If you're showing your meat goat breed in a 4-H or FFA show, know all the rules applicable to your show. Specific rules vary from one show to another, but generally judges consider a goat's cleanliness and physical appearance, and your showmanship, neatness and attire. That means a lot of work at home before you ever enter the show ring.
After you and your goat get to know each other, basic training can begin. Train your goat to lead from a collar or halter. Also pick up his hooves regularly, so a judge can easily inspect the feet. You'll need to trim your goat's hooves neatly at least a week before show day. Learn how to properly square up your goat for judging. Practice frequent short sessions regularly rather than fewer long sessions. Your goat should find this a fun activity. When he performs correctly, praise him.
To get your goat show-ring ready, you'll need various grooming supplies and equipment. These include clippers, hoof trimmers, livestock soap, sponges, towels, a hair dryer and soft grooming brushes. You'll also need a fitting stand for trimming and grooming. These can be expensive, so ask your adviser if former students have one you can borrow or purchase second-hand.
Before you clip your goat for the show, find out what the show guidelines and breed standards require. Trim the hair around the hooves, inside the ears and around the tail bottom, along with any uneven bits around the abdomen. Make sure your goat's beard is tidy. If the standard calls for body-clipping, do it at least two weeks prior to the show. Clipping is an art; if you haven't mastered it, two weeks allows clipper marks to fade or disappear before show day.
Before the show, your goat needs a good bath. The University of Tennessee Extension service recommends bathing the goat a week prior to the show so natural oils return to the coat. That's not practical if you don't have a clean place to keep your goat in the meantime. Oregon State University Extension advises washing the goat a day before showing. Ask your FFA or 4-H adviser for recommendations based on your show and your goat-keeping arrangements. After washing the goat, blow her dry with a hair dryer or livestock dryer, or thoroughly towel dry her. Have a chamois cloth and mild soap on hand to perform any spot cleaning at the show grounds.
In the Ring
Relax and concentrate on showing your goat to his best advantage. You've already practiced at home so the two of you can get it right. The University of Arkansas advises squaring the legs closest to the judge first, then placing the hind legs, "keeping the body and neck straight and the head in a high, proud position by using the halter or collar." You always remain standing, not kneeling or squatting. In a big class, the judge might not get to you for 10 minutes or longer. Stay aware of where the judge is. Patience is virtuous for you and your goat. If you stay calm, it's likely your goat will, too. If the animal senses that you're nervous, he'll think something's wrong. As long as you worked hard and practiced, you'll be fine.
- Washington State University Cooperative Extension: Training, Grooming and Showing Market Goats
- University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service: Managing and Showing Market Goats
- University of Tennessee Extension: Fitting Market Goats for Shows in Tennessee
- Oregon State University Extension Service: The Market Goat Guide to Success
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.