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Tips for Show Goats

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Showing Basics
by
Danny Thompson
Certified Judge with AMGA
Board member of OMGA

Showing meat goats can be fun for you and your whole family. It is our family project and has been a learning experience. After selecting your new project, remember all goats are different. What will work with one many not work with another. We will try to look at a few things that can be done to help make sure your project gets to the show healthy and in good shape and ready to show. HOUSING, FEEDING, FITTING, EXERCISE, SHOWING can all play an important roll in how your project will go.

Conformation

Meat Goats should be evaluated on type and market desirability. Type refers to frame size, skeletal correctness, capacity and general appearance. Remember we will have does bred just like our wethers at home that need to make mommas. Market desirability related to how much finish the goat has in relation to its weight, size and age.

Your goat should be rectangular in appearance from the side with a straight, level top line. (Acceptable to have a gentle slop from hocks to pins) Length of rump, length of body and length of leg are important to market desirability. The overall body should be trim. The legs should be straight and placed square under the body. The front forearm and hind legs should show evidence of muscling.

From the front, your goat should show width between the front legs, with muscling in the forearm and shoulders. The chest and forearm of a goat are the best indicators of muscling in thin goats.

From the rear, the hindquarter should be muscular, and showing good width down its top. They should have a deep, heavily muscled leg and rump, with the widest part of the leg being the stifle area. They should have a broad, thick top and loin that in naturally firm and hard handing.

General Appearance

Stature: The term stature refers to the overall skeletal size and length of the goat. They need to have an adequate length of cannon bone from knee to pastern and above average in overall length of body and general size. The cannon bone length is a good indication of skeletal size. The goats height measured at the withers should be slightly more than at the hips; the bones should be of good size.

Head: The head should combine the beauty of eyes, nose, ears, and overall from with strength and refinement. It should have balance of length, width and substance that insures an ability to consume large amounts of forage with ease.

Front End: The front end is a combination of chest and shoulder features. The goat should have wide chest floor and prominent brisket with a smooth blending of shoulder blades and sharp withers. This insures room for the heart and lungs to do their work with ease and also is evidence of proper muscle and ligament strength.

Front Legs: The goats front legs should be straight, perpendicular to the ground, sound in the knees and full at the point of the elbow. The legs should move with the front feet pointing straight ahead.

Back: A back that is straight, strong, wide, long and level is desired in goats. This denotes a strong body build with good muscling and is indicative of strength to carry large quantities of feed.

Rump: The goats rump should be long, wide and level from the stifle-to-stifle cleaning fleshed and have a slight slope from hips to pins. The shape of the rump is important as it affects leg set.

Hind Legs: The goats rear legs should be wide apart and straight when viewed from the rear, with clean hocks and a good combination of bone refinement and strength. Observed from the side, a plumb line originating at the pin bone would fall parallel to the leg bone from hock to pastern and touch the grounds behind the heel of the foot. The resulting angles produced at the hock and stifle joint will be most ideal for easy walking a and a minimum of joint problems.

Feet: Meat goats need strong pasterns and strong, well-formed feet with tight toes, deep heel and level sole. Such feet are highly resistant to injury or infection and easy to keep trimmed. Goat with uneven toes and extremely weak pasterns should be culled.

 

Muscle: Meat characteristics can be visually determined by examining the animal hindquarters, loin, shoulders and neck.

Hindquarters: A long, deeply attached muscle, relatively thick at the thigh and stifle is desirable in meat goats. Heavier muscling on the outside of the leg is acceptable. Muscle over the thurl and rump should be obvious.

Loin: The loin eye or ribeye is typically the best indicator of meatiness in market goats. It should be wide with a symmetrically oval shape on each side of the backbone. This muscle should carry forward over the ribs or rack.

Shoulders: The goats muscling should increase from the withers to the point of the shoulder with the thickest muscle occurring immediately above the chest floor. The circumference of the forearm is the second most important indicator of meatiness, so the forearm muscle should exhibit a prominent bulge and should tie- in deep into the knee.

Neck: The juncture of the neck and shoulder should be free of excess tissue. It should gently slope to indicate muscling. Smoothness and quality are important in this area. A long clean neck with muscling in balance to the remainder of the animal is desired.

Condition: The term condition refers to the amount of finish or fat the animal is carrying. Goats deposit fat internally before they do externally. The ideal condition is a thin, but uniform, covering over the loin, rib and shoulder. The external fat thickness over the loin at the 13th rib should be between .08 to .12 inches or an average .1-inch.

Acknowledgements: Much of the information used for these criteria was taken from Texas Agricultural Extension Service publication B-5018.

Housing

Yes, your new project will need a home, a nice shelter from the wind, rain and snow. Keep in mind it also has to provide protections from predators; many a good project has been lost to dogs and other predators.

