Fullblood vs Wether Type goatsby Gary Mitchell on 08/21/15
When we first started traveling around the country to acquire genetics to start a goat her, we were interested in both fullblood and wether genetics. We had just sold a herd of cows that half were purebred Maine Anjou, and half were 3 or 4 way cross club calf cows. We were interested in duplicating this with our future goat herd. When we asked goat breeders about both segments of the industry, we were not prepared for the answer we got. The fullblood breeders hated the wether industry and the wether industry had little use for the fullblood breeders and their association. Both segments of the industry are still in early stages relative to cattle, sheep, and swine industries; and are learning to see the bigger picture. The fullblood breeders resented the fact the someone could sell a non-papered, castrated goat for $10,000. The wether breeders wanted some muscle from the original fullblood imports, but can not use the extra hide, head, bone, and ribcage. If you can think of each segment in terms of each a different specie, then it becomes easier to understand the value that each brings to the goat industry as a whole. I will try to explain each below.
The show wether industry, and judging criteria is geared towards filling the needs of the meat packing industry. Imagine a wether carcass hanging vertically by a hook through the tendons of the hock joint, with no hide, head, legs below the knee or hock, or internal organs. The rack and loin are worth more than the rest of the carcass put together. The higher the ratio of rack/loin to the rest of the carcass and the throw-away parts (head, hide, leg bone, guts, ribs), the more value it is to the packer. This is why competitive show wethers have historically had a large rack/loin and a small cylindrical ribcage, small neck and head, tight hide, and fine boned legs. In order to accomplish this unique creature, multiple breeds of goats have been used to the point that the wether type goat can be considered it's own breed, apart from the boer goat.
On the contrary, fullblood breeding stock type of goats are selected for "production" rather than "carcass" traits. In addition to muscle and structural correctness, this would include a big, deep rectangular ribcage designed to converts large amounts of low quality forage into meat. A loose hide is needed to dissipate heat. Additionally, a loose hide is needed to achieve the high growth rates. Ever see a tight hided elephant, St Bernard dog, or grizzly bear? A large circumference of foot and leg bone is needed to assure sturdiness of travel over long distances while browsing. The large head, ears, and roman nose was selected by the original South African breeders to dissipate heat.
A parable to help understand each would be to compare a compact car designed to go 40 miles on a gallon of fuel, with a dually truck designed to pull 5 times it's own weight. They are both good for the auto industry, however comparing (or hating on) either segment to the other is an exercise in frustration.
I usually ask our farm visitors "what are your goals?". The most common response from ones that are new to the goat industry is something along the lines of this: "a registered goat that we can show competitively, and then raise our own county fair wethers out of". That would be the minivan of the goat industry.