Breed standards sometimes mention aesthetic aspects of our goats, such as color, ear size, etc., but the main purpose of these standards is to identify the qualities that make our goats more sturdy, healthy, productive and long-lived, and make them requirements for our ideal. Every fault in your goat’s legs increases their chance of lameness, discomfort, and loss in productivity, so careful attention to faults in this area when buying and breeding goats is important.
When looking at the leg as a whole, the Kinder goat breed standard calls for legs that are “moderately heavy boned but not coarse. Strong, sturdy, straight, wide apart, providing ample height for udder clearance. Pasterns medium length. Strong and springy with proper slope. Rear legs when viewed from behind set wide apart and straight; when viewed from the side, well angulated from thurl to hock. Hock cleanly molded, straight from hock to pastern.”
When looking for the ideal, it is sometimes easier to see and avoid obvious faults than to find perfection, so I’ll proceed by listing and describing the most common legs faults:
The pastern is the length of leg from the hoof to the first knuckle, or basically up to their dewclaws. Ideally, this part of their leg should be short and almost vertical. The longer and more sloped the pastern is, the more risk there is of it breaking down as a goat ages, or as the weight of pregnancy and milk take their toll.
Here are a young doeling and adult doe with good pasterns:
I would consider this doe one whose pasterns I need to watch – being only 2 1/2 years old, I would like to see her pasterns a bit more straight. I would only breed her to bucks with very strong pasterns:
The following two photos are of poor front and rear pasterns. These pasterns are long and weak, allowing the leg to fall much lower and further behind the hoof than ideal:
Sickle and/or Cow Hocked:
Not only do turned in knees cause weakness in the rear end of the goat, but in milking does, they often rub on the doe’s udder, causing damage and sores as well as discomfort.
Rear legs too much in front of or behind the vertical:
When viewed from the side standing naturally, you should be able to draw a straight line perpendicular to the ground from the pin bone down through the hock to the ankle. Take care that the goat is not post-legged though.
Viewed from the side, the rear legs of a post-legged will look almost straight, with no bend at the knee or dip above the hock. Without adequate angle to their hocks, these goats loose the shock absorption that correct angles allow. It can also cause the hips to be higher than the goat’s front end, putting all of her weight on her front end.
This buck is a bit post-legged – even standing with his rear legs very far under him, you can see the lack of angle in his knee:
Loose attachment between the ribcage and the humerus. In a goat with good attachments, the elbow is held tightly to their side, while one with loose attachments will have space between their body and elbow. Wing shoulders will decrease the strength in the front end of the goat, causing fatigue and discomfort. The way this doe is standing exaggerates how much her elbow protrudes, but makes for a good example of winged shoulders:
These problems can vary a great deal in severity, from almost unnoticeable to so extreme that they affect the movement of the goat. When choosing goats and breeding pairs, taking your goats’ leg strengths and weakness into account will allow you to breed for stronger, sturdier kids and goats that “stand” the test of time!
Being dual purpose, Kinder goats carry a great deal of weight on relatively small feet and legs. Carrying their own weight, the weight of multiple kids, and lots of milk, they often carry as much or more weight as their full sized relatives, but do so on smaller frames. This makes strong feet and legs even more important than ever for our goats.
Your goats’ feet and legs are literally the foundation of your herd, so making sure that they will hold up for the lifetime of your goats is imperative. Once a goat begins having foot or leg issues, problems begin to compound, and their productive life dramatically decreases. Goats with foot and leg problems forage less, play less, and become less fit. Because they are less fit, kidding becomes more difficult and dangerous. Unfit bucks are less virile, and breeding becomes more difficult. Does lay down more, creating a greater risk of mastitis and infection. Avoiding problems like these can often be as simple as buying goats with good feet and strong pasterns.
