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Measuring Height

Ann Alecock, Two Dogs Farm

Let’s face it, measuring the height of your goat should be really simple, but I am guessing that three different people can measure the same goat with three different results. There are many different factors that result in different measurements. Hopefully, I can clear up some of those factors that cause an incorrect measurement.

Your measuring device should be a measuring stick made of metal with a foot attached to the bottom and a level on the arm of the device. This allows for the most accurate measurement. Before you take a measurement make sure your goat’s hooves are trimmed.

You should measure on concrete if possible. This provides a firm flat area that is the most accurate. This is why you often see animals close to height being removed by a judge to measure on concrete. If you don’t have access to a concrete area then make sure you are on a firm flat surface.

The withers are the highest part of the back at the base of the neck.

A common mistake that those new to goats and measuring their animals is measuring while on the milk stand. You wouldn’t think that this would be an issue since the animal is standing on a firm-level platform, however, it is an issue. Don’t believe me? Measure a goat on the stand and then again on a level ground surface such as a sidewalk. Your goat will be taller while being measured on the sidewalk.

Another important factor is how the head of the animal is being held. A head held high will cause the withers of the animals to be higher than the natural stance of the animal which will make the animal measure taller. On the same note, the head should not be below or even with the withers. Measuring should be done when the animal’s head is in a natural stance. Making sure the feet are placed squarely under the animal will help make a natural stance. Front feet should be placed in a vertical line under the shoulders. Rear feet should be placed with a vertical line from the hocks to the pin bone.

Once your goat is set up properly place the measuring stick in the center of the withers with the foot on the ground making sure the level bubble is in the center of the level. Read the measuring stick at the bottom of the arm. Seems logical, but I once had a judge use the measurement of the top of the arm and not the bottom.

There are several reasons to measure your animals, but for most of us we use the measurement as a requirement for milk testing, showing, and breeding purposes. Having an accurate measurement at home is important, however, don’t be surprised if your under-height buck that measured just fine at home has a difficult time making it into the ring come showtime. Bucks are notorious for getting worked up around other bucks and does at shows and they actually will stand taller to show off.

Practicing measurement of your goats will help you become more accurate and will also get your goats used to the stick before a show allowing them to be relaxed during the measuring resulting in the most accurate measurement.

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