The Goat Spot Forum banner
1 - 20 of 34 Posts

·
The Hoofcare and Repro specialist
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I couldn't think of a better place to put this, so here goes...

I will be meeting the owner of the 11 bucks for export soon, and I would like to sound reasonably well informed. The main point of this discussion is the difference between a show winning animal and a heavy producing animal, what specific phenotypic traits aid both, whether or not the "industry" is leading breeders in the right direction, how breed standards should be decided, and if there should be any difference. This is not intended to be a thread for knocking show breeders, nor is it a thread for promoting one view over the other. It is simply a discussion on the differences in the types and why they exist.

To start, it should be known that I do not like "modern" show boers and believe they are a large reason they are rarely exported from the US as anything other than show animals (to my knowledge). I appreciate their value, but I simply don't see them as meat goats. The same goes for dairy goats. I often see flat toplines with giant udders winning shows, but the best producers often appear to be lacking in the conformation department. I want to know WHY there is a difference, what conformational points are essential to performance and whether or not they really differ from breed standards.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
59,933 Posts
There are people who show and performance is critical. So it is a matter of learning which bloodlines work on both.

I think it is unfair to say that people do 1 or the other because there are plenty who do both. There will always be people who focus on one or the other though.
 

·
The Hoofcare and Repro specialist
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
There are indeed plenty who do both, but there also seems to be a definite difference between a conformation champion and a production champion, and the difference is most obvious in the boers. As I previously stated there is nothing wrong with either goal and both should be sought after, but if there is a distinct difference it makes it harder to do.

Another thing I forgot to add-maintenance, i.e. frequency of worming, foot trimming, that sort of thing. Obviously a show goat must be at its best, but how does that translate to their performance as a meat/dairy animal? Is low maintenance possible in both types? Should it be? Why or why not?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
96 Posts
I'm fairly new to the goat world, but as a youth I showed Jersey Cattle, and here's my 2 cents on the matter. Showing is great fun, and a great confidence builder and way to network with other breeders. If your business is selling pretty goats (or cows), then showing is a great way to build your business.

If your income revolves around production, then you need to take into account your immediate environment and management style, and a whole host of other variables. Ever heard of a landrace breed? Your herd needs to be tailored to your individual operation and goals.

My father utilized rotational grazing with our dairy herd when everyone else was building freestall barns and adding cows to meet expenses. He was able to support a family on 50 cows because he imported semen from New Zealand. Our main dairy herd was very blocky looking, not very "dairy" looking at all, but they produced on a mostly grass diet with low overhead. When I got to college I had to ask what an LDA was, a very common health issue in the dairy industry, which I had never encountered at home.

If your operation is mostly a hobby, then by all means, let a judge and a registry dictate what your goals are. I'm lucky enough to be in that boat right now. If putting food on the table depends on the performance of your herd, then you need to think for yourself and set your own goals. No judge knows your land or your management style like you do.
 

·
The Hoofcare and Repro specialist
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Excellent post!

Now, to the more technical side. Regardless of your goals, what (to you personally as a breeder, regardless of type) view to be the most important conformational traits for performance and longevity? Obviously good udder attachments are essential in any animal, but what about the less focused on aspects? For example, how does the degree of hip angulation affect overall performance? Neck length? Topline? Some of these may have obvious answers, like leg angulation, but I'm sure you guys can think of a few that don't quite seem as important or aren't as obvious. I'm not an expert on conformation, and my experience is limited, so how do YOU like your goats to be built? Why do you select for what you do? Basically, what is your ultimate goal in breeding? What is your ideal goat?

(I may be getting to help pick next year's bucks, and I don't want to disappoint)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,548 Posts
I just have to say that the performance/show issue isn't a goat only problem. As noted above, it crosses ALL species. A few years ago beef went to the extreme of the show market steers needing to be as tall and long as you could get them (and, preferably black). A feedyard operator bought the grand champion steer at our fair and couldn't sell him to a packer for anything....ended up butchering it himself almost a year later at close to 2000 pounds and it still wasn't "finished". I see it in horses that are bred specifically for certain things and shown only in that discipline...such as halter. The Arabian breed is facing this issue in a big way. I see it in 4H....to be truly competitive you have to have a halter horse, a pleasure horse, a reining horse AND a speed horse.

On this forum, I listen to people saying that you have to worm every 3 or 4 months. One person that trims feet every week! We have to give all kinds of supplements and vaccines. We have to make sure our animals have "draft free" shelter (that's a fun one when you live in a place where normal wind is 15 to 20 MPH and you have old buildings LOL) We are becoming so focused on our animals being sheltered and pampered that we forget that they use to have innate survival skills.

