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Hey All,

I searched but could not find a specific thread on this sub-forum on specifically PACK Goat Conformation. As we look at things and more about function than show, I thought it was time for all of us newer & future/potential to learn from & have a place to discuss this important topic. Especially as we are looking for different things from our goats than dairy, meat or show goats.

So...you long term & short term Packers and Pack Goat breeders please be so kind & generous as to share your input, knowledge, opinions, pictures etc with us on this thread. Please feel free to also show/tell the bad, in your opinion, of what to watch out for as well as what is desirable and why. Yes I know some of this can be found in various books but I think we need a thread here. I regards to pictures, if possible add edits to the pictures like circling etc.

Thanks in advance & I look forward to this thread's development as I think it will be hugely beneficial to all.

Take care!

TOU
 

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Found this photo in Classifieds here in Salt Lake City, and I wanted to comment on what I look for as a goatpacker.

Bear In mind I take my packgoats into very rugged terrain. 11,000 ft elevation, boulder fields, stream crossing, deadfall areas, off trail, you name it. 10 mile days with 3000 ft elevation rise. I rest them each hour, but we do cover some rough country.

I would NEVER buy this goat for packing ---First of all, his body slopes downward. His legs are too short. His pasterns do not stand up straight enough for me. He has strong shoulders but a weak rear-end. His hind legs are not heavy boned enough for me.
 

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Buford



Here is a photo of my Buford, who is part Saanen/Alpine/Boer. He is 2 1/2 yrs old in this photo. Although he is large here, he now stands around 39" at the shoulders, and weighs around 240 lbs. He is 7 years old now. To me, he is a well rounded goat with conformation that I like. He moves smoothly up the trail, he is agile on boulder fields, he has a wonderful temperament. He loves to please me and he works his heart out for me.
 

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Found this photo in Classifieds here in Salt Lake City, and I wanted to comment on what I look for as a goatpacker.

Bear In mind I take my packgoats into very rugged terrain. 11,000 ft elevation, boulder fields, stream crossing, deadfall areas, off trail, you name it. 10 mile days with 3000 ft elevation rise. I rest them each hour, but we do cover some rough country.

I would NEVER buy this goat for packing ---First of all, his body slopes downward. His legs are too short. His pasterns do not stand up straight enough for me. He has strong shoulders but a weak rear-end. His hind legs are not heavy boned enough for me.
Does he have an udder?! I've heard of this happening with some bucks, but haven't seen a photo of one for awhile.

I'll have to keep checking in on this thread. I'm curious what all you pack goat people look for in a pack goat's conformation. :thumb:
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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LOL yes he has an udder.

There are many things that translate over from the dairy confirmation to the pack goat confirmation. Front legs should be directly under the shoulder. In the dairy world, this translates into a better more pronounced chest (brisket). When the front legs are in proper alinement, much like in a car, everything rides smooth and wears evenly. Goats track better, more sure footed and their pasterns (shock absorbers) do not take the full brunt of their gait. Resulting in longer lasting pasterns. Legs are much less likely to curve and or bend over time and hoof growth is usually much more even.

Back legs are the same as well. You want them to have good angulation from rump to knee. As you can see with the Lamancha pictured, there isnt much and as mentioned, his back end looks weaker. But more importantly as with the front, good angulation spills over into assisting the pasterns while walking and help again in longevity of legs and pasterns and helps in hoof growth.

2 things about the legs that do not cross over with confirmation. Splayed toes. Not good for dairy goats, but great for pack goats. Helps to give sure footing. The second thing is towing or hocking out. For dairy you want the toes to point forward. For pack goats, you would like to see them point to 10 and 2 on a clock face. Again, ads to sure footing.

Length of leg as mentioned also differs but that is more of a castration thing. Intact bucks will grow more mass then height. While a wether will tend to grow taller. This isnt to say they will not have substance of bone, which is sought after in both words. Even in the dairy world and animal can be "TO DAIRY" and be frail or light of bone.

