By: Preston R. Faris, Preston’s Perspective Agri-Resource Consulting. Dr. Frank Craddock, Texas Cooperative Extension
When evaluating animals for breeding traits and determining which are to be selected and which are to be eliminated we utilize several criteria to make these determinations. The first and most often used is visual appraisal and it is generally used most effectively in combination with performance data and pedigree information. When using visual appraisal to select animals to keep in a breeding flock we must use a somewhat different set of standards than that utilized by the judge in the show ring. That certainly doesn’t mean that we abandon the standards of excellence set forth by the American Boer Goat Assn. It does, however, mean that we may tend to place a different emphasis on some traits than the judge would in the show ring. It might even mean that we may ignore a cull fault and keep an animal in the flock if we choose to chance what the genetic influence might mean to the production operation from the trait sought after by using this animal. We will therefore be discussing selection and evaluation and noting instances where the association standards may or may not be utilized in culling or keeping a particular animal.
Live animal evaluation is done on a daily basis by everyone who works with animals. Good animal husbandry demands that we do more than just place feed in front of the animals and hope that all is well. Each day the caretaker evaluates the health of that animal against some standard. Whether we realize it or not we also evaluate the disposition of animals daily. Some are nice and some are downright mean. We may even select animals based on a standard of performance for the trait-disposition. Therefore, every person involved in the production of those animals irregardless of their formal training is an animal evaluator. For each trait we evaluate there must be a standard and that may be set by the person or come from an association such as the American Boer Goat Assn.
For any kind of goat production enterprise there are four general areas which must be covered in the evaluation and selection process. These are: 1) Structural Soundness, 2) Skeletal Dimension, 3) Muscularity and 4) Eye Appeal. It does not matter whether the goal is purebred seedstock production, show wether goat production or commercial production, these attributes must be considered for every animal as we determine its breeding value.
Structural Soundness is listed first for a very good reason. Structure is the foundation of the animal and everything which we add must be built upon a sound structural foundation. Beginning with the head there are certain structural items that must be sound. The eye must be sound. A blind goat will not perform very well. The ears should be sound and functional. Notice that the shape or size of the ear is not mentioned. That will come later. Structural soundness is the issue being covered now and the size of the ear or its shape has little to do with its functional soundness. The jaws should be evenly opposed so that the teeth touch the dental pad when the goat’s mouth is closed. There are all kinds of variations of this in the anatomical makeup of goats. The ABGA even accepts in their standard of excellence a ¼ inch underbite once the goat is 24 months of age. For breeding merit that standard may be too relaxed and each individual producer must determine where he will draw the line. Sound mouths would certainly not include those which have a serious overbite or underbite. An overbite or an undershot jaw is commonly referred to as a parrot mouth. An underbite or overshot jaw is sometimes referred to as a monkey mouth. Either of these structural abnormalities should result in the animal being culled and removed from the herd because these traits are heritable and the breeding value of that animal is certainly in question.
This is a good place to address the issue of single trait culling of an animal. In most instances “single traiting” an animal out is not a good practice either on the farm or for the judge in the show ring. However, every trait must have an independent culling level assigned to it and for mouths evenly opposed jaws are to be preferred and gross exaggerations away from that standard merit culling.
The next part of the head to consider with respect to structural soundness is the horns. Obviously dehorned goats do not have horns and that trait is eliminated. For others the horns need to be strong and wide apart at the base so as not to catch other goat’s legs between them or be hard on human hands when handling the goats. Horns should not come to the head too quickly as they may irritate the skin or cause a problem as the goat matures by growing into the eve. Otherwise there is little else to consider with respect to the structural soundness of horns.
Progressing from the head to the neck and shoulder the animal must have a strong neck balanced in length to the body of the goat and blending well into the shoulder. The neck should come off of the top of the shoulder and not be set low. A high neck set will allow the animal to naturally keep its head up and be alert. This may sound trivial but animals which are alert and upheaded are almost always more healthy and thrifty.
From the neck we must progress to the top of the shoulder and topline of the goat. The animal should be strong topped and not have a dip behind the shoulder which is a serious fault. A weak topped animal will only get worse with age and can sometimes become totally unsound and unable to move about and perform at a productive level. The hip should be nominally level and not to steep. Steep rumps are generally the starting place for unsound hind legs.
Legs should be on the corners of the body and strong. Pasterns should be strong and yet have enough flex too allow the goat to move freely. Pasterns can be either too straight or too weak to maintain structural soundness. Very young and growing animals may have more flex in their pastern joint and older heavy animals should certainly be allowed the same flexibility. If the dew claw touches the ground as the animal travels then the animal is obviously too weak in the pastern. Other variations are subject to the individual interpretation of the person evaluating the goat. It perhaps should be remembered that there are some very productive does in commercial flocks which would no doubt be culled in the show ring and yet they have never had a truly unsound or crippled day in their life and have been very profitable producers. Cowhocks or goats with hind legs that hock in should certainly be avoided. Again this is more a matter of real structural soundness and even cow-hocked goats perform with little real hindrance in large commercial operations.
Post legs or legs with no flex in the hock joint are an even more serious problem than cow-hocks or goats which are sickle-hocked or slightly camped under. Post legged goats will almost certainly break down with age and weight rendering them unsound to move and perform at an acceptable level. Post legged bucks can actually stifle themselves while serving a doe or may simply become sore and lethargic during the breeding season when they need to be at their best.
The hooves of animals should point straight forward as the animal sets its foot on the ground. Hooves which turn in or out, splay toes and any other abnormalities of the hoof should be selected against according to the ABGA standard just as knock knees, buck knees, hollow legs and bandy legs.
The base of the animal’s tail must be centered and straight. The remainder of the tail can curve upward or to one side. A wry tail or tail that curls should be strongly selected against. This is another good standard set by the ABGA.
Although less injurious to the udder than cow hocks, bowlegs strain the hock and pastern joints.
Sickle-hocked legs can shorten a goat’s useful life. A Posty leg has no give in the stifle and hock joints jarring the body with each step. Very painful the condition often swells these joints and cripples the goat.