What do I look for in my animals? I have a doe that can thrive on almost any kind of feed. Takes her 5 minutes to deliver twins that are standing and nursing before I can even get out a towel to help dry them! She gives well over a half gallon of milk to me even with babies on her full time. We haven't trimmed her feet in a year and she isn't overgrown. I wish I had a whole herd just like her. I can't help you a lot with conformation as I can't tell you WHY I like an animal, but I can look at one and say if it's good or bad. I must be pretty good at picking because when I'm at the sale, everybody else picks the ones I want too. LOL

Probably didn't help you much with your issue, so I'll get off my soapbox now.
 

·
Member
Joined
·
2,180 Posts
People are just starting to open their eyes now in the Holstein breed. We're seeing irrationally large animals that are costing us more and more for maintenance issues. Cost of breeding (keeping them unnaturally thin for eye appeal affects fertility and ovulation), cost of feed (the unstoppable ups and downs during show season, less for shows, then pack it on to breed/dry off), shorter life spans from not only stress of calving to maintain proper mammary, but also the stress of pushing feed and moving around. Other things such as bad feet/legs associated directly with free stall cement, which instead of correcting, we are simply getting rid of "nonadaptable" cows. We're seeing equipment breaking down more because of the use of additional bedding/feed/manure they pack, repairs from their large size in their beds, the parlor, gates, etc. And this is all affecting the Holstein population as a whole. We want larger cows, larger mammaries, deeper rib, etc, but many don't exactly push themselves to thinking about the future either. I like to maintain a proper balance. If that means my animals are smaller than the grand champ, so be it. I want something that is going to work for me: my pocketbook, equipment, supplies, feed, productivity, and improve my herd as a whole overall.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AlabamaGirl

·
The Hoofcare and Repro specialist
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I've heard of the issues in holsteins (my boss HATES working with them as a result), but I didn't know the beef industry was getting that bad. Then again, theres always been an obvious difference in commercial cows compared to the high end donor cows we have coming through, and I'm noticing that a lot of donors are listed as difficult to breed. So I guess the big question is, is the conformational standard for a show animal helpful or harmful to their productivity? Any particular examples? For instance, is a long, thin neck on a dairy goat going to help or harm in the long run? I had a photo of a top saanen with an LA 91 and my boss's first comment was "oh look, they're going to do what dobermans did". Are we as breeders just not noticing what particular traits are doing?

(Please don't view that as an attack. It's not. I don't have enough experience to make any kind of claim)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
880 Posts
From a dairy perspective, there are definitely many structural traits that make for both a strong show and production animal. Having an ideal rump angle contributes to easier kiddings, and therefore a longer lifespan and higher lifetime production. Strong pasterns and correct legs also directly contribute to more years of soundness and productivity. The ideal shape of a dairy goat gives them the ability to sustain heavy milk production. Sure, femininity and long necks are not essential, and just because a doe has perfect conformation does not mean she will have high production, but a doe that has very poor conformation will not be as equipped to sustain the toll high production requires of her body over many years.
 

·
The Hoofcare and Repro specialist
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Are there any conformation points being awarded in show rings that aren't in the standard and may be harmful? My primary examples would be posty legs and pasterns on halter horses and overly roman noses on boers.
 

·
Goat Girl
Joined
·
1,985 Posts
In dairy goats performance is (and should be) way more important than show. I had a big Saanen breeder from Wyoming tell me that she sells almoost all of her kids just based on the dam, grand dam, great gram dam etc.'s milk records. She has her herd on DHIR and her goats MILK, but they do also show well. When you have a goat that is a heavy milker you have to have excellent attachments to support all that weight (think of a doe who gives 20+ lbs per day) for many lactations and also so she can still move around freely and the udder isn't in a position to be snagged or injured. Strong feet and legs also contribute to performance. If it hurts that goat to walk to and from feed and water they aren't going to do it as often. Splayed toes can cause issues over time (and be very painful for the goat) and people should pay WAY more attention to toes than they do, especially in the Saanens. Look for nice tight toes, those toes are going to hold up better with more weight and over the years and support that pastern better than toes that splay out or roll under.

