The selection of a goat for a project is one of the most important decisions made by a feeder. The type of goat you select at the beginning of the project will have a major influence on the results at the end of the project. However, one must remember that a winning goat is a combination of good selection, good nutritional management, proper grooming, and outstanding showmanship.
People differ in their ability to select prospective animals. Some have a natural eye for selecting young animals, while others never develop this ability. Do not hesitate to take advantage of a person with these skills. It may be your county agent, FFA instructor, parents, or another leader in the county. Also, many breeders are willing to assist you in your selection program.
When selecting young goats one must be conscious of age and fat thickness. Young goats that are bloomy and fat always look good, while young goats that are thin do not look as good. Learn to look past fat and recognize muscle so that you can pick those goats that are genetically superior.
Anytime you purchase goats, it is important to know a little about the producer you are buying from. Do not hesitate to ask questions about their goat's bloodlines and the age of the goats in question.
When selecting goats there are five major areas of emphasis that need to be considered. They are structural correctness, muscle, volume and capacity, style and balance, and growth potential.
Structural correctness refers to the skeletal system or bone structure of an animal. Goats should be up-headed, with the neck extending out of the top of the shoulders. Goats should travel and stand wide and straight on both their front and rear legs, and their legs should be placed squarely under the body. They should have a strong level top, and a long rump with a slight slope from their hooks to their pins. Goats should be heavy boned and be strong on their pasterns. Open shouldered, weak pasterned, steep rumped goats should be avoided.
Generally, goats that walk and stand wide are going to be heavier muscled. Goats should have a deep, heavily muscled leg and rump, with the widest part of the leg being the stifle area, when viewed from behind. They should have a broad, thick back and loin that is naturally firm and hard handling. Goats should be wide through their chest floor, with bold shoulders and a prominent forearm muscle. The chest and forearm of a goat are the best indicators of muscling in thin goats.
Volume and Capacity
Volume and capacity refers to the relationship of length of body with depth of body and width of body. Goats should be long bodied, with adequate depth and spring of rib. Try to avoid selecting goats that are short bodied, narrow based, and flat ribbed.
Style and Balance
Style and balance refers to the way all body parts blend together, how the shoulder blends into the rib cage, the rib cage to the loin, the loin to the rump, and how eye-appealing a goat is. When viewed from the side, a goat should be smooth shouldered, level topped, trim middled, and straight legged. A goat that is balanced, pretty, and holds his head up, is the first one you notice when you walk in the pen.
The ability of an animal to grow rapidly is very important. Generally, the larger framed goats, as indicated by a long head, neck, cannon-bone, and body, will grow faster, be larger, and more competitive in the show ring.