The reproductive organs of the goat should certainly be sound. The ABGA defines the correct structure for the buck as possessing two large well-formed equal sized testes in a single scrotum with no more than a 2” split in the apex of the scrotum. While there is no research to show that the split in the scrotum diminishes fertility or is definitely tied to future anatomical problems related to poor shaped udders in female offspring or to cryptorchidism in male offspring, there are definite sound reasons to avoid a split scrotum. If goats are grazed in pastures with cacti or sandburs then a split in the scrotum allows the potential for a thorn or bur to lodge between the testes causing serious problems and potential sterility.
The external genetalia of the female should be well developed and properly structured. While there is no standard set by the ABGA for this female reproductive organ it is essential that it develop naturally. Infantile vulvas are to be considered as potential indicators of poor breeders. Vulvas which turn up on the end can cause a problem when the buck is serving the doe and can result in poor doe fertility. This type of structure in the vulva of the doe could be an indication of a hermaphrodite (an animal with both sexual organs present to some degree) and this is obviously not an animal of breeding merit. The ABGS also stressed the importance of the doe having been bred by no later than 24 months of age. Goats are prolific animals which will quite naturally reach puberty and be fertile at 6-7 months of age. While some may not choose to breed does at that young age there is certainly no excuse for any doe not to have kidded by the time she is two years of age.
The udder of the doe and structure of the teats is obviously of critical importance when assessing the breeding value of the animal. Again the ABGA has set a good standard stressing that does should have well formed udders with good attachment with the number of functional teats not to exceed two per side. A split teat with two distinctly separated teats and openings with at least 50% of the body of the teat separated is permissible but teats without a split are preferred. It is most important that the udder is constructed so that the offspring are able to nurse unassisted. Cluster teats and fishtail teats are a cull fault as an independent culling level in assessing the breeding value of a doe. Over sized or bulbous teats and pendulous udders are a very serious problem and if accepted into a breeding program can result in real headaches for the future.
Teat structure on bucks should also be evaluated. Though there is no standard set by the ABGA for teat structure on bucks it is critical that the good breeder place as much importance on the buck side of the equation as for the doe side. After all the doe will contribute to only a few offspring in the flock over her breeding lifetime unless she is flushed in an embryo transfer program. The buck, on the other hand, will impact perhaps the total kid crop for however long he is used. Do not allow a buck with bad teat structure to pass that trait on to a high percentage of does in the flock.
Skeletal Dimension is the next important attribute to consider in determining the breeding value of any goat. As before the discussion can begin with the head. The ABGA has again set a good standard and starting place by stating the animal should have a prominent, strong head with brown eyes and a gentle appearance. The nose should have a gentle curve with wide nostrils and a well formed mouth with evenly opposed jaws. Teeth should erupt in proper sequential positions. The forehead should be prominent and form an even curve linking the nose and horns. The horns should be dark, round, strong, of moderate length, positioned well apart and have a gradual backward curve before turning outward symmetrically. The size of the skull is a good indicator of overall skeletal dimension. Good width between the eyes and horns indicates a stoutness of the skeleton which will be seen in other skeletal areas. Good length of the head is the first indicator of growth and is always very proportional to the length of the rump and other skeletal areas. Small frail heads and horns are generally indicative of frailness throughout the skeletal makeup of the animal. Good skeletal dimension in the head while being feminine or masculine and balanced to the remainder of skeletal development in the animal is very positive. Too much emphasis on heavily curved Roman noses can result in improper jaw alignment which is a serious structural fault. As noted by the ABGA standard a concave forehead, a weak jaw, a jaw which is light and too pointed or shallow are indications of poor skeletal dimension.
Progressing to the neck in considering skeletal dimension, the ABGA calls for a neck of moderate length which is well balanced and proportional to the remainder of the body. Balance is always important and yet the length of the neck is a good growth indicator. Long clean necks are frequently found on animals which are thrifty, alert and high performing. Long necks usually go with other skeletal length. The overall dimension of any animal is three dimensional – length, width and depth. Length of neck and body are important influences on the overall dimension of the animal.
Length of body is importantly balanced with width and depth of the body. An open rib which is well sprung off of the topline of the animal allows for plenty of internal capacity. Depth of body in the chest and especially into the rear flank of the animal again increases the internal capacity of the animal. The ABGA calls for a broad long rump with a gentle slope. A long rump will not be found on an animal with a short body. Everything is generally proportional if the animal is properly balanced.
The ABGA does not address the length of leg in its standard of excellence. Balance again should be the key and the depth of body of the animal should make up at least 60% of the total height of the animal. Legs which are too long offer no real merit since the animal is a meat animal and the consumer utilizes almost none of the animal below the underline. Legs which are too short, however, may indicate poor overall growth. In rough terrain or in large pastures animals with legs which are very short may be stressed to travel and make a living. Balance is the key thought in determining the correct length of leg.
Length and depth must again be balanced with width. When seen from the front the animal should be wide in the floor of the chest and yet balanced and not course or open fronted. From the rear the animal should again show width in the rib and middle portion of the body and width between the hind legs on a sound structure.
The bone in the leg of a goat should be large and flat. Small round bones in the body of any animal are instant signs of frailness of skeleton. The foot of the animal should be large and sound. Dark colored hooves are almost always sounder than light colored hooves.
Structural soundness and skeletal dimension are the essential foundation on which the goat must carry the all important reason for its existence to the consuming public. That reason for being is the production of an edible product called red meat and that red meat comes from muscle.
Muscling in an animal is apparent everywhere on the skeleton. There are, however, certain areas and indicators which every good evaluator of livestock uses to asses the amount of muscle present in every animal. We have started with the head and neck as a place to begin evaluating the first two attributes of the animal’s breeding value. However these two anatomical features are not principle sites for consideration of the muscularity of an animal. While the neck should certainly show evidence of muscularity the first real spot to look for muscling is along the topline of the animal over the rack, back and loin. The longisimus dorsi muscle extends the length of the topline of the animal and yields one of the best carcass cuts of the animal.
The shoulder should also be expressively muscled and yet not be course or out of proportion with the rest of the body. The top of the hip and the upper, middle and lower portion of the hind leg as viewed from the rear should give the appearance of good muscularity. One of the thickest portions of the goat’s body when viewed from the rear should be just above the area from stifle to stifle. From the rear view the goat should also show good muscular development on the inside and outside portion of the leg as the muscle carries down to the hock.
