This part of your project will probably be one of the most important as well as the most challenging aspects of the whole ordeal. The reason I say this is there are two factors that will determine your success in the market goat show. The first being the overall quality of the goat you pick. No matter how many supplements you give him (trust me there are plenty out there) or high cost feeds you feed him; if the genetic qualities are not there your animal will not develop to the potential you dreamed he would. The second factor is, once you have a quality animal, this will be the time where all of your “extras” will come into play, such as the feeds, supplements, exercise, and more. So that being said, in this article we are going to discuss the single most important first step into your project, your selection.
Usually, people start looking for their show wether around three weeks to two months of age. This allows them to get the first and best pick, or at least close to it. This can also be a disadvantage though, considering that during this time these kids are going to be changing constantly. There have been various goats that I would see one month and think, “that wether looks great; I bet he is going to be the next county champion.” Then a month or two down the road I was thinking, “that can’t be the same goat.” Simply put, they change drastically, which is why it is good to have some tricks as to how to pick out the best quality animal at a young age.
The first thing I start with when going to buy a wether is to look at the buck and doe that the kid came from. Many times you can tell a lot about what he will look like in the future from his parents.
· Structural Correctness:
The goat should stand square where his/her legs should be straight underneath the body, not cow hocked or pigeon toed. He/she should be level over the top, not sway backed or weak behind the withers. (If you were to lay a yard stick flat over the back, ideally you should see little to no space between the back and the stick)
· Width Throughout: When you watch he/she walk away you should notice a good amount of width, as well as over the top and throughout the front.
· Depth of Body: This is the distance vertically from the animal’s top to the bottom of their stomach. This is a characteristic that is very important in your breeding shows; however I like to see ample depth of body in the wethers as well.
· Muscle Volume: This should be definite and easy to identify. You should see muscle extend down through the stifle, down the forearms, as well as an overall muscling to the animal.
· Large Frame: He/she should have some size and scale, having a large size of frame will give you a clue as to the growth potential of the offspring.
Of course for any of these animals you must always take into account the age of the animal. An older buck or doe will may start to break down a bit in certain areas, which is quite natural. So being aware of how much is appropriate for the age and how much is simply genetics is very important. For example, an eight to ten year old doe may be a little weak in the pasterns. This is simply from the weight as well as the wear and tear of carrying kids for five months out of the year. Judging this is something that takes time to learn and is a good idea to get other people’s opinion about what is acceptable and what is not.
Once you picked out the kids whose sire and dam met your satisfaction, the next step is to look at the kid itself. As I said before they will be changing and continue to change. However a few things should stay the same or at least stay close to the same, which is where you will want to focus a lot of your attention. The first is the kid’s structural correctness. In most cases a kid who has the structural correctness from a young age will continue to carry that on into the show season. This includes the same elements as we looked at in the parents; level and wide over his top, width from behind as well as in front, and depth of body. To add to that his legs must be structurally sound; standing straight and square underneath the body. Ensuring your wether as well as his sire and dam have these qualities will be an important factor in determining his potential quality down the road.
From this point, the gauging the future overall muscle volume your kid will gain is hard to judge. The reason for this is during the one month to three month period they are nursing off the doe and gaining a lot of “baby fat”. This fills them out, making them look full and muscled. However this is very deceiving, because once they are done nursing, the majority of them are going to loose some of that fullness. The following period will be the time when they will be on a feed ration and you will be able to see you how much true muscling they’re going to develop and sustain. Typically if you have all of the previous structural qualities we talked about the rest will follow, such as the muscling, size of frame, and more. Yet, it is important to remember that does not always hold true. I have been surprised many times!
The general idea of this article is that in selecting your future show wether, there are some areas where you will be able to use your knowledge to make an educated choice and the rest is quite frankly, “a gamble”. I have seen some that started out as scrawny bottle babies and turned out to be county champions, defying their odds. Look at Seabiscuit he was said to be too small and lazy, but you know the rest of that story….. Thanks for your time, if you have any questions, ideas for future articles, or requests for judging please feel free to call or email me. Thank you.