The Boer Goat Breeders Association of Australia has suggested that last month's establishment of a national Kalahari Red goat breeders association is related to marketing and is not based on genetic differences.
One of the instigators of the move, Victorian breeder Alison Langley said the formation of a separate association had been precipitated by the refusal of BGBAA to recognise Kalahari Reds as a separate breed.
She said that lack of acknowledgement and the resulting lack of registration papers showing a goat's Kalahari ancestry was threatening their burgeoning export potential.
BGBAA president Dean Smith said the industry as a whole wished for clarity, which had been an aim of the association since the coloured goats discussion started in 2017.
"The industry needs consistency of genetics, performance and colour to suit the needs of local and international markets," he said.
Mr Smith quoted regulations issued to the Animal Improvement Act of 1998 by the South African government that included a table that listed "Kalahari Red", "SA Boer Goat" and "Savanna Goat" as separate landrace breeds.
"Landrace" was defined in the act as " ... a specified breed of a kind of animal indigenous to or developed in the Republic".
"Subsequent publications in South Africa attempted to further define these landrace breeds, with descriptions that are remarkably similar," Mr Smith added. "The biggest differences are hair colour and, possibly, the geographic areas over which the animals developed."
The 2004 merge of the Kalahari Red Club and the Boer Goat Breeders Association of South Africa saw Kalahari Reds incorporated in the BGBASA breed standard with identical descriptions, except for colour, according to Mr Smith.
"It is well known that it is common practice in South Africa for breeders to join SA Boer goats with Kalahari Reds in the continuing efforts to 'strengthen' the physical attributes of their animals," he said. " This same practice is common, if not universal, for coloured goat breeders in Australia."
Mr Smith said the term Kalahari was first applied in Australia to goats owned or bred by BGBAA members after red-coloured goats or embryos were imported into Australia from South Africa via New Zealand in the late 1990s.
"The pedigree information supplied to the BGBAA registrar suggests all these animals were progeny of both a dam and sire that were registered as Boer goats in South Africa," he said.
Further explaining BGBAA's position on how it regards Kalahari Red goats, Mr Smith said the South African Boer Goat Breeders Association website section devoted to the origin and history of Kalahari Reds clearly implies that the 'brown goats' that came to be called Kalahari Reds derived from stud Boer goats; and that "excellent marketing techniques" were applied "on promoting the brown goat and to have it registered as a breed".
The page notes that Albie Horn, the inaugural president of the Kalahari Red Breeders' Association from 1999 to 2004, "spotted the remarkable properties of the brown goats", taking the lead with excellent marketing techniques and setting his sights on promoting the brown goat and to have it registered as a breed.
"He greatly emphasised the mothering traits of the brown goat, as well as its hardiness and adaptability to the Kalahari desert area where he farmed," the page states. "At the same time he realised that the brown goats could improve our indigenous goats and the indigenous goats of Australia and that the brown goat could provide them with a uniform colouring."
Further down the page it says that in 1998 the goats were shown with the Savannas in Bloemfontein, under the name of Brown Savanna.
"The aspiration to have an own breed was a great driving force," it says.
"This required DNA tests being conducted to determine whether there was sufficient genetic separation between the Boer goats, Savannahs and Kalahari Reds.
"The tests were conducted by Dr Marida Roets who also helped get international funding from the FOA for the tests.
"Breeders such as Louis van Rensburg and Ben Vorster were concerned about their breeding stemming from the Boer goats, but the results of all the tests showed that the difference between the brown goats and the Boer goats was greater than between the Boer goats and the Savannahs."
Ms Langley said that after a number of years the Kalahari Red goats had morphed into a separate breed, and she couldn't understand why the Boer Goat Breeders Association of Australia couldn't recognise that.
Mr Smith said the website clearly co-opted the production benefits attributed to the SA Boer goat to the Kalahari Reds.
"Is this a triumph of marketing over common sense? Possibly. But what would agriculture and farming be without boundless optimism," he said.
One of the reasons leading to the formation of a separate Kalahari Red association in Australia, according to Ms Langley, was the BGBAA requirement to remove the K suffix from the animals' registration papers
"We have a sensational export market but without papers, we may as well sell to abattoirs," she said.
Mr Smith acknowledged that BGBAA regulations had changed in 2017, saying that since the association began in Australia in 1994, it had recorded the pedigree of coloured goats bred by members variously as Kalahari Reds, Australian or Aussie Reds, and Red Boer goats.
That was causing confusion among buyers, particularly those from overseas, according to feedback received and so the board conducted member consultation in 2017 aimed at clarifying the situation.
"While the coloured goat breeders were unable to form a consensus view on a common name for what were, essentially, animals with the same genetic heritage, a consensus view was formed that BGBAA could clarify the situation for buyers by consolidating all the coloured animals into single Red Boer goat and Black Boer goat registers; and that reference to the term Kalahari, and use of the associated code K be dropped from the registers and official BGBAA terminology," Mr Smith said.
"As the regulations changed, the registers cannot continue something that is not current.
"If a sire or dam was registered before 2017 they would display the K, but their progeny will be registered as a red Boer goat or black Boer goat with a different (ie, not K) breed code shown in the relevant register and on the pedigree certificate."
He concluded by saying BGBAA had no particular view about the establishment of a separate Kalahari Red association in Australia.
"Individuals who find it difficult to live with governance arrangements and regulations endorsed by a clear majority of members are free to set up their own group and administer that group in a way they see fit.
"The majority of BGBAA members wish to concentrate on continuing the development of the best meat goat in the world, that is, the Boer goat."
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