Goats are hearty animals, but they do stress easily. Keep this in mind when you prepare for show day. If your goat is scared or sick he will not perform to his best, and he will not look his best. Stress also leads to disease & sickness. All major shows & most prospect shows require shearing less than 3/8" above the hocks & knees - excluding the tail switch. This gives the judges a better look at all the animals, and shows off the natural muscling of the goat. Goats should be clipped a week before show time. This allows the hair to grow out just a little and hide any track marks. This is also a good time to trim your goats feet. If you accidentally quick his foot, a week is plenty of time to heal.
Before clipping your goat, make sure he is clean & dry. Bathe your goat to remove dust and dirt. You can bathe your goat with any animal shampoo. Try not to use dishwashing detergents these will strip the oils from the animal's coat. Dry your goat well. If you have a blower this will speed the drying process and help keep the goat from becoming cold. Wet hair will dull clipper blades as fast as dirty hair. A clipping stand is very handy to have when drying & clipping a goat.
To slick shear a market goat it is recommended you use a set of large animal clippers. These come in a variety of prices and styles. The Sunbeam hair head clippers are probably the most popular used today. Most of these clippers offer a slick shear blade and a raised blade that leaves approximately ¼". The raised blade is great for winter shearing. Lister makes several models (Laser & Stablemate most popular) that work extremely well on all livestock. These clippers are a more expensive than the Sunbeam clippers but will pay for themselves over time. They also have a high trade-in value. Before buying new clippers and equipment check with your Ag teacher and extension service. Most have clippers, stands, and blowers that you can borrow to get your project ready. You will also need a small pair of clippers to trim up the edges. Oster A5 or the Laube cordless clippers are both excellent choices.
If you are going to clip your goats for show, it is advisable to keep them clipped throughout the year. We clip our kids when they are castrated & then clip them monthly so they stay acclimated to not having hair. This also gives you time to improve your clipping technique and get the animal used to the procedure. When the weather turns cold shelter must be provided for the goats. Usually if they can get out of the rain and wind they will be fine. In cooler climates a heat lamp or blankets may also be required. Goats are notorious for destroying their blankets. We make blankets out of old sweatshirts - they are cheap and effective. Keep the store bought blankets for the show box. Also, if you slick shear white goats in the summer provide shade for a couple of days afterwards to prevent sunburn.
Once your goat is sheared and his feet trimmed he is ready to take to the show. How will you haul your goat? If you are hauling in a cage or trailer provide a tarp or cover from the sun. Also, take water from home for the goat to drink. Goats don't like different smelling or tasting water. If your goat is not drinking, or it is extremely hot, you need to drench him with water or electrolytes to prevent dehydration. Be careful drenching your goat with a product he has never had before (Ensure, Show Shake, etc) this may upset him and cause him to scour. Probiotics and B Complex vitamins are always good to give during times of stress. Keep track of what your goat eats and drinks before and after weigh-in. Many shows require a weigh-back. The top placing goats are re-weighed and must weigh within 4-5 pounds of their official weight. A half-gallon of water weighs 4 pounds. Give your goat a chance to drink, just limit the water. Don't keep a 5-gallon bucket full of water in the pen at show time.
Familiarize your goat with the new surroundings. Take the goat out and walk him calmly in the arena. Get him used to the new sights and sounds. Once he is relaxed practice setting him up a couple of times. If it is hot, you may want to bathe your goat the morning of the show. Just rinse the dirt and dust off, don't use shampoo. Some judges don't like the feel of a newly bathed goat. Rinsing him off on a hot day will help keep him cool and comfortable without stripping the oils from his coat. If it is summer you may want to provide a fan for the goats. For winter shows exercise will help keep them warm. If the goats are blanketed and still shivering offer a small amount of feed and them walk them until they stop shivering.
Some goats are not used to the shavings in the stalls and will eat them. This might give your goat a bellyache. A lamb muzzle will solve this problem. These are also handy when you have some goats that need to be fed, and some that need to be held back. At most major shows you have to share pens. Bring your muzzle to prevent your goat from accidentally eating others feed or bedding.
After the show there is still work to be done. It is a good idea to spray your goats down to prevent ringworm and other funguses. Prevention is easier than treatment. When you get your goat home feed him his regular ration, and maybe a little extra hay. If it is late (way past feeding time) you may just want to put out some hay or alfalfa till morning. You don't want a stressed hungry goat eating too fast and bloating. Probiotics and B Complex can be given when you return home. This helps prevent stress. Animals that are stressed are more likely to get sick. Watch your goat carefully 48-72 hours after the show. This is when they are most likely to get sick. Make sure they are eating and drinking normally.
Minimize stress for your goat when you can. They should be broke to lead and show at home before the show. Keep your goats healthy and happy. Happy goats show and look better than stressed goats. Have fun!!