Body condition certainly influences thickness in an animal since fat is interspersed between muscles and overlays the muscle in some regions of the goats body. It is easy for the inexperienced eye to be fooled by fat. A good indicator of true muscle in the body is the goat’s forearm which is directly proportional to the longisimus dorsi muscle which extends the length of the topline. The forearm lies against the bone in the leg and is basically covered only by skin. In animals which are not dehydrated the forearm is a very good indicator of true muscling.
More muscle in an animal means more saleable product. The meat from a lean properly conditioned goat is one of the most wholesome red meats available to man. Therefore the goal of every goat breeder should be to maximize the production of muscle while maintaining balance and symmetry in the animal.
Eye appeal is the third attribute of the animal which must be considered and its importance must never be underestimated even in commercial production. Balance and symmetry in the way all of the animal’s parts fit together is the most important factor in eye appeal. Females should be feminine with clean feminine fronts and heads which show them to be females. Their bodies should show feminine angularity such that the animal appears up fronted and the depth of the body should increase into the region of the rear flank.
Bucks on the other hand should be masculine in appearance with strong heads and a rugged bold spring to the ribs to carry the respiratory system essential for them to survive the stress on their body during the peak of the rut and breeding season. This does not, however, diminish their necessity to carry plenty of muscle as they will be passing on this very important trait to all of their offspring. Balance again is the key factor for consideration when viewing the animal.
Eye appeal again starts with the head. There is perhaps no other single anatomical feature in the animal which immediately impresses or depressed the animal evaluator more than the head. Shape of the head and horn is extremely important. The strength of the jaw and the curvature of the nose speak volumes for the enoblement characteristic of the Boer goat. Again balance to the rest of the animal must be present. The ABGA states that the ears should be smooth, of medium length and hang downward. While ears which are folded lengthwise represent a cull fault in the show ring the trait may not be serious enough to cull a really good animal from the breeding flock. This again must be left to the judgment of the animal breeder.
Coloration of the animal is a fancy point and may not have serious economic significance except in the sale of show stock. The ABGA states that the preferred goat is an animal with red hair on the head and ears and white on the remainder of the body. However there is now a significant demand for red goats and an ennoblement program has even been developed for goats which are non traditional in color. If the clientele to which a breeder sells the majority of his goats demand a certain color then color certainly takes on an economic significance. Otherwise there are very good goats in a broad array of color patterns.
Pigmentation on the hairless areas of the goat’s body should, according to the ABGA, be at least 75% pigmented with 100% the desired. While this may also seem economically insignificant and while skin cancer may not be as prevalent in North America as it is in the goats’ native to South Africa this is certainly a characteristic which has been bred into the Boer goat and one which is worth placing positive selection influence upon.
The skin of the Boer goat is to be loose and supple. Many desire pleating on bucks but bucks which show this characteristic very early in life are frequently very early in their maturity pattern and do not attain sufficient size at maturity. The hair coat is to be short and glossy with a limited amount of winter down or under-coat during the winter months, especially in colder environments.
Do you now have all of the information necessary to be a real success at selection and evaluation of animals for their breeding merit? Not hardly! We have just touched on the visual selection traits. Animal evaluation and the design of mating schemes involves much more. We must now look at records and genetic makeup of the animals. This will help yield much more predictability to the desired outcome of producing superior animals.
RECORDS and RECORDKEEPING
At kidding time there are several pieces of information that need to be recorded. The number of the doe along with the date of birth of the kid born, number of kids born and sex of each kid needs to be recorded. With this information you will be able to make decisions on two important traits, time of kidding and frequency of kidding. Other data that needs to be recorded is the number of kids weaned as well as pre-weaning and post-weaning growth weight.
Time of kidding refers to the heat cycle in which the doe was bred. Ideally we would like every doe to breed in the first heat cycle (21 days). Bucks are generally left with the does for at least two and sometimes three or more heat cycles. Replacement doe kids from does that kidded early in the breeding season will be more productive over their lifetime than doe kids from does that do not breed until the third or fourth heat cycle.
Frequency of kidding tells you if the doe bred every year. If a doe does not breed every year she should be culled. There are some does that only breed every other year. There is no excuse for this in a conventional breeding program of once a year kidding. One might make exception in an accelerated kidding program where the does kid every 8 months, however, for this type of program to work properly exceptions should not be made.
The number of kids born is extremely important, but the number of kids weaned is even more important in determining profitability. One must have many kids born and then keep them alive and wean as many as possible to offer profit potential. This is a reflection of mothering ability and flock management. Traits related to reproductive performance are generally low in heritability; therefore, more improvement can generally be made in the management program than through the selection program. Some management strategies that can improve reproductive performance are barn kidding, use of ultrasound to determine pregnancy and the number of kids in the uterus coupled with appropriate nutritional programs, use of marking harnesses and teaser bucks, breeding at night, breeding soundness exams for bucks, etc.
Pre-weaning growth rate is how the kids grow from birth to weaning and is primarily a function of milk production in the dam. Kids should be weighed at weaning which generally occurs anytime after they are 60 days of age. It must be remembered that total pounds of kids weaned is important. You should not expect twin and triple kids to be as heavy as singles, however, the sum of the weights for kids raised as twins or triples should exceed that of a single. Does with twin or triplet kids produce more total milk that does with a single kid but each of the kids in a multiple birth situation gets less milk than a single raise on a good dam.
Once the kids are weaned they no longer have mother’s milk to make them grow. They are now depending on their own genetic potential for growth assuming proper nutrition. This is known as post-weaning growth rate. It is common for purebred producers and other good breeders to place especially buck kids on some type of gain test for 60-90 days to determine post-weaning growth rate.
To make the best assessment of the value of an animal for breeding merit these types of records should be used. To make the best selection of animals to retain in the flock to be used for breeding you should use a combination of record and visual appraisal. Remember that every good breeder has an old doe at home that looks terrible and yet you keep her because of the progeny which she consistently produces annually. Without records she might be the first doe culled. What a mistake!
