Getting started in the Goat show business and breeding boer goats. This page is especially for beginners .
Please note I am not a vet, all my advice is through what works for me and what I have learnd from my experiences and vets through out my nine years breeding goats .
If in doubt please call your local vet !!
Where to begin ?? Well first of all choose which avenue you want to take .Do you want to breed for 4H and have a few % does and a full blood buck or do you want to get into showing ABGA and buy more expensive stock .
Of course you can just buy a wether from a breeder to start out too but you still need to know how to take care of it .
To make things simple I will devide the sections into catergories.
1.Buying your first wether .(Includes basic health )
2. Buying your first ABGA show goat
3. Get your shelters and pens ready, feed buckets, feeders, have medicine on hand that you might need kidding box etc.
4. Kidding ,what you will need and tips on difficult kiding.
5.Tips on how to show in the ring
1. Buying your first wether .
Thank you Denise Garriot of www.Garriottranch.com for allowing me to post these pictures of her wethers .These are a great example of what you should be looking for .The buck at the end is the type you want to look for when buying a wether making buck ! He is 'Gotcha Covered'.
OK your kids are at the age where they taking an interest in the 4H so you want to go buy a wether . You can go to your local extention office and they will have a list of 4H clubs .The clubs leader should know of local breeders that you can go to . Prices vary on on how competitive the wether is, they can range from $100 to a $1000 ! Most are in the $200 to $400 range .
Find out if your county requires your wether to be disbudded and what the weight limit is . Some only require the wether to have it's milk teeth. Do not buy an early born wether if you have a weight limit. Most wethers are born November through February .
When you go to look try to take someone along with you that knows about wethers and what to look for. It is most important that he is healthy and comes from a place that is clean .Look to see if the water is clean and if they are in stalls or pens, they are free of garbage and filth .Look in their under eye pull it down and see if it is deep pink, look to see if his nose is snotty, eyes should be clear and bright .Look to see if his band on his scrotum is not infected as most wethers will have a band on them. Feel in the top their mouths to see if there is a hole, this is called a cleft pallet ( he will probably die if he has one ) make sure his bottom teeth line up with his top pad as this could effect his eating .Make sure his legs are straight not bowed and his pasterns are not low. His coat should be smooth not ruffled where he has been itching (lice ) .If he has been dehorned around 10 days old, look to see if the horns are growing back ( called scurs ). He should have had both his C/D&T s by now, ask the breeder if you need to give him his booster .
Ask the breeder what feed he has been on and wean him off that (if you don't like it ) to the one you choose I feed Essential show feeds and you can look them up at www.essentialshowfeeds.com Steve Parks ( 402 984 0511) will be most helpful in advising you on and how to feed your wethers . It will depend on where you live as to the availibilty of this product .I buy mine from Sissons on Main street in Delta, CO . Many people that show wethers have their own ideas on how to feed .
Excercise, I heard from Brian Farris an ABGA judge that short fast bursts of running is far better that walking your goat for miles.Some people build a round or oval track and have their dog chase them around it .
When looking for a wether that you will be showing structure and muscle are important . Look between the front legs, he should be wide there and the forearm muscle should be large. He should be long in the body and have a good spring of rib. When he walks away from you he should track wide and when he stands the back legs should come down straight and be apart .Look at the butt, should be big as should the thigh muscle!!
Please if you are new to this do your home work first study the internet there is a vast amount of knowledge on there !!!
Things I keep in my cuboard
1.Thermometer. ( taking temperatures 102f to103f is normal )
2. Penicillian and Naxcel. ( for use for infections ) I also use Exceed from my vet.
3.Syringes 3cc, 6cc, 12cc, 20cc, and 22 and 18 gauge needles .
