You will not be able to go to a goat show or a production sale where you will not
hear the judge or announcer talk about how large the bone is in some of the animals
legs and how great that is. You will hear the judges justify many of the winning
animals because of their big bone in the legs. If asked they will tell you that
is so the animal can survive and will be able to move around in the pasture eating.
The problem is those big boned animals are not able to move around any better than
animals with moderate bone in the legs. The Boer standards call for strong legs not
big bones. The best test of the hardiness of moderate bone size in the legs is Nature.
Look at pictures of deer, wild hogs, mountain goats, buffalo and so on. none of them
have large, heavy bone compared to their body. Larger size bone also slows an animal
down. Animals that have to survive in the wild, do not have large leg bone and they
have no problems staying healthy and alive with moderate size strong bone.
In the commercial meat goat industry, the ratio of muscle to bone is very important
and directly affects the price and value of an animal. The bigger the bone, the larger
the percentages of the carcass weight made up of bone and the lower the price/value.
The moderate size bone allows more of the carcass weight to be usable meat instead
of useless bone making it bring a higher price. The goal is to increase the muscle
to bone ratio, not produce more bone. The push for larger bone in the Boers totally
comes from the show ring and that is certainly not what is needed in the real world.
Reference: "Boer Influence on the Meat Goat Industry - Fad or Future?" Florida Goat
Production Conference June 14, 1997 Gainsville, Texas Dr. Rick Machen
Muscle/Body mass - “This may be the single most significant contribution in making
the Boer the premier breed of meat goat. The Boer is moderate in frame size but heavier
muscled, wider through the chest, deeper sided and more correct on its feet and legs
compared to most domestic goats. An increase in muscling will be reflected in higher
dressing percentages, higher lean to bone ratios and a more attractive product in
the meat case. Improvements in muscling and carcass conformation could result in
additional fabrication and retail marketing strategies for goat meat.”
Proposed Meat Goat Grade Standards
Slaughter kids having minimum requirements for the Prime grade will exhibit superior
meat type conformation and possess a high degree of finish. Prime slaughter kids
are smooth over the top and the backbone is well covered and smooth when the hand
is pressed down on the back. Prime grade kids will have the appearance of being thickly
muscled throughout the body and particularly well muscled in the rear legs and loin.
Prime kids shall be at least moderately wide over the back, loin, and rump. Shoulders
and hips should be smooth in appearance. The overall appearance of Prime slaughter
kids shall be one of very good overall health and give indication of a very high
level of nutrition.
Slaughter kids meeting the minimum requirements for the choice grade will exhibit
at least average meat type conformation. Choice kids will possess a moderate amount
of finish over the ribs, back and loin. Choice kids when handled will express at
least average muscling in the leg and loin. They should also express at least some
development of the brisket. When handled the backbone of choice kids will be only
moderately prominent to the touch. The overall appearance of Choice slaughter kids
shall be one of good overall health and give indication of an adequate level of nutrition.
Choice slaughter kids will have a muscling score of at least slightly thick throughout
their body. They will express average or better width through the loin, back and
rump. The shoulder and hip will be moderately smooth.
Slaughter kids meeting the standards for the Good grade will have meat type conformation
that will be less than average. The muscling present in Good grade kids will be typical
of slightly thin muscling patterns. Good grade kids are relatively narrow in relation
to body length and height and somewhat narrow over the back, loin, and rump. Good
grade goats will have little or no detectable fat cover and very little or no development
in the brisket. When handled Good grade kids have prominent ribs and backbone indicating
little or no fat cover. The loin and back will be more angular and the leg will be
less than average in conformation. Good grade kids will be healthy in appearance
and have the potential to reach the choice grade before breaking yearling teeth.
Slaughter kids failing to meet them the minimum standards for the Good grade will
be graded Utility. Utility kids will exhibit symptoms of poor management including
lack of adequate nutrition, lack of parasite control or poor genetics. Utility kids
are very thin fleshed with a hair coat that is rough and dull in appearance
Edible Product to Bone Ratios
The edible product to bone ratio is important because a higher ratio signifies more
meat for the processor and consumer. As the meat goat industry progress, a superior
product, e.g. high edible product to bone ratio, should fetch a premium. Therefore,
if a grade is associated with a higher ratio then that should translate into greater
returns for the producer. Although bone is part of the carcass and sold to the consumer,
it is not edible. The consumer wants more edible product, i.e. meat, for its consumer
dollar. Overall, Prime animals had a edible product to bone ratio of 3.63, this means
that for every pound of bone there was 3.63 pounds of meat produced. At the other
end of the grading scale, Utility animals produced 2.33 pounds of meat for every
pound of bone. That is a 1.3 pounds of meat difference between the Prime and Utility
Overall, Prime animals had a significantly higher ratio than did Choice animals,
which was significantly higher than Good animals, which was significantly higher
than Utility animals.
For the leg and thin cuts, there was no significant differences across grades; however,
the ratio tended to decrease with decreasing grade.
For the loin, Prime animals had a significantly higher ratio than did Choice, which
was significantly higher than either Good or Utility.
For the rack, Prime and Choice animals had significantly higher ratios than did Good,
which was significantly higher than Utility.
For the shoulder, Prime and Choice animals had significantly (p<.05) higher ratios
than did Good or Utility.
Meat goat grade standards are feasible and have merit for the industry. These standards
could insure a standardized product for every link of the marketing chain from producers
to consumers. Producers would be able compare their animals with the grade standards,
enabling them to modify their management system to meet market demands. Consumers
would be able to purchase a product with less waste for their consumer dollar. Traders
and packers would be able to process a product that is oriented towards efficient
This project supported by grant #12-25-G-0113 from the USDA Agricultural Marketing