ADM Animal Nutrition Goat Guide

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Goats, important domestic animals in many parts of the world, have served mankind for ages. They provide substance in the form of food and clothing. These hardy ruminants can exist in harsh environments in which other livestock species would perish. Goats grow and reproduce under extreme conditions from rugged mountain areas where winters are bitter cold to desert regions where it is hot and dry, and water and forage are sparse.


Opportunities with Goats
Goat meat is the preferred food for growing ethnic groups in North America. Since the demand for goat meat has outpaced domestic production, a substantial portion of the goat meat consumed in the US is imported. Goat milk is favored by health enthusiasts as well as some cheese makers. The rising demand for goat meat, milk, and cheese offers commercial goat production opportunities.

Goats are adaptable and easy to raise. Sophisticated facilities are not a necessity. Adequate space with pasture or browse is preferred.


Goat Selection
The type of goat selected depends on desired purpose ? hobby, show, or commercial production of meat, milk, or mohair/cashmere. The choice will influence feeding and management decisions. Table 1 lists goat breeds common in the U.S. Regardless of purpose, basic selection criteria for any goat purchase should include good health (bright, clear eyes, alert, cud chewing, no nasal secretions, normal feces, etc.) and sound conformation (no deformities, good leg and hoof structure, etc.). Goats should be structurally correct and well muscled with style and balance, and they should possess the desired genetic ability for meat or milk production. For those who desire to purchase goats for show, consult with knowledgeable individuals for assistance in selection based on breed preferences and desirable physical characteristics. Good genetics are important for show and commercial production animals. Keep in mind, size is not a reliable, primary indicator of a ?good? goat.


Table 1  Common Goat Breeds in the US


Body Structure







   (origin Switzerland)

Medium-large, rugged bone structure

Doe: 30" height, 110-198 lb)

Buck: 176-264 lb

White or light cream

Short and fine. A fringe over spine and thighs may be present.

Medium size, erect, preferably pointing forward

Straight or dished


   (origin Switzerland)

Small-medium, sturdy

Doe: 25" height, 120 lb

Buck: 160 lb

Light fawn to dark chocolate with white ears and lower legs, two white stripes on face, sides of tail are white

Short, shaggier coat compared to other breeds

Medium size, erect, carried forward

Straight or dished


   (origin Orient)

Medium-large, graceful

Doe: 30" height, 130 lb

Buck: 175 lb

Any color or pattern

Short, glossy

Long, drooping, bell-shaped, extend ½" beyond mussel

Distinctive convex facial profile (Roman nose)


   (French, British, Rock, and Swiss Alpine goats; French is most popular in US)


Doe: 30" height, 130-198 lb

Buck: 176-220 lb

Any color except solid white or light brown with white markings

Medium to short


Straight or dished

La Mancha

   (Developed in the US from Swiss breeds and short-eared Spanish breeds)


Doe: 28" height, 130 lb

Buck: 160 lb

Any color or combination of colors

Short, glossy

Very short or absent external ear flap.

Gopher ear variety has 1" ear flap.

Elf ear variety had 2" ear flap



   (origin Switzerland)



Doe: 125 lb

Buck: 160 lb

Chamois (bay-colored) with a black dorsal strip, udder, belly, and black below the knees. The head should be nearly black with two black stripes down the face to a black muzzle






  (origin South Africa)

Large, thick

Doe: 200-225 lb

Buck: up to 300 lb

Preferred market goat weight: 70-90 lb

White body with dark cherry red neck and head with blaze face is most widely recognized and preferred


Long, pedulous

Gently curved (convex)


   (not specific breed)

Compact, varies








Doe: 70-110 lb

Buck: 180-225 lb


Long (ringlet or flat and wavy)

Long, drooping

Thin, straight or slightly dished



Very small, compact

16-23" height, 40-70 lb

can be caramel pattern, agouti pattern or a black pattern


Medium, erect

Slightly dished


Ensure goats have access to clean, fresh water and forage at all times. Goat Power Mineral should be offered free-choice at all times. Goat Power products contain copper. Do not feed to sheep or other copper sensitive species. Angora and Pygmy goats have been reported to be sensitive to copper supplementation.


ADM Animal Nutrition, a division of Archer Daniels Midland Company