4. Thaimine. ( for Goat Polio)
5.Banimine . ( for pain)
6.Oxytocine. ( If your doe is dialated stopped pushing, helps get rid of after birth )
7. Lutalyse . ( Terminates pregnancy also for use in synchronization when planning kidding )
8. Cidrs for (synchronized kidding)
9. Vet wrap and cotton wool.
10. Betadine (For umbilical cord)
11. Surgical gloves
12. Surgical knife
13. CD&T 10cc bottle
14. Gentamicin Sulfate (for eye infection)
15.Goat drench ( gives energy after kidding )
16.Kidding box all ready to go, see picture below in Kidding section
17. Hoof trimers.
18. Albon ( for treating diarrhea)
19. Ivermec horse wormer and Valbazen( do not give to pregnant goats )
Some common signs to look for if he is sick ......(this also applies to all other goats in your herd )
Off feed, hunched up, tail down, snotty nose, ( could be pheumonia) take temperature ( in the anus) , normal is 102f -103f if over I give Exceed it lasts 7 days . I buy it from my vet a dose at a time as it is very expensive .
NOT peeing, in pain, teeth grinding, ( Could be urinary calculi) seek a vet imediately! Dr Susie Hirsch 970 856 4474 is my Vet from Cedaredge.
Falling about looks like he is drunk, I have found this is usually "Goat Polio " I always keep a bottle of Thaimine in the cuboard. See doesage on the lable and give every 6 hours even after showing signs of getting better . It may also be given with penicillian once a day for 5 days .Cause could be mouldy hay or grain .
Diarrhea could be that he has eaten to much or you have given him different feed in this case I just give them probias, if he has blood in his stool then it could be Coccidia, I give Albon ( from Delta Animal Heath ) or your local vets .You can help prevent this by buying a feed which contains Monensin.
Worms, this is very important to read up on .This is a huge subject and it would take all day to explain. It depends on where you live and what claimate you live in .EG: Texas has different worm problems than here in the western slope and goats are treated differently .Personally I worm with ivermectin in a tube ( for horses ) Quest plus and Vebenzadole ( not to be given to pregnant does ) .Some use the ivermec injectable . Look under eye pull skin down for pale colour, deep pink good, pale pink I would worm. white NOT good, worm straight away and seek vets opinion. White membrane may also come with bottle jaw a soft swelling under the jaw , It will go away once wormed correctly .
Lice ... Lice can kill your goat ! so be on the watch for itching, rubbing along the fence, dull coat , loss of condition . I use Ivermec pour on (for cattle ) dot along their backs or Ultra boss ( more oily) if used on bucks I put some on the testicules .Note these products do not kill worms .
Keep hoofs trimed VERY IMPORTANT ! especially if you are showing . Look on my hoof triming page for tips !!
I am sure I have not covered everything but I hope this helps, please excuse my spelling as I don't have access to spell check LOL !
Buying your first ABGA show goat
Some examples of show goats ,what to look for when buying your first one.
The first picture is Strategic's Good Lookin daugther of Windy arces Strategic Power which is the second picure .The third one is of Road Base just a couple of weeks old, you can see already his wide chest and the last one is of Luger's Sensation, she has 122 ABGA points and one of best does out of 2 Dox Luger.
Once you get hooked on showing in 4H and Jackpots I am pretty sure you will want to start showing in ABGA shows .ABGA stands for American Boer Goat Association. It has different rules than 4H and the standard of goats is very high . To show in them you would want to join and you can go on line to see their website www.ABGA.com
There are a huge amount of breeders from all over the states to choose from when buying your first goat .If I could to do it all over again I would go to my nearest ABGA show and see what was winning and look at goats for sale first hand .I have got taken so many times by not knowing what to look for and buying sight unseen . That is one of the reasons I want to help people get started !
First of all do your homework , decide on what kind of style you like .There are the more wether looking type that look more like lambs which as I understand the wethers breeders like.Then there are the old school type that came over from South Africa around 1993.These are in my opinion what a goat should look like ,they heavier bodied with shorter necks bucks have bigger heads and the folds around their necks and chest. So what I would do is look on as many breeders website so you get a good idea of what you want and then go look at them either at a show or at their ranch.
What to look for ...Like I said before if you are going to their ranch make sure you look at living conditions , clean water, good housing, animals in good condition .
