Are Kikos as wonderful as they claim to be?

Kikos.

They seem to be the best-for-anything-anywhere-anytime breed.

They’re hardy, prolific, don’t need maintenance, great mothers, good growers…the list goes on and on.

But is it true? Are Kikos as wonderful as they claim to be?


The Background

The first Kikos were brought into the U.S. in 1991, and into Canada a little after that. The Kiko is still a relatively young breed; their numbers stayed low for years following their import to Canada.

When I started looking into Kikos in 2011-2012, a Google search yielded very few results for Canadian Kiko breeders. The Canadian Meat Goat Association didn’t list very many either. A Kiko on Kijiji? Almost unheard of!

Low numbers and only a handful of breeders in Canada slowed the improvement of the breed in Canada, especially when compared to the Kikos in the U.S.

Between the small number of Kikos here and the strict import rules, new genetics are hard to come by. But, breeders in Western Canada have been slowly importing U.S. genetics from Lookout Point Ranch.


Curious about the number of Kiko breeders in Canada?

The National Kiko Registry lists 13 registered breeders.
Canadian Meat Goat Association lists 6 registered breeders.
International Kiko Goat Association lists 3, 1 of which is also a member of the NKR.
And the American Kiko Goat Association lists 1.

That’s a grand total of 22 registered Kiko breeders in all of Canada. Yes, there are some (hopefully lots!) of unregistered herds, but the point is – we need more breeders who are dedicated to improving the breed.


Is there a difference in Canadian Kikos vs U.S. Kikos?

I think so. US breeders have access to performance testing, annual sales, and many, many bloodlines to choose from. It shows in the breed’s quality, growth rates, and size. And the crazy amount of diversity available. There are so many different ‘styles’ of Kikos in the states.

I’m going to highlight just two.

Check out this farm. TNT Farm is a leader in massive, well-muscled Kikos. 18+ years spent honing his genetics and growth rates…and it shows. Browse his page to see 90-day weights and get inspiration of where this breed can go. He does offer a ration, and his management system is definitely different from the next farm we’re going to visit.

Lookout Point Ranch in Oregon, raising Kikos since 2002. This is where a lot of the Kikos in Western Canada come from or have bloodlines tracing back to. Lookout Point Ranch’s management system is heading toward the opposite end of the spectrum from TNT Farm; LPR has recreated the management system used in New Zealand to create the Kiko breed. (head over to their website to learn more about how they raise their Kikos, it is fascinating)

While TNT Farm aims for pounds on the scale, LPR aims for reproductive efficiency under a high level of challenge.

Neither farm is wrong in its management systems.
Both are thriving and producing amazing goats.

The point of this is – look at where the Kiko can go. Look at the management systems and what will work for you. What works for someone else may not work for you. There is a lot of diversity in the breed.

What about the Canadian Kiko?

The Canadian Kiko is nothing to sneeze at. The breed has needed to adjust a different climates, weather, cold temperatures, and different forages.

The main bloodlines imported into Canada come from two U.S. farms – Lookout Point Ranch and Rolling Meadows Goats.

Yes, there have been other, small imports from different farms but those are the two main ones. (Both are still viable options for importing Kikos into Canada.)

Kikos in Canada need breeders who are dedicated to the breed, use and study performance data, and have strict selection goals.

We need to create new bloodlines, a stronger Kiko, and awareness for this amazing breed!

are kikos as wonderful as they claim to be?

The Data

Data that should be worked toward being tracked includes:

  • Kid ID / Sire ID / Dam ID
  • Age of dam at kidding
  • Birth date
  • Sex
  • At what point a kid died before weaning
  • Kidding ease of dam
  • Birth type (single, twin, etc)
  • Birth weight
  • Wean date
  • Age at wean in days
  • Average daily gain Birth to Wean
  • 90 day weight
  • Dam’s weight at weaning
  • Birth ratio
  • Weaning ratio

Other info to consider is:

  • medical info
  • any health info
  • any info you feel pertinent to selection and culling
  • 150 day weights
  • yearling weight
  • breeding weight

90-day weights show how well a doe can raise kids. 150-day weights show how well a kid can gain weight on its own. Both are important to know, though getting 150-day weights can be tough to get.

