Is a 4-H market goat project animal in your future?

Goats are small in size, intelligent animals and easy to work with, but youth should do their homework before buying a market project animal.

Early spring is the time of year when youth begin looking for project animals. Selecting the proper animal is the first step toward success. Many fairs have minimum weights that the animal must achieve to be shown. The weight of a finished meat project varies, but is usually between 70 and 120 pounds depending on the breed or breeds. Not all animals can be fed to the same finish weight because of differences in frame size, and different breeds of goats and their crosses impact the amount of muscling and the finished weight of the goat. Goats are also marketed in the commercial market at a variety of different finish weights depending on consumer demand. With proper nutrition, goats will typically gain two to three pounds per week.

Other important considerations include structural correctness, amount of muscling and overall balance. Structural correctness refers to the goat’s skeleton and how it is put together. Emphasis should be placed on the feet and legs, top line, rump, and shoulders. The animal should stand and travel wide on front and rear legs with good strong pasterns. The topline should be relatively level from the top of the shoulders to the hip. The rump should be long and square with a slight slope from hip to tail. The amount of muscle is very important because it impacts the amount of meat harvested from the animal. General muscling in the animal is identified by handling and viewing the muscle quantity and definition in the loin and hind legs. Wider animals tend to be heavier muscled. Balance is the goats overall appearance. Generally it is interpreted by how well the body parts blend together. A well-balanced animal is one that catches your eye when you first enter the pen.

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