Selection

Choosing market wethers is a complicated task. First rule of thumb is to know what shows you are going to. Some shows have tooth rules and weight limits. At some shows the goats must be disbudded or dehorned. Some shows allow does and wethers to show, others allow only wethers. If your show has a tooth rule a good safe margin is ten months. Make sure you goat is not older than ten months on show day to ensure that he still has his teeth. Normally goats loose their baby teeth between ten and fourteen months of age, although there are exceptions.

There are several different things to look for when choosing your show prospect. Try to purchase a goat that has been castrated, disbudded, weaned, and on feed. This will prevent a lot of setbacks. Try not to look at color till last. Flashy colors are pretty and sometimes people overlook the faults due to a pretty color. Also remember an older more finished goat will look better than a freshly weaned "green" young goat. Remember fat and flashy colors hide a lot of faults. Look closely at the other goats: Are they in good condition and free of disease? Do they look healthy and happy or do they appear wormy and listless? Does the farm or ranch appear to practice good management? Can the owner give you dates when the goats were last wormed and vaccinated? Can they give you accurate birth dates and pedigree information? Write this information down and keep it for future reference.

If available look at the does & bucks. Are they large framed does with correct feet and legs? It is unlikely that a structurally incorrect doe will produce good show kids. When looking at prospect wethers think structure first. Look at his head and neck - check his teeth first. A goat with a bad bite will be hard to finish; waste a lot of feed, and may never reach his potential. The dental pads should be even. His neck should be long and clean but not ewe necked - judges like to see an elegant neck where the goat can hold his head up high and back.


Goat's Mouth
Correct Parrot Mouth Undershot Mouth
(most common)


Check his feet when he walks and make sure the goat walks upright and not down on his dewclaws or pasterns. Make sure his back and front legs track straight and wide. Is the goat wide between the front legs? A weaning age wether should be at least as wide as your hand between the front legs. Look at his top line - it should be as straight as possible without to much dip behind the shoulders.

Make sure the goat doesn't "pinch" or get narrow behind the shoulders. The goat should be wide at the shoulders, and have a good wide spring of ribs - not have pointed withers and flat bones like a dairy goat. The width of the top should continue all the way from the withers through the hooks and pin bones.

Watch the goat move away from you. Does his back legs track straight and wide? Do they turn in at the hocks? A goat that tracks wide will always appear thicker than one that tracks narrow. Look at the rear conformation. You should be able to draw a straight line from in front of the pin bones through the hock and center of the rear leg. The rump should have some slope to it, but should not be steep. A short flat rump will not have any capacity in the rear leg.


Back Legs
Correct Incorrect Incorrect


The widest part of the rear leg should be 2/3 the way down from the top of his rump to the hocks. This type of frame has growth potential. A young goat that has a thick top, but is thickest at the top of the rump does not have a frame for much more growth. Measure the loin - width and length. (From the last rib to the hook bones) If the loin is short now, it won't get much longer as he grows. Look at the twist (between the bottom of the anus and where the legs split) - the goat should be wide and deep through the twist. Check his pasterns when he walks. Goats should walk up on their pasterns; their dew claws should not dip down to the ground.


Twist Goat's butt Pasterns
Correct Incorrect


Look for prospective growth. Large forearm muscling is a sign of heavy muscling. Compare the size of your prospect to other kids his age. If your show has a weight limit the largest goat in the herd may not be the best choice. Remember when comparing goats that castrating and weaning set a goat back. A goat that has to be castrated will loose weight for a short period of time. A goat that has to be dehorned will quit growing for a period of time. Dehorning leaves an open wound in the goat's sinus cavity. If you can find a vet that will cosmetically dehorn them, like show cattle, they will recover quicker. This usually becomes infected and will stay that way until it turns cold. A goat that is chronically or seriously sick (such as pneumonia) may not grow out as well as a healthy goat.

Eye Appeal is the last thing to consider. Eye Appeal will not hide bad structure or lack of muscling. Judges like goats with a nice thin long neck. In the show ring this lets you hold his head up and back and shows off the muscling through the front end and hindquarters. Also, some judges like a goat with long legs (proportioned like that of a lamb) and will cut short-legged goats. Color and spots will really get attention, and in a large class can work to your advantage, but don't pick eye appeal over structure and muscling. Look at the goat's profile. This will usually be the first thing the judge sees. Does he hold his head up and walk like a winner? Goats with short and thick necks usually walk with their heads down. They are hard to show and don't project a pleasing image.


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