Breeding weights are good to know so you can figure out if they’ve gained their weight back after weaning kids. Does that have trouble regaining can be hard keepers.

I use the Goat Herd Improvement Program (GHIP) created by Dr. Ken Andries. The CMGA helps its members get started with it and that is where I got in on it.

Here’s a PDF on it along with info on how to get in touch with Ken to start with it yourself. I’ve found it incredibly helpful.

I highly recommend using it as a management tool to help you figure out who are your best kids, dams, and sires.

are kikos as wonderful as they claim?

The Kiko

Kikos are NOT a no-maintenance breed. They are a low-maintenance breed, but that does not mean they can thrive on nothing.

Kikos still need good minerals.

In Canada, they need adequate shelter in winter.

Kikos can get parasites. Surprise! Proper care is still needed, such as rotational grazing. They do have strong immune systems but Kikos are not invincible.

The Kiko can’t really be compared to any other breed. It’s many years younger than other breeds and does not have the strong backing and support the Boers or many dairy breeds have. It’s a unique breed made to fit into a unique niche.

Kikos are not the Boer’s competition. Why would I say that? The Boer is for a breeder looking to get the weight on quickly, in a short amount of time, on high-quality foodstuffs.

The Kiko is for people who want a goat that will grow – and thrive – on lesser quality food, will raise kids without help, and will forage easily. Kikos are an excellent multi-purpose breed; meat, milk, and brush clearing! I’m sure you have researched the breed to know it has more benefits than just those.

Remember this: the Kikos’ objective is – production on lower-quality forage. Not production on nothing.

Is this a pitfall you’ve fallen into? I know I did! The Kiko sounds amazing. Wonderful. Everything you could want in a goat.

Un-die-able, even.

Well, they’re not.

I have been disappointed with Kikos. I’ve had some awful ones. And I’ve had some really good ones.

Getting Kikos will not fix problems. They will not fix management problems. They won’t fix laziness. Getting Kikos won’t fix overcrowding or bad pastures. But. they will teach you a lot. They’ll amaze you. And they are worth it if they fit your goals.

Know your goals and market options before you pick a breed.

are kikos as wonderful as they claim?

What if I can’t afford the best?

You’re interested in Kikos but can’t afford the best that’s offered in Canada right now.

This is the hard thing about starting out with any breed. Get the best YOU can afford. Start small. Start with one. I know it can be frustrating.

I was there. My first buck was an unregistered boy from eastern Ontario. The second was a registered doe. And so it started. Be willing to start small.

So, are Kikos as wonderful as they claim to be?

My answer to that question is yes and no.

No – there are bad Kikos, just like there are bad goats in every breed. I’ve had unthrifty, ill gaining, trying to die Kikos. Absolutely.

Yes – the good Kikos are amazing! I love my girls that kid without trouble, raise their babies to a healthy weaning weight, and don’t need any help.

Final Thoughts

Kikos are not the end all be all. They are an amazing breed in their own right, but please do not expect the world of them.

I think the expectations for Kikos maybe just a tad too high; the breed has a lot of growing to do in order to meet those expectations.

I hope you’ll join the 22 registered Canadian Kiko breeders in growing this wonderful breed. Consider joining a registry or two. I enjoy using the NKR. Also, check out our Facebook Group: Canadian Kiko Goat Breeders.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Comment below! I’d love to hear them 🙂

Megan


Links of interest:
NKR Breeder Directory
AKGA Breeder Directory
IKGA Breeder Directory
CMGA Breeder Directory
Importing goats into Canada Requirements
Scrapie Canada

Are Kikos as wonderful as they claim to be?

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