What to Look for in Choosing an Adult Pack Goat
It has taken me a long time to learn what to look for in an adult pack goat. I have bought nearly 30 adult goats in my mission to build a pack string from scratch and I have learned a ton while doing so. I now know what to look for and how to find it. Also, I’m realistic about my likely success rate which, isn’t that great. I will warn you in advance that getting proven pack goat babies is the way to go by a mile for success of having a top-notch pack string. However, you do have to wait to pack with them. I have found some “top performing” goats and I have found many “medium performing” goats. For me, medium does not make my cut.
Here is what I advise you do if you are trying to have a pack string as fast as possible. Buy two or three proven pack goat babies right away to raise up as future packers. For everything you need to know on how to raise a goat in it’s first year, check out the How to Raise a Baby Goat Course. After that, be a crazy person watching all the places goats sell like Craigslist, Facebook groups, and packgoatcentral.com. Once you find one, the rest of the article will help you know what to look for. It’s possible to get lucky and find gold, but it’s rare. The reality is you’re finding goats that work till your proven baby packers are 3 – 4 years old.
First thing you need to remember is the person you are buying your goats from is likely a bad source for advice to their quality as a packer. If they are not a packer and this is their pet, they just don’t know despite their kindly attempts to advise. The one thing they may be able to speak to is their friendliness. If they are not super friendly, then I think you should pass. An un-bonded goat is a potential nightmare in the back country. They will try to estimate their weight, but most everyone is inaccurate by a long way and consistently overestimate.
What you are hoping to come across in your search, and where almost all my good adult packers came from, is someone who must sell their whole, functioning string of pack goats. I’d pay top money for that, and that is where you get the “good stuff”. Otherwise, you are buying someone’s pet and he has never “worked”. Packing is something I want all goats to learn from a young age. So, you need to be objective about how difficult it is to find what you’re looking for. It isn’t easy with the demand for adult packers right now, and how many others that are trying to find the same thing. I highly encourage you to invest in our Pack Goats 101 Course. This course is jammed packed full of content and videos on everything pack goats related.
What to Look For in an Adult Pack Goat
You will often be doing a “pre-sift” of a goat’s quality from distance with pictures and videos. I ask all sellers to take a video of the goat walking from in front and behind so I can see if they have issues in their walk or feet. Look for nice, tall pasterns, and a flat back. Also, check if his ankles roll outward as he walks from behind. I then ask for measurements from the shoulder to the ground. Truly big goats are about 37 inches at the wither (front shoulder) or more and a minimum height I’d want is 34-35. A 34-inch goat with average muscle and bulk will likely be 150 pounds and that’s quite small for a packer. You are ideally looking for 180 pounds or more in a pack goat.
Then ask if they know how much they weigh, but if they haven’t had them on a real scale then I take that with a grain of salt. I cross reference this with the measurement at the front shoulder. Base more on a measurement they can accurately get for me. I look for tall, lean goats rather than short bulky goats. A goat is fat if he appears “round” and that will very likely be an issue even with conditioning. I would avoid fat goats as they are “over eaters”. Pass on all goats with weak pasterns and pass on un-bonded or “spooky” goats.
Once you decide they are worth seeing, recheck everything I mentioned in person but now inspect a few things more closely. Are they easy to catch and give love to? A friendly, loving, and bonded goat is an absolute must. Check their feet. This is a common nightmare that you will find. Unwanted goats often have horrible feet as that is an easy thing for people to “let slip”. Most are repairable but they can get bad, so check all his feet. Watch my video on trimming if you are looking for what they “should” look like. Watch him walk and make sure things “look right”. Make sure he’s up to date on worming and all vaccinations. If everything feels right, he is worth anywhere from $250-$350 as an unproven packer and $500-$800 as a proven packer.
Now, I will warn you that after all of that I’m guessing your success will be about 30% of finding a top packer this way. You should be treating this as “goats that will get you by” until your babies grow up. This can be a very expensive way to build a string, but if you want one right now…this is the path. I was willing to drive a long, long way for the right goat and pay good money. This is how I started, and this system got me many of the goats I still have today. Best of luck to you.