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Selecting Meat Goats

Evaluating livestock is a basic skill needed by anyone who raises livestock. Selecting animals is the same as judging them because you evaluate each individual based on the merits of the ideal animals. Livestock can be evaluated for their potential as either breeding animals or market animals. Different characteristics are selected for based on the purpose of the animal.

A breed is a group of genetically related animals that reliably passes on certain characteristics or traits to their offspring. Goat meat is produced from many goat breeds in the U.S. Some of these breeds have been genetically selected specifically for meat, while others were bred to produce milk. Some of the major meat breeds of goats and their characteristics are listed below:

The Boer goat was developed in South Africa as a breed meant solely for meat production.

This breed is used for both milk and meat production. They are a large, proud, graceful breed with Roman noses and long, pendulous ears.

These smaller-bodied goats are found mainly in Texas and were originally used for clearing brush and maintaining pasture.

When startled, a myotonic goat's muscles lock up suddenly, and they fall over and lie stiff for a few seconds.

The Kiko is a meat breed that originated from large dairy males crossed with New Zealand based stock.

In order to describe the merits of goats, one should first learn the parts of the animal. This will help in describing positive and negative merits possessed by each individual. It is also helpful to know these parts when evaluating breed characteristics.

The ideal market goat can vary, depending on the market that you are selling the animal to.

Once you know what the major breeds of livestock are, what they look like, and the external parts, you can begin to appreciate why it takes considerable practice to become a good judge of livestock.

One key to handling market goats is to develop a system to accurately determine differences in muscle and finish. Each goat should be handled in the same manner. If you handle one goat from rear to front for finish or fleshing on the back, handle all goats that way.

Evaluating livestock is a skill that takes many years and much practice to perfect.