The Market Goat Primer

Raising a Market Goat Project


  • Decide what shows you are going to and get a copy of the show rules from your 4H leader, County Extension Office, or the show office for major shows.
  • Read the rules, most shows have age requirements (tooth rule), weight limits, shearing, and horn rules. This will determine what breed and age goat you need. Most county shows have a validation date. Some shows require a health certificate from the vet within 30 days of the show.
  • All goats need access to clean fresh water and clean fresh feed and hay.
  • Be prepared - goats need a good fence and some shelter. Goats need shelter to be able to get out of the wind, rain, and hot summer sun. There are several guides on housing and showing available from your County Extension office, these will give you an idea wether you facilities are adequate.
  • Make a commitment to take care of your goat twice a day. When you feed you need to watch your goat long enough so you can tell when he is sick - prevention is the key.
  • Enjoy raising one of the fastest growing projects in 4H!


  • Vaccinate does with Clostridium C&D Toxoid plus Tetnus (CD&T) 3 to 4 weeks before kidding. This vaccine is very sensitive keep refrigerated at all times. We use Covexin 8
  • Treat navels with 7% iodine at birth, this prevents joint ill - an infection of the navel cord.
  • Disbud at 2-14 days old. Always give tetanus antitoxin at every surgery (dehorning & castration) especially if the does haven't been vaccinated.
  • Watch for coccida, this usually affects kids about one month of age. Start on 16%-17% goat ration with a coccidiostat and ammonia chloride or ammonia sulfate to prevent urinary calculi.
  • Vaccinate with CD&T at 12 weeks.
  • Give CD&T booster 21-30 days later.
  • Treat for worms at 4 to 6 weeks old - dosage & effective products vary with climate and management conditions (pasture or pen raised) consult a local vet, local breeders or your extension office for the appropriate wormers & dosages.


  • If you can purchase a goat that has been castrated, disbudded if necessary, weaned and on feed. This will prevent a lot of setbacks. It is worth paying extra for a goat that is ready to go.
  • Inquire about past vaccination & medication history - write it down!
  • Booster or start CD&T vaccinations and sore-mouth if appropriate.
  • Check for worms & coccodia - you can have a fecal run at the vet - treat if necessary.
  • Administer a probiotic (Fasttrack or Probis) and B Complex weekly to stimulate appetite.
  • Start goats on a commercial goat ration - prepared rations have all the vitamins and minerals needed for a growing goat. Purchase one that contains a coccidiostat and ammonium chloride or ammonium sulfate to prevent urinary calculi.
  • Goats are ruminants, they need daily access to hay. Provide a handful of hay daily to wethers to stimulate their rumen and keep them healthy. Alfalfa is great, stay away from coastal and bremudas they tend to belly up a goat.
  • Goats also need free choice minerals & salt especially int he summer. Loose minerals are preferred over mineral blocks. Water is the biggest feed limiter to livestock. Make sure it is clean and fresh everyday.
  • Watch for respiratory infections and coccidiosis the first week especially.
  • After eating feed and healthy for at least one week castrate & dehorn if needed. It is safer to disbud goats as kids. Do not dehorn during fly season. Dehorning leaves an open wound into the sinus cavity. This is best done in cooler weather. Dehorning will set your goat back, plan ahead.



  • Remember your project is a market animal and will end up in the food chain. Carcass quality is important avoid giving injections in the hindquarters which is the most valuable part of the carcass.
  • ALL injections should be in brisket, armpit, or in pectoral muscle. The "ideal" injection site for a show goat is under the skin of the left armpit. If it does make a bump - it is less likely to be seen by the judge. Give all vaccinations here or in the "V" in the brisket.
  • Check drugs for approval for food animals
  • Be careful and watch withdraw dates on medications given, keep track on calendar with show dates.
  • Always keep a dose of epinephrine in the fridge. Goats and other animals can go into anaphylactic shock. This usually happens when giving repeated doses, and is more likely to happen when giving penicillin IM. Goats are sensitive to the carrier in most penicillin.