Visual appraisal and records should be used by all goat breeders and especially in commercial operations to maximize progress through selection. Another important selection criteria which is utilized by purebred stud breeders is pedigrees. Many purebred producers have identified certain family lines (bloodlines) that they want to pursue in their breeding program and consequently select their goats or purchase outside breeding stock based on the merit of their ancestors. Pedigrees are most useful if they are used regarding the most recent individuals and used as the basis for selection of young animals before their performance or that of their progeny is known.
In all selection programs it should be noted that economic traits or parameters should take precedence over the lesser important traits or fancy points of the animal if true improvement is to be made. Remember that the ultimate value of all breeding programs is to produce animals which will yield the desired product for the ultimate consumer. That consumer is the one who purchases the product for the table. Purebred stud operations can not survive without the commercial meat industry. Producing animals which ultimately fulfill that objective must be on the mind of every person in the goat business.***
Dr. Frank Craddock is professor and Extension sheep and goat specialist stationed at the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center in San Angelo. He is also a member of the animal nutrition section in the Department of Animal Science. He received his bachelor's degree and doctorate from Texas A&M University and his master's from the University of Wyoming.
Preston R. Faris is associated with the Utah State University Extension.
The ideal slope of the rump is 20 degrees. The length of the rump, from hook to pin should be 30% of the total body length (point of shoulder to pin bone). The width between the pin bones should be as much or more than the width between the hook/hip bones. The body depth should be 60% , and the legs 40% of the total depth of the animal from top line to the ground. Bone lengths in the rear Z should be about the same length for best balance.
Flat horns cause us pain, a round horn is best. Horns that quickly turn out from the skull or point upward cause other goats pain, these animals tend to be wild and hard to handle.
In Cashmere goats’ conformation is 50% of the evaluation with the fiber being the other 50%.
Typically goats that have strong bodies have strong fiber (coarse), goats with fine bodies have fine fiber. Balance is the key.
Evaluation after goats are shorn is best, it is hard to see through all the fluff to see the real story otherwise.
TYPE EVALUATION COLLECTION: GOAT HANDBOOK
ORIGIN: United States
DATE INCLUDED: June 1992
Extension Goat Handbook
This material was contributed from collections at the National Agricultural
Library. However, users should direct all inquires about the contents to authors or originating agencies.
AU H. Considine; Portage, WI
RV G. F. W. Haenlein; U. of Delaware, Newark
DE Anatomy and Physiology
1. The identification of a correct physical trait, or its lack, is known as type-trait evaluation or more commonly ''classification''. It is the comparison of an individual animal and it parts with the ideal for that breed, sex and age. Recognizing that physical appearance of an animal has a relationship to its usefulness and concerning ourselves with those traits that help an animal function more successfully, is the basis of classifications.
2 .Type evaluation is nothing new, for all livestock breeds and species have been developed through the centuries by breeders selecting their stock by looking at them. Fundamentally, type evaluation, is the art of trained people, examining animals by eye to determine physical strengths and weaknesses.
3 .The idea of description type identification and its aid in developing superior dairy cattle was developed by Dr. George Trimberger of Cornell University. Holstein cattle breeders adopted the system followed by other cattle breeds, and the American Dairy Goat Association. The dairy goat industry is now collecting into its computer data banks, information on sires that can be of great
importance to world goatkeeping. Bucks will be located who not only have the ability to sire high producing daughters, but also who have physical characteristics that make them valuable overall.
4 .Breeders are recognizing that the true worth of a good dairy goat is not only based on milk production in a particular lactation, but on lifetime production, at a relatively low feed cost, with few health problems, and while also producing a large number of good offspring.
These characteristics can be determined. Does have yielded 20,000 to 30,000 lbs of milk while living fourteen years and delivering thirty offspring. Invariably, such animals have physical properties that a trained classifier will observe and point out in a program designed to develop durable, useful, long-lived goats.
5. It is recognized that the ideal program for dairy goat improvement employs production testing and type evaluation. A random sampling of 10,000 scores of dairy goats of the five major breeds in the United States indicate a positive correlation
between front end scores (width of chest and smooth shoulders) and length of life. Of the animals five years old or more, 86had front end scores of 1 (Excellent) and the rest was 2 (Acceptable). Those aged one through four years, had 59 with scores of 1 (Excellent) in front end. This would indicate that the higher front end scores are associated with longer life.
6. It is essential that a classifier is well-trained so that accurate coding and scoring is done. As a milking doe is brought to the classifier, his trained eye will note length of bone, overall width, strength and power as well as the correlation of parts, e.g. how well the animal ''fits together''. The ease of motion and leg action will be observed from front, side and rear. Udder and teat sizes, shape and placement will be considered. While individual techniques vary as to the order of examination, the usual method is to handle the udder and make a final appraisal of the tightness and area of attachments, ease of milking and softness of udder tissue. Usually a squirt of milk is drawn from each teat. Then a code number is assigned in each of five areas. These descriptive codes range from one to five and each has a specific meaning. ''ONE'' is the excellent code and means 900r more perfection. ''TWO'' is the acceptable code and covers the range from 70to 890f perfection and includes those who are nearly undesirable to those nearly excellent. Numbers THREE, FOUR and FIVE are used to describe different characteristics that are undesirable and will probably affect the usefulness of an animal. Each number is used for a different fault in a specific area.
7 .Fore Udder
The Fore Udder is scored as follows:
(1) Means a strong, wide, tightly attached fore udder, extending well forward and blending smoothly into the abdomen.
(2) A moderately firm attachment of fore udder but with a noticeable degree of either looseness, bulginess, pocketing, or failure to be far enough forward.
(3) Short; a term used to indicate a fore udder that inhibits usefulness by failing to provide capacity in a safe place, that is, close to the body. It does not extend well forward and often does not extend ahead of the stifle joint.
(4) Loose, pocketed or bulgy fore attachment. A loose attachment would allow the udder to swing from side to side as well as possibly being carried too low so the chance of injury, especially while the doe is running would be greatly increased. A pocketed fore udder means that there is an open space of considerable size in between the side attachments at the front of the udder. Such a characteristic forces a doe to have more of her milk secreting tissue, the delicate alveoli, carried at a low level, down between the hocks perhaps, where the chance of injury is greater. A bulgy fore udder consists of non-milk secreting tissue, often fat or connective tissue, extending forward and usurping the place of milk-secreting tissue.
