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I've been watching the threads about critiquing (sp?) goat conformation and wondered if there are some good websites out there with pics and explanations? I don't usually understand what is said when a critique is done and would like to know more about it. For instance, WHAT is udder attachment (beyond the obvious), what is good attachment, what is bad? I can tell a REALLY, REALLY bad udder, but what about a mediocre one. I hope someone has a good site or pictures or something. Thanks!
 

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If you can, order Harvey Considine's book on judging dairy goats, and pick up old United Caprine News to read his dairy goat judging section. (Or maybe it was in the old Dairy goat Journals, I don't remember).

The udder should be about an inch to an inch of a half away from the tip of her vulva when viewed from the rear, and almost as wide at the top as it is at the udder floor. The rear udder when viewed from behind, should look like a large upside-down U. The teats should be easy to grasp and milk without being overly large, and they and the udder halves should be balanced- the same size on sides. The rear udder attachment should ideally extend down part of the doe's inner thighs, sort of a webbing between the udder and thighs. There is a ligament (medial suspensory ligament) that divides the udders into two halves and provides major support in holding up the weight of the full udder. This should be strong as evidenced by a marked division, sort of like an upside down heart. It should never bulge downwards between the two halves. The foreudder should be tightly attached to the doe body, ideally extending as far forward on her belly as it can, with no pockets. A continuation of the medial suspensory ligament, resulting in a strong division of the foreudder, is actually good. The entire udder, when you grab and wiggle it while full, shouldn't budge much or sway back and forth. It should be tightly and securely attached to her body as much as possible. The udder floor shouldn't be below her hocks, but with some very high producers, this is unavoidable. When you go to put your hands around the top of the udder, as if encricling it with your two hands from thumbs to index fingers, you shouldn't be able to even come close to encircling it.

Whew, that was a lot to write!
 

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This doe has a good rear udder. It could have been slightly higher than that, but not by much.


This one had a decent but not perfect foreudder, but it shows to some degree what I was saying about the udder ideally extending towards the belly rather that cutting back into a pocket.



Here a really well attached udder. The doe and the udder are not my style, but it's truly hard to find any fault with an udder like this one. GCH Iron Rod Rev Sutra was the National Alpine Champion in 1993.


This doe is more along the lines of what I like, even though her udder bulges out a bit in the back. It should blend more smoothly without protruding. Nevertheless, a doe most any Alpine breeder would be thrilled to own even today, Shahena'ko S Kamikaze, 2 time National Grand Champion. I love her deep, powerful body, notice how she is still very feminine!



Sodium Oaks Kiwi Mallow, a doe whose lines I have based my herd on, because she is my ideal.



Her daughter, Sodium Oaks Royal Sorghum. Another fantastic udder.
 

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Biggy in the first photo is that the fullness across the udder is high up above the thigh, not swinging between the hocks (rear leg knees). The more the fullness is lower the more swinging the udder does, the more motion between the leggs the udder gets and the faster the udder breaks down. Vicki
 

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That was all quite helpful, Thank You! So it's ok if my goat's udder bulges more to the front than the back? I don't know if bulge is quite the right word, but when she stand in profile you can see most of her udder to the front of her legs, it doesn't really stick out behind at all. In that first photo, is that an average producer?! Mine is a nubian, but her udder is not even close to that big when full. I'm thinking that maybe her udder is a little low, too, but not sure. If so is this the type of thing where, if possible, I'd breed her to a buck from a line of higher attached udders?
 

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The first picture was of my old herd queen, Delilah. She produced 12# a day at her peak and all through the summer and early fall, when it began to fall off a bit. She was quite a doe. Anyhoo (getting lost in memory lane, here) there are many does who produce mor ethan her, but her rear udder was her strenght, and she also had good side attachments. Her foreudder was pocketed.

The second doe is another one I owned, Firefly, taken of her as a yearling milker, or possibly as a two year old... which is why her udder looks small in that pic. One she matured fully, she was a huge deep bodied doe. These are ordinary working girls, the kind you can easily breed with a little time and care in your breeding program.