  • Banding is probably the most popular method of castrating young goats. A rubber band is placed around the testicles and cuts off the circulation. After a few days they dry up and can be cut off to prevent infection.
  • Emasculators (Burdizzo) is another "bloodless" method, the cord to the testicles is crushed with a pair of emasculators which acts like a clamp. Crush cords one at a time, never both at once.
  • Surgical - Watch for contamination in dirt pens, and by flies.


  • Fist step to training is putting a chain collar on your goat and tie him up. Never leave a tied goat unattended. A goat can hang himself or break his neck very quickly.
  • When teaching your goat to lead, keep the collar up next to the jaw. This gives you more leverage and control.
  • Teach your goat to stand a little at a time, be happy with little advancements. Make him stand a little longer every time.
  • Both goats and children need to be in shape to brace a goat for a big show, practice so they can stand and brace the goat for 5-6 minutes at a time.
  • Don't over work your goat, work in short sessions. Quit practice on a good note. Make sure he does something good before you let him go or feed him.


  • Check and clean water daily - no animal wants to drink dirty water.
  • Treat for parasites and trim feed every 21-30 days. It is important to keep these show wethers feet trimmed so they grow straight and correct.
  • Feed a commercial goat feed. These usually are well balanced and contain everything your goat needs in a concentrate.
  • Goats need roughage (hay) to keep there rumen functioning. They do not do well on just grains. Alfalfa and leafy grass hays - such as Sudan, Haygrazer or Johnson Grass make good palatable hay for goats.
  • Feed twice a day & clean out feeders before feeding.
  • We set our feeders up high - makes them stretch and keeps manure out of them. For wethers individual feed pens are a must!
  • Watch wethers urinate when they get up, they should urinate a steady stream. At first sign of dribbling urine or straining call the vet. Chances are good that the goat can be saved, but you must act fast!
  • Start training to lead when young. A #4 flat chain works great for collars & can be bought at Walmart, use OB Chain for white necked goats - it doesn't turn their neck gray. Bit snaps make great collar fasteners be careful leaving collars on goats - make sure they can't hang it on anything.
  • Double end snaps are indispensable - use to tie goats and hang buckets and feeders.
  • We give B complex vitamins (injectable kind orally 2cc-3cc) and probiotic once a week to stimulate appetite, prevent tummy aches & complications from stress.
  • Change water a few days before the show. Get goats used to drinking out of same bucket that you will take to the show.
  • If goats quit eating or are not eating well, take off grain for 24 hours and feed alfalfa or grass hay. Give them a dose of probiotic and B Complex.
  • 30-45 days before the big show we add Showbloom & whole corn, it seems to add finish. Showbloom makes a good treat, it can be hand fed. Weigh your goat regularly so you know where you stand.
  • Have fun at the shows!


  • Always keep your goat between you and the judge. Never block the judges view of your animal with your body.
  • When turning or moving your goat, move in front of the goat, not behind him.
  • Always watch the judge, but don't forget your goat - keep him set up square.
  • Be prepared - train your goat to lead and stand at home before the first show. Before the show, walk your goat in the show arena if possible, this way he will be accustomed to the new surroundings, and footing.
  • Know what your goat weighs, how old he is and what breed he is. Common questions in showmanship include what, how much, and what protein feed you use, what you worm with (including dosage), and what do you use to vaccinate you goats.