Moving onto the body. Wethers are typically much thinner looking then bucks. Granted this has more to do with their lifestyle then anything else. Bucks get to eat well and lay around 9 months outta the year. Pack goats are usually out working and having fun 9 months outta the year and only get to relax during the coldest months.

Steepness of rump, not good for dairy animals (flatter rumps translate into easier kiddings), but not an issue with a pack goat. A level top line is important in both worlds but more so in the pack world. As mentioned, a level (not up hill or down hill) is important to hold the saddles in place. Body capacity is sought after in the dairy world. The larger and deeper the body, the more food they can consume so the more they can put into milk production. Not needed in the pack world. In fact, a pack goat that is to wide will not fit its saddle well. Spring of rib I like to say is important to both worlds. Again adds to capacity for dairy and I think it allows for better breathing in a pack goat.

I am sure I am missing a few things but this is what I could think of off the top of my head. :)
 

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Wow Dave good overview! Very interesting. It seems a lot if things you want in a show fair goat you do not want in a pack goat. What do you think for length of body, length of legs, etc? My % boer doe would NOT be a good show goat, but I think she would be a good pack goat.
 

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I remember an old post from Carolyn Eddy - must be somewhere in the old threads from the packgoat forum - about what she called "rule of 3" for packgoats.

Length of shoulder - 1 part - equals length of back - 1 part - equals length from hip to pin bone - 1 part



for packing you prefer long AND strong legs because a short legged goat will have to take more steps for the same distance than a long legged goat. Back long enough for a saddle but not as long as several dairy breeds are because a long back can't carry heavier loads (same with horses, the short backed horses can carry more).

That kept in mind, conformation isn't everything in goat packing. It's one milestone but more important than perfect conformation is perfect WORK attitude. A smaller goat with conformation flaws that works its heart out for you is more worth than the perfect pack conformation that lies down when it has to climb a hill.
 

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A level top line is important in both worlds but more so in the pack world. As mentioned, a level (not up hill or down hill) is important to hold the saddles in place.
also, because we see it quite often here in Germany in the boer and nubians:

you don't want a swaybacked goat or a goat that humps its loin region.
 

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QUOTE - A smaller goat with conformation flaws that works its heart out for you is more worth than the perfect pack conformation that lies down when it has to climb a hill.

True statement. I have a LaMancha/Alpine that runs in the 160 lbs range, but is high octane, so to speak, and has the energy to carry 40-45 lbs all day long. Amazing goat with a lot of agility and stamina.
 

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I have a LaMancha/Alpine that runs in the 160 lbs range, but is high octane, so to speak, and has the energy to carry 40-45 lbs all day long. Amazing goat with a lot of agility and stamina.
I have one like this too. He loves to carry the saddle and jounces it just to hear it rattle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hey All,

An acquaintance of mine runs an actual Goat Packing Outfitting Company, his goats average as much as 1000 miles of high mountain packing each year. He has been doing it for 16 years so I respect his opinions as someone of experience and what he writes coincides with much of what I have read elsewhere as well as my own intuition. Anyway I give full credit to Clay Zimmerman ("The Goat Whisper of High Uinta Pack Goats") as I doubt he would mind me sharing his input.

http://www.highuintapackgoats.com/confirmation.html

PICKING A PROSPECT
We don't believe the "perfect packgoat" exists. But, there are attributes that you need to be aware of when picking your prospect. If you are a light, weekend packer you will be able to use a goat with some flaws, but the harder you intend to work your goat, the more of the following items you will have to take into consideration.

CONFORMATION
Prospects should be:
CAE and CL free-(goat viruses-CAE looks like arthritis, & CL is an abscess forming disease)

Minimum 34" at the withers-(our Oberhasli's are not this big, but if you want a large load this is the minimum size.)

Minimum 200 pounds-(same comment as height, the smaller the mass the less weight they can carry)

Leg length proportionate to body (no dachshund looking conformation -- like the Boer breed of goat)

Flat back from withers to loin-(helps carry weight evenly)

Withers and croup both same distance from the ground-not going uphill or down-(keeps pack from sliding)

Cannon bone 1/3 length of upper leg-(longer stride)

Good bone size in legs and feet

Wide across hip and shoulders-(good weight bearing surface)

Legs track reasonably straight when watched from the front-(elbows should not "wing" out - come away from the body)

Slightly hocky-good angles to hocks when viewed from the side and back give better traction and stay sounder than posty (very straight) legs.

Body type -(should look muscular in appearance -not a dairy goat type- with thigh/gaskin muscles well defined; shoulders and neck should also show good muscle tone.)

These, of course describe the "perfect" goat, but the harder you plan to work, the more they need to have good proportion and strong bone and feet.

(Here we have to say that one of our 'best' packers most definitely does not fit this profile. He is bow-legged, pigeon toed and his hoofs roll as he steps. But it hasn't proven a problem to him as far as we can tell. And we work our boys hard.)

To de-horn or not to de-horn, that is the question. There is a lot of controversy over this. Horns work as a cooling system in goats. They are also a major liability in herd management.

The arguments pro and con are many. Whichever you decide on, all your animals should be the same. Most breeders automatically de-horn new kids. The buyer usually must ask for this not to be done if they want horns.

MENTAL ATTRIBUTES
A goat can have all the great conformation in the world, but if he's not a "gung-ho" goat mentally, he's worthless as a packer. Good packgoats like to work and spend time with people. It's obvious when they're very small. In fact, if they follow into the training mud puddle for their bottle, they are likely to be good packers.

Our experience is that "attitude" plays an extremely important part in a packgoat. We recommend choosing a goat that is friendly, curious, doesn't mind being touched places, and one that has an alertness and brightness to its character.

Some goats are lazy. Nubians particularly have a reputation for this, but this doesn't mean that all are. And Nubian crosses can give you size while maintaining the more work oriented traits of the smaller breeds.

A goat from a reputable packgoat breeder will have been bred to select for gung-ho goat qualities. Goats should show that they are well-socialized and not exhibit fear or aggressiveness toward people. By the time they are weaned, they should not be butting or jumping up on people. It's cute in kids but not in full grown spoiled monsters. Your goat should be willing to respect you, just like any other working animal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Charlie, Sabine & Dave....great input.

BTW I have seen Charlie's Buford on a few occasions, he really is a beautiful animal and I would love to have one like him in my herd someday. That said, I am pretty happy with the other two I got from Charlie and feel lucky to have them!
 

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Here's my doe. Please keep in mind this picture was taken while she was still new here so her stance might look a little funny. And some other random ones. She has grown quite a bit! :) She's not a show goat, that's for sure. But she loves going on walks and is very people friendly. I won't be doing anything extreme, either.
 

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well, she has the typical short legs of boer. How old is she? If she keeps the croup high conformation you will have a hard time finding a saddle that stays in position.

She could (!) be harder to get into shape because of her body mass and be more prone to overheating when working. This is something you should check during longer walks (1-2 hours) and that should get better, the more she gets into shape.

But please don't be fooled by "not doing anything extreme". An untrained animal is worse because it doesn't have the muscle and stamina when you ask for "the little bit". She should be able to do what you ask of her well and without discomfort so keep her as fit as possible.
 

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Wow this thread literally explains a San Clemente! San clementes are originally from an island off the coast of CA they stayed there with out human contact for about a decade. They were taken off the island because the navy wanted the island as an air base. They are now an endangered species with about 500 in the world. The conformation that is desired and described for pack goats is literally what my San clementes look like! That's crazy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Wow this thread literally explains a San Clemente! San clementes are originally from an island off the coast of CA they stayed there with out human contact for about a decade. They were taken off the island because the navy wanted the island as an air base. They are now an endangered species with about 500 in the world. The conformation that is desired and described for pack goats is literally what my San clementes look like! That's crazy!
Interesting, pictures???
 
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