Selection of a Market Goat
ABGA Certified Judge/Inspector
Questions to ask yourself before you select your project
· Where am I planning to show my project?
A majority of kids plan on showing their project at their county show and at least one major show. If you are plan on showing in summer jackpots or at the State Fair you will need a different goat.
· What age of goat should I buy?
The ideal age for a market goat to be at a show is somewhere between 7 – 10 months of age. In between this time frame is usually when an animal is near or at their maturity. Be aware that goats start to lose their milk teeth at 10 months of age. The March through May born wethers will more than likely weigh somewhere between 80 – 100+lbs. The June through September kids will weigh somewhere between 50 – 80lbs.
As stated above, the ideal age for a wether is somewhere between 7 – 10 months of age. An important thing to remember is when the validation dates are for each show. Keep this information in mind, use the table below as a reference in making your decision.
*This depends on your school and county.
· What type of market goat should I buy?
You should do some research and find out what judge will be judging your county show and/or major show. Depending on who the judge is, you should pick a goat that will best match his preference. There is no feeling like having your child take a good goat into the ring and place in the bottom of their class because the goat was deep sided or not classy enough. Ask some friends or people who show on the circuit that might have shown to that certain judge once or twice. But most importantly buy one that is structurally correct. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t do as well as you thought you should have. Just remember, the judge got paid to give his opinion on that day.
· Where do I purchase my goat from?
You can purchase you goat from multiple sources, and if you are unsure of your selection skills ask your Ag Teacher, County Extension Agent, or someone else who you honor their opinion to help you.
1. Production Sales
These are often put together by an individual breeder or group of breeders. This type of sale is put on by reliable breeders, given the circumstances of cost and effort involved. It is safe and common to buy a goat from a production sale. Just make sure to give yourself plenty of time to go through each individual goat. There is always a minimum bid and never a maximum, since the highest bidder gets the goat. Call some of the breeders ahead of time to ask which goats they like. This way you can cut some of your time looking at the goats. Remember, the numbers they give you will more than likely be the same they gave to the other people that called.
2. Private Treaty
Buying goats this way allows you to not be pressured by an auctioneer yelling on a microphone, and competing with your neighbor to get the final bid. When you go out to a ranch, you can see what other goats out of the same sire or different sire look like. This way you can narrow down your purchase to a goat out of a certain sire. Buying goats this way is better since there is generally a set price for each goat, and the breeder might give you a break if you buy more than one.
3. Auction Barn
This is my least favorite source and a way that I discourage beginners from doing. This source is used by those that have plenty of time and can sit for 3 – 4 hours at a time and wait for that right goat. This is the cheapest way to buy a goat, but it is too risky.
4. Online Sales
Thanks to the computers and the internet, breeders are selling their goats online. Don’t get me wrong, they could be offering some good goats but if you are an experienced picker you always need to put your hands on a goat for your own satisfaction. Online sales are rare and convenient, but don’t be mislead by a good picture of a moderate goat.
This is the most convenient way to purchase a goat, because you can stay home and just give someone money to get you a goat. Generally these guys have years of experience and know what they are doing. They might have goats of their own that they are trying to peddle, so be cautious. They generally buy goats cheap, and try to sell them to you at a higher cost to make money.
Things to Look for in a Market Goat
Structural Correctness – This describes how the skeleton of the animal is put together. When viewed from the side the goat should have a strong level top, and a hip/rump that is as close to level as you can get. Not every goat will have a level hip, but don’t choose one that has a steep hip. The hip should be long and have a slight slope. Keep in mind that you need an animal that has ample bone, nothing too excessive or too minimal, that way the animal does not look frail. Look to see that the animal has flexibility and when on the move make sure he is fluid and not choppy. When viewed from the front and rear, an animal needs to have base width and be square, if he doesn’t have this he won’t be competitive. He needs to walk on his corners on both his front and rear legs. Judges do not like to see an animal that tracks narrow. Open-shouldered, weak-topped, weak-pasterned, steep rump goats should be avoided.
Muscle – If there is one thing that you can’t ask for more in a goat is muscle, this will assure success down the road. This is a major factor that judges will prioritize at the top of their list for their final placing. The muscle indicators on a goat are the forearm and stifle. Look to see the width, depth and expression of muscle the goat has in his rear leg. A goat that is wide will by nature be heavy muscled compared to narrow based goats. More muscle general means more product yield, which is what these animals were designed for. The only way you can tell the amount of muscle a goat has over his rack and loin is to have someone hold and brace the goat.
