SELECTING YOUR PROJECT WETHER
GORGE-US BOER GOATS
a market wether can be a fun, exciting, and wonderful, learning experience. Once
you get through the initial "getting to know each other" phase,
youíll find that wethers are relatively easy to care for and can be friendly
a good prospect is only half of the equation. Proper care, feed, and exercise
can take a good goat and turn him into a champion. Judges look for animals that
are used to being handled, and are well conditioned. Conditioning not only means
the quality of the coat and the amount of cover on the ribs, it also means an
animal that has firm muscle tone. These are meat goats. Fat does not win. Muscle
does. Walking your goat will teach it to lead but not get in shape.
Check out the information on wether care for tips on conditioning your
you contact a breeder you should find out your show date and weight limit, You
should also decide what your budget is. This information will help your breeder
select suitable prospects for you to view.
choosing a market wether you should have the ideal qualities of a meat goat
fixed firmly in your mind, and compare your prospect against those images. Try
to come as close as possible to the mental picture that you have. Remember that
Market Wethers are "terminal" animals, meaning that they will not
reproduce. You should not buy a
prospect with obvious faults but remember that an animal with all the
"perfect" qualities of a meat goat might also make a good breeding
prospect and cost more than your budget allows. Look for the best prospect that
you can afford, keeping in mind the most important meat goat characteristics;
length, width and depth
drawings on the following pages may help you set those "mental images in
are some of the body parts that are important to examine when selecting a market
Chest should be deep and wide. The point of the elbow should be even with or
above the chest line
muscling over the Rump, Thurl, and Thigh, should be clearly visible and thick.
Twist should be clearly visible and fall straight toward the ground, not in
toward the belly.
Hocks should be straight and set wide in the kids natural stance.
drawing shows a kid that is "hocky".
good bite means your wether will be able to process his food to the best of his
ability. The upper pad should touch
the inside of the lower teeth. His
gums should be pink and healthy. White
gums could indicate a heavy worm load.
a good prospect, providing the proper care, feed, and exercise, and being a good
showman, are the ingredients for raising a winning animal, but the final piece
of the puzzle is the Judge. Remember that "judge" also means to offer
an opinion. Some judges like a long necked, feminine animal. Others like thick,
stocky wethers. Each person may have their own image of an ideal meat goat.
Showing under a judge trained in meat goat selection with a specific set of meat
goat standards can help you anticipate his likes and dislikes.
all have fun and know that if youíve done your best, youíre a winner!
TAKING CARE OF YOUR PROJECT
Showing a market wether can be a fun, exciting, and wonderful, learning experience. Once you get through the initial "getting to know each other" phase, youíll find that wethers are relatively easy to care for and can be friendly and affectionate.
Selecting a good prospect is only half of the equation. Proper care, feed, and exercise can take a good goat and turn him into a champion. Judges look for animals that are used to being handled, and are well conditioned. Conditioning not only means the quality of the coat and the amount of fat on the ribs, It also means an animal that has firm muscle tone. These are meat goats. Fat does not win. Muscle does. Walking your goat will teach it to lead but not get in shape. Think of the difference between a long distance runner and a sprinter. The work out of a distance runner builds endurance and lung capacity, not muscle. Sprinters do short workouts with great bursts of energy that build muscles. Very competitive exhibitors design exercise programs that are designed around sudden bursts of energy/exercise. Some use track dogs, others build exercise courses that have jumps etc.. They run their wethers through the courses several times a day.
Once youíve selected and purchased your project wether you will need to ask your breeder the following questions: Date of birth? Was he a single, twin, triplet? Worming dates and what was he wormed with? What was his weaning weight? What is his weight at the time of purchase? Dates of Vaccinations he has had?
If your wether has not received CDT vaccinations (some breeders use Covexin 8 or other similar brands) you will need to give your wether an initial vaccination and a booster 30 days later. Check to see if your area is selenium deficient to see if you need to give your wether Bo-Se.
Raising a wether entails more than just feeding him. If you want your wether to grow to his full potential you must also see to his well being. In other words his overall health and happiness. Wethers need a secure pen that they can feel safe in. They need access to sunshine and a shed or lean-to that will give them shelter from rain and wind. Provide feeders that are off the ground. Feeders should be placed in a manner that prevents wethers from contaminating feed with their feet. Wethers will do best if housed with one or more goats their own size. Competition helps the appetite and playmates help the exercise. Do not put a small wether in with large dominate goats or other animals. Heís already been taken away from the only home heís known. Heís stressed and scared. Putting him in with big does who will knock him around will only make the problem worse. He will not thrive (gain weight) if heís always the underdog. Housing him with large animals such as horses, cows or other livestock can cause him injury and unnecessary delay in his adjustment. If you donít have a buddy to house him with, house him so that he can see other goats or animals, but not with them. And pay him LOTS of attention throughout the day. Goats are herd animals and you will have to be his herd; his mom, his playmate, and his protector.
