SHOWING

07/17/2012

 
There is no clear way to tell exhibitors how to show their goats at their respective Fairs.  This all depends on the Judge.   Is it a Meat Goat Judge?  Is it a Lamb Judge judging goats like lambs? 
One year at my daughter's fair, the Judge kept asking the exhibitors how much their lambs weighed?  Some of
the younger kids looked very confused.  They thought they had a goat and here is an adult calling it a lamb? 
My daughter apprehensively contradicted the Judge, telling him that she has a goat.  Did that response spoil her chance of placing higher?  We will never know.

The preferred way to show a Meat Goat is to NOT brace it, however you have to be prepared to brace it in the
event the Judge prefers it.  (because he's a Lamb judge).  Getting past bracing, when entering the ring, you should always be on your goat's left, holding the chain collar with your right.   Remember, as soon as you step into the ring, you are showing.    And believe me, the Judge is paying attention even though he gives
the impression that he's waiting for all exhibitors to enter the show ring before he begins.   AND, you are not
done showing until you receive that ribbon.  Sometimes Judges place you differently even after he has gone for the mic to announce his decisions and reasons.

Remember to walk tall and proud of your project..slouching, dragging your feet and looking bored does not give a good impression to the Judge.   DO make a lot of eye contact with the Judge.  Look like you are serious about
winning.  You can make quick glances down at your goat after setting up the feet and make corrections as
needed.  Even if the Judge isn't with you at any given time, he still notices that you are maintaining control and
showing the animal at all times by keeping him set up.

The goat's front legs should be set wide enough to show a nice, wide chest floor, however they should not be
so wide as to extend beyound the width of his body.. they need to be set straight down, not knock-kneed, bow-legged, splayed outward or forward (like a rocking horse).  The position of the front legs can affect the position of the back.   Set up wrong, your goats back may drop, then the belly drops and nothing is level as it should be.
Feet placement is very important to the overall appearance of the goat.

Never block the Judge's view of your goat.  If the Judge is viewing your animal from the rear, either move to the
front of your goat or step away holding the chain collar at arm's length.   This allows the Judge to look down both sides of your goat from the rear.  Also, do not touch or rest your hand on the goats neck, shoulders or back.. this blocks a Judge's view.  Sometimes you feel a need to put that spare hand somewhere comfortable, don't let it be your pocket.  This looks sloppy and indifferent.  Some Judges may be offended by  this.  Keep your hand at your side when it's not being used to set up or control your goat.
I've seen kids place a hand behind their backs.  I would only recommend this to experienced showman with well-trained goats.  A jumpy goat will take you across the arena and land you on your face controlling it with only one hand .. because the other hand was where?   Behind your back.  A goat bolting happens so quickly that by the time you've pulled that hand back around.. it's too late.. you're eating dirt.

One thing I don't think is emphasized enough...  Show the Judge the respect they deserve!  Make sure your animal is clean and ready for show, no matter how big or small the show is.  I don't know any Judge wanting to touch a dirty animal that isn't clipped and clean.   Listen and pay attention to his directions in the arena.  
Shake his hand and thank him after your show to show your appreciation, good sportsmanship and good manners.  And one more thing.. Smile whenver possible..   Judges like to know that you are enjoying your project.
 

BRACING

06/17/2012

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This is a touchy topic with me.   I don't believe a goat should be braced.  Some of the bracing I've seen makes
goats look so unnatural and almost deformed.  Their backs are hunched into a position they would never
normally be in and some goat's pasterns are even broken down because of bracing.  BUT,   because our
fairs don't get good Goat Judges (we get Lamb Judges who expect goats to be braced like lambs) we end up
giving in to the kids asking "how to"  simply because they want to be competitive and have an opportunity to win.
 
So when we teach bracing, we advise that bracing should be done only when the Judge is about ready to
examine your goat.  Then when he's done examining your goat, set up all 4 feet again and stand arm's
length with the chain collar.  If he comes back to examine your goat again, brace again.

All that being said, here is one way to teach bracing:

Set your goat up, all 4 feet placed square.  Then move in front of your goat, facing him. 
While controlling his head and neck ( head should be looking forward, not nose upward to the sky), place
your left leg into the goat's right shoulder and his neck stretched up your leg.  His head should be
in a comfortable position looking forward.  (You can reverse this,  right legt into goat's left shoulder.)

Gradually Push your left leg into the goat, he should push back.  The harder you push, the harder he should push back.
You do not need a lot of pressure on his neck and head, the neck should be straight and in-line with his body.

Now, if your goat just won't push back...  try the procudure with a fence or wall behind him.  Most goats don't
want to be backed up into anything.    And if that doesn't work.  Get him up on a high porch or deck to back off.
But don't really back him off, just get him close to feeling that possibility.. most goats don't like air under their hoof, they want to feel solid ground underneath them.. so they will push back.

Do not lift your goat's front feet off the ground.  Everybody does it you say?  I've even heard leaders tell their kids to do it because it gives them more of an advantage to show the goat's muscle expression when they can't
get their goat to push hard.  They push harder trying to get their feet back down.
Ok, then let me rephrase this.  Do NOT lift your goat's feet more than a couple of inches from the ground to
get him to set up.  Most Judges I've seen will allow that, but if you lift too high the Judge will or may
instruct you to set it back down.  Judges don't like to warn you more than once and this could affect your 
placing.  If you're not in the first show, watch the Judge to see how he deals with this controversial issue.

Not all goats will cooperate, and there are other potential ways to teach bracing, but this is the most common.
 

