condition assessment. Using lumbar values will reflect body protein depo- sition where as sternal scores will more accurately assess the proportion of adipose tissue. Table 1 is included as a guideline for gauging (monitoring) the ribs, either side of the spine, shoulders, tail- head, pins, hooks, loin edge, backbone (longissimus dorsi muscle) and ster- num.

The times to BCS goats are the last three weeks of gestation, 6 weeks into lactation, cautiously at weaning and before breeding. This will help in managing mobs by sorting them into feeding groups (pasture/brush/range- land mobs) by age and body condition; allowing yearlings to be managed sep- arately from older does and validating replacement selection. Younger goats that have never kidded will have less individual vari- ation in a mob whereas the older does will exhibit more variation due to en- vironmental influences and individual genetic makeup for productivity. If a supplement is needed, whole

corn can be a choice for energy; whole cottonseed, soybean meal or peas for protein. Or, a very high qual- ity grass alfalfa hay.

It is best to maintain goats be- tween a score of 4 through 6 (mod- erate). This eliminates the flux of extremes and the associated recovery costs. These goats will consistently perform to optimum production. A drop in body condition should be grad- ual and regained rather rapidly. This group will be flushed at 5 to attain a 6 at breeding and kid at 5 or 6. They should not drop below a 4 by the end of lactation.

If you are using this group of breed- ing females on a land enhancement project, they have to be monitored extremely closely as they can lose condition rapidly. There is an economic and production advantage to using wethers for “work” projects. Wethers can be maintained at a BCS of 4 on most vegetation restoration projects.

When stressed nutritionally and body condition drops to 3, it takes 4 to 6 weeks with a supplement (or changing to higher quality vegetation) to return the wethers to a BCS of 4.

Anatomical Reference Points for Evaluating the Body Condition of Goats

Thin goats (score of 1 through 3) have poor reproductive success, lower twinning rates, decreased weaning rates, increased chance of internal parasite load and are le- thargic with no desire to travel any distance. Severely restricted nutrition of the doe will greatly depress the weaning weight of the kids. Therefore, under adverse management and environmental conditions, kid perform- ance can be enhanced by managing the nu- tritional level of the kids separately. Fat goats (score of 7 through 9) will be more prone to pregnancy toxemia, fatty liver syndrome, kidding difficulties, lower conception rate, impaired immune response,

less athletic and energetic for browsing/brushing and traveling long dis- tances over rough terrain.

The range of scale (1 through 9) can have an accumulated effect in loss of body weight by about 45 percent; therefore, each numerical score would represent about a 5 percent loss in body weight.

(Dr. An Peischel, PhD, is the retired Small Ruminant Extension Specialist, Ten- nessee State University and the University of Tennessee. She was the first importer of Kikos into the U.S. She can be contacted at

August 2020 | Goat Rancher


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