Look the animal for sale over .
1.Teats........... Ideal teats for showing ABGA or for breeding stock 2x2 or 1x1 clean teats . Above is the ABGA website and you can see on there the teat chart for what is acceptable . If the doe is older make sure her bag is attached good, not hanging down low .
2. Teeth.....Make sure the bottom teeth fit well against the top pad .Please note if you have a yearling that has its adult teeth coming half way through but still has is baby teeth and they look like they are obstructing the adult ones you can pull the baby teeth .They are at this point normally loose and easy to pull .Wiggle them and pull them back and forth .
3.Horns.......Thick base for bucks coming up and out and round not to close together but not to wide that they flare out straight .
4. Head ..Nice width between the eyes ( no blue eyes ) and on bucks a nice roman nose .Ears should be of a length that is no shorter than its chin and be flat across , folded length wise ears are a fault if they turn up at the ends its OK you can just pull them down and duct tape them until they lay down.
5.Body.... Look between the front legs for width with muscular fore arms, they should be a nice length without dipping in the top line .Look for nice wide shoulders that do not dip or are loose behind them,( loose shoulders ) .The ribs should be nice and round not flat sided .I personally do not like the rump to slope to steeply .The tail needs to be up straight from the body and not lean to one side and be at least 75% pigment under it .
6. Legs.....Muscular at the top with muscle on the thigh and butt . You want them to look straight not bowed or cow hocked in any way .Big boned would be a plus .
7. Hoofs.. they should have been taken good care of and trimed on a regular basis. Look for toes that go out or in to much and toes to long on the back will sometimes make them have low pasterns which you do not want.
8. Reproductive organs. Scrotum, no split more than 2" both testicals the same size and not to small or twisted. Note when it is hot the scrotum will come down lower and longer and when its cold shorter and rounder.
If you paying a lot of money for your show goats you need to make sure they do not have faults !
Shelters, pens and fencing.
I would get all my pens, fencing and shelters you need finished before you get your goats . All goats that I have know hate the rain, they will stand out in snow but rain ..oh no ! I have two barns and several shelters but not everyone has the space or the need to put up a large barn . I like the three sided shelters and of course it depends on how many goats you have . I always try to split my herd up into age groups and gender. Each buck has his own strong pen and shelter. The young does share a pasture with their moms and other does with kids, they share the barn where they can all go in when they want to . The young does have a creep feed that only they can get in .The creep feeds are easy to make, just block off a corner with an upside down panel. Or you can build a fence across a corner with just big enough spaces for the young ones to get through .
I like to use sheep panels for smaller pens, they are easy to move and most goats can not jump them.( I only ever had one doe that jumped them ). For bigger pens we use hog pannel (use the smaller squares) and then we made a frame out of pipe and welded it together . They work really well . For the large pastures we used field fence and tee posts . Its amazing what you can think up for feeders! I used these flower pots for some young goats and it worked really well . In other pens I cut an old plastic pipe in half length wise and screwed it to the wood fence .
I want to address this subject now as this is the time of year many of you kid out .If you are a first timer it may be quite frightning ! I would suggest that if you have a friend that has kidded keep her number handy in case you need a hand . If you don't know anyone keep your vet's near by .
Signs of nearing the birth are, tail laying over to one side and dipping each side of the tail base .You should beable to feel all the way round it when the ligaments are gone .The bag should be tight and teats pointing out .When very near say 3 to 6 hours she will start to stream ,which means you will see a stream of mucus around the size of your little finger and amber colour a foot or longer . She will start to nicker, making little sounds and looking at her tummy .She will start pawing at the ground more and getting up and down .When she starts to contract you will see clearly her tummy going in and her head and neck out streched .Sometimes they will grunt or scream out when really pushing hard .The nose and two hoofs should be the first thing you see sometimes only one hoof will appear but thats ok, I have pulled them out like this . Here are some birthing positions that can occur. If your doe has been pushing hard for 20 to 30 minutes there could be a problem .
