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Their seems to be alot of talk about pack goat conformation being so important. Is pack goat conformation and dairy goat conformation that much different. What exactly is the difference. What are the most important things to look for.

SNAKEMAN
 

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This is sure to open a can of worms....lol Everyone has an opinion so here is mine.

Dairy breeders want to sell their extra buck kids as packers and who can blame them. I would want to do the same thing. Unfortunately the trend in dairy goats seems to be toward small framed goats with large udders and feminine looks. The goat packers on the other hand want tall long legged heavy boned goats. More of a homestead style goat, as I like to say. A rangy tough goat that can handle the conditions and thrive.

I'm sure their are some dairy breeders that still have this type of goat but the serious dairy breeder is definitely not looking for rangy tough looking goats when they pick breeding stock. For that reason we will eventually see two distinct styles of goats emerge. Actually it is already happening. The dairy goat and the working goat.

There are also structural qualities that are important to packgoats that really aren't a problem with a dairy goat. Pastern length and solid heavy feet come to mind. Along with good depth and width to the chest. Good work ethic and a calm disposition also factor into packgoats more than a goat kept around for milking.
 

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Rex, in looking at the dairy goats shown at our county and state fairs, I've noticed the exact same thing as you! The winning goats are the ones with slender, deerlike legs and bodies (and of course the enormous udder), and it seemed like there were even more of this type than usual when we went to the shows last year. Phil had to tell me to calm down because I was breaking an angry sweat at what I saw as intentional degradation of the dairy breeds. Personally, I think this is a huge mistake on the dairy breeders part since they are actually shortening the lives and productivity of their goats by breeding for looks rather than functionality. A slender doe makes the udder look even bigger by contrast, which is probably why this body type is popular.

However, if I were breeding dairy animals, I would want a goat with a good strong body to support that large udder. Milk is very heavy, and I would think that good bone, short pasterns, and a short strong back would be better able to deal with the weight of a great big udder. I tend to think that breeding delicacy into any type of working animal is a mistake. Judges are exchanging common sense for pure aesthetics (it happens in the horse world all the time). A milking doe is carrying as much weight as some of our packers, but around the clock and at a much younger age. I would think that dairy breeders would want their does to have sturdy bodies so as to increase their useful working lives.

What is up with all these people who think it's a good idea to make a working animal look like a toy breed? What are they thinking!?!
 

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I can't stop ranting about this! When we bought Cuzco (the unwanted male offspring of a dairy goat), I was surprised by his sturdy appearance. All the goats we had looked at to that point had also come from dairy herds, but they had all been much more delicate than Cuzco, particularly in the legs. I was impressed by Cuzco's substantial "bone" and short, sturdy pasterns compared to other goats we had seen. He was a little longer in the back than I would have liked, but he had a deep, broad chest and nice angles and very good overall "balance". I was not remotely thinking of him as a working goat at the time, but having looked at horses most of my life, I naturally tend to judge the conformation of any animal I look at without even thinking about it.

Cuzco's twin sister stayed on the farm to become part of the dairy herd. We saw her years later as a full working dairy goat. The owner was pleased with her production and looked like getting many more good years out of her. This dairy breeder was more concerned with producing milk than showing, so she just bred what worked for her. She had a wide variety of breeds and "mutts", but all of them seemed like good working animals because this breeder was more concerned with results than with looking good at a show. I personally have a lot of respect for this attitude, particularly since "getting results" has been the driving force behind most of the wonderful breeds we have today in every type of livestock. When looking good for a judge starts to take precedence over true productivity, health, and longevity, I get angry. Way to reverse centuries of careful breeding!

I think a large part of the problem are the judges themselves, who are often so ingrained in the "show culture" that they become detached from reality. Obviously, I am more aware of this problem in the horse world, but I hate to see it infecting goat breeds as well. I'll never forget when the famous old school hunter judge, George Morris set a tricky "working" course up at Madison Square Gardens for the equitation class years ago. He became the target of some extreme ire from competitors and other judges who didn't think it was fair for trained hunters and their riders to have to deviate from clean, 12-foot canter strides, straight sweeping lines, and flowing patterns. But he wanted the riders to demonstrate their horsemanship skills, not just look pretty on a horse that had been trained to death (usually by someone else) over a particular type of course. So he added broken lines, short strides, long strides, trot poles, and other obstacles and situations more likely to be found on a real foxhunt. After all, this is what the hunter shows are supposed to emulate! But the shows had gotten so far from their roots that when asked to halt in the middle of a course, trot cavaletti, or perform a rollback to a quick one-stride in-and-out, many of these horses and riders would get completely lost and befuddled!