Capacity – A wether needs to be boldly three dimensional. That means he needs to have width, depth, and length. Width corresponds to having a bold spring of ribs and being open in his heart girth. Depth of body is needed to assure feeding capacity. Too much depth is disliked because of added waste when it comes time for slaughter. Length of body is crucial, because a long goat will generally yield a leaner carcass. Length adds to the goats balance and style. Avoid selecting goats that are short bodied, shallow bodied, narrow based or flat ribbed.
Style and Balance – Style refers to how attractive a goat is. Goats that have style have a long neck that sits high on top of their shoulders and blends smoothly into their shoulders and forerib. They also have a clean chest floor with a trim midline that is parallel with their strong level top that flows into their level hip. Balance refers to the proper proportion of length, depth and width. A goat that has a neck that is longer than his deep body is not balanced. A goat that has a long neck, long body, and adequate depth of body would be considered balanced.
Growth Potential – Animals that are wide framed grow to be bigger than narrow framed animals. Other signs of growth are the volume of muscle that an animal exhibits and carries. If the goat doesn’t have muscle it can’t put high volumes of meat on its’ bones. The size of the forearm and cannon bone will tell you that that goat will be growthy, and competitive in the show ring. Other size indicators are the width of the eyes, and length of the head. The width of the eyes is a direct correlation to the width behind the shoulders. The length of the head is a direct correlation to the length of hip. So, if your goat has a long head, he will generally have a long hip and be long bodied.
Views of a Market Goat
When viewing from the top the goat should be rectangular in shape and be smooth with
firm flesh. The back should be strong with a nearly level top line that is broad in its
appearance. The loin should be wide, full, and deep. Width of top and boldness to the
shoulders indicated more rib capacity.
When viewing from behind the hind quarters should be full, wide, and deep with
muscling carrying down into the hocks. The muscle should be present on the inside and outside of the legs. The hocks should be wide and set far apart with the round being the widest part on the goat when viewed from behind.
When viewing from the front, the head should be medium is length, masculine in
appearance, broad across the muzzle, large open nostrils, strong jaw, wide spread to the eyes, and a wide across the forehead. The front legs need to be medium in length with a wide set between them. Legs should be fairly straight when viewing from the front with a deep set to the heel. The heart girth should show a bold sprung rib cage with depth through the fore rib and hind rib. Meanwhile the brisket should be broad, deep, and fairly firm.
When viewing from the side the neck should be short to medium in length. The neck
should be strong and thicker at the base which blends in smoothly at the shoulders. The neck should also tie in nicely to the brisket. The rump should be long, broad, with a
slight slope, and even in its flesh. The hips should be wide and separated apart between the pins. The tail head should be slightly placed higher than the pin bones. The fore and hind legs should be perpendicular to the hocks and pasterns. The hock should have some angulation to them and not be too straight in appearance. The barrel needs to be uniform in depth, width, and proportional from a profile. The shoulder should be moderately heavy, well muscled, with even cover and firmness of muscle.
Larger Framed Smaller Framed
Larger, growthier Less outcome
More size and scale Earlier Maturing
Greater length and extension throughout Quicker patterned
More structural correct on feet and legs Weak/down in pasterns
Tracks wider and truer in front/rear Narrower in its kind
Squarer on feet and legs Hocked in or Splayed out
Leveler in the rump Steeped rump
Leveler topped Weak topped/breaks in loin
Stronger topped Breaks in Chine/roached in loin
Heavier muscled Light muscled
More expressively muscled Flat legged
More volume of muscle Flat /narrow loin
More natural thickness Tapered into lower leg
More muscle expression in shoulder/
Forearm/loin/rump/leg Tapers from hooks to pins
Meatier topped Narrow tracking
Wider from stifle to stifle Narrow chested
Thicker, squarer rump/hip Rump tapers
Deeper through the twist Shallow twist
More uniform width from hooks to pins
Wider Tracking Narrow tracking
More style and balance Coarse
Cleaner patterned Poorly balanced
Smoother Ill made
More stylish Weak topped
Nicer balanced Steep hip/rump
More eye appealing Lacks eye appeal
More angular fronted Coarse fronted
Longer, cleaner neck Shorter necked
Smoother blending through the front end Wasty fronted
Blends smoother from shoulder to fore rib Coarser made
The market goat industry has changed dramatically over the years since it started in the 1990’s. Keeping on top of things and making sure your skills are fine tuned will assure that you won’t be left in the dust. The most important thing is that this is a family project and the outcome is rewarding. So what if you didn’t win, more importantly your family spent time together and got closer.