Kiko goats are used primarily as a meat goat. This type of goat's primary characteristic is its hardiness and its ability to achieve substantial weight gains when raised under natural conditions without supplementary feeding. It has a good feed conversion, a very good meat-to-bone ratio, high growth, high kidding facilities and slow growth hooves. There is some indication that the breed as a whole is resistant to internal parasites.
This goat breed is more rare than the Boer but its number is increasing rapidly. Because it is a maternal and a prolific breed which has many advantages for meat production, this breed plays a key role in the development of the meat goat industry, since commercial herds must be composed of goats from maternal breeds.
The female is capable of conceiving, carrying, and giving birth to and rearing multiple offspring without intervention under less than ideal conditions. The does have exceptional maternal instincts. They have shorter kidding intervals that allow for breeding to occur at least every 8 months.
They are aggressive breeders which makes them good at survival, but it also can make them a challenge to manage.
Muscular, productive, and hardy, the Kiko breed holds its own in the world of goat meat.
Data from a study conducted at Tennessee State University in 2004 indicated that Kikos may be more parasite-resistant than other breeds and have fewer problems with foot-rot. In that study, Kikos weaned more pounds of kid per doe as compared with Boer goats. However, Boer goats are preferred by buyers at sale barns. For this reason, many breeders will use a Boer buck on Kiko does.
This breed is an aggressive forager, capable of thriving under difficult conditions.
The word "kiko" had traditionally been used by New Zealand's native people, the Maori, to describe substantial meat producing animals.
The developers of the Kiko breed of goat were Garrick and Anne Batten of Nelson in the northern South Island. They developed the breed from feral goats that had been liberated or had escaped over the last hundred years or so of European settlement. These feral goats could be found in many places throughout the country, and although they were hardy, they were relatively small and produced little meat or milk.
Anglo-Nubian, Saanen and Toggenburg genetics were introduced to improve the ferals. This breeding program began in the 1970s and continued until late 1980; today, the breed is quite standardized. In 1996, this breed of goat was imported to North America from New Zealand. Some Kikos remain in New Zealand, and some in Canada (mostly in Quebec); a growing number of enthusiastic breeders of Kikos are in the USA. At the beginning of 2005 there were more than 1,600 Kiko goats registered with the International Kiko Goat Association in North America.
This breed is generally solid white or cream in color although there are some of darker colors including black. They are a horned breed with erect ears.