Rump angle and width plays a HUGE role in udder shape and area of attachment. If you have a doe with a steep rump her rear udder will be set lower and the udder itself will be set more forward and she won't have as much room from her hips to her pins for an udder to produce a lot of milk. The wider the hips are the more area there is for an udder to be attached and more room for the udder to expand to produce more milk. A longer bodied goat has more room for a rumen and multiple kids, short bodied goats typically can't carry higher multiples as well as a longer goat and can have a harder time keeping their weight during pregnancy when the kids begin to take room that the rumen used to occupy. Legs that are set squarely under the animal will hold up longer and are better able to support the weight of the goat. Angulation (but not too much) to the rear legs is important because we all know that triangles are stronger than squares ;)

For me I want a goat that has a well attached, capacious udder that will stay where it is even when the doe is 10+ years old. I want her to have short, strong pasterns, square toes that are not splayed and legs that are set squarely under her. I don't want to have to worm the goat all the time and most of mine are pretty good in that area. As far as feed to manage them, it can be difficult to get a dairy animal that will perform to her maximum on minimal feed. I don't want to have to trim hooves all the time and I don't want hooves that will break down as the goat ages.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,790 Posts
The Philippines has been a big importer of US Boer goats in recent years with the exception of this one. That's not an opinion, it's a fact.
I think the dairy goat world is a little further along in quantifying what is good in a dairy goat than the Boer world has. Which makes sense when dairy goats have been around a lot longer. Especially in the US. Milk records and appraisals etc. Some of that doesn't lend itself as well to Boer goats. When I think production in a Boer goat I think ability to get pregnant easily and then to kid easily and raise 2 or even 3 kids to a decent weight at 90-100 days. There is no one size fits all conformation for this other than maybe mammary system. If I had to fault ABGA judging it would be not enough emphasis placed on a doe's udder. You can't reasonably fault show Boers on meat. They are packed with meat or they do not win. Some of these problems with parasites and feet I see attributed to Boers I just don't see in my own herd. Do some breeds of goats have better feet than others? Sure, but the individual goat and the management differences are even bigger than between breeds. It's easier to keep good feet on a goat in west Texas than it is in Mississippi. Show me any goat that hasn't had his feet picked up in a year and I will show you a goat that could use a good hoof trim.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,790 Posts
Perhaps anyone who makes a distinction between "modern" Boer goat and whatever they think is the better "less modern" Boer goat can send some pictures of what they like and don't like. Here is a picture of a Boer doe that was recently in a production sale where she was far from the top seller, but I would consider to be a good type for goat meat production. I admire her femininity. I admire how deep she is back where would be babies are being carried. I admire her udder.
 

Attachments

·
www.wildheartsranch.org
Joined
·
2,343 Posts
As a dairy person I would worry about how low that udder is; even without the capacity of a dairy goat that looks like it has potential for injury (granted, less likely if they're kept on pastures like that! My goats should be so lucky.)

One trend I've been seeing in show dairy goats is extreme angulation in the hind legs. I'm not sure how much of it is the way they're set up, but I know at least with horses that puts more stress on the hocks and can cause lameness. I like hocks that are angled just enough to keep the legs clear while I'm milking, no more.

I have one mixed breed doe (Boer/Togg) who's got nice conformation, kids very easily and is wonderful mom, but has a so-so udder and bad feet. My two Nubian does have less ideal conformation (but no major faults) but have better udders and feet. I'm hoping to breed them all to bucks that will balance out their weaknesses - my Nubian buck is more like the two does, and I really liked his kids with the crossbreed doe last year but the only one I had from one of the Nubian does had the same faults as the parents so I'd like to cross those girls out next year.
 

·
The Hoofcare and Repro specialist
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you for the answers! That's more what I was needing, a good point by point explanation on which conformation traits you as breeders aim for and why.

I didn't know the Philippines were importing US boers. My experience with export is extremely limited, and I only know that many Australians (and a few other countries) really don't like our boers, and the "sheep" look is often the reason why. Without stealing anyone's pictures, I put a few links at the bottom of what boers I like and what boers I don't. Just try and remember it's all personal preference. I'd rather butcher out a commercial boer than I would a show boer, and that's where my bias comes in. I judge them based on how much meat I could get off of them, which is what I consider "performance" on a meat goat. Breeding is one thing, and a very important thing, but even if a doe is a champ at popping out multiples and raising them to a good weaning weight, it doesn't mean as much if her kids aren't as good on the rail as the lesser doe with more meat. Basically, so long as nobody's breeding nasty faults into them on purpose (again, think halter horses), I'm happy for those breeders.