Hopfully it will be normal, once in a while you may not have a normal position where you might have to go in . This is where your friend or vet might help .When you are more experienced you will probably go in yourself . I find taking your time and going in gently and slowly closing my eyes and trying to visulise what I feel . The key is not to panic and try not to pull babies out roughly.
If you just have a head I put my hand in palm up and slip it under the head and down ,follow the shoulder and you will find a leg . Hook your finger behind the knee push back a little so you can straighten out the leg, pull the hoof up to the head. Wrap your hand around the back of the head and with the other hand grab hold of the hoof . You should be able to pull out the baby like this . I have done this many times . Always pull down towards the mothers hind legs and do it in time with her contractions . You could possibly rip the utrus if you are not very carefull which normally ends in death .
For a breech, when the butt is showing but the back legs are forward.I push the butt in and with the flat palm of my hand up, go under the butt and find the hock ,like the knee when only the head is comming out . I push the whole back end up and forward gently and get the leg out straight then do the same with the other leg .Be careful with the hoofs so not to tear the uterus. If the baby is back wards and hoofs are coming out first everything should be OK .
What you might need on hand .
The Betadine is used to dip baby's umbilical cord in, I fill a syringe case up, hold baby against me and tip it on the babys cord. I do this 2 to 3 times . The next thing I do if the baby has fluid in its throat and nose is use the sucker or swinging upside down a few times helps to get fluid out . I normally let mom lick her dry so they bond .If the baby is weak I will help stand it up and find the teat. If it is weak and can't feed on its own I will milk some colostrum out and bottle feed it . If it can't suck I will tube it .Its good to stimulate lathargic babies, rub roughly with a towel, stick a piece of staw up its nose . Most important is keeping it warm and getting colostrum down it . I give 2 to 3 ozs every 3 to 4 hours .They should I believe have 1 oz to every pound they weigh, eg an 8 lb baby should have 8 ozs Colostrum inside a 24 hour period !! Any given after that will not do it any good . I will go into detail about how to tube soon.
Baby boxes come in really handy in the cold winter months.We just put a regular light bulb in the top and it keeps nice and warm in there for them .It also prevents babies getting laid on by moms. If you have a baby with a low body temperature put a heating pad under this hot box .They will get heat from the top and the bottom .I have done this with a baby that was very sick and it worked well.
Tube feeding needs to be done if your newborn is to weak to suck .It is very important to get colostrum down the baby !!
What I do is lay the baby on my lap with its head away from me .Get the tube and measure with it from the mouth to its tummy, mark it .Then taking its head in one hand raise it up so its out from its neck and then very slowly and gently insert the tube down to the left and kind of let it swollow the tube .Glide it down until the tube is at the mark you made . Then attatch the syringe a 20 cc works well, fill the syringe with 2cc of colostrum if to thick mix a little milk with it. Let gravity drain the syringe DO NOT USE THE PLUNGER TO PUSH MILK DOWN.! Once it has drained take out the syringe and nip the end of the tube and gently pull out . You will know if you get it in its lungs as it will choke and it will not get to the mark you made . Do this every 3 hours until the baby is stronger and can suck on its own .
Please note do NOT feed the baby until its temperature is up to normal 102f . Put it in a heat box with heating pad under it .
Like any other activity, some people are natural showmen. All exhibitors can learn techniques and improve their showmanship skills. Showmanship can be broken down into two parts : Pre show preparation and show ring.
Pre-Show Preparation .
The amount of time required to train a goat to show depends on several things: the goat, physical size and experience, and the intensity of training. Some goats are easy to gentle and teach how to show, while other goats are more difficult and nearly impossible to train. However, most goats can be trained provided enough time and effort is spent. Unlike lambs, goats are shown with a halter or some type of collar. In my opinion a collar works best.
Halter breaking is an excellent way to start the gentling process, especially if you have several goats . Goats should be caught, haltered or collared and tied to a fence. If using the collar, you can snap the goats collar to the fence. Care should be taken not to tie them where they can hurt themselves. It is very important that tied goats not be left unattended! After the goat begins to gentle down the exhibitor can start teaching him to lead . Use the halter or collar to keep the goats head up while you teach him to lead. It is important that you have someome to assist you by pushing the goat from behind whenever he stops. Teach the goat to lead with its front shoulder even with you leg. The goats head should be out in front of your body.