  • Read the rules before the show. Remember some shows do not let you clip on the show grounds.
  • Keep a notebook in your show box. Keep track of the Judges name, how you placed what he looks for - this will help you greatly later.
  • Some shows require slick sheared goats, some 3/8" clip, others just a trim. Try to do this before the show, slick shear goats around one week before the show, provide a blanket and/or warm shelter if the weather is cold.
  • Watch you goat and make sure he doesn't dehydrate. Traveling stresses your goats. If you pinch the goats skin up and it stands up, instead of returning to normal in a couple seconds your goat is dehydrated and needs fluids.
  • Arrive early, make sure your in time for the weigh-in.
  • Make a check-list before hand of everything you need to take so you don't forget something in the excitement (I have seen people forget their goats!)
  • Goat show box - you won't need as much going to a one-day show as traveling overnight to one. Be prepared.
    • extra collar
    • double end snaps & a couple short pieces of chain
    • Show notebook & pen
    • Paper work - registration, membership cards, entry forms & health papers if requested or if traveling out of state.
    • brush & rags (wet washrag in plastic bag to clean up exhibitor)
    • hoof trimmers (this should ideally be done at home)
    • water bucket, pack your own water if your goat is picky
    • feed, hay, & feeders
    • clippers, extension cords, and stands - if allowed some shows do not let you clip on the grounds.
    • electrolytes & drench gun for dehydration
    • Pepto or Kaopectate for scours & 12cc syringes
    • dry clean shampoo - to clean up scours
    • ear taggers if you have them for the big shows - saves time signing theirs out.
    • Fly spray


  • Treat penned goats for parasites (worms) every 21-30 days, or as directed by your vet.
  • Tape worms do not show up on a fecal test, they look like grains of rice in fresh feces.
  • Watch out for coccidiosis. Young kids will scour and go down quickly, treat with Albon, Corrid, or Sulmet give Fasttrack or probis to restart rumen activity. Coccidiosis can be verified by the vet with a fecal sample.
  • Fungi - goats that travel can pick up diseases from other goats, pens, and trailers. Ringworm and the itch are common and both contagious to humans. Treat with betadine or nolvason ointment. Where gloves when treating. We spray our goats with a Kaptan or clorox solution before we load them up from a show. Also spray anything you took in the barn - show box, feeders, buckets, brushes, and the bottoms of your boots. This helps prevent bringing it home.
  • If you goat is scratching check for lice or mites. Avermectins and topical applications (dips, spray on, & pour on) are available to control external parasites.
  • Soremouth - wart like sores around the mouth. Can be transmitted to the doe's udder and to humans. Vaccines are available. Once a goat has had sore-mouth, they will not get it again.
  • Bloat - the goat's gut is greatly distended and has trouble breathing or moving. This is serious and prompt treatment is required. Bloat can be treated by drenching with penicillin and pepto, if improvement isn't detected in 2-25 minutes, you may need to seek the help of a vet.
  • Polio - this is a thiamin deficiency caused by a bacterial infection or treatment with a thiamin-depleting drug such as Corrid. The goat stumbles, is lame, and can't see. This needs to be treated immediately with large doses of thiamin.
  • Keep tetanus and Extrotoximia (overeating) vaccinations up to date. Goats on heavy feed should be vaccinated every six months.
  • Urinary calculi - calcium stones form in the male's urinary tract similar to kidney stones in people. Feed feeds with ammonium sulfate or ammonium chloride added or top dress your rations with these additives to prevent these problems. If your goat strains to urinate or just dribbles seek qualified help immediately. Keep ammonia chloride on hand and treat immediately (available by special order from most feed stores)


  • If you have just a few does it is hard to justify the initial cost and upkeep of a buck.
  • Most folks with bucks will breed your animals for a fee, which is usually less than feeding a buck for a year.
  • Goats can be artificially inseminated very successfully, if the buck you dream is 3 states away, no problem.
  • Bucks need extra good pens, they are mischievous and will destroy what they can, because they can.
  • Bucks stink during rut, you don't want one near your backyard BBQ.
  • Bucks are usually bigger, more aggressive, and could be dangerous to you and young children. Bucks tend to be aggressive during rut, pay attention to them at all times.

Return to the Goat Page

Back to the home page

Email Bar None Meat Goats

Bar None Meat Goats

Look for us at the shows!