(5) A broken attachment, a fore udder held only by a couple of folds of skin and so disastrously low that udder injury is imminent with its consequent likelihood of disease.
8. Rear Udder
After ascertaining which of the above codes applies to the fore udder attachment, that number is recorded and the Rear Udder attachment is likewise evaluated:
(1) Great width, tightness and height, often just an inch or so below the vulva and blending smoothly into the escutcheon. The higher the attachment, the safer the udder from scratches or injury.
(2) Adequacy, but some degree of lowness, narrowness or looseness has been observed.
(3) An udder attached very low between the hind legs.
(4) The rear udder is narrow and pinched. This is frequently found in udders with unsatisfactory production.
(5) The attachments are broken, the udder is pendulous and the doe frequently has great difficulty walking with the rear legs because the udder swings with each step.
9. Udder Support and Floor
This area is closely allied with the structure and strength of the medial suspensory ligament.
(1) Applies to the area where the medial suspensory ligament neatly divides the udder halves with a small inverted ''V'' and proceeds horizontally right and left towards the teats for a distance of 2 to 3 inches. Normally a Code 1 in this area is used only if the codes on fore udder and rear udder are both ''1'' or ''1'' and a ''2''. The
length must be strong enough to keep the teats in proper placement and the udder tight against the body. The contribution of the udder support and floor to overall mammary excellence cannot be overemphasized.
(2) Some degree of:
c. failure to carry well forward on the doe
d. failure to carry high enough into the escutcheon
e. too much cleavage
f. not quite enough cleavage
(3) A lack of defined halving - the udder floor flat or even curving downward. Often teats point outward because of this trait.
(4) An udder floor that is too low making the udder subject to injury with each step the animal takes.
(5) A broken suspensory ligament and/or weak floor. In either case the udder hangs so low as to be a burden to the goat and is subject to injury and sanitation problems.
10. Udder Quality
(1) Reserved for those few does (currently about 1 in 20) who have extremely soft tissue in the udder. The udder usually requires observation both while extended with milk and then immediately after milking out before a Code 1 is given. Very little connective tissue can
be palpated and the skin is soft and smooth.
(2) Most animals have a Code 2, acceptable, but not outstanding, with a bit more connective tissue in proportion to the extremely soft alveoli - the milk secreting cells.
(3) If, for various reasons, such as closeness to parturition, the udder texture can not be determined a Code 3 is applied.
(4) In those extreme cases when an udder has so much connective tissue usurping the place of milk secreting tissue that it is limiting production.
11. Teat Size and Placement
(1) Teats that are about 21/2 to 3 inches long, 3/4'' to 1'' in diameter, placed evenly and squarely on the udder, nearly plumb but pointing slightly forward. (This latter reason because all dairy goat milking in the United States is done from the side of the doe and teats pointing slightly forward are easier to grasp and milk.)
(2) Some deviation from ideal in length, shape or placement but still functionally useful.
(3) A size or shape that is either hard to milk or subject to injury. An overly large teat is both difficult to grasp by hand or milk with a machine, and it also has the disadvantage of being more easily stepped on or torn by sharp objects the doe is climbing over. On the other hand, teats that are too small may make hand milking so difficult and time consuming as to render the doe almost useless.
(4) Teats that point outward to such a degree that both hand and machine milking are made difficult.
(5) Occasionally, does are found with abnormal teat structure, such as a double orifice (two openings for the milk to emerge in the same teat) or extra teats, some of which may actually give milk resulting in an extra chore at milking time. When abnormalities are discovered a
Code 5 is used.
12. Mammary System
Five areas of the mammary system are now coded and along with a general observation of the shape and capacity of the udder, a final score is given. Three general guides are: If all 5 areas are coded ''1'', the score must be above 90. If all 5 areas are coded ''2'', the score must be between 70 and 89. If all 5 areas are coded in combinations of ''3'', ''4'', or ''5'', the score must be 69 or lower. Most udder codes are combinations of acceptable ''2'' with an occasional excellent ''1'' and some unacceptable ''3'', ''4'', or ''5''. The classifier must use his skill and expertise to arrive at the over-all score.
13. Body Capacity
The classifier will observe the comparative length, width and depth of the animal, noting especially the length, depth, and spring of rib and width of chest floor. A comparison will be made mentally between the animal being classified and the ideal of that breed, sex and age. As the animal approaches the ideal, the score may go into the high 90's, or may be as low as 50 for an extremely small, frail animal. Younger animals, yearlings, 2 year-olds and 3 year-olds, are not expected to be as large as a mature 4 year-old; nor are does as large as bucks. Toggenburgs are not required to be as large as the other breeds. A guide of acceptable breed standards in minimum weight for mature does is:
Toggenburgs 120 lbs
LaManchas 130 lbs
Nubians 135 lbs
Saanens 135 lbs
Alpines 135 lbs
14. Dairy Character
In arriving at this score, careful observation is made since this is to indicate the animal's ''will to milk and the strength to sustain it''. Many factors are considered in arriving at the final score. These include:
A long, lean neck.
Proper degree in fleshing throughout.
A chiseled head.
Cleanly molded hocks.
Tortuous mammary veins as related to age and stage of lactation.
Production evident in the udder as related to age and stage of lactation. This score should be closely related to an animal's ability to produce milk, but is also influenced by the soundness of the udder. In general, a dairy character score is lowered by 10 points if the score previously given to the mammary system is below 70.
15. General Appearance
To aid breeders in their program, this area is descriptively coded in 8 subareas much as the mammary system.
16. Stature -- This term loosely defines overall size and length of bone.
(1) This animal should be tall at the withers, at least 2 inches over breed minimums which are:
26 inches for Toggenburgs
28 inches for LaManchas
30 inches for Alpines, Saanens, Nubians
These standards are for mature does, but the Code ''1'' doe must also have a correct length of cannon bone (from knee to pastern) and be above average in overall length of body and general size. Height at withers must be slightly more than at hips, and bone must be of good
size. These characteristics make an animal “upstanding''.
(2) Animals meeting breed minimum standards but not up to Code ''1'' level are coded ''2'' ''intermediate''.
(3) These animals are too short and small for breed and age or have extremely short legs. Code ''3'' describes low set - short legs.
