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What are Kiko Goats?

Tara Barnett
Tara Barnett

Kiko goats are goats bred for meat originating in New Zealand. They are prized for hardiness and profitability as meat animals. While the breed was originally created and solidified in New Zealand, these goats are currently found on farms in many locations, particularly the United States. Its ability to survive and thrive in harsh conditions make many people consider these goats a highly profitable breed to own.

The word kiko is the Maori word for meat. These animals were bred for a singular purpose, and thus do not perform well as milk or fur animals. While all goats can be eaten, not all goats reach an edible size quickly, and many require large amounts of food to reach that size. Kiko goats were created to avoid these problems in goat meat production, and it is claimed that the breed provides the most profit with the least input of resources, such as time, land, or food.

Originally from New Zealand, these goats are currently found on farms in many locations, particularly the United States.
Originally from New Zealand, these goats are currently found on farms in many locations, particularly the United States.

Initial development of kiko goats began with Garrick and Anne Batten in New Zealand. They were later joined in their project by Goatex Group Limited. Initially, the breed was created by crossbreeding New Zealand's feral goat population with Anglo Nubian, Saanen, and Toggenburg breeds. The original feral goats were descendants of milk goats imported from Britain, as well as Angora goats, although both these had developed into survival-focused animals with little meat yield.

Selective breeding and crossbreeding continued, focusing on survivability and growth rate. In 1986, the breed was dramatically improved from the original feral stock and the breed was officially established. No more crossbreeding was used, although the breed continued to improve with selection of the best specimens of kiko goats.

Kiko goats are typically white, although some are colored. Males have large horns and can be aggressive. Females are known to be good milk producers, allowing the breed to sustain more twin births. The animals grow relatively quickly to a harvestable size without much additional feed, which is one of the breed’s main selling points.

The reputation of kiko goats maintains that the animal can live almost anywhere eating almost anything and still reach a size desirable in a meat animal. This is because these goats browse efficiently and convert most energy into meat production. Although raised to survive in the hills of New Zealand, a kiko goat is thought to be able to thrive in mountains, dry areas, and other unconventional farmland. These characteristics are what make kiko goats so desirable for meat.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Kiko goats, and where do they originate from?

Kiko goats are a hardy breed of meat goats that originated in New Zealand in the 1980s. They were developed by crossbreeding local feral goats with imported dairy goats to create a breed that is both resilient and capable of high production in challenging environments. Kiko goats are known for their excellent foraging ability and minimal need for husbandry.

What are the characteristics of Kiko goats?

Kiko goats are distinguished by their sturdy build, with does weighing between 120-180 pounds and bucks between 250-300 pounds. They have a straight profile, with a strong bone structure and well-placed legs. Their coat can vary in color, but they often have white or cream-colored fur. Kikos are also known for their good mothering abilities and rapid growth rates.

How do Kiko goats perform in terms of meat production?

Kiko goats excel in meat production due to their fast growth rates and efficient feed conversion. They are raised primarily for this purpose and are favored for their lean meat with a good meat-to-bone ratio. According to research, Kiko goats have shown superior weight gain and carcass yield compared to other breeds under similar conditions, making them a popular choice among meat goat producers.

What is the typical lifespan and reproductive cycle of a Kiko goat?

Kiko goats have a lifespan of approximately 8 to 12 years, which is comparable to other goat breeds. They reach sexual maturity at about 6 months of age, and the breeding season typically occurs in the fall. Does have a gestation period of around 150 days and can produce one to three kids per pregnancy, with twins being common.

Are Kiko goats suitable for small farms or homesteads?

Kiko goats are an excellent choice for small farms or homesteads due to their low maintenance and adaptability. They are known for their ability to thrive on minimal supplemental feeding and are resistant to many common parasites, reducing the need for veterinary interventions. Their calm temperament also makes them easier to manage for novice farmers.

What are the environmental benefits of raising Kiko goats?

Raising Kiko goats can have several environmental benefits. Their natural foraging behavior helps control brush and weeds, reducing the need for chemical herbicides. This can promote biodiversity and soil health. Additionally, their efficiency in converting forage to meat means they have a smaller ecological footprint compared to some other livestock, making them a more sustainable choice for meat production.

Discussion Comments


@alisha-- That's right, it's about breed. You can't breed two Kiko goats that are not registered with an association, in fact you'll have problems registering the herd if they're not from the same association. Of course, associations want to make sure that they're not mixing DNAs with other breeds. The other bit is purely political, so to speak.

There is actually only one American association for Kikos, it's called the "American Kiko Goat Association." The other association is an international one: "International Kiko Goat Association." And then there is an American registry called "National Kiko Registration."

You can register your goats with any one, just make sure that you can breed with goats from the same association. I've been raising goats for milk for a long time now. I started raising Kiko goats about three years ago. Mine are all registered with the National Kiko Registration.


@simrin-- That's not a bad idea at all. There might be NGOs who are already working on such a project. I personally have no idea but I think it sounds great.

I'm thinking about starting a Kiko herd myself. I've already started looking for Kiko goats for sale. I'm a little confused about Kiko registration though. I think all Kikos in the US are registered with an association. What I don't understand is why there is more than one association and what's the advantage of this whole process?

Does it have to do with keeping the goats purebred, so they don't get mixed with other breeds? Anybody know?


I think goats in general are pretty amazing animals. My grandfather has a small herd in his farm and I watch the goats eating away happily at the tiniest of plants and grass that the other animals don't even bother with.

I consider all type of goats to have excellent adaptability to their environment, whether it's a flat field of grass or a mountainous region with little plantation. Kiko goats sound like they're the best of the best in terms of survival.

This is kind of off topic, but since Kiko goats can live anywhere and reach a good size quickly, do poor developing nations make use of them? We have more than a handful of poverty stricken countries with difficult habitats in the world. Wouldn't it be great if each family in these countries had two Kiko meat goats to start a herd? It would be an easy and affordable food option for them.

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    • Originally from New Zealand, these goats are currently found on farms in many locations, particularly the United States.
      By: Ruslan Olinchuk
      Originally from New Zealand, these goats are currently found on farms in many locations, particularly the United States.