The Kiko Goat originated from New Zealand by crossing feral goats with dairy goats in the 1980s. Kiko is actually the Māori word for flesh or meat. They were developed for fast growth, survivability with little input from the producer and their hardiness.
There are two primary breed registries that are member driven, non-profit associations and serve breeders in North America: the American Kiko Goat Association and the International Kiko Goat Association.
The Kiko goat was developed firstly by Caprinex Enterprises Limited and later by Goatex Group Limited, New Zealand companies responsible for the breeding of Kiko goats in New Zealand. These companies of farmers were actively involved in the capture and farming of New Zealand's extensive feral goat population. All members had a vigorous and ongoing interest in meat production as a consequence of which several thousand of the most substantial and fertile native goats were screened into a breeding program in which population dynamics was rigorously applied to produce a goat with enhanced meat production ability under difficult management conditions.
New Zealand feral goats
New Zealand has a large population of feral goats which roam unrestrained through the wooded hill country and mountain scrubland of both islands. These goats derive from the original imports of British milk goats introduced in the late eighteenth century to provide sustenance for whalers and sealers prior to New Zealand's colonization. Over time they have been supplemented by escaped and released domestic goats turned loose into unproductive scrubland during times of agricultural adversity, particularly the depressions of the 1890s and 1930s.
New Zealand's total lack of predators and temperate climate meant that feral goats have been able to breed without the strictures of mortality that are found elsewhere in the world. In addition, they rapidly adapted to the environment into which they had been released and established themselves throughout the country. As a consequence, comparatively small numbers of goats released into the wild had burgeoned to hundreds of thousands of goats by the mid-1970s. Goats (along with deer) were ravaging New Zealand's native flora to the extent that the government permanently employed substantial numbers of professional hunters in an effort at control.
In North America
In the 1990s, ranchers began importing the Kiko from Goatex Group Ltd and other sources into North America and organized the American Kiko Goat Association. In 2000, the American Kiko Goat Association purchased the North American Kiko Goat Registry, earlier solely created from limited data by Graham Culliford (Goatex Group LLC) of Christchurch, New Zealand specifically for the US market as pedigree breeding was not part of the New Zealand population genetics background that developed this superior breed. This is the only Kiko registry that has a seamless ancestry dating back to the first imports.
Interest is increasing in the consistent traits and characteristics of the Kiko. Whether raised Kiko on Kiko, or crossed with other breeds, Kikos bring improvement in profits because of their low maintenance, high rate of growth, resistance and tolerance to parasites, excellent maternal instincts, ease of kidding, vigor of newborn kids, and because of the incorporation of milk breeds in the creation of Kiko, an ample milk supply to raise twins that gain quickly to earlier sale weights.
There are two major Kiko goat registries in North American, International Kiko Goat Association and American Kiko Goat Association. The American Kiko Goat Association requires that all sires be genotyped and match their sire DNA, and all purebred does born on or after January 1, 2008, will be genotyped to increase the accuracy of the registry. The International Kiko Goat Association offers the same services but concentrates more on the actual traits that make the Kiko a superior production animal.
The Kiko's ability to survive in all types of weather is a big plus in the varied climates and terrains of North America. Canadian farmers, too, are finding that the Kiko is well suited to cold. More and more farmers are moving into the Kiko goat producing market with bucks from the United States. The market is open and ready for more Kikos as their reputation spreads.
The word 'kiko' had traditionally been used by New Zealand's native people, the Māori, to describe substantial meat producing animals. In New Zealand Māori, the Polynesian language spoken by the Māori people, 'kikokiko' is the generic term for flesh for consumption. Caprinex Entrprises Ltd,the New Zealand originators of the breed used "kiko" to describe the enhanced meat producing goat they were developing.
The primary characteristic of the Kiko goat is its hardiness and its ability to achieve substantial weight gains when run under natural conditions without supplementary feeding. In New Zealand it has been called the "go anywhere, eat anything" goat signifying its ability to thrive under less than ideal conditions.
The Kiko is large framed, generally white (although many Kikos carry genes for color and colored Kikos are capable of registration) with a coat that ranges from slick in summer to flowing hair when run in mountain country in winter.
Mature males display substantial characteristic horns and are of a bold disposition. Mature females are ample, feminine and generally have good udder placement and attachment. The Kiko is a consummate browser and will range extensively when run in open country.
The Kiko is not affected by substantial climatic variation and is equally at home in sub alpine mountain country and arid brushland. Perhaps the defining characteristic of the breed is the rate of growth. The kids are born of average size but with considerable vigor. From birth to weaning the Kiko displays a rate of growth at least equivalent of any other purpose bred meat goat breed but this is achieved without the management and feed inputs generally required for satisfactory meat production in other breeds.