Inside of your secure pen you will need feeders and a water pan, be sure they are up off the ground to try to keep them from putting there feet in them. It is best to put two goats per pen. They should be of the same size. It is not a good idea to mix larger goats with smaller goats. The larger goat will become the bully and the small goat will grow slowly.

Be the Teacher

As soon as you get you goat be the teacher. Spend time with your goats and get to know them. Let them get to know you. Help them feel safe around people. Tie them up and put your hands on them so they get used to being handled. You can do this a week or two then start teaching them to lead. Its your job to make the goat look good at the show and it is much easier to make them look good when they know what to do.

Feeding

THE FIRST THING IN A GOOD FEEDING PROGRAM IS CLEAN FRESH WATER with out it no feed will work. Water is an important component of the body as lean tissue consists of nearly 70% water and all body fluids depend on water from the system.

This is a good time to take care of vaccinations. (Some breeders use Covexin 8 or other similar vaccines) but just to be safe you should give yours its vaccination and a booster in 30 days.

I like to start the new kids out on a free choice or self-feeding program. There are many good show feeds, Manna Pro, Acco, Moor Mans, Purina, Surefed, and others. I feel it is important to feed a pelleted feed. This is to insure you know they are getting what you paid for, many times they will pick through textured feed and pick out what they like but not getting the whole ration. This full feed ration will go on for 2 to 3 months.

Then starts the hand feeding process. This is a hard one to just lock down and say this is how its done. There are many things that come into play. Like is the goat too fat. Fat goats do not win! How much exercise are you giving your goat? Your goat can eat more if its on an intensive exercise program. A safe feeding can be 1 to 3 lbs. per day. We like to feed 3 times a day but you need to at least feed 2 times a day. It will give your goats body a better chance to get everything out of the feed. A feeding program cannot make up for a lack of good genetics, but will allow your goats to reach their genetic potential.

Exercise

There are many ideas about how to exercise a goat but the number one thing is to DO IT. Ask anyone you know that is doing well show goats. I think you will find they are exercising their goats daily.

Some use track dogs, and run the kids on a round track. Remember that intensive, short durations of exercise develop muscle faster and more effectively. Some use treadmills but again it must be short and intensive. We have used both I have found it is easier for my kids to use the treadmill as the track dogs need more supervision. We do not have a state-of-the-art animal treadmill ours is just a normal people treadmill with plywood sides.

 

If you do not have either just remember however you are working your goats it is a short intensive workouts.

Preparing for the Show

The first thing you need to do is find the rules and regulations for the shows in your area. Im in Oklahoma and we must slick shorn wethers 3/8 of an inch. There is a no brace rule with dismissal from the judge or if not him, then by the superintendent of the show.

It is best to shear your goats a week or even two before the show. With a 3/8-clipper blade you can go with a shorter blade but give yourself time for the clipper marks to grow out. Run parallel to the length of the body of the goat. Be sure to clip all the hair off the body and the head. It is preferred not to clip below the knees or hocks. Do cut the hair above the hoof even with the hoof line, and blend the hair at the knees and hocks. The hair on the tail can be bobbed and looks nice. Most shows will have no artificial coloring of the goat

This is also a good time to look at their feet and give them a good trim. Their feet should be trimmed about every 3 weeks. Keeping there feet trimmed true and even can make you or break you.

If you are shearing in the colder winter months, you should cover your goat with a goat sock or blanket immediately after shearing. A clean, well-bedded pen should be provided for the goat to keep him clean and dry.

Show Time!

  • First your goat should be clean and free from any dirt or dead hair. I prefer goats show with a chain it will give you more control of your goat.
  • Next we come to you the exhibitor, if you are not in the first class be sure to watch the show to see what the judge will expect of you in the ring.
  • Be on time for your class.

Things to remember

    1. How much does your goat weigh?
    2. What are the good points about your goat and what are the bad?
    3. You should also know what you feed your goat and how much and how often.
    4. Its always good to know the parts of a goat, so if asked to point one out to the judge you can do so.
    5. You yourself should be well groomed; you have put a lot of time in this project so lets look nice and no ball caps or shirttails out.

Showing your goat

    1. You should always exhibit your goat from the opposite side of the judge so remember its a goat show not a people show.
    2. Lead your goat at a nice pace, its not a race its a show. Show the judge what a good goat looks like.
    3. Never pass your goat behind your back one fast move and their gone. Be polite and respectful to the judge and other exhibitors.
    4. Get your goat set up and ready for the judge. Their head should be held up, with its body, neck, and head all in a straight line.
    5. Know where the judge is and where your goat is at all times. Avoid corners of the ring and leave plenty of space between your goat and others.
    6. Always show with both hands. Do not put your free hand behind your back; use your free hand to keep the goat's head and body straight.