The next step in training process is for the exhibitor to lead the goat and properly set him up. Set the front legs up first, then place the hind legs, keeping the body and neck straight and the head in a high, proud position by using the halter or collar. The exhibitor should remain standing at all times. Do not squat or kneel.
After training is complete, the exhibitor may wish to practice showing his or her goat.The exhibitor can set up his or her goat and show him while someone else handles the goat, making sure the goat looks good. If the goat responds properly, return him to his pen and do not over work him. Exhibitors need to realize that they may only have 5 seconds to actually show their goat in a major show. If the goat does not show properly when the judge handles him, you may get over looked.
Shelby Caitlin Sophie
Shelby , Caitlin and Sophie are the only ones with their goats set up, what a difference ! you can see how important setting up is .
Thank you to Lonesome doe Farmstead and Blue Gainey for the pictures
Assuming that prior planning, selecting, feeding, fitting, training, and grooming have been done, showing is one of the most important ingredients. Showmanship can't be emphasized too strongly! It is often the difference between winning and losing.
The exhibitor should be mentally and physically ready to enter the show ring for the competiton. By completing the pre-show activities exhibitors should have the confidence that they can do an effective job showing their goat. They should be neat in appearance but not overdressed. Exhibitors should not wear hats or caps in the showring .
Before the show begins, exhibitors should go look at the show ring and become familiar with it. Once the judge begins, if the exhibitor is not in the first class, he or she should watch the judge and see how he works the goats in the show ring.
When the appropriate class is called, exhibitors should take their goats to the show ring. They should be courteous to fellow exhibitors at all times. If the ring stewards do not line up the goats the exhibitors should fined a good place where their goats will look there best. Avoid corners of the ring and leave yourself plenty of space between your goat and others. Set your goat up, making sure the legs are set properly and keep the body, neck and head in a straight line, with with the goats head up and alert. Always show with both hands .Do not put your free hand behind your back, use your free hand to keep the goats head up the the body straight.
A good showman must be alert and know where the judge is at all times. Always remember to keep your eye on the judge.! Remain calm and concentrate on showing. In a large class in may take 20 minutes before the judge handles your goat so you must be patient and let your goat relax.
Set your goat up and be ready before the judge gets to you. Be careful not to cover your goat up with your body and block the judges view. Always keep your goat between you the the judge.
After the judge handles you r goat he will usually step back and look at him. Be sure to keep his head up and body,neck, and head in a straight line. Keep one eye on the judge one eye on your goat. It is your responsibility to watch the judge and not miss a decision. If your goat does not get pulled the first time don't give up. Continue to keep him set up, remain alert and keep your eye on the judge. If your goat gets pulled, circle him out of the line and follow the directions of the ring steward, making sure to continue to keep an eye on the judge. Move your goat with style and at a steady moderate pace .
Remember to keep showing at all times. The class is not over until the ribbons are passed out. Most Jackpots and county shows have some sort of showmanship contest, so remember to always be a good sport and shake the hand of the class winner, hopefully it will be you . Be a humble winner and gaceful loser .
Breeding is a very important part of showing, so pick your bucks carefully .If you are breeding for the 4 H market then find out what the weight limits are in your area as this will effect what time of year your kids are born .To early and they will be to heavy come show time and to late, they may not make weight .
A doe cycles between every 17 to 21 days, she will show signs like waging her tail ,which is called flaging. She will have mucas coming out of her vagina. First it will be see through and stringy, then it will turn opaque and this is the time when she will 'stand' for the buck,
up till then you will notice her running from him when he tries to mount her .They will normally hang out together rub on each other and when she is out of heat you can see a think white mucas which means she is done breeding.
The breeding season is from around August through February, if you want to breed outside the normal season then you can use 'cidrs' and PG 600.