And I won't even get started on Western "Pleasure" classes and the gaited breeds. Or the extreme degradation of our beautiful Morgan breed: There are now practically two separate breeds: one is old line type and one is the "show" breed which looks and acts nothing like the sturdy yet beautiful animal with a gentle and willing disposition, originally bred to work happily all day at hard labor and look good doing it.

Judges: you need to get with the program! Spend some time working in the real world! The quality of our livestock depends on you! We should not have to have two separate types of animals: one for work and one for show. (I want to strangle every trainer who tells a student they need a whole separate horse "just for show".) The show animals need to demonstrate the best of the working breeds, not become a breed unto themselves!
 

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For us who really have not looked at to many goats, thats why I posted the conformation clinic to discuss what to look for in a pack goat. I like to see pictures hopefully next to a yard stick. You can see the angles , the more goats you see, the more your likely to know what your looking for.
 

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Nanno said:
Judges: you need to get with the program! Spend some time working in the real world! The quality of our livestock depends on you! We should not have to have two separate types of animals: one for work and one for show. (I want to strangle every trainer who tells a student they need a whole separate horse "just for show".) The show animals need to demonstrate the best of the working breeds, not become a breed unto themselves!
You have just expressed my biggest beef with the purebred dog world, too. In my breed, the show bred dogs are over-sized, floppy-jointed, sluggish, lumbering beasts with flat feet, droopy eyelids, & drooly mouths. They also lack coat & skin & have dull, phlegmatic temperaments. My working dogs are moderate sized (big enough for power, small enough for speed), muscular, athletic, agile, light footed, fast animals with perfect tight feet, eyelids, & lips, correct coats, thick, loose skin, & are sharp, alert, & serious. I show my dogs anyway, & win, just to make a point.
 

· Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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There are many different kinds of dairy goats and as many judges who judge by their own likes. So Ill give you a bit of insight into what dairy goat breeders should be aiming for but often dont.

The idea of the perfect dairy goat is for it to be dairy in nature but with the substance of bone and confirmation to hold up over the animals life span. From head to toe this means:
Head, doesnt factor in except for breed standards. such as Nubian roman noes. Lamancha gopher ears...

Necks should be long and delicate. No practical use but makes for a more sightly show animal.

Chest or brisket should protruded out in front of the front legs while shoulders / withers should be smooth and well blended.

Front legs should line up vertically with the center of the shoulders and should not bow in or out or turn in or out in a cow hawked manner. All of this is (confirmation) is so that the front end of the animal holds up over the life time. Think of the front legs as the suspension and the pasterns as the shocks. Good confirmation help extend the life time of the animals pasterns. Of which you want straight with the hooves almost inline with the leg. To long and they tend to break down sooner. To short and they dont do their job well enough.

Topline (spine) you want either flat from withers to pins (rump) or slightly up hill at the withers (shoulders). Again, confirmation is key here. A straight spine is a healthy spine and flows into the rest of the animals confirmation.

Ribs / barrel, you want the ribs flat and wide apart to allow for expanding and contracting of the barrel (belly). The deeper (top to bottom) and wider the barrel, the more that animals can consume and in return produce.

Butt / pins area is strictly a breeding thing. A flatter, wider rump area allows for a straighter birth canal and easier freshenings. A doe with a step rump is more or less making a 90 degree turn in which the kids must pass to be born.

Back legs are just as important as the front legs, though the front legs carry 60% of the weight. The back legs from shoulder to hoof should follow the same guidelines as the front. In showing, when you set up your goat, you want the end of the rump in a straight vertical with the legs from the elbow down and you want to see a good rounded angulation from elbow to hip. This is also a suspension area. A goat with to straight (posty) legs will break down their pasterns much sooner then a goat with the correct angulation.

So as you can see, there are alot of areas that transfer over to pack goats. Size does factor into showing but doesnt factor in on the farm for the most part. With the right blood lines you can get just about as much milk outta a smaller goat as a larger one. So size for the most part, doesnt factor into breeding programs. BUT there are a few of us breeders out there that understand a dairy goat can be to dairy and the substance of bone needed for an doe to produce over 10, 12 or even 15 years is just as important as many of the much needed confirmation standards. Not to mention, a larger doe with an udder that holds 1 1/2 to 2 gallons at its peak will hold up much better under her, then that of a smaller doe.

So like Rex said, although dairy breeders would like to sell their wethers as packers, that doesnt mean they are offering animals with the correct genetics to do so. If you visit a dairy goat farm and dont see the traits in the does, you want to see in your wethers, then you should maybe keep looking. Hope this sheds some light :)
 
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