CHAIN COLLAR

05/05/2012

 
The Chain collar on a goat is NOT used as a choke chain.  You want to use a bit snap or similar clip to hook the end rings together and use the chain collar to "guide" the goat.  THe chain should set underneath the goat's jaw, not on his throat.  You will probably have to have a few different sizes of chain collars if you get the ones that are
meant for dogs.    Or you can buy the collars that were designed for goats.... the ones that are half chain, half leather.  The leather part being the part you hold with your hand.  These collars are adjustable and can grow
with your goat.  Not only do these NOT choke your goat when properly positioned under the jaw line, but they are
also easier on your hand during training.  These are the collars I recommend.
Once your goat is halter trained and will go where you go... moving onto the collar is easier...  notice I didn't
say easy.  Collar training your goat takes patience.  You need to keep showing him over and over and over
what you want him to do.  No rewards until he does it right.
Your collar is on him, properly positioned, and you're holding the collar upright.. don't pull it back towards his
rear.  Helping him hold his head up with your other hand is ok.  When you want to walk him, lean the collar
forward towards his nose keeping it taut under his jawline, but also don't put it off over his head.  There is
a happy medium.   You can also encourage him forward with a little tug on his tail...  little tug.. please,
DO NOT lift your goat off the ground with his tail.  You will break the soft bones in his tail.. this is painful.. 
Other encouragements to get him to walk is to have someone walk closely behind him and bump his pasterns.
Remember, gentle...  no kicking.   Loud clapping behind him gets him to move forward, also.. but don't wear
this out by continuing to clap.  Just a few loud and close claps can work.
Consistentcy and Patience are the key.  You want your goat to trust you and to want to walk with you.
Always be kind.
 
 
First of all, you have to have the right size halter and collars.  I've seen some people use Lamb halter's successfully, but I don't recommend them.  Lambs have longer muzzles and some of the lamb halters pinch the nose's of goats.  Goat halters come in several sizes from pygmy/kid size to large Buck size and everything in between.  It's a lot easier to start training a kid than an adult goat.  The smaller they are the easier it is to get control.  Once you get the halter on, snap on your 6 ft. lead/leash.   Your goat will buck, try to get away, and even
sit down and refuse to walk.  No amount of tugging will encourage him/her to get up and go.  PLEASE, DO NOT
drag your goat and think it will want to walk with you eventually.  You're going to have to hands on, lift up the
rear of your goat, the front end of your goat, whichever is laying on the ground and keep encouraging it
to come along with you.  Treats can be given.  Once they're on their feet you may have to do some hard
pulling to get him to walk.  Give a treat every few feet letting him know he's doing a good job.  If  he 
lays down you have to lift him up again.. then give another treat onces he's back on his feet.  Goats are not
stupid, they figure out what works to get them a treat and a kind pat.  Eventually, all your inner frustrations
will go away because..  he gets it and will joyfully trot and run along with you.   Moving onto the collar will be
just as much...  "fun."    In fact, I will talk about collar training next blog.
 
 
You just brought your new kid home.  Don't expect it to warm up to you like a new puppy.  Hopefully you'll already have a large enough, fenced area with a shelter and shaded area prepared.   And have fresh alfalfa and water already in his enclosure for him/her.  Goats are extremely social so if you have only one kid, it will get very lonely.  Lonely kids sometimes fail to thrive well.  You need to spend a lot of time with your new kid to earn it's trust and make it feel safe.  Start off by just going into it's enclosure and sitting.  Don't try to walk up to it,
don't try to pet it if it curiously edges up to  you.  Let the goat sniff you, nip at your clothing but don't raise a hand to pet it..... yet.   When the goat is sure you mean it no  harm and starts climbing on you (while you're sitting) then you can make slow attempts to pet it's back.  It still may dart off, but it'll come back.  At this point in time, you can also offer treats to reassure you can be trusted.  This takes time and patience.... you need to do this EVERY day until it is calm and relaxed around you.  How long will this take?  There is no knowing , but it should average out to a week.  Remember,  EVERY day.
 

CREEP FEEDING

03/11/2012

 
Creep feeding is necessary in today's competive market.  Creep fed kids will have a greater weight gain  per day of age than non-creep fed kids.    Creep feeding also reduces stress when weaning kids, especially those that will be prospective show projects.  Their transition to show feeds will be that much easier.
Our kids are always creep fed.  Some years for a shorter time than other years, depending on their early development.     We suggest  when you take your new kid home,  to feed a high quality alfalfa with a small
amount of your show feed.  Each day, add a little more show feed and less alfalfa.  In 2 weeks, you should
be feeding the recommended amount of feed per body weight with no more than a handful of alfalfa.  Sometimes this transition may take a little longer, but it shouldn't be shorter.
 

HEALTH

03/06/2012

 
All kids are final now with their CDT shots... They were also wormed this past weekend with
Safeguard Goat Dewormer.   Hope to get them wormed one more time prior to sale.  We are
no longer giving the added Selenium & vitamain E since they've been creeping on Associated
Feed's Dominator Starter Pellets.  They started bulking up once they got on this and are looking
good.
 

Growing

02/23/2012

 
Can't believe how quickly these kids are growing.  With such great weather this winter we've been
able to spend a lot more time with them and the majority are fast becoming very people friendly.  I
know this makes it so much easier on 4-H'ers and FFA'ers when getting down to training their goats
for the show arenas.
 

Healthy Kids;

01/28/2012

 
Our kids are strong and healthy.  Shortly after birth we give them Omega-3 Plus, a high energy nutrient in liquid form.  Every week they get a dose of Vitamins ADE & B12, along with a Selenium E-gel.  We want to make sure
they stay healthy.
All our kids have been disbudded and a few have their first CDT shot.  Tomorrow a few more will get their
first CDT shot.   Did I mention that they don't like shots? 
 

    Author

    Jean & Lindsay McDonald  
    rural Templeton

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