., while a Kiko buck may weigh 250-350 lbs.
Kiko goat colors
Since color selection was not part of the original breed selection there is no common Kiko goat color. Breeding selection has been focused on functionality of body composition, fertility/mothering abilities, and growth rate.
It is not uncommon to see Kikos with the following colors: white, brown, black or multi-colored.
Due to the original breeding selection process, the type of horns for Kikos will vary depending on the genetic line. In general, Kiko horns tend to curve out, rather than back along the head of the goat.
Kiko goat advantages
Kiko goats have numerous advantages as a meat goat breed. Those benefits include:
- Parasite resistance
- Heartiness in a range of climates, both cold and humid
- Reach market weight faster
- Fewer food and leg issues
- Longer life and productivity
- Strong mothering abilities
- High performance on a low input system
- Growth on a forage-based system
- Low maintenance
The low maintenance and heartiness characteristics of the Kiko breed also allows for the farmer/rancher to operate a more efficient operation. This results in economic benefits with less labor and lower cost to raise, which equates to more margin and profitability opportunities for goat herds.
Kiko goat disadvantages
While there are many advantages for choosing Kikos as a breed of meat goat, there are a few disadvantages. Due to the low maintenance of the breed, Kikos can be a little harder to manage. However, with good stockmanship and proper working facilities, this issue can be managed.
Additionally, some of the Kiko breeding selection in the U.S. over time has started to focus more on looks over production. This has impacted some of the genetic lines’ overall performance, as compared to the original breed use and breeding decisions used in New Zealand (Rare Breeds Conservation Society).
Kiko Boer goat cross goats
Kikos have been a popular choice for cross-breeding with the Boer goat. The hybrid vigor has alot of opportunity for improving overall herd performance.
A 50-50 Boer and Kiko cross is sometimes called a BoKi, while a 50/50 Boer/Kiko cross (or BoKi) crossed with a Kiko is referred to as an American MeatMaker hybrid (International Kiko Goat Association).
Where to buy Kiko goats
A common question is where can you buy Kiko goats? A good place to start is to find goat farms or ranches in your region. You’ll have better success transitioning goats to your own farm if they’re from a comparable region and similar management practices.
Breed registries and associations are a way to find listings of Kiko goat breeders who may have goats for sale. Here a few options to take a look at:
- National Kiko Registry breeder directory
- American Kiko Goat Association directory
- Goat Rancher magazine breeder listings
Additionally, you may find specific performance data of certain genetic lines by reviewing the results of university pasture-based buck testing. Typically these performance tests will evaluate for rate of gain and parasite resistance, both key characteristics, of the Kiko breed.
Several universities hold these performance buck tests, or have held them in the past, and post the results online. You can evaluate these results as a way to potentially source offspring/goats.
Meat goat buck testing:
- American Kiko Goat Association. (2017). The Kiko Meat Goat “Kiko Cornerstones” and Breed Guidelines.
- Browning, (2008).University of Tennessee. Breed evaluation for doe herd production traits.
- International Kiko Goat Association
- Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New Zealand. Kiko Goats.
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