And some of you might not know this but we have made a major decision.
Well, now it looks like this:
Yes, we have decided to get completely out of rabbits and turn that area of the yard into a lettuce bed. (It should grow like crazy, with all that fertilizer the last few years.)
We are done....all those years of buying rabbit food, dealing with mean little bucks, and trying to get rabbits to breed (oh, the irony), have taken their toll and we are through.
The decision was unanimous and all three older kids have decided to take a market goat to fair.
So how do you take a goat to market?
I started by calling breeders in October; seeing who had kidded (or was planning to kid), if they had de-horned and castrated, and what the prices were.
In the middle of December we headed to a nearby breeder, who had an early batch of kids that had been born in September.
This actually works in our favor, since we live in a place that thinks it is completely normal to have our county fair early, and over Memorial Day weekend, to boot.
So what are we looking for?
A few things....
Basically, an evaluation of the skeletal system. What you want to see is a wide body, with the legs set square under the body. The neck extends out of the shoulder with the head held high. You want a long top line, with a slight tilt in the rump.
This is the vertical length from the animals' top to the bottom of their stomach. You want a long-bodies goat, and not one that looks too tight.
A goat that has a wider frame will be able to carry more muscle. And more muscle means more meat. When you look at a goat from behind the widest part should be the stifle, or thigh. You should also see well defined leg muscles, a wide chest, and muscular shoulders.
Style and Balance
All of these things should blend together on your goat. The neck nicely on the shoulders, and then the shoulders blending into the ribs, loin, and then rump.
The goats we were looking at were about 4 months old. Be sure to choose a goat that has a larger frame; one that he will someday grow into.
You look at the goat as a whole. And remember, there is not one perfect goat. Choosing a goat that has overall good qualities is a better choice than one that might have excellent depth, but poor growth potential.
We also asked the breeder some questions....who the sire and dam were, when the last time was that she treated lice, what her goats were eating, and what her disease control program was like.
We liked what we saw, and the price that these guys were, because after a few days of thought, my kids decided to go with these cuties.
And so we brought them to their home, at the little farm near our house, and we now start the job of training and working with them.
Stay tuned for the many more 4H goat adventures!
*Sections of this post were written by Bookworm. Part of her 4H presentation this year was about choosing goats, so she had done the research for that part.
*And we did buy our goats in January and have been working with them for a couple months....a lot of these photos got stuck on my camera and I just recently was able to get them off. :-)