AMGA Develops Standards For Commercial Goats


As of January 26, 2002 the American Meat Goat Association board of directors approved a set of standards for live animal evaluation of commercial meat goats. The guidelines they developed focus on traits of economic and functional importance. The guidelines do not address breed specific and/or appearance traits that are of little or no importance to commercial meat goat producers. In other words, if you are raising meat goats and need to cull your herd or buy some new animals this is what you should be looking for.

The standard doesn't address it specifically, but the biggest mistake I see buyers making when they are selecting does is to select the best conditioned animals in the group. That can be a huge mistake. If the group of does being evaluated is still nursing their kids or has recently weaned their kids, you are inevitably going to select all of the does that failed to produce a kid. In other words, the does that are infertile, aborted, or are just plain lousy mothers. If I called you on the phone and said I had a beautiful bunch of does, but none of them produced a kid this year you would hang up on me. Yet I see people go through a herd and select exactly those animals on a regular basis because they look the best.

Select your animals the right way. If you have access to breeding records, select the does that produce the most pounds of kids. If that information is not available than use the AMGA breed standard to select animals that are structurally correct. Whatever you do don't just select the biggest, fattest animals available.

AMGA Breed Standard

The breed standard for the meat goat is primarily designed to enhance structural correctness of the breeding meat goat, with an emphasis on muscle volume, function, and survivability of the commercial animal.

General Appearance: A long body is desirable, with leg and cannon bone length in proportion to the animal. Extremely long legs are no more desirable than extremely short legs. A strong level back is desirable, extending from the neck to the hook bones, keeping in mind that heavier, older animals are more likely to have a weaker top line than young animals. The back should be long, wide, and strong. Width and length of loin are important to volume of meat in the carcass. The back should be wide from the withers to the rump, with smooth shoulders, that blend smoothly into the neck. The rump should be long and wide also, with the same width between hooks as pins, if not wider between the pin bones. The rump should have a slight slope from hook bones to pin bones, but should not be overly steep. Some angle is necessary for easy kidding.

The front end should be wide and smooth. Well spaced front legs representing a wide chest floor, and the legs perpendicular to the ground. Muscling should be visible in the forearm. Feet should be pointing straight ahead. Knock-knees, buck knees, pigeon toed, or splay footed animals are not desirable. The barrel needs adequate spring of rib indicating capacity for foraging, pregnancy, and maintenance of body condition.

Rear legs should be wide apart and straight when viewed from the rear. Muscling should be evident as demonstrated by a thick thigh, and the depth of the twist. A side view should show a straight line from pin bone to hock and pastern to touch just behind the hoof. These angles are most desirable for correct free movement of the legs. The pasterns should be strong and straight. The feet should have tight toes, and a level sole. Frame size indicates growth potential. Adequate to moderate bone is acceptable. Sickle hocked, post legged and cow hocked animals are unacceptable.

Mouth: The dental pad: Length of the upper and lower jaw should be equal. Teeth should touch the dental pad in young goats. In older goats, some leaning of teeth is acceptable, as long as the length of the jaw and dental pad, as viewed from the side is equal. No over or undershot jaw is acceptable. No allowances will be made for bad bites.

Does: The doe should have a feminine head, and a feminine wedge appearance of the body, with a long elegant neck blending smoothly into wide smooth shoulders and back. The body should be of adequate size for age of the animal. Does should exhibit good spring of rib and depth of body; these are good indicators of volume. There should be adequate muscling in the rear leg without loosing femininity. The body should have volume and capacity, which demonstrates productivity to breed, carry, and rear young in a pasture situation.

The udder should ideally be round, with good suspension (not pendulous), and teats that are easily nursed by a newborn kid. Both sides of the udder must be functional. Breeding age females should show evidence of having kidded by the age of two years. Evidence of reproductive activity, as demonstrated by a well-developed mammary system, and vulva is very important. Large well-developed does, with infantile, reproductive systems are not acceptable.

Bucks: Bucks should exhibit masculinity, and adequate muscling. The head should be masculine, with a broad strong muzzle and horns set far apart enough to not trap and break legs of other goats. The neck should smoothly flow into wide smooth shoulders. The body should demonstrate the Masculine profile with the heavier chest and forebody. Masculinazation of older bucks, as demonstrated by higher, heavier, coarser shoulders is acceptable, as this is a manifestation of testosterone. Testicles should be of equal size, and large for day of age. No split is allowed in the scrotum. Mature bucks should have a minimum scrotum circumference of 25cm or 10" in circumference. Overly pendulous testicles are undesirable. Testicles should be smooth, and free of bumps or lumps.

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This page updated 05/12/02