I didn't know hip angulation actually helped out with udder placement. I guess it's common sense, but then again I've always had fairly steep hipped does, and my worst doe had the best attachments. She also had the most problems kidding, but I would blame that more on consistently kidding 11lb+ buck kids every year. I did have a question, though. Why do dairy goats get set up the way they do? I don't think I ever asked anyone, I just kind of did it. There's usually a drastic difference between a dairy doe standing normally and one standing set up, is it just preference? Wouldn't that hide any faults?

http://www.jackmauldin.com/feminine_look.html

This guy has a decent mix. There's plenty I don't like (Kelly Blindside, Absolute), and plenty I do (Collateral Damage, Creek Bono)
http://www.tctc.com/~amfuture/bucks.html
 

·
www.wildheartsranch.org
Joined
·
2,343 Posts
Are you talking about the rump or leg angle? Both serve different purposes. A long flat rump makes for easier kidding.

Dairy goat poses are intended to show off their udder and conformation the best, but as with halter horses there are tricks to hide faults. For instance the ones you see with the hind legs parked way out and back hollowed are usually trying to mask a steep rump. Does with a good rump will show it even in natural pose.
 

·
The Hoofcare and Repro specialist
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
The rump. Leg conformation usually speaks for itself. Hip angulation is a cause for fights among several dairy breeders in my area. One swears up and down that a fair slope (like my doe had) is better for kidding and has no effect on udder attachment. Another says that a perfectly flat rump is best, and that any angulation is just asking for problems. I know a severely steep rump helps nobody, but it's the fair slope to no slope that seems to be an area of great disagreement.

Almost forgot-Tenacross, that doe has some good points, but her neck is just bleh for a meat goat. Too long, too thin, no meat. No, neck meat is not a prime cut, but more meat is ALWAYS better, and a shorter thicker neck will always be stronger than a long, thin feminine one. That's one thing I've always been adamant about. There's feminine and then there's overboard. Otherwise, I'd use her in a heartbeat. And yes, that udder is a bit low, but compared to some does I've seen, it's really pretty good. Overall, her dairy type neck is really the only thing I can find fault with, and again, please remember it's just personal opinion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,790 Posts
In the example given by Mauldin's, the doe on the left is just a kid, where the doe on the right is older. Apples to oranges. Mauldin explains why the South Africans want a doe to appear feminine. Mauldin doesn't disagree with this. Then Mauldin says the reason why the doe on the left is winning is because she has a long skinny neck. I can guarantee that is not the *only* reason. I've been to enough ABGA shows to know you can not place high in the line unless your doe is carrying as much or more "product" as the other does in the class. I also am fairly certain the judging has toned down their importance of "feminine" and "pretty" recently. Looking at a goat only from the side can be very misleading. *If* those two does were the same age and in the same class in the show ring, I could easily see Mauldin's caped doe on the right beating the doe on the left *If* she had more product. You just can't tell from those pictures. I would not call Mauldin's doe "old fashioned". I wouldn't even say she has a "short neck" per se.

As for the bucks at Able Acres, Kelly Blindside is not even a registered goat. He's not even 100% Boer. He would be used in wether program where they don't care about papers. I don't pretend to understand the wether business, but you can see where any knock you have against him is not a fair knock on ABGA registered breeding stock. As for HBS Absolute, he is a registered FB and I can't see what the big deal is from the picture either, but if you read the description, he has a lot of muscle. Again, one picture from the side can not do any goat justice. Good or bad.
 

·
The Hoofcare and Repro specialist
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Completely understandable. As I said, this is where opinion comes in, no? I don't like Mauldin's photos for comparison, the left doe's picture looked like a nasty chop job. I was more interested in the descriptions and the other links (hornset, bone thickness, etc.). However, Kelly Blindside to me (registration status notwithstanding, you can't eat papers) is what appeared to be the trend that the show ring was aiming for. Long, lean and "tubular". Basically, a sheep. I like my meat goats to be thick, and the tubular style is just not what will work for a meat producer, and regardless of what the wether people think/thought, those wether shows were supposed to be representing the prime meat animal, just like halter shows were supposed to be representing the prime working horse. Papers don't matter, I'm not knocking ABGA because of a select few "extreme" show breeders (ABGA isn't the only registry, and a TON of show wethers aren't fullblood, or even pureblood). If the judges are starting to relax on wanting the feminine look, then that is excellent. It seems the problem, no matter the species or breed is that when one trait wins, it MUST be taken to the extreme to win. Bad, nasty habit that tends to make it difficult to figure what you're supposed to aim for with breeding.

I do understand that a single side view isn't enough to judge an animal on, but without seeing them in person and without a full spectrum of photos from all angles, it's the best to judge them on, and that long, lean, tubular profile just isn't to my taste. Their carcass isn't as nice, though I will admit they are much prettier than the thicker, SA style boers.
 
1 - 20 of 34 Posts
Top