recommend CHS PAYBACK Boer Goat Developer. It is available at the following
The CO-OP in Goldendale, J & L in Carson, LITTLE BIT in Hood River, THE FEED SHACK in The Dalles
If you do not intend to keep your wether on the same feed as the breeder, try to purchase a bag of the same brand and introduce your new feed gradually. Abruptly changing feed can cause serious illness and even death. If your wether has already been on a pellet feed, mix the new feed Ĺ and Ĺ for the first week. There are many commercial meat goat rations that provide the needed nutrients for your wether to thrive. Most wethers do well on a self-feed or free feed program with good quality pellet. "All" feeds are feed rations that have been designed to provide everything your wether needs including fiber. You should not need to provide hay if you use an all feed. Hay can create a "hay belly". Wethers that are in danger of going over your goal weight may have to have measured feedings morning and night. Wethers that tend towards a hay belly need to be fed several small feedings several times a day.
You should know your goal weight, know your show date and figure out how much your wether needs to gain per week. Wethers usually gain 2 to 3 pounds per week and taper off as they grow older. Keep in mind that your wether may go into a "stall" for a week or two when you first bring him home. He is under stress and how quickly he adjusts will be determined by how safe he feels. Weigh your wether every two weeks. If he is gaining too fast determine if heís fat. Have you been giving him enough exercise? The answer is usually "No." Remember that playing in the pen is not the type of exercise that will give you the winning edge.
A word of Caution: You can never make up for a missed meal! You cannot FORGET to feed or water your wether and expect your wether to reach his full potential.
FRESH, CLEAN water is the MOST important ingredient
in your wethers feed program. Water regulates the amount of feed a goat will
consume and how well it is processed. Goats are picky. If they donít like the
water, they will drink only enough to stay alive, If youíre thirsty and have
just eaten a saltine cracker, do you think youíd still eat more crackers?
The most important part of a health program is knowing your goat. Goats donít have the power of speech to tell how they are feeling, but they CAN and DO tell us how they are feeling with their actions and their body language. If you spend time with your goat you will know when heís not acting normal. The moment you think he is acting different (it can be a very slight signal) an alarm should go off in your head. Listen to it. Otherwise in a few days you could have a very sick goat and by then it may be too late.
Signs of a healthy goat:
Normal Vital Signs:
Coccidia is caused by a tiny parasite in a goatís stomach. All goats have coccidia organisms but most older goats become resistant to it. Problems start when the stomach becomes overwhelmed with coccidia. Stress, brought on by weaning, feed changes, or moving to a new home can lower a goatís immune system, allowing the coccidia organism to flourish. Chronic Coccidia can cause growth problems and greatly inhibit your projectís potential. Continued good health is of primary importance to the success of your project. Most prepared meat goat rations come with the option of including Monensin, a preventative for coccidia, but it does not mean that your wether will not still be susceptible. If you notice diarrhea or find that you wether is not gaining, immediately take a fecal sample to your vet for analysis.
Itís important to have your wether on a good worming program. Most wormers must be given at a much higher dosage than the label calls for. Ask your breeder what type of wormer to use and set a schedule so that you know when your last worming date will be. You are raising a meat animal and must allow for withdrawal.
Some people suggest starting out by tying your wether to the post. We prefer that you start out as the post. On the first lesson your are just going to teach him to stand next to you. Use a soft collar that your wether canít slip out of and a lead that wonít hurt your hands. Leather or soft rope works well. Always use small jerks on the lead, Stand in one spot and teach your wether that the best place to be is next to you. When he turns away from you or moves away from you, give him a quick jerk towards you. Give him immediate slack and praise him. (You might have to be quick with the praise) The slack and the praise are his reward. When you are first starting out make it simple for him, Praise him and give him slack if he is willing to stand facing you with slack in the lead. Once he does that with consistency ask that he stand closer. By the end of the lesson he will learn to stand next to you and to accept your soothing strokes down his back.
During the next lessons you will teach him to walk with you. Once youíve taught your wether to lead, you will be able to take him out and get him used to different surroundings. This will really help out on show day. A wether that puts his head down sprawls his legs, and hunches up will not show the judge his best characteristics. If there is another wether in the ring that is identical in quality to yours, except that it walks head high, next to its exhibitor, your wether will be placed behind it. You can have the best wether in the state but if it doesn't show well, you've wasted your time. Your ultimate goal is to have your wether enter the ring well behaved and confidant. You want to teach him to walk with his shoulder at your leg, and his head held high, and to accept people touching his legs, back, and face. Teach him to stand still, with his feet placed where you ask. When you show him step away from his body so that the judge can see all sides of him. When you aren't showing watch other classes so you can pick up tips on what to and not to do as an exhibitor.
GORGE-US BOER GOATS