Grades of Goats and Lambs for Northeast Markets
The advisory board of the NESGMP proposed that grading standards be developed for goats and lambs for the special marketing conditions that exist in the Northeastern United States. An advisory board committee composed of Susan Schoenian, Mike Thonney, and Susan Truehart Garey with Joe Regenstein as Chair suggested the following guidelines.
With the exception of suckling kids (milk fed Easter or "hothouse" kids) where plumpness and little indication of rumen development are probably the most sought after traits, slaughter goats should be graded according to the USDA voluntary live goat standards outlined below.
Select 1 Goats possessing minimum qualifications are moderately thickly muscled throughout. The back and loin are moderately wide and shoulders and hips are moderately neat and blend smoothly into the body. There is a slight fullness or plumpness over the rib, loin, rump and legs that contributes to a somewhat rounded and moderately refined appearance.
Select 2 Goats possessing minimum qualifications are slightly thickly muscled throughout. The back and loin are slightly wide with loin, rump, and leg almost flat with little or no evidence of fullness. The hips and shoulders are somewhat smoothly laid in, but appear slightly prominent and contribute to a slightly refined appearance.
Select 3 Goats possessing minimum qualifications are thinly muscled throughout. The back, loin, and rump are narrow with a slightly sunken appearance. Legs are tapering and narrow with hips and shoulders somewhat prominent. Goats usually show either heavy bones and thin fleshing associated with coarseness or small bones and angularity denoting over-refinement.
Cull Goats possessing cull qualifications are very thinly muscled throughout. The back, loin, and rump show little indication of muscling and have moderate to great shrunken appearance. Legs are very tapering and narrow with hips and shoulders very prominent. Goats are often those culled for inadequate frame size or body capacity or those with reproductive deficiencies.
For more information on evaluating goats, go to Evaluating Easter or Hothouse Kids, Evaluating Weaned Market Kids, and Live meat Goat Selection Standards
Lamb Grading Standards
Lamb buyers in the Northeast prefer to assess specialty lambs based upon thickness and plumpness. The following grade classifications are used:
Blue: Lambs are in good physical condition and have sufficient cover so that the backbone is barely distinguishable by placing a hand over the back. On a body condition score ranging from 1 to 5, these lambs would be placed in body condition 3 to 4.
Red: Lambs are in good physical condition but do not have sufficient cover to fall into the blue category. The backbone is distinguishable by placing a hand over the back but the vertebrae do not protrude sharply. On a body condition score ranging from 1 to 5, these lambs would be placed in body condition 2 to 3.
Green: Lambs are thin and/or in poor physical condition so that they are not ready for market.
For more information on USDA Standards for commodity lambs, go to Sheep and Lamb Yield Grades