So what should you be looking for? In this first illustration, the goat to the far left has the feet and legs that we should be breeding for:
Strong, solid, tight feet are ideal. Toes should point straight forward, not point in or out. Here are examples of goats that toe out in the front and rear feet, respectively:
Toes should also sit tightly together, not spread out to form a V between them:
Even with her winter hair, you can see that there is no separation in this doe’s toes:
Look for goats with level feet, as well – they should be the same depth at the heel and the toe, and run parallel to the hair line at the top of the hoof. They should not be flat, low in the heel, crooked or malformed. Although her hair hides the top of the hoof, this is a good example of a nice level foot:
Regardless of whether your goats are headed for the show ring, the backyard, the milking stand or the freezer, breeding for good feet will reward you with a happier, healthy, more productive herd.
Every year, many Kinder goats are bought and sold. Some by experienced breeders, others by people with a working knowledge of goats, and still others by beginners wanting a family milker or a pet for their children to show in 4H.
As breeders, we need to be very conscientious when deciding which goats to sell. After all – they are all cute as kids, but when a goat that doesn’t conform to our breed standards ends up being shown at the local fair, they do so with your herd name, and the Kinder name on them. Every goat you sell helps or hurts your reputation as a breeder, and the reputation of all Kinder goats. Because of this, each one of us need to know the Kinder breed standard, and recognize when a goat does not conform to it. When we find a goat lacking, we must be willing to make the hard decision to cull that goat. It is the only way that the Kinder breed, and our individual herds, will improve.
As buyers, it pays to learn as much as we can about conformation and the Kinder standard, too. None of our goats are perfect, but if we are aware of the fault within our herds, we can purposely buy or breed to animals that can improve upon the weak areas within our herds, while maintaining the strengths.
In order to better understand the breed standard, and to more easily recognize strengths and faults within our herds, we will be discussing each aspect of the standard in great detail over the coming months. Hopefully, this will make it easier for everyone to buy, breed and sell good stock, and work toward improvement within their herds.
by Sue Huston
There are those that say a buck is 50% of the herd, but there are others that believe that the buck gives more than 50%. Either way that buck should be chosen with great care.
To begin, look at his dam to see what her general conformation is and especially look at her udder. Does she have a good udder attachment? Is her rear udder held high keeping the udder out of harms way? Does her fore udder blend smoothly from the udder to the belly? Does she milk well and does she milk easily.
When choosing a buck look at his general conformation that he is level across the top and that he does not have a sloping rump. The Kinder goat is a dual purpose goat so the buck needs to carry fleshing in this front end, neck and shoulder area. Take a good look at the rear of the animal. His hind legs need to be spaced far apart with good angulation to those hind legs. That scrotal attachment needs to be high and tight, the scrotal should be even and not loop sided.
The feet and legs of the buck should be strong making sure that he is not weak in his pasterns. The toes should be close together so as not to toe out. If buying a mature buck make sure he is not over the breed standard which is 28 inches. You do not want a buck with very long legs like those of the dairy animals but you want an animal that has shorter legs that will give you the dual purpose Kinder.
Remember that there are very few male Kinder that should be used as a herd sire. Take time and look closely at the buck that you are going to buy to improve your herd. Buy the best that you can afford and buy from a reputable breeder.
(Watch for upcoming articles that discuss and illustrate each of the conformational qualities discussed in this article!)
Are you measuring your Kinder goats? Are you measuring them at withers? In general Kinder goats are getting too tall and are losing their dual purpose status. Below is what Harvey Considine says about shorter and longer legged Kinder. Harvey formulated a scorecard specifically for our Kinder breed. If we are to breed a dual purpose goat then we need to follow this scorecard. By breeding taller we are losing the meat aspect of our Kinder goat and this is not good. Because of this many of the Kinder that we are seeing are just a smaller version of a dairy breed that have lost all the meat qualities. The picture below shows a yearling Kinder doe that is the right height and carries some fleshing.
Following is an excerpt from an article by Harvey Considine done for the Dairy Goat Journal in February of 1994.
SCORECARD for the Dual Purpose Goat
To promote this aspect of the Kinder required that more attention be paid to the general appearance, hence the allowance of a full 40 points to that category. Since they are ‘mid-sized goat, “the maximum wither heights of 26 inches for mature does (and 28 inches for mature bucks) will tend to keep them a little shorter legged and this is good. Shorter legged animals tend to be easier to maintain in good flesh than longer legged animals.