How to Assess a Live Goat’s Body Condition
Both New South Wales, Australia and Alberta, Canada have published fat scoring techniques for meat goats. The live animal scores for Australia correlate very well with fat scores measured on a specific site on the animal's carcass after slaughter. This carcass fat score in turn correlates very well with dressing percent and yield of saleable meat. The site they use for both live animals and carcasses is the fat and tissue covering over the second to the last long rib (the 12th rib) as measured 110 mm or 4 inches down from the topline (spine) of the animal.
The live condition scores assigned in Australia are as follows:
- Score 1 - Individual ribs felt very easily. Cannot feel any tissue over ribs. Corresponds to a covering over carcass site of <4mm (.16 inch).
- Score 2 - Individual ribs felt very easily but a slight amount of tissue present (covering over carcass site <.24mm or 1/4 inch).
- Score 3 - Individual ribs felt easily but some tissue present (covering is <10mm or .4 inches thick).
- Score 4 - Individual ribs can still be felt but tissue prominent (covering over carcass site is about a half inch or slightly less thick).
- Score 5 - Individual ribs felt or just felt. Tissue is very prominent and may be fluid (covering is more than 1/2 inch thick).
The fat scores for Alberta, Canada rely more on feeling the spine and short ribs of the goat. They are as follows:
- Very Lean - Body angular. Backbone raised and sharp. Ends of short ribs sharp and easily felt.
- Lean - Backbone raised and barely covered. Pin and hip bones obvious and barely covered. Ends of short ribs smooth but easily felt.
- Medium - Backbone slightly raised, smooth and rounded over top. Pin and hip bones lightly covered. Ends of short ribs smooth but can still be felt. Moderately rounded appearance.
- Fat - Smooth, rounded appearance. Backbone can only just be felt. Pin and hip bones smooth and rounded. Ends of short ribs cannot be felt.