For a look at udder ideals, take another close look at the last four pictures, all of National Grand Champions or Reserve Grand Champions. The foreudders extend into their bellies, and the rear udders are high and wide. These does are from the 1980's. They are not perfect, but the fact that they would still be darned nice to have some twenty years later says quite a lot. Many of the ppictures before that era are of goats that I would not want to own, but they were considered really nice for the time.

To improve udders (and in my mind, as long as you're not neglecting other faults, you can't focus too much on udder attachments) go to the ADGA and Missdee's websites and look up the type data for rear udder height and width, udder floor (deep means that the udder is pendulous, shallow can be good if the doe is productive, or maybe she simply has no milk), and Medial suspensory ligament. You want bucks that have a high number of daughters with reliably high, wide rear udders. I have noticed that Nubians aren't as prone to pockety foreudders as Alpines are, so you have that advantage. Do your research and try to find patterns, lines where high, tight rear udders predominate, and get semen from those lines.
 

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You won't get many rear udders on profiles like that in Nubians compared to Swiss breeds. But they don't have our cow fore udders either. I am not of the buldging rear udder school, for me it is actually a huge step back into the late 80's when does had soo much buldge they would pee on their vulva when full. Most does can buldge like that with the overuddering they do at shows, but 12 hours, not unless just freshened.

In Nubians you have to breed for udder, it's got to be the most inconsistant part of breeding Nubians. If the buck you are using, doesn't have sisters, a mother, his fathers mother, with a better udder than the does you are breeding to, you are chasing your tail. If you don't cull out all your does with poor udders as you replace them with better udders, hopefully their daughters who are out of a new great buck you are using..you have caught your tail :) Vicki
 

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What else are some dairy specific things to look at? I'm ok at basic goat conformation but have dealt with just wethers for packing and such up until now. For instance, for a working goat, I look for a tall, big boned, meaty looking animal. I also look for 'hockiness'. The closer their hocks are (within reason) the better pack animal they will be. Does any of this matter with a dairy goat? Or do you just look at overall conformation, udder and milking history? Also is there anything of all this that you can tell with a doeling, or do you have to wait and breed her to really tell? And another thing, if I can figure out how to do it, can I post a couple of pics of my goat's udder, tell what I think is good and bad about it based on what I've learned here, and have you all let me know if I'm getting this?
 

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Dairy specific....dairy does have a longer more springy bone pattern. Nubians have more slope to their rump, swiss breeds are really the only flat rumped, being that Nubians are a meat breed also. Dairy does because of this longer bone pattern are taller, longer, have longer loins, longer necks, and because of this length of bone once again have a much larger area of attachment than a thicker meat type animal.

Breeding for hocks that come together is meaning you are either breeding poor conformation in the rear leg which will give you goats that breakdown quicker or who are skeletally narrow, which also means you have less area of attachment side to side, with all the action the thighs will give to that udder, the attachment has to break down so you will always have swinging udders over time. A doe just can't walk naturally with her legs apart to walk around the udder (although they can for the 20 mintues it takes to win in the ring :) Milk out alot of those udders for BIS and you have does who do walk with their hocks much more in than they were. If they were truly walking around the farm with that much milk the udder would be destroyed. Vicki
 

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Hockiness, the hocks can bruise the udder and are also often associated with a narrow escutcheon (the area the rear udder fits into) the very reverse of what we want in a dairy goat. Hockiness was one of the first traits I worked to get rid of.

From the side, the rear legs should be well angulated and the pasterns, strong (which if you notice in those older pics, Kiwi Mallow and Kamikaze were a bit weak in the pasterns).

Work on eliminating defects that are severe enough to be disqualifiable or very serious, such as extra teats, severe over/underbite, the worst of it, by outright culling anyoen who has them. Then find the next fault that is most common in your herd and work on that.
 
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