Fitting Your Goat

Fitting goats is not just a job for folks who show. Any animal can be “improved” if properly groomed, and a well-groomed animal will bring more when sold than a dirty, stinky goat. The time you spend fitting your goat will be well worthwhile.

Fitting is the overall condition of the goat – not just the outward appearance of the coat, hooves, or horns. Getting your animal in top shape starts with your feeding program. The next part of having a “fit” goat is having him in top physical shape. This requires exercise and conditioning; spend at least 10 minutes a day working/walking your goat. A goat that will lead effortlessly is worth his weight in gold. Parasite control is also an essential part of having a “fit” goat; do not expect overnight results…this is a long term effort.
But the outward appearance is definitely important. To attain the desired effect, whether you are fitting your goat to show or to sell, is with frequent grooming over a long period of time. You cannot make your animal look his best if you only work on sale/show day. The more you care for your animal, brushing and handling, the better he will look to any one buying him or at the show. An animal that is clean and has a lustrous coat will sell for more than one that looks like it just rolled in a manure pile. Frequent brushing/combing and use of a sheddeing blade will save much effort on your part in the end. As the date of the sale or show draws near, you will want more intensive fitting, beginning with the bath.
Three “rules” to remember when bathing a goat: use soap sparingly; rinse thoroughly; dry completely.
When bathing your goat, either use a shampoo formulated just for goats or use a mild shampoo. We frequently use Dawn dish-washing detergent because it is extremely mild. For really tough stains (especially on the legs of bucks), use a liquid bluing; but whatever you do don’t leave it on the hair too long or you will have a blue-tinted goat! We also use GoJo (or Big Orange) on difficult stains around the knees; Woolite works well also. When you wash your goat, you are removing the natural oils in the goat’s hair and skin; so you do not want to overdo a good thing. Sydne Spencer of Spencer’s Farm Gentle Goat Milk Soap, Fayetteville, TN, recommends using a licorice-scented soap for the bucks to remove some of the natural buck scent and to replace some of the natural oils; we keep a bar of this soap with our grooming supplies.
Once you have your goat clean and your rinse water no longer shows signs of soap, it’s time to dry. We have tried several methods, and they all work to a degree. The easiest method is to tie the goat (under constant supervision) in the sunlight – a tried and true method but an extremely slow one that only works on warm, sunny days. We have also tried using a vacuum cleaner – blowing air instead of sucking up dirt. (We also tried a wet/dry Shop Vac but were less than pleased with the results.) Finally we broke down and purchased a Circuiteer II – well worth the investment. The Circuiteer II is a portable, light-weight blower/dryer with two high-speed motor turbines; its fun to watch the sheets of water blow off the goat – unless, of course, you’re in the direct line of the air! This little machine gets the job done fast.
Once the goat is clean, rinsed, and thoroughly dried, it’s time for the haircutting to begin. Some shows have specific rules about clipping (especially wether shows), so you should check that out in advance. Many people recommend doing the hair 10 days to 2 weeks before a show to give time for clipper tracks or mistakes to grow out; we tend to groom either the day before or the morning of a show – or the morning of a prospective buyer visiting since our goats have a knack for getting dirty so fast.

When shearing you want to cut “with the grain” – in the direction the hair is growing using a horizontal motion when possibly and not vertical. We use a variety of clippers and scissors to complete the job and different blades for different specific areas we’re clipping. We also use a wire curry-comb style brush. It is important to create a smooth “line” where the stomach runs into the side of the goat; the hair here needs to “blend.” We use a #40 blade for the tight belly and a #10 blade (with guard) on the sides. We have special clippers for trimming the inside of the ears, the pasterns, and around the eyes; plus we tend to use scissors for trimming the long hairs around the top of each hoof. The tail is bobbed with scissors then trimmed on the inside. We discovered pinking shears work well for correcting mistakes (normally made when the goat decides to jump around on the grooming stand). Be sure to keep your blades well lubricated (we use the clipper oil recommended by Andis but WD-40 works well also we’ve been told). While talking about clippers, now is a good time to mention the blades should be disinfected between animals.

You want to give your goat a good pedicure to make sure the hooves are well-trimmed and even. Again, we suggest you do the hoof trimming days before a show since animals with tender feet from too close a cutting tend to not want to walk or stand correctly. We also use a hoof plane for smoothing the edges of the hooves. On a few of our older goats who have really, really tough hooves, instead of cutting the excess hoof we tend to use an angle grinder and grind the hooves to perfection. CAUTION: when using a grinder, work on one foot a few minutes then move to another foot because the friction of the grinding surface causes the foot to get hot in a hurry; and once the foot gets hot, you have one unhappy goat to contend with.
On the day of the show/sale, you want to check the hooves for last minute touch-ups. In addition, you want to brush the goat and freshen the goat’s hair with a show-sheen or other spray product. In addition, you want to pay a little attention to the horns. If the horns are rough or peeling, you can smooth them using a fine sandpaper. We then “finish” the horns by applying a little Vaseline that we rub off. (Others use Purple Oil or even suntan lotion – anything to give the horns a slight shine.)
Our Grooming Kit consists of:
Andis clippers Hoof plane
Andis ear clippers Lead for tying the goat while bathing
Baby wipes Licorice-scented goat-milk soap
Blade oil Liquid bluing
Blades and guards for the clippers Nolvason
Blood stop Orange-handle hoof clippers
Brush Oster clippers
Creative Memories scissors Pinking shears
Curry comb Prell hand sanitizer
Dawn dish-washing detergent Sand paper
Goat shampoo Show Sheen
GoJo (gritty natural orange hand cleaner) Vaseline
Grinder Wire comb
Grooming stand  

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Ken and Pat Motes
Clear Creek Farms
33 South Clear Creek Road
Fall River, Tennessee 38468
Phone: (931) 852-2167
Fax: (931) 852-2168

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