17. Head -- It should be noted that on the head there may be observations that can be termed aesthetic besides being functional. Conformity to breed ideals in structure of nose, shape and size of ears are considered. This is balanced by the practical considerations of length, width, strength, set of jaw and overall symmetry.
(1) This head is beautiful when judged by a breed fancier or the practical eye of the commercial dairyman. With beauty of eye, nose, ear, and overall form it must also be a combination of strength and refinement. It should have a balance of length, width and substance that insures an ability to consume large amounts of forage with ease.
(2) Acceptable, lacking some in either strength or breed character.
(3) Sometimes the head is coded ''3'' because it is too short – a trait often associated with lack of will to eat plenty of feed.
(4) Frequently, crossbred animals are such a hodge-podge of breed characteristics as to be unflattering plain - just not pretty – and they are coded ''4''. A head is also coded ''4'' in the case of a large coarse animal with little indication of refinement. Often associated with poor productivity, the ''4'' in this case means coarse.
(5) This last code, applicable to some heads, is for those whose strength is lacking everywhere and is shown in the head by frailty with a narrow muzzle, weak jaw, pinched nostril, narrow forehead and sunken eye. It says simply ''weak''.
18. Front End - This is a combination of chest and shoulder features.
(1) A wide chest floor and prominent brisket with smooth blending of shoulder blades and sharp withers. Such a front end ensures plenty of room for the heart and lungs to do their life-giving work with ease and also is evidence of proper muscle and ligament strength in tight shoulders. As pointed out earlier, preliminary research indicates a strongly positive correlation of high front end scores with longevity.
(2) Code ''2'' is frequently used where there is some degree of deficiency in:
Width of chest floor;
Tightness of shoulder blades;
Proper fleshing of shoulders (the animal is a little over-fleshed).
Code ''2'' may mean just acceptable in all three sub-areas.
(3) If the animal is much too overfleshed or the point of shoulder is obnoxiously prominent a code ''3'' is given - coarse shoulder and neck.
(4) A narrow, weak condition - with almost no chest floor or brisket; the heart and lungs are extremely crowded; body capacity is adversely affected and longevity greatly reduced.
(5) An open shoulder, a condition resulting from loose ligaments holding the shoulder blade to the chest wall and often making it difficult and painful for the animal to move.
19. Front Legs
(1) Those legs which are straight, perpendicular to the ground, sound in the knees, full at point of elbow and move with the front feet pointing correctly straight ahead.
(2) Sound legs but not quite straight or moving quite correctly.
(3) The front legs bow forward at the knees when viewed from the side. For a stimulation of the undue strain put on muscles and tendons when this occurs, one is advised to try standing upright for some minutes with the knees curved forward. It is no wonder, the animal quits feeding before it should, and lies down; consequently producing less when this condition is present.
(4) Swollen knee joints - normally this is associated with an arthritic condition and interferes with mobility. It is frequently associated with a short cannon bone in the forelegs.
(5) Front legs which point outward as the animal walks; a peculiar ''paddling'' action is observed and the points of elbow continually dig in to the sides of the chest wall.
(1) A straight, strong, wide, long, level back; denotes strong physiology, indicative of strength to carry copious quantities of feed, milk and offspring for many gestations and lactations.
(2) Means acceptable and is numerically from 70 to 890n the ideal score card.
(3) A severe dip in either the chine and/or loin.
(4) An animal is lower at the withers than at the hips and is appropriately called ''low in front''. This condition can be a serious detriment to the health and well-being of an otherwise sound animal, for as parturition approaches, the digestive and reproductive organs tend to follow the pull of gravity and fall forward onto the diaphragm. This compresses heart and lungs, making it hard for the animal to breathe and have proper circulation. A survey of classification scores shows it is rare for an animal with this trait to survive past 5 years
(5) A severely roached back - very arched and high through the loin. While not especially dangerous in itself, it is frequently associated with a weak chine, steep rump and makes the topline indicative of lack of overall strength and symmetry.
21. Rump -- Affects leg set, kidding ease, and potential udder attachment, this area is of great importance.
(1) Long, wide, level from thurl to thurl, cleanly fleshed, and having a correct slope from hips to pins.
(2) Some degree of impropriety in the above descriptions.
(3) A narrow rump - this condition often leads to a rise in the vertebral processes making the rump resemble a gable roof. Naturally, kidding ease is lessened by the narrow rump and pelvis.
(4) A very steep slope from hips to pins. Actually this condition, when combined with great width, frequently makes for easy kidding. But since it also lessens the area for a large attachment and makes for an awkward rear leg set, it must be tempered toward what is termed the ''proper slope''. A perfectly level rump is not desired either.
(5) This last deficient condition is short. It is not often found.
22. Hind Legs
(1) Rear legs that are very wide apart and straight when viewed from the rear, with clean hocks and just the right combination of bone refinement and strength. Observed from the side, a plumb line originating at the pin bone would fall parallel to the leg bone from hock to pastern and touch the ground at the heel of the foot. The resulting angles produced at the hock and stifle joint will be the most ideal for an easy walk and a minimum of joint problems. These angles are seldom, if ever, found in a leg beneath a code ''4'' rump (severely sloping).
(2) Acceptable rear legs will have a noticeable deviation in angle, straightness or strength, but are not yet affecting the animal's walking ability.
(3) The rear legs turn inward when observed from the rear. In such a condition, a couple of things happen. First, the udder, if of any size, is battered first one way, then the other by the doe as she walks; Secondly, the animal usually has a tendency to point the feet outward and ''paddle'' as he/she walks. It is not comfortable for the goat and results in less movement for feeding and especially when heavy with kid.
(4) This animal has hind legs that are too close together. When associated with a larger udder, the mammary system is frequently twisted by lack of space and is hard to milk.
(5) A leg that is too straight or posty. Most noticeable is the lack of angle at hock and stifle joint, and it seems to get worse with age. Probably causing more trouble than any other single leg ailment, it is of particular concern when the animal walks without flexing the hock joint.
(1) A strong, well-formed foot with tight toes, deep heel and level sole. Such a foot is highly resistant to injury or infection and is easy to keep trimmed.
