How to Choose a Healthy Goat

Learn how to examine the udders, check the teeth and estimate the age of a goat to be sure you choose a healthy animal to raise.

| June 2, 2011

The following is an excerpt from The Backyard Goat by Sue Weaver (Storey Publishing, 2011). This book is an introductory guide to keeping productive pet goats, especially for those who want to raise livestock in their backyard. This excerpt is from Chapter 2, “Getting Your Goat.”  

No matter what type of goats you need, buy healthy ones; don’t make the same mistakes we've made in choosing goats of poor health and form. Consult the images in the Image Gallery for traits that should and shouldn’t be present in the goats you’d like to buy. In particular, you’ll want to consider the prospective goats’ udder and teat conformation, as well as mouth structure.  

Soft Udders and Two Teats 

Dairy does should obviously have good udders, but meat and fiber breeds should, too. Kids can’t nurse from the sort of badly deformed teats often seen in Boer goats or from udders that sag so low they nearly brush the ground.

Examine a doe’s udder before you buy her. It should be globular, soft, pliable and free of lumps. It should have good “attachments” (the ligaments that attach her udder to her body) that hold the udder up high and tight to her body. She should have two normal, shapely teats with no spurs or outgrowths — unless she’s a Boer or Savanna; these breeds generally have four teats. Both sides of the udder should be the same size and both teats the same size or almost so.

When choosing a doeling who hasn’t built her udder yet (it develops when she gives birth to her first kids), examine her mother’s udder and her father’s teats; this will give you a preview of what’s to come.

Yes, her father’s teats. Males have rudimentary teats in front of their scrotum (or where their scrotum used to be). It’s important to check a buck’s teats before buying his daughters or when choosing a mate for your doe. He should have the correct number of teats for his breed, and they shouldn’t be misshapen.  

2/15/2013 10:41:11 PM

Very good advise, very informative,am looking forward to more info on goats in the future. thanks Johnny Mack

E V Baumann
6/8/2011 12:07:09 PM

For any first timer who wants a milk goat choose a milking animal and TASTE her milk. Some goats are bred for a certain kind of cheese and that milk may be far too strong tasting for drinking. That way you will know how much milk she gives and her easy of being milked.

mother earth news fair


Feb. 17-18, 2018
Belton, Texas

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, hands-on workshops, and great food!