The body condition scoring system for goats varies widely. Both five-point and nine-point scales are in use, but the five-point scale appears to prevail and will be given here.
The techniques are pretty straightforward; just remember that hair can be misleading. A hands-on evaluation is always best.
- Emaciated. Goat obviously weak. All bones prominent; sternum (breastbone) and backbone sharp to the touch. Noticeable space between ribs. Flanks hollow. No fat on loin (area between the ribs and hips). This animal is in poor health.
- Thin. Slightly bony overall. Fat pad on sternum; this pad can be moved from side to side. Backbone well defined. Ribs can be felt. Slight but even fat cover over loin. Hips angular and easily felt.
- Moderate. Thick and barely moveable pad of fat on sternum. Back smooth and covered with fat, but a slight hollow can be felt between each vertebra. Ends of short ribs can be felt with moderate pressure. Smooth, even fat cover over loin. Hips can be felt but have some flesh on them.
- Fat. Goat has a smooth, sleek appearance. Thick, wide, immobile pad of fat on sternum. Backbone smooth; individual vertebrae cannot be felt. Short ribs very difficult to feel even with firm pressure. Thick layer of fat over loin. Hips can only be felt with firm pressure.
- Obese. Goat covered with dimples and deposits of excess fat. Massive pad of fat on sternum. Backbone appears as a depression between layers of fat. Ribs and hips cannot be felt even with firm pressure. Tailhead buried in fat. Long-term health risks.
The ideal minimum score for both meat and dairy goats is 3 and the ideal maximum score is 3.5. Both bucks and does should score closer to the maximum before breeding and before winter, and does should score around 3.5 before kidding, as well. This will ensure that they have sufficient reserves to burn fat for energy without tapping into muscle tissue.
Body Condition Scores in Goats
Very helpful PDF with photos, diagrams, and explanations. May load slowly, but well worth it.