(2) Slight deviations are acceptable. It might be noted here for some familiar with cattle that the dairy goat is much smaller and is not affected as much by less than ideal feet than the vastly heavier cow. Also, the horny outside of the hoof grows quite rapidly under ordinary commercial dairy conditions and is more frequently trimmed and shaped by the herdsman. Therefore, a degree of imperfection that would cause serious problems in a cow is less likely to occur in a dairy goat.
(3) This is a common undesirable affliction - a spreading toe. Often this is a result of weak ligaments in the pastern area. It produces ill shaped toes that are hard to trim and also provide a place for manure and debris to build up and cause infection.
(4) This code refers to a defective condition known as ''shallow heel''. In a normal foot, the hoof hairline should be parallel with the sole of the foot. In the shallow heel there is less depth at the rear of the toe than the forward part, and the animal is forced into rocking back on the pasterns putting undue strain on them.
(5) Feet turning over. A turned-over foot is miserable to trim, hard to walk on and puts an unusual strain on the pasterns.
24. Miscellaneous Conditions
Occasionally some conditions are found that need to be noted to properly describe an animal.
(1) Overshot jaw - when the lower jaw is shorter than the upper jaw also known as parrot mouth - it often affects feeding ability.
(2) Undershot jaw - the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw and can also affect feeding ability.
(3) Winged shoulder - a condition manifest in looseness of the attachment of the shoulder blades to the chest wall and especially at the point of elbow. A winged shoulder makes movement more difficult.
(4) Small for age.
(5) Weak chine - it is used in conjunction with a code ''3'' in the
Back to point out that the chine is weak but not the loin.
(6) Sickle leg - in this case the hind leg has too much ''set'' or angle, and puts more strain on the leg structure. It is the opposite of a ''posty'' leg.
(7) Overly refined bone - an indication of frailty, bones too weak to carry the body weight.
(8) Weak or broken pasterns.
(9) Severely cleft udder - the medial suspensory ligament divides too soon resulting in a non-existent udder floor and wasted space between the udder halves.
(10) Tilted or twisted udder - with a tilted udder, the teats will point nearly forward. A twisted udder has one half ahead of the other half to some degree.
(11) Disqualifiable defect in breed character - each breed has its own standards for ear size, set and structure, nose structure and some have color norms. The classifier must be aware of these so he can point out animals ineligible for registry in a certain breed, but this has small importance in this discussion which stresses function.
(12) Swollen or blemished hock.
(13) Dry - indicates the doe was observed while dry, that is, not lactating. More possibility of error exists at such a time especially in udder evaluation, so classifiers tend to be conservative and the possibility of a higher score when in milk should be kept in mind.
(14) Off-color, for example a Toggenburg doe with a large white spot on her side.
(15) High dorsal process in rump - vertebrae higher than thurls which are often narrow and pre-dispose toward kidding problems.
(16) Teats too large. Used in conjunction with code ''3'' teats it indicates exactly why the teats are of undesirable size.
(17) Teats too small. Again used with code ''3'' teats.
25 .When the descriptive coding is finished the classifier will now assign a numerical score to the General Appearance of the animal. Lastly, using 30 % for Body Capacity, and 30% for a doe will be calculated. (When a buck is classified, the formula is 45% Body Capacity.) A score of 90 or above will place the animal in the Excellent group, 80 to 89 is Very Good, 70 to 79 is Good Plus, 60 to 69 is Good, 50 to 59 is Fair, and below 50 is Poor.
A majority of animals fall in the upper 70's to low 80's.
26. A useful part of this program is using it as a guide for corrective matings. For example, a herd may have plenty of production and generally satisfactory body type but has uniformly large, hard-to-milk teats. By locating and using a buck whose daughters have above average type and production and also have a high proportion of Code 1 (near ideal) teats, a good improvement can be made in just the next generation. This is known as Corrective Mating and can be applied to any part of the conformation of a herd or animal to produce superior offspring.
27. Classification of a herd is done by application to ADGA (the American Dairy Goat Association). AGS (American Goat Society) has a different program. There is a fee of about $4.00 per head which covers bookkeeping and travel reimbursement to the classifier, if at least 150 goats are classified in a certain area. Special classifications can also be arranged but may be more costly. Study of a judging book, like
the one by Considine and Trimberger and/or the official score cards obtainable from the breed clubs is highly recommended in preparation for type classifications.***
By Kris McGuire
Correct physical conformation is very important when introducing a breeding program intended to improve genetic traits. Genetic packages are just that, a complete package whose parts are inseparable once the package is defined. If it is your intent to improve the genetic package of the cashmere goats, you must manipulate three genetic characteristics: fiber diameter, fiber production and bodyweight. But in doing so, you must guard against introducing or propagating undesirable genetic traits that influence reproductively and viability such as narrow birth canals, lower fecundity, bad teeth, bad feet and legs and a lowered vitality.
To do so, we must be able to identify deviations from what is called the "type evaluation" for goats. Type evaluation is nothing new for all livestock breeds and species have been developed through the centuries by breeders selecting their stock by looking at them. Fundamentally, type evaluation is the art of trained people, examining animals by eye to determine physical strengths and weaknesses. Bucks used for breeding programs should have the ability to sire high producing progeny but also should have the physical characteristics that make them valuable and viable overall.
Breeders are recognizing that the true worth of a good goat is not based on production alone, but on lifetime production at a relatively low feed cost with few health problems and while producing a large number of good offspring. These characteristics can be identified and measured. Invariably, superior animals have physical properties that a trained classifier will observe and point out in a program designed to develop durable, useful, long-lived goats.
It is recognized that the ideal program for goat improvement employs production testing and type evaluation. It is essential that a classifier be well trained so that accurate coding and scoring is done. As a goat is brought to the classifier, his trained eye will note length of bone, overall width, strength and power as well as the correlation of parts, e.g. how well the animal "fits together". The ease of motion and leg action will be observed from the front, side and rear. Udder and teat size, shape and placement will be considered. Testes and external genitalia will be rated. Mouth and palate will be examined as well.***
NEW BUCK BUYER
For The American Meat Goat Association
Select a herd sire with the utmost care and attention.
With all the new producers getting into the meat goat industry there are many questions being asked as to what breed of goats they should consider buying. There are many breeds and it really falls back on the producer to select what fits their individual taste in size, temperament, type, color, horned, polled, etc. A person would also be wise to investigate the local markets to see what sells for a premium in their area as this varies greatly across the U.S. due mainly to local ethnic influences.
Once a person has decided which type and breed of goat fits their individual needs as determined by independent research, then comes the time to purchase or trade for animals. At this time, if the potential producer is inexperienced in livestock, they would do well to enlist the aid of a knowledgeable "goat person" to aid them in selection. Be sure to let them know exactly what you want. Should you be able to find these exact animals, be prepared to pay a fair to premium price to fill your pens with your special goats.
Now that we've addressed some preliminary considerations to getting into goats, I'll get into the main purpose of this article. This is to admonish the newcomer to select their herd sire with the utmost care and attention. The reason for this is the fact that no other goat that you purchase will have as great an influence on your future in the industry as will the buck you purchase to service your does.
The producer knows what breed they want by now and so we go into selection. A very good suggestion at this time would be for the buyer to attend some breeding goat shows (if possible) which are being held for the specific breed that they are interested in. This is important because some of the finest representatives of any breed will always be present at theses events. Also this can give a person an idea as to what direction and phenotype (visual appearance) to breed towards should they be interested in the show segment of the meat goat, dairy goat, or fiber goat industry. Also at these shows they should have the opportunity to meet persons who are currently engaged in breeding the specific animals they are interested in. Industry publications are also an excellent source for names, addresses, and phone numbers of individual producers. After awhile the newcomer will begin to recognize names of some of the premier producers for the breed that they are interested in.
Now we contact the breeder whose animals best represent what we are looking for. Most of them will be happy to tell you what they have for sale, and the approximate prices for their animals. Having now gotten this far it is now time to make an appointment with the owner to view them. Please do this as far in advance as possible as most breeders are extremely busy people and will need some time to make sure their goats are available for viewing. You can't just drive up unannounced at many places and expect them to drop what they have going at that time; some may, but many won't.
Through your research you had already narrowed down your selections, but please remember not to be pressured into buying an animal not up to your standards. If you don't see what you want, thank them for their time and extend your search. No conscientious breeder will take offense if you are polite and explain your position. I wish to again remind you of your position; you are searching for the most important component of your future breeding program.
When you discover an animal you're interested in, attempt to find out all you can about him. Such as his birth rank; was he a single, twin, or triplet, or possibly a quadruplet. What was his birth weight? What was the animals average daily gain, weaning weight, and if an older animal, mature weight? If his sire and dam are on the premises ask to see them. If he is an older buck check to see if there are any of his offspring where you can see them.
While this article doesn't cover every aspect , I hope that it sheds some light on the buck selection process for our novice goat producer.
This article first appeared in Meat Goat News, a RRL Publication, in the March 1999 issue.Reprinted with permission of the author.
THE CASHMERE GOAT REGISTRY™
CASHMERE GOAT BREED STANDARD
The Cashmere Goat Registry™ PO Box 812, Naches, WA 98937,firstname.lastname@example.org,http://cashmeregoatregistry.blogspot.com/
THIS BREED STANDARD MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF ANY REPRINT.
All information and photos copyright © The Cashmere Goat Registry and may not be used without express written permission of The Cashmere Goat Registry. TCGR is a Trademark of The Cashmere Goat Registry.
The breed standard for the Cashmere goat is primarily designed to enhance structural correctness of the breeding goat, with an emphasis on fiber, function, and survivability of the commercial animal. Cashmere goats should be medium to large framed goats which produce high quantity and quality cashmere fiber.
Head and ears well balanced and proportioned to
the body, with a broad muzzle and a well
operating jaw. The teeth must be in anatomically
correct positions. Over-or under bites are highly
undesirable. Horns should show strong regular
growth, be symmetrical and be positioned well
apart. Horns should curve gently back and away
from the head. Horns are a natural part of the
breed; therefore intact horns are the standard.
Disbudded or dehorned animals should have that
noted on their registration. Naturally polled
animals not acceptable for breeding due to
possibility of hermaphroditism.
Neck and Forequarters:
Neck should be of moderate length and in proportion to body length, with shoulders strong and smoothly blending into withers. Wide chest floor and large heart girth to provide for adequate heart and lung space. Forelegs should be widely set, perpendicular to the ground, well muscled and set slightly back to support a large frame. Feet should be pointing straight ahead; buck knees, knock knees, pigeon toed, weak pasterns or splay footed animals are not desirable.
The overall body should be long, deep, and wide, with a straight, level back with adequate muscle from shoulder to hip. The width and length of loin are important to volume of meat on a carcass. Ribs must be well sprung, adequately muscled, and long, to allow capacity for foraging, pregnancy and maintenance of body condition. A concave or swayback is undesirable as is a narrow or shallow chest, weakly attached shoulders, and a pinched heart girth.
Rump should be broad and long with a gentle slope from the hook bone to the pin bone. Tail should be centered, curving upward over the back. Width between the pin bones should be equal too, or greater than the width of the hook bones. A side view should show a straight line from the pin bone down past the hock and pastern to touch just behind the hoof. These angles are most desirable for correct free movement of the legs. Cow hocked, post legged, sickle hocked and weak pasterns are undesirable.
Does should be feminine but strong, with a feminine wedge appearance of the body from a top view. The udder should ideally be round, with good suspension (not pendulous), with teats that are easily nursed by a newborn kid. Both sides of the udder must be functional. Udders with split teats, cluster teats, fishtail teats, oversized or bulbous teats are undesirable. Cashmere does may be bred at 7 months of age if they have sufficient growth. Postponing the breeding of doe kids beyond 10 months of age may cause them to be less productive over their lifetime. Cashmere does have great mothering instincts, and rarely need intervention at kidding time. Twins are most common, does being bred the first time often have singles, and triplets are the exception. Breeding age females must show evidence of having kidded by the age of two years.
Bucks should be masculine with adequate muscling. A masculine profile with the heavier chest and fore body is a manifestation of testosterone. Testicles should be of equal size in a single scrotum with no more than a 2” split in the floor of the scrotum. Testicles should be smooth, and free of bumps or lumps. Pendulous testicles, single testicle, or testicles too small are undesirable. Cashmere bucks can reach sexual maturity at 3 months of age. They should be